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March 11, 2020

Jirga presents demands to state for resolving Pashtuns’ problems

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March 11, 2020

PESHAWAR: The Pashtun leaders belonging to different political parties at a jirga on Tuesday presented a charter of demands to the state for resolving the problems confronting the Pakhtuns.

The Pashtun Qaumi Jirga held at the Bacha Khan Markaz issued a 21-point joint declaration and decided to constitute a committee on March 25 to seek implementation of its demands.

Awami National Party (ANP) head Asfandyar Wali Khan chaired the jirga. His party hosted the event at its headquarters.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) head Sirajul Haq, Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP)’s Senator Usman Kakar, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F)’s Maulana Attaur Rehman, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Hamidul Haq, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)’s Amir Muqam and other leaders attended the jirga.

Besides discussing the problems of Pashtuns in Pakistan, the jirga also deliberated on the situation in Afghanistan where unrest has impacted the Pashtuns as well as Pakistani Pashtuns.

The jirga participants welcomed the peace agreement in Afghanistan and asked the neighbouring countries and great powers to facilitate the process to bring stability to Afghanistan. It termed the intra-Afghan talks the key to restoration of durable peace in the region.

The jirga demanded an end to foreign interference in Afghanistan. “Peace in Pakistan could not be restored till complete peace in Afghanistan,” the declaration said.

The jirga expressed concern over the resurgence of militants in Pashtun areas. “Despite numerous military operations, militants are re-emerging in Pashtun areas,” it said. It asked the state to stop the militants’ resurgence and demanded protection of Pashtuns and action against all private militias.

The jirga noted that the state was responsible for rehabilitation of all the displaced people and it should fulfill its responsibility by compensating the affected persons for losses.

The Pashtun Qaumi Jirga expressed concern over the enforced disappearances of Pashtuns and said that no state institution would be allowed to make any Pashtun disappear.

The Pashtun leaders also demanded de-mining of erstwhile Fata. “The security institutions had given assurances for years about de-mining in war affected areas but the landmines have not been removed,” it said. It demanded an immediate halt to the human rights violation caused by the landmines and IEDs.

The Pashtun leaders maintained that the development work in the newly merged districts had not been initiated yet. It demanded “the implementation of the 25th constitutional amendment in letter and spirit.”

They demanded an end to conspiracies against the 18th Constitutional Amendment and called for release of the National Finance Commission award.

The jirga maintained that the stability and continuity of the federation could be ensured by acknowledging the rights of provinces over their resources. It demanded release of the net hydel profit details and asked the federal government to pay the outstanding amount to the provinces.

It also asked the federal government to accept provincial rights over the water resources and to pay the money it owes to the provinces. The jirga rejected the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mineral Act. “An organized conspiracy has been ongoing to usurp the resources of Pashtuns,” it said. Demanding halt to these conspiracies, it asked the government to restore the Pashtuns confidence on the federation as independent citizens.

The jirga rejected the Census 2017 as discriminatory against Pashtuns and demanded fresh census in Pashtun areas in the country. It called for unblocking of the national identity cards of the Pashtuns as it had caused them suffering.

It condemned racial discrimination against Pashtun students in other parts of the country and Pashtun profiling by mainstream media. “The mainstream media should give similar space to Pashtu language, culture and history as is given to Punjab,” it demanded.

The jirga demanded investigation of the alleged war crimes committed against citizens in Pashtun areas. “A Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be constituted forthwith to probe these crimes,” it demanded.

It demanded opening of all trade routes to Afghanistan and linking the merged districts with major highways. It said that the ownership of Baloch and share of Pashtuns had not been decided in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and demanded explanation from the government on this issue.

It demanded representation for Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee and the completion of the complete package of the CPEC’s western route.

It sought Pashtun rights over their agriculture, specifically tobacco produce. It rejected the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulations, restoration of Sherani and Harnai districts assembly seats and correction of de-limitation of Quetta. It rejected the privatization of public hospitals and demanded better health facilities in Pashtun areas.