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Protests in Pakistan over Pashtun rights; media remains largely aloof

By Shubham

Thousands of protesters gathered at a rally in Lahore in Pakistan on Sunday, April 23, seeking basic rights for ethnic Pashtun citizens and others.

Protests in Pakistan over Pashtun rights; media remains largely aloof

Manzoor Pashteen, a student activist and leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), addressed the protesters demanding an end to extrajudicial killings and other alleged abuse of rights committed by the Pakistani military in the name of fighting the Taliban.

He said the Pakistani constitution has laid down the rule that anybody who has committed a crime should be arrested and brought before the courts within 24 hours but in reality, people were being killed extrajudicially.

Pashteen, who is a native of South Waziristan tribal district where the Pakistani Taliban have dominated, has led a movement that has spread across Pakistan and held the country's military and government responsible for the alleged excesses committed by the security personnel.

The North and South Waziristan areas of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) saw large military operations in 2009 and 2014 after the Pakistani Taliban gained control over zones in the region.

"The ethnic group protesters went forward with the demonstration despite the government denied permission to hold it "due to specific threats to the security of organisers of PTM," a statement said, according to a report in Al Jazeera.

At least five PTM leaders were also briefly detained, including military critic Ali Wazir on Saturday, April 21, PTM leader Mohsin Dawar informed Al Jazeera.

The country's media - print and electronic - did not give much coverage to the protests either despite a big mobilisation. Opinion articles penned on the incidents were removed from news websites recently.

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