On the third anniversary of the Khar Qamar incident in which 15 Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) activists were killed, MNA Mohsin Dawar said that despite the change in government, nothing is different for the oppressed groups and ethnic minorities of the country. “The powers that be continue to violate human rights,” he says.
Khar Qamar incident
Three years ago on this day, a clash between the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and the security forces in Khar Qamar, Waziristan, left 15 PTM activists dead, and another 25 injured.
A group of PTM activists led by Mohsin Dawar and now-incarcerated MNA Ali Wazir had arrived at the Khar Qamar district of North Waziristan to protest against the alleged persecution and torture of locals.
When the convoy arrived at a military checkpoint, they got into a verbal argument with the soldiers, who wouldn’t let them pass. However, eventually the convoy crossed the barriers, and were met with gunshots from security forces. The Pakistan Army had however claimed that it was the PTM that attacked a check-post.
“Initially, I thought the soldiers manning the checkpoint were firing warning shots in the air,” says Dawar in an article he wrote for Al Jazeera in 2019. “But the sounds of occasional gun shots suddenly turned into the staccato of automatic fire, and villagers around me started to fall.”
In the military’s account however, the PTM is to blame. They claim that the PTM activists were armed – contrary to video evidence indicating the opposite – and that the PTM leaders initiated the attack, injuring several soldiers in the process.
No change three years later
Three years after the incident, Dawar says things are no different. Although the charges against Wazir and Dawar were dropped in October 2020 after an investigation, they continue to be accused of ‘anti-state’ politics over their criticism of the establishment.
“Things are still the same, the lies about the incident are still there, and enforced disappearances continue to take place, he told the Friday Times.
“Just look at what happened yesterday,” he said, referring to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) long march that resulted in police vans and trees being set on fire by PTI protestors in Islamabad, amid heavy shelling and tear gassing by the Punjab police.
“The reaction of the state depends entirely on the peripheries that the state draws itself,” said Dawar, adding that political affiliation and ethnicity seems to be the decider for how you get treated by the state.
“There is still no equality; if there was, yesterday would have gone down a lot differently,” he said.
Dawar talked about how politicians were able to make speeches all but attacking the establishment directly, and yet PTM activists get jailed for saying a lot less.
PTI Chairperson Imran Khan, in speeches from before his long march, had been drawing allegories between historic traitors Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq and the establishment.
Ali Wazir still incarcerated
Meanwhile, PTM affiliated MNA Ali Wazir has been jailed since December 2020 for allegedly making ‘hate speeches’ targeting the military, and has been charged with sedition.
However, despite the change of government, Ali Wazir’s bail keeps getting delayed. According to Mohsin, Ali Wazir’s should have been released by now.
He says he raised this issue in parliament recently, asking if courts could open past midnight and prominent politicians could openly hurl abuses at the establishment in their speeches without any repercussions, then why were PTM activists being detained for lesser offences?
However, he said that the decisions and actions taken by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led coalition government will determine if they are going to be different, or just another version of the last government.