Pakistan MP demands apology from Imran Khan for equating Pashtuns with Taliban at UNGA

After facing intense criticism abroad for his defence of the Taliban, Pakistan PM Imran Khan has now received brickbats from his own country’s parliamentarian. On Monday, Mohsin Dawar submitted a resolution in Pakistan’s National Assembly demanding an apology from Khan for equating Pashtuns with the terrorist outfit. Elected to the Pakistan National Assembly in 2018 as a member of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, he has consistently spoken against the torture and killings of Pashtuns who are treated by the authorities as “third-class citizens”. He was referring to the former cricketer’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly. 

On September 24, Imran Khan said, “Then all along the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan – Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal belt – where no Pakistan army had been there since our independence, people had strong sympathies with the Afghan Taliban, not because of their religious ideology but because of Pashtun nationalism, which is very strong. Then there are three million Afghan refugees still in Pakistan- all Pashtoons, living in the camps…They all had affinity and sympathy with the Afghan Taliban.”

Refuting this charge, Dawar highlighted that thousands of Pashtuns have lost their lives to acts of terrorism perpetrated by the Taliban. He added, “This is not the first time the PM has tried to portray the Taliban as representatives of Pashtuns. As such, we demand the PM to take back what he has said and to apologise to Pashtuns for making false claims and hurting sentiments”. Even before the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, Dawar had exposed his country’s role in supporting the terrorist group. 

Atrocities against Pashtuns in Pakistan

Occupying the north-western territory of the country, Pashtuns are the second-largest ethnic group in Pakistan, representing approximately 15.42% of the population. Despite having a huge representation in the Pakistani Army, they have consistently suffered discrimination at the hands of the authorities. The killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, a young Pashtun in Karachi on January 13, 2018, led to the advent of the PTM led by Manzoor Pashteen.  

Since then, the PTM organized massive rallies in major cities of Pakistan such as Lahore, Karachi, Swat, Peshawar, and Quetta seeking justice for the death of innocent Pashtuns. As the ire of the protesters was directed at the Pakistani Army, the latter started propaganda that the PTM is being sponsored by foreign powers. Despite the opposition’s charge of massive rigging in the 2019 General Election in Pakistan, the Army was unable to prevent the election of Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir. 

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