Manzoor Pashteen: Activist who dared to challenge Pakistan army held

The man leading protests accusing Pakistan’s army of human rights abuses has been arrested for alleged criminal conspiracy and sedition.

Manzoor Pashteen was taken into custody in Peshawar along with nine others from his Pashtun Protection Movement.

Mr Pashteen has drawn tens of thousands to rallies in cities around Pakistan.

A fellow protest leader said he was being punished for simply demanding human rights. The powerful military, unused to criticism, denies wrongdoing.

Mr Pashteen, a charismatic former veterinary student who shot to prominence two years ago, has become the face of the Pashtun Tahaffuz (Protection) Movement (PTM), in a country where few openly challenge the military.

A number of cases highlighted by the PTM and investigated independently by the BBC came to light in a report last year.

“It has taken us almost 15 years of suffering and humiliation to gather courage to speak up, and to spread awareness about how the military trampled our constitutional rights through both direct action and a policy of support for the militants,” Manzoor Pashteen told the BBC.

The non-violent protests began over the alleged extra-judicial killing of a young man of ethnic Pashtun heritage by police in Karachi.

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