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Is NDM a Splinter Group of PTM?

By announcing his own political party, Mohsin Dawar seems to have parted ways with PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen.

A round two months back, Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) announced to hold a public meeting in Makeen area of South Waziristan tribal district on 27 July. According to insiders, a day before the moot, a delegation of the PTM approached Mohsin Dawar, requesting him not to turn up in the next day’s power show.

Dawar is a member of the National Assembly from North Waziristan who was once a leading figure of the PTM. The late night mission of the delegation is believed to have the blessing of PTM’s poster boy and head Manzoor Pashteen.

The reason they presented before Dawar, who came to South Waziristan to persuade the people to participate in the jalsa to make it a success, was that the people of South Waziristan, dominated by Mehsud tribesmen, may humiliate him.

Mohsin disregarded the advice and remained adamant on participating in the jalsa. In the event, no untoward event happened at the public meeting. It was, indeed, a clear sign of rift between Manzoor Pashteen and Mohsin Dawar.

A month later, Mohsin Dawar launched his political party—National Democratic Movement (NDM)—at a media conference in Peshawar, parting ways with the movement for all practical purposes.

Dawar’s media conference of 2 September 2021 drew harsh reaction from Manzoor Pashteen, who in a media talk expressed profound resentment over the formation of the new political party and even categorically refused to felicitate his former PTM comrades for forming a new party.

Formation of the NDM has raised serious questions over the future of the PTM, for a number of founding members of the movement have deserted Pashteen, joining hands with Mohsin Dawar.

A section in the PTM strongly advocates the apolitical status of the movement. They argue that PTM is an inclusive Pashtun movement, attracting Pashtuns from all walks of the life, including people from diverse political backgrounds.

But at the same time, another group sees Parliament as the most vibrant forum to raise the voice for the rights of Pashtuns.

These two contradicting viewpoints finally resulted in the division of the PTM.

In retrospect, the PTM distanced itself from Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir when they decided to contest the general election of 2018 from North and South Waziristan, respectively. Both the PTM stalwarts succeeded to make it to the National Assembly.

On the other hand, Manzoor Pashteen disseminated a number of video messages, categorically declaring that PTM has nothing to do with their decision to contest election. But there is no denying the fact that the PTM support was one of the major factors behind their triumph.

The detractors of Manzoor Pashteen say that it was the sense of insecurity, which forced Manzoor Pashteen to keep maneuvering to oust Mohsin Dawar from the movement.

To lend credence to their assertion, they say that the political figures of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) are acceptable to Manzoor Pashteen to, at times, dominate even the policymaking process of the movement. But Mohsin Dawar, a founding member of the PTM, was not allowed to play any role, even advisory, in the movement.

“Compared to Pashteen, Mohsin Dawar is well-educated, politically mature and well-articulated especially while dealing with the foreign media. This indeed triggered a sense of insecurity in Manzoor Pashteen whose all energies, during the last two years, were focused on alienating Mohsin Dawar,” said an insider who wished not to be named.

Talking to the Truth International, Dr. Muhammad Zubair said that the reaction of Manzoor Pashteen over the formation of NDM “was extremely disappointing for me and [now] I know that this bus is going down the hell without having any brakes.”

Zubair is a Mehsud tribesman who has done his PhD on law and democracy from Indiana University in the USA and who also remained a member of the PTM’s intellectual advisory team.

He minces no words saying “the PTM is done” because of Manzoor Pashteen and he is done in the eyes of history. “Whatever the PTM has achieved, has achieved.”

But he hastens to add that PTM has played a pivotal role in giving a boost to Pashtun nationalism, which he considers a great achievement. The political movements that will arise among the Pashtuns, if ever, they will basically start from the point where PTM left.

A number of PTM activists the Truth International talked to agree with Zubair that over the last two years PTM has been reduced to just issuing statements instead of launching aggressive protests on various critical issues, something it was known for.

For instance, PTM did not stage any protest or sit-in on the targeted killing of Noor Islam Dawar, the president of Youth of North Waziristan and a founding member of the PTM, on 27 August 2021.

The PTM leadership argues that the heirs of the slain leader were not ready to hand them over the body so that they could launch an effective protest. On the other hand, it is a fact that they did not have the body of Naqeebullah Mehsud but they held one of the most successful sit-ins in the history of Pakistan in Islamabad in February 2018.

Likewise, the PTM did not stage an aggressive protest drive against the ever-increasing incidents of targeted killing in Waziristan region.

There is also anger among the dissidents of the PTM over a section of the constitution of the PTM, declaring Manzoor Pashteen as the head of movement for the coming nine years. In fact, the session of the head of movement has been fixed as three years and Pashteen was made the head of the PTM for three consecutive sessions.

This supports the apprehensions of the detractors of Pashteen vis-à-vis his sense of insecurity which is evident from the fact that presently most of the senior members of the movement have been sidelined.

The other important question is would the NDM be able to present itself as a replacement of the PTM? There is no definitive answer to this question. But if the NDM honours its commitment to engaging the youth, which makes 62 percent of the country’s population, it can not only replace PTM, but can pose a real danger to the future of regional Pashtun nationalist parties, including Awami National Party and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party.

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