Pakistan Allows Pashtun Rally in Karachi after Dillydallying, Intimidation

A number of activists who supported the rally, including a professor at the University of Karachi, have gone missing.

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) was allowed to hold a rally in Karachi on Sunday after the Pakistani government initially changed the venue and denied boarding to the group’s leader who was going for the event from Islamabad.

A Karachi police official told local media that the authorities had given permission to the PTM, or the Pashtun Protection Movement, for the rally at a ground near Al-Asif Square in Sohrab Goth with “certain conditions.”

A number of activists who supported the rally, including a professor at the University of Karachi, have gone missing. Many PTM activists were picked up from outside the Karachi Press Club last month. This week, more PTM supporters, who had gone for seeking permission from the Commissioner of Karachi were picked up from outside his office.

A PTM office-bearer said nine workers and supporters were already “missing” in the city.

Students, intellectuals and political activists gathered at the National Press Club in Islamabad on Saturday to protest the alleged crackdown against PTM organisers and activists in Karachi ahead of the rally.

After being denied air travel — first from Islamabad and then from Lahore — PTM chief Manzoor Ahmed Pashteen finally proceeded to Karachi by road on Saturday to attend the rally.

Pashteen claimed that he had booked a seat on a private airline from Islamabad to Karachi on Saturday morning. When he reached the check-in counter, he was refused the boarding pass on “technical grounds” and was told that there was no booking in his name.

However, his three colleagues were issued boarding passes and they departed for Karachi in the flight, Pashteen said.

An airline official confirmed that Pashteen was not issued the boarding pass because his booking was not there in the system.

In response to a question, he denied that the airline had cancelled the booking after receiving instructions from somewhere.

Pashteen said he travelled by road to Lahore to catch another flight from there, but alleged that he was prevented from reaching the airport through strict checking at a checkpost near Lahore airport.

Pashteen also said that throughout his journey, his car was trailed by two cars with men who were brandishing weapons.

Expresstribune

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