Demanding political activist and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen’s release, Pakistani-origin Pashtuns protested outside the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC on Wednesday.
Pashteen was arrested on charges of sedition while speaking about the rights of Pashtuns and the “unjust” constitution of Pakistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Dera Ismail Khan district on 18 January.
The PTM had called for protests by tribes and businessmen to demand compensation from the Government for losses suffered during military operations in mountainous region of Waziristan.
Waziristan covers the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) agencies of North Waziristan and South Waziristan that are now the districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The region was the hotbed of large-scale military operations by the Pakistan Armed Forces against the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) and their extremist allies in the South Waziristan area of the FATA.
The PTM gained momentum when Pashtun model and businessman Naqeebullah Mehsud was allegedly killed in Karachi. Mehsud, an ethnic Pashtun, belonged to the Mehsud tribe from the country’s northwest which had moved to Karachi due to fighting in the region.
Mehsud’s death had a deep impact on the Pashtun population in Karachi and in the northwest. In 2019, a Pakistani judge formally dismissed terrorism charges against Mehsud.