Pashtun activists, under the banner of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), staged a powerful demonstration in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, condemning Pakistan’s alleged sponsorship of terrorism and gross human rights violations in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and parts of Afghanistan.
Starting from Lake Geneva and culminating at the iconic Broken Chair, the protest drew Pashtun participants from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their unified voice resounded with slogans denouncing the Pakistan Army for its alleged complicity in atrocities against the Pashtun community, including support for terrorist organizations such as the Pakistani Taliban.
Afghan demonstrators also accused Pakistan of targeting Afghan refugees and subjecting them to inhumane treatment. Fazal-ur-Rehman Afridi, a prominent Pashtun Human Rights Activist, highlighted the dire situation faced by Pashtuns in Pakistan. He stated, “Pashtuns are enduring a critical phase in their lives. The Pakistani Army is engaging in severe human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and torture. Of particular concern is the systematic use of torture by the Pakistan Army.”
Afridi continued, “Over the past few months, they have been arresting PTM activists, subjecting them to torture in custody, and coercing them to produce videos against PTM. This is a significant issue, as the UN Convention against Torture unequivocally states that no form of torture is acceptable.”
Protesters also accused the Pakistan Army of abducting Pashtun political activists and subjecting them to torture and violence. Malik Bazai, the PTM Europe coordinator, passionately criticized the Pakistan military, saying, “In Pakistan, not only Pashtuns but also Baloch, Sindhi, Kashmiri, none of the communities are happy. Pakistan Army is spreading terrorism and fear, and Pashtuns are bearing the brunt of it. Due to their actions, over 70,000 Pashtuns have lost their lives, and at least 200,000 Pashtun homes have been destroyed.”
Hasham Utmankhil, representing PTM France, emphasized the peaceful nature of the Pashtun people. He stated, “We are here in front of the United Nations to send a clear message that Pashtuns are a peaceful community unrelated to terrorism. However, Pakistan Army continues to support terrorists and target Pashtuns, Baloch people, and Kashmiris.”
The protesters, through their demonstration, sought international attention and support in addressing the alleged human rights violations and the surge in terrorism in Pakistan and its implications on the Pashtun community. Their collective voice echoed their determination to seek justice and peace for their people.