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13 April 2024

Pakistan arrests human rights leader who criticized army


Pakistani security forces on Monday arrested the leader of a human rights group that has accused the military of committing widespread abuses in its war on terror.

Manzoor Pashteen was detained along with six others in a pre-dawn raid in the the northwestern city of Peshawar, said Javed Khan, a local police official.

He said Pashteen was arrested on charges of making anti-government speeches at rallies and inciting violence. He provided no further details.

Pashteen, 27, heads the Pashtun Protection Movement, which has emerged as a force among the country’s Pashtun minority, drawing tens of thousands to rallies. The group contends that the military is waging a campaign of intimidation as it battles Islamist militants in the country's rugged border region near Afghanistan. The group says the army's heavy-handed tactics include extrajudicial killings and thousands of disappearances and detentions.

Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker who is also a member of the group, confirmed Pashteen's arrest. He told The Associated Press that police were taking Pashteen to Dera Ismail Khan, a town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

He said Pashteen was apparently arrested on charges of attending anti-government rallies.
Pashteen’s supporters condemned his arrest on social media, while others praised the police action, saying a "traitor” had been arrested.