Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Monday said that the Pakistan Army wanted to make every effort to resolve the issues faced by Pashtuns in tribal areas, but that the manner adopted by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) to voice such grievances would no longer be tolerated.
Addressing a wide-ranging press conference at the General Headquarters in which he talked about the recent tensions with India and issues of national security, the head of the military’s media wing also suggested that the PTM had received funding from Afghan and Indian intelligence services.
He said that they want to do everything for the people of tribal areas but those who are playing in the hands of people, “their time is up. Their time is up,” referring to the PTM.
Ghafoor said that the instructions of the army chief will be fully followed and the people will not face any sort of problem and neither will any unlawful path be adopted, suggesting possible action against the PTM. “Everything will be done lawfully”, he said.
“You have enjoyed all the liberty that you wanted to,” he said, addressing the PTM leadership.
PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
The ISPR chief individually responded to the demands made by the PTM at its rallies and meetings.
He said that when they took action against the TLP (Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan), people asked why action is not taken against PTM as they speak up too much as well.
“The first person to engage with them [PTM] was me. I was told to engage with them by the army chief and I was given one order by the army chief: ‘Do not use a harsh hand with them.’
He said that another one of PTM’s demand was about clearing away checkposts. “Pak Army has lost thousands of soldiers at these checkposts”, Ghafoor said.
Ghafoor stated that several demands posed by PTM were not even their demands, but were those lof the people that live there.