Articles

Pashtun’s Persecution in Pakistan

The Pashtuns, an ethnic minority living for years in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Pakistan), have been the victims of violence and intimidation by militants and security forces.1 The geographical situation constitutes the core problem that exacerbated the persecution of the Pashtuns. In 2001, with the America’s war on terror and the fall of Talliban, the direct border of the tribal areas with Afghanistan became an exit road for Al Qaeda and other terrorists and militants groups.2 For the minority, the war on terrorism started with the fall of Talliban but never ended. In 2009, military operations were conducted in the region of Pakistan forcing the displacement of the minorities’ members. However, the Pakistani military forces did not stop there and the situation started getting out of control. The attacks have disastrous consequences for the ethnic minorities; hundreds of civilians have been killed or have disappeared, villages have been destroyed, etc. Pasthuns have no choice but to leave the violence and murders. Moreover, the displacement of a mass exodus is wrongly perceived by the neighbouring cities which are reluctant to welcome them. The Pashtuns have been stereotyped as terrorist members and dangerous people. Invisible to the world and particularly to the state of Pakistan, the minority faces hostilities and suspicion from the population.3

In order to stop the isolation and intimidation of the Pashtuns, the Pashtun Protection Movement organized protests to denounce the extermination of the minority and the violation of their economic and political rights. They are calling for the respect and promotion of their human rights. They also urged the state to ensure the security of the minority against attacks and violence and require the conduct of investigation for the killing of innocent people in the tribal areas by the military forces.4

Moreover, the government never acted in favor of the ethnic minority and the population is unaware of the atrocities committed during the military operations, conducted with the approval of the state. No medias nor journalists were authorized to report the crimes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The state, by controlling the freedom of the press, incite the population to perceive the movements for Pashtuns as illegals who aim to promote hate.5

The disappearances and extrajudicial executions will continue, rising the number deaths and missing people. Neither the state nor external authorities or countries had concerns about the violations in the tribal areas. The discrimination, hostility, violence and stereotypes against the Pashtuns have to stop. As universal rights, everyone has the right to life and security.6 All human beings are equal, in dignity and rights7 and are equally protect before the law. No discrimination on any grounds is permissible.8 Pakistan needs to end the persecution and has to respect international laws by ensuring the enjoyment and exercise of the fundamental rights of the population but is also under the duty to protect the life of its citizens, and particularly the physical existence of marginalized minorities against attacks.9

The very intolerance of the physical existence of the Pashtuns raise the question as to whether a genocide has been committed by the military-government in Pakistan.10 Global Human Rights Defence strongly feels that the allegation of genocide and human rights violation need to be investigated seriously by the international community.

1Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, ‘The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights.’ (The New York Times 2011) <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/opinion/pashtun-protests-pakistan.html&gt; 14 February 2019

2Mehreen Zahra-Malik,‘In Pakistan, Long-Suffering Pashtuns Find Their Voice’ (The New York Times 2018) <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/06/world/asia/pakistan-pashtun-long-march.html&gt; 14 February 2019

3Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, ‘The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights.’ (The New York Times 2011) <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/opinion/pashtun-protests-pakistan.html&gt; 14 February 2019

4Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, ‘The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights.’ (The New York Times 2011) <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/opinion/pashtun-protests-pakistan.html&gt; 14 February 2019

5Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, ‘The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights.’ (The New York Times 2011) <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/11/opinion/pashtun-protests-pakistan.html&gt; 14 February 2019

6The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 3

7The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 1

8Ibid., article 7

9Amnesty International, ‘Pakistan ratifies key UN human rights treaty’ (Amnesty International 2008) <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2008/04/pakistan-ratifies-key-un-human-rights-treaty-20080418/&gt; 15 February 2019

10Kahar Zalmay, ‘Pakistan: The case of Pashtun genocide in the country’ Asian Human Rights Commission (2013)