Pashtun Tahafuz Movement fails to draw huge masses at Peshawar as was hoped by the organizers of the group that demands equal rights for Pashtuns.
Many activists from the group had claimed the April 8th rally would break all records of attendees for any gathering in the history of the province. However, the turnout seemed dismal from the start of the day.
At the peak of the rally, the maximum number of attendees could not have been more than five to six thousand people, said Zareen Khan, a participant of the rally. Rain also played its part and disrupted the momentum of the rally, he further said.
Another important factor was the very low turnout of the local people attending the rally. Most of the attendees came from various areas of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), especially Waziristan and Khyber Agency. There was also some presence of people from Swat.
However, PTM’s message was largely ignored by the main Pashtun Belt such as Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera, Charsadda and Swabi.
Salar Yousafzay, an attendant from Peshawar expressed his disappointment with PTM after hearing anti Army slogans in the rally.
“Some of the participants chant anti Army and pro Azadi slogans.
“This is not what I came for. I support in principal that Pashtuns’ rights must be upheld.
“However, I can not condone any sinister movement to plant a discord between the people and Army”, explained Salar.
The organizers of the rally however, are adamant that their movement is strictly non-political and only strives for the equal rights of Pashtuns. “We believe in the constitution of Pakistan and we will never do anything unconstitutional”, they maintain.