From Human Rights Watch
Ethnic Pashtuns in Pakistan have been protesting the death of activist Arman Luni on February 2 as the latest outrage against this beleaguered community.
Luni, a leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a social movement for Pashtun rights, died during a sit-in in Balochistan province’s Lorelai district. The police reported that Luni died of a heart attack following clashes between police and protesters. But his supporters allege he died from torture while in police custody. Balochistan’s chief minister has ordered an inquiry into the death.
Many Pashtun Pakistanis live in the region previously known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the embattled area bordering Afghanistan that in recent years has endured attacks by the Taliban armed group, government military offensives, and US drone strikes. The tribal areas were governed by colonial-era regulations that allowed collective punishment for entire communities, including property destruction and denial of access to courts.
The PTM protested loudly the alleged extrajudicial killing by police of Naqeebullah Mehsud, 27, a shopkeeper and aspiring model in Karachi in January 2018. Demonstrations have since taken place across the country, and authorities have responded by cracking down on the protests and filing criminal charges.
In May 2018, Pakistan’s parliament passed a constitutional amendment merging the tribal areas with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and extending the constitutional protections previously denied to the people of the tribal areas. Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a task force to oversee the integration of the tribal areas in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
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