In a statement on Sunday, Pakistani military said that supporters of a local agitating minority group largely comprising of Pushtuns attacked a security post in the country’s northwest in North Waziristan near the Afghan border, wounding five soldiers.
The statement by Pakistani military further said that three of the attackers were killed and 10 others were wounded.
The minority group, known as the Pushtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) or Pushtun Protection Movement, is led by country’s two relatively new lawmakers Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, whose followers wanted to pressure the authorities to release suspected terrorists arrested recently in North Waziristan. Pakistani military’s statement said that Wazir and eight others were arrested following a clash with security forces.
On the other hand, PTM alleged that its convoy was attacked by Pakistani soldiers while it was trying to reach a protest site. However, a video that surfaced on social media showed PTM supporters trying to provoke the soldiers and breach the security line.
The PTM group has been agitating against the Pakistani military for more than over an year now and is seen suspiciously by the Pakistani security establishment. The group, that claims to be against terrorism, has emerged at a time when Pakistani military has made major successes in the war on terrorism. The group alleges that Pakistani military has abducted several Pushtuns during the war on terror. On the other hand, Pakistani military says that while some of the demands of the group are legitimate and it is working to meet those demands, the group is being supported by neighboring states and wants to roll back the successes made in war on terror.
A Pakistani military source, on the condition of anonymity, told Porter Medium that the military has been trying to negotiate with PTM but the provocative rhetoric being used by the group, such as equating soldiers with terrorists, has caused a lot of friction between the group and the state. The source further said that some of the demands of the group, such as removal of security check-posts, will help terrorists and roll back Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts.
On Sunday, in a tweet, Pakistani military’s spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor vowed not to allow anyone to ‘undo the gains of decades-long national struggle and sacrifices of brave Pakistani tribesmen’.
Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had specified that the PTM itself was “not an issue” and certain individuals “playing in foreign hands” were exploiting the sentiments of the people who had suffered because of terrorism.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has also said that the PTM rightly speaks about the suffering of the tribes-people, but the manner in which they are making such demands is “not good for our country”.