Pashtun tahafuz movement leader manzoor pashteen image
Current Affairs - Community - Culture

Pashtun Tahafuz Movement

Introduction to the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) or Pakhton Tahafuz movement emerged as a social  movement among the Pashtun community in Pakistan, predominantly in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Its origins trace back to May 2014, when eight students in Dera Ismail Khan founded the movement. Originally named the “Mahsud Tahafuz Movement,” it underwent a name change on February 1, 2018, to become the “Pashtun Tahafuz Movement.

It advocates for the rights and freedoms of Pashtuns, emphasizing the need for accountability for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other injustices that the community has long endured.

Goals and Objectives of the PTM

The charter of demands: 

A detailed explanation of the PTM’s objectives can be found in its charter of demands, a comprehensive document outlining the group’s demands for justice and accountability. Some key points include: 

Removal of landmines:

 The PTM demands the removal of landmines from the tribal areas, which have caused countless civilian casualties.

End to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances:

 This is a significant demand since Pashtuns have been disproportionately affected by such actions carried out by Pakistani security forces.

Right to freedom of movement and expression: 

The PTM believes that Pashtuns should have the right to move freely and express themselves without fear of violence or oppression.

Compensation for those affected by war:

 The movement calls for fair compensation for those who have lost their loved ones, homes, and businesses in the decades-long war on terror.

End to enforced disappearances:

 The PTM calls for an end to the practice of enforced disappearances, where individuals are taken into custody by state security forces without due process.

Equal rights for Pashtuns:

The main objective of the PTM is to ensure that Pashtuns are granted equal rights and opportunities as other citizens of Pakistan. This includes access to education, healthcare, employment, and political representation without

The movement’s impact on Pashtun rights and political discourse

Milestones of the PTM

Major protests and campaigns spearheaded by the movement include the “Long March” in 2018, which saw thousands of Pashtuns march from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Islamabad to raise awareness of their demands.

The PTM has also held numerous public meetings and rallies across Pakistan, including in major cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta.

One significant milestone for the movement was when its leader, Manzoor Pashteen, was named one of Time Magazine’s “Next Generation Leaders” in 2018.

In the 2018 Pakistani general elections, the PTM endorsed candidates who supported their demands and won several seats in the National Assembly.

Criticism and Controversies

Despite its non-violent approach, the PTM has faced criticism and backlash from the Pakistani government and security forces. Some critics have accused the movement of having ties to foreign powers, while others claim it promotes anti-state sentiments.

In April 2019, Pashteen was arrested on charges of sedition for making a speech criticizing the government’s policies towards Pashtuns.

The PTM has also faced violent attacks during their peaceful protests, leading to the death of several activists.

The Role of Social Media and Advocacy

Social media as a platform for mobilization and awareness has played a crucial role in the rise and spread of the PTM.

Through online campaigns, the movement has garnered support from both national and international communities.

The movement’s hashtags, such as #JusticeForNaqeeb, Pashtun Long March, and PTMLive, have trended on social media platforms, amplifying their message and reaching a wider audience.

Case studies: Influential campaigns and their outcomes

Justice For Naqeeb:

This hashtag emerged in January 2018 when a young Pashtun man, Naqeebullah Mehsud, was killed in a fake police encounter in Karachi.

The PTM and its supporters used social media to demand justice for Naqeeb’s extrajudicial killing, which sparked nationwide protests.

The movement’s efforts resulted in the arrest and trial of the police officer involved in Naqeeb’s death, bringing some measure of justice to his family.


This hashtag gained popularity during the PTM’s “Long March” in 2018, when thousands of Pashtuns marched to Islamabad to raise awareness of their demands.

The movement used live streaming on social media platforms to document their journey and share updates with their supporters worldwide.

This effectively countered mainstream media’s lack of coverage and helped the movement gain more visibility and support.  

Leadership and the Structure of the PTM

Profiles Founding members and their contributions:

Manzoor Pashteen

The founder and leader of the PTM rose to prominence following his vocal criticism against the state’s policies towards Pashtuns. He has been named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and continues to be a prominent figure in the movement.

Mohsin Dawar: 

A member of the National Assembly from North Waziristan, who has emerged as a leading voice for Pashtun rights and accountability for state atrocities. He has been arrested multiple times for activism and remains a key figure in the PTM’s leadership.

Ali Wazir:

 A member of the National Assembly from South Waziristan, who has been a vocal advocate for landmine clearance and justice for victims of enforced disappearances. He was arrested in 2019 along with Pashteen on charges of sedition but was later released on bail.

Hayat Preghal:

 The movement’s spokesperson and a prominent activist from the Mohmand district. He has been at the forefront of many of the PTM’s protests and campaigns, using his eloquence to amplify their demands.

Idrees Pashteen:

 A young activist and the nephew of Manzoor Pashteen, who has been actively involved in the PTM’s social media campaigns and advocacy efforts.

Abdullah Nangyal:

 A student activist and one of the youngest members of the PTM, who has been vocal about the struggles faced by Pashtun youth and their need for education and employment opportunities.

Fazal Advocate:

 A human rights lawyer and activist providing legal support to PTM activists and victims of state atrocities. He has also been a key figure in advocating for the release of arrested PTM leaders.

Kamran Bacha:

 Another prominent activist and PTM’s core committee member has been actively involved in organizing protests and spreading awareness about the movement’s demands.

The structure and decision-making process within the PTM: 

The PTM follows a decentralized approach to decision-making, with the core leadership consisting of Pashteen, Dawar, Ismail, and Wazir. However, decisions are made through consensus among all members of the movement.

Challenges and Future Outlook

Despite facing criticism and backlash from state authorities, the PTM continues to gain momentum and support for its demands. Some of the challenges it faces include:

Ongoing violence and repression by state security forces.

Lack of mainstream media coverage and negative portrayal in pro-government media outlets.

The government attempts to silence the movement through arrests, intimidation, and censorship.

However, the PTM remains resilient in achieving its goals, impacting Pashtun rights in Pakistan and beyond. Continuing support for PTM is crucial for lasting change and justice for Pashtuns. Let’s stand in solidarity with PTM’s peaceful struggle for a better future for all marginalized communities in Pakistan, advocating for dignity and equality for every individual. PTM shows the power of…

The PTM follows a horizontal leadership.

  • Organizational structure and decision-making processes within the movement:

The PTM operates on a decentralized structure with various local chapters and leaders in different regions of Pakistan.

Decisions are made through consensus among its members, and there is no formal hierarchy or leadership beyond Manzoor Pashteen.

The movement also has a women’s wing that plays a significant role in organizing and advocating for women’s rights within the movement.

The influence of social media on the PTM’s organizational structure:

Social media has played a crucial role in the PTM’s decentralized approach, allowing for a wider reach and more efficient communication among its members.

It has also empowered individual activists to become leaders and play important roles in organizing protests and campaigns through online platforms.

The use of social media has also challenged traditional power dynamics within the movement and encouraged a more inclusive decision-making process.

Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir: 

They elected members of parliament and prominent leaders within the movement.

Gulalai Ismail: A women’s rights activist and founding member of the PTM, known for her vocal criticism against state atrocities towards women and children in Pashtun communities.

Khalid Khan Orakzai: 

A journalist and activist from Kurram district has been actively involved in the PTM’s advocacy efforts and documenting human rights violations against Pashtuns.

Fazal Khan Afridi: 

A student leader from Khyber Agency and a prominent voice for education and employment opportunities for Pashtun youth.

The PTM’s future outlook remains hopeful as it continues to gain support and momentum in its fight for justice and equal rights for Pashtuns. With strong leadership, a decentralized approach, and the use of social media, the movement has shown its resilience and determination to achieve.

Organizational hierarchy and functioning:

As mentioned, the PTM follows a decentralized approach to decision-making and does not have a formal hierarchy. However, some key figures are significant in the movement’s leadership and decision-making process. These include:

Manzoor Pashteen – The founder and leader of the PTM.

Mohsin Dawar – A member of the National Assembly and a prominent voice for Pashtun rights within the movement.

Ali Wazir – Another member of the National Assembly and an advocate for landmine clearance and justice for enforced disappearances in Pashtun communities.

Hayat Preghal – The spokesperson for the movement and a key figure in organizing protests and campaigns.

Gulalai Ismail is a women’s rights activist and founding member of the PTM.

Fazal Advocate – A human rights lawyer and activist providing legal support to PTM activists and victims of state atrocities.

Kamran Bacha – An activist and member of the PTM’s core committee, involved in organizing protests and spreading awareness about the movement’s demands. 

The PTM’s decentralized approach has enabled a more inclusive decision-making process. It has also empowered individuals to assume leadership roles within the movement. This structure also makes it difficult for the government to target specific leaders and weaken the movement as a whole.

However, this structure also poses challenges in coordination and communication, especially with different local chapters operating independently.

Challenges Confronting the PTM

Political pushbacks and legal hurdles:

The PTM has faced political pushback and legal hurdles in its advocacy efforts. The government has attempted to silence the movement through arrests and court cases.

Lack of media coverage:

Mainstream media outlets in Pakistan have largely ignored or negatively portrayed the PTM’s activities and demands, making it challenging for the movement to reach a wider audience.

Security threats and violence:

PTM leaders and activists have faced security threats, harassment, and violence from state authorities and militant groups. This has led to several instances of arrests, disappearances, and even assassinations of PTM members.

Despite challenges, PTM gains support for Pashtuns’ rights. Resilience inspires marginalized communities in Pakistan and beyond. Support PTM for a better future. Stand in solidarity, raise awareness, and amplify voices for justice. Learn from PTM’s decentralized approach and use social media for advocacy. Unity, determination, and non-violent resistance can drive real change. Let’s join hands.

Internal dynamics and external pressures:

The PTM has faced criticism and pressure from various actors, including state authorities, political parties, and militant groups. This has led to internal debates and divisions within the movement on certain issues, such as the use of violence in self-defense.

Moreover, external pressures have also affected the PTM’s funding sources and international support, making it difficult for the movement to sustain its activities and campaigns. 

However, the PTM has continued to navigate these challenges and remains a strong voice for Pashtun rights, gaining support and momentum in Pakistan and globally. The movement’s decentralized structure and inclusive decision-making process have allowed it to adapt and evolve in the face of challenges, demonstrating its resilience and determination to achieve justice for Pashtuns. 

PTM’s Place in the Broader Human Rights Context

Comparison with other human rights movements globally

The PTM’s fight for justice and equal rights for Pashtuns is not a standalone movement but part of a broader human rights context in Pakistan and globally. Like other human rights movements worldwide, the PTM advocates for marginalized communities and challenges systemic oppression and discrimination.

Importance of global solidarity and support

The PTM’s international reach and support have been crucial in amplifying its demands. It has also raised awareness about the human rights violations against Pashtuns. The movement has drawn inspiration from other global human rights movements. It fights for justice, similar to Black Lives Matter.

Lessons for other marginalized communities

The PTM’s decentralized approach and utilization of social media for advocacy can serve as a model for other marginalized communities facing similar challenges in raising their voices and demanding justice. The movement’s non-violent resistance also highlights the power of peaceful protests and campaigns in bringing about real change.

In conclusion, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement has emerged as a significant force.

  • PTM’s contributions to the international human rights dialogue and its emphasis on non-violent resistance have inspired marginalized communities in Pakistan and beyond to stand up for their rights.
  • The movement’s decentralized structure, effective use of social media, and resilience in the face of challenges are valuable lessons for other movements seeking justice and equality. 

Supporting the PTM means standing in solidarity with Pashtuns and promoting a more inclusive and just society for all communities in Pakistan. Let’s continue to raise awareness and support the PTM in their fight for justice. So, let’s unite our voices and join hands with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement to create a better future for all. 


The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement is a powerful force for justice and equality in Pakistan. It advocates for the rights of marginalized Pashtun communities. Despite facing numerous challenges, the movement has remained resilient and inclusive in its approach, gaining local and international support. The PTM’s fight is not just for Pashtuns but for all marginalized communities worldwide, inspiring unity, determination, and non-violent resistance.

Let us continue to support and stand in solidarity with the PTM. They are on a journey towards a more inclusive and just society for all.. So, let’s join hands with the PTM and raise our voices for justice and equality. Together, we can make a difference. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)?

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement is a social and human rights movement in Pakistan. It advocates for the rights and freedoms of the Pashtun people. It emerged in response to human rights violations, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances of Pashtuns.

How can I support the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement?

You can support the PTM by raising awareness about the movement and its objectives. Participate in peaceful protests and engage with its campaigns on social media. Consider providing financial support for its advocacy work.

Has the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement made any progress in its objectives?

Despite significant challenges, the PTM has made progress in garnering international attention to Pashtuns’ issues. It has inspired dialogue and fostered unity and resilience among marginalized communities.

Is the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement exclusively for Pashtuns?

While the PTM primarily advocates for Pashtun rights, it promotes values of justice and equality that transcend ethnicity. The movement encourages all marginalized groups to fight for their rights and dignity.

Why is the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement compared to the Black Lives Matter movement?

The PTM and Black Lives Matter are human rights movements fighting against systemic oppression and advocating for marginalized communities. Observers often draw parallels between the methods and objectives of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and those of Black Lives Matter. They note their peaceful approaches and global resonance.

Is the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement aligned with any political parties in Pakistan?

The PTM operates as an independent movement and does not officially align with any political parties. It seeks to maintain its autonomy to focus exclusively on human rights advocacy.

How does the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement use social media for advocacy?

The PTM utilizes social media platforms for information dissemination and event organization. It also documents human rights abuses and engages with a global audience. This compensates for the lack of mainstream media coverage.

Can people outside Pakistan support the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement?

Yes, international support is crucial for the PTM. People outside Pakistan can contribute by amplifying the movement’s message on social media. They can engage in advocacy within their communities. Additionally, they can put pressure on international bodies to recognize and address the plight of Pashtuns.

2 Comments on “Pashtun Tahafuz Movement

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