On the 2nd of February, Arman Luni was killed in an alleged police encounter in the Loralai district of Balochistan.

Arman Luni

Luni, was a senior member of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a nationalist movement launched in 2017 in response to the extra-judicial killing of Naqeebullah Meshsud. For many, the PTM is a movement shrouded in conspiracy theories, it has been dubbed as anti-state by many, which has led to a widespread media blackout.

Manzoor Pashteen, leader of PTM

The movement is led from the front by 26 year old Manzoor Pashteen, a human rights activist hailing from Waziristan. Pashteen, is known for his open criticism of the army discrimination against Pashtoons.

What happened to Arman Luni?

The confirmation came minutes after multiple tweets claimed Luni had been killed in a police crackdown on PTM’s peaceful protest demonstration in Loralai which entered its fourth day on Saturday.

This isn’t the first time, a man has been killed by the police in a bogus encounter. The Sahiwal incident that occurred earlier this month, raised hue and cry on a national level, capturing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s attention and ensuring that legal proceedings would be undertaken. Last year, the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud rocked the nation.

Human Rights Watch has reported that more than 2000 people might have been killed in fake encounters by the Pakistani Police. That’s a big problem.  Principally, morally and numerically.

The Pashtuns

While forced disappearances remain a nation wide issue, the Pushtuns bear the brunt of it. Ever since the APS attack, they have been treated like criminals, dragged out of their homes and questioned due to their Afghani heritage.

Basically the sort of discrimination many muslims faced in the United States post 9/11.  

Mixed Opinions

The conservative right have not hid their feelings of displeasure towards the PTM. For them, the movement is a foriegn conspiracy designed to dismantle the state of Pakistan. While the media doesn’t openly support it, it doesn’t discourage it either. However, media analysts and various influencers have gone as far as calling the PTM treacherous.

People supporting the movement are often labbelled as the liberal fundos, meaning liberal fundamentalists.

Is there a way forward?

The problem is, incidents like these only increase fear in the people who want to speak up. Add that to the mix of futile media outlets that are surviving on old and challanged revenue models, the situation looks bleak for the Pashtuns. As these incidents increase in number, we do see the tide changing against police enocunters, although some would say police were never the real issue. Regardless, due to increased awareness, the public and media’s opinion is aligned against such forced encounters. While this may not be a silver lining, it shows a positive trend.

Naya Pakistan

It has been more than 6 months since the government has been in power. While Imran Khan has launched multiple initiatives that are improving quality of life of civilians, the true measure of freedom is how you treat your most difficult opponent. The time to ignore hard hitting questions on the perimeter of how long the state will remain quiet on such issues is gone. The government has some serious questions to answer. Lives are at stake.

Right to protest

Whether you agree with the PTM or disagree, everybody has the constitutional right to protest. The bottom line is that the lives of Pakistanis should be honoured and respected regardless of caste, creed colour or religious inclination, and there is nothing that excuses extra judicial killing.

It is an unfortunate truth that people like Hafiz Saeed, Ludhianvi, Ehsan Ullah and Abdul Aziz enjoy state protection but the students who dare to march peacefully are silenced and shot dead without accountability.

The Slain Arman Loni’s sister has a powerful message addressed for Pashtuns, but we can all learn a thing or two from it:


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