Manzoor Pashteen, a popular military critic, was held for "disturbing public order" ahead of a planned rally on Monday. His group, the PTM, has accused security forces of conducting extrajudicial killings.
Police in Pakistan arrested Manzoor Pashteen, a popular military critic and the leading figure of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), on Monday morning in the northwestern city of Peshawar for disturbing public order, according to his family.
Members of the PTM, which was founded in 2018, have accused the military of conducting extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and unlawful detentions.
On Twitter, Mohsin Dawar, a PTM leader and Pakistani lawmaker, decried the arrest. "This is our punishment for demanding our rights in a peaceful & democratic manner," he wrote. He also urged PTM supporters to remain calm after the arrest.
According to the English-language newspaper Daily Times, the group has also called for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework. Additionally, the group is advocating for the de-mining of tribal areas and greater freedom of movement.
According to Dawn, the party has been particularly critical of the army's policies in the country's tribal belt, where an operation against terrorists was conducted. The PTM has also pursued the release of individuals detained without due process.
Pashteen has led demonstrations of tens of thousands of people in the past. The army accuses the party of running an anti-national agenda, and Pashteen of making false accusations against the military. The PTM was set to hold a public rally on Monday in the town of Tank, Dawar said.
The Pashtuns are a minority in Pakistan, residing primarily in the northwest of the country close to the Afghan border.