By Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza
London,[UK] May 03 (ANI): On May 1 deep in northern Pakistan, Arif Wazir, leader of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), was driving home on a quiet road to break his fast when "unknown" assassins caught up with him and began to spray his car with bullets fired from automatic weapons.
One bullet struck his arm followed by two others that hit him in the neck and head. Arif was now profusely bleeding and collapsed on his car seat. Job done, the assassins fled the scene.
Thousands of Twitter fans who follow Mohsen Dawar, leader of PTM and member of the national assembly (lower house) of Pakistan, began to receive notifications that "an ambulance carrying Arif Wazir has reached DHQ hospital in DIK (Dera Ismail Khan). He was attacked by state-sponsored militants".
At the hospital, nurses struggled to locate a depressed cephalic vein in his arm in order to set up a cannula for blood transfusion while another doctor struggled to insert a tube down the trachea to help him breathe artificially. Pressure bandage was applied to his head wound and his neck wound hurriedly stitched. An unconscious Arif was then rushed to PIMS hospital, which is located more than 350 kilometers away in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.
Arif Wazir had been arrested on April 17 under charges that he delivered anti- Pakistan speech while on a visit to Afghanistan. However, he was released just two days before he was gunned down.
Emergency surgery was performed at PIMS but Arif Wazir succumbed to his injuries and breathed his last on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, on March 2, a Pakistani journalist by the name of Sajid Hussain Baluch was last seen in the city of Stockholm in Sweden boarding a train to Uppsala.
Mysteriously, however, he disappears from the sight of CCTV and never arrived in Uppsala.
On April 23, Sajid's body was found dumped in River Fyris outside Uppsala. He was 39. Sajid was a critic of ongoing extrajudicial killings, forced abductions and disappearances in Baluchistan. He was the chief editor of the Baluchistan Times, an online news website that openly discussed drug trafficking, forced disappearances, and militant insurgency in Baluchistan. After receiving death threats Sajid left Pakistan in 2012 arriving in Sweden in 2017 where he was granted political asylum in 2019.
The death of Sajid Hussain is a warning to all those who are working from exile exposing the demon that Pakistan military has been cultivating since the period Afghan War.
The common element between the two above-mentioned deaths is the link to the struggle against the brutal atrocities committed against the Pashtun and the Baluch indigenous people by Pakistan army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), as well as their intense opposition to terrorist outfit Taliban that is also a brainchild of the Pakistan army and ISI.
Since the American invasion and subsequent dislodging of the Taliban government of Afghanistan during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York, most of the Taliban commanders, as well as Al-Qaeda's chief Osama Bin Laden, secretly relocated to Pakistan where they were covertly accommodated by the Pakistan army and the ISI.
The then military ruler of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf saw an opportunity to make good bucks by supporting the American war on terror and began to launch US-funded military operations in Waziristan. Hundreds of villages were razed to the ground and thousands of alleged Taliban militants were killed. Targets were frequently identified by the Pakistan military for drone attacks conducted by the US from afar. Military check posts were erected and mines were laid throughout the length and breadth of the land causing severe inconvenience for travelers killing hundreds of people especially children as they stepped on unidentified mines.
In May 2014, at Gomal University in Dera Ismail Khan, a group of students from the Mehsud tribe in Waziristan decided to campaign for the removal of mines from their ancestral villages.
They named their organization Mehsud Tahafuz (protection) Movement and declared it to be non-violent in the tradition of late Khan Ghaffar Khan popularly referred to as the Sarhadi (Frontier) Gandhi.
It was not until 2018 when a young man by the name of Naqeebullah Mehsud was shot dead under a fake encounter staged by the police officer by the name of Rao Anwar that the movement gained wide popularity.
Its name was changed to Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) to include the voice of the wider Pashtun population. It was during the speeches made by the PTM leaders at public meetings that the people of Pakistan realized that the Pakistan military never targeted the Taliban during their operations.
The Taliban were informed of the impending strikes and attacks facilitating them to flee the area yet devastating military attacks were conducted targeting the innocent Pashtun rural civilian population. Tanks were rolled over the fields and mud houses, villagers were lined up and killed execution-style and presented to the Americans as dead Taliban.
It seems that the Doha Agreement signed between the American and the Taliban in February this year offers some sort of peaceful settlement between Pakistan sponsored Taliban and America. Seemingly, it does not apply to the ongoing Taliban menace in Afghanistan and Waziristan where the Taliban continue to act as proxies of Pakistan military.
To bring to an end to the ongoing attacks of civilian political representatives like Arif Wazir would need more than false promises made in the Doha agreement.
Arif Wazir who was gunned down by on May 2 lost 18 members of his family during such fake encounters. He was a leader of the PTM and had just returned from a visit to Afghanistan. His cousin Ali Wazir a member of the national assembly has lost all his brothers and his father in a similar way.
The murders of Arif Wazir and Sajid Baluch are a stark reminder of the war on terror that is now being conducted by a military establishment which now feels terrorised by those who are determined to expose the true nature of the so-called war on terror in Pakistan.
Recently, Baluchistan freedom fighters, Gandhian leaders of the non-violent PTM in Waziristan and the statement by Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Urdu speaking leader Altaf Hussain declaring his support for Sindhi nationalists who are fighting for the establishment of a separate homeland called Sindhu Desh has sounded the bugle of the final hour of the colonial occupation of Baluchistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistani occupied Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan leading to desperate measures of Pakistan army.
(Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the United Kingdom.) (ANI