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Pashtuns' struggle for rights cannot be silenced through violence

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On May 1, Arif Wazir, a politician, activist, and one of the leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), was shot by "unidentified men" near his home in Wana, South Waziristan. He was swiftly rushed to a local hospital and then transferred to a larger hospital in Islamabad for life-saving treatment, but his wounds ultimately proved fatal and he died early on May 2.

Arif's murder was only the latest in a series of attacks against our movement, which is working to uproot illegal armed groups from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and hold the Pakistani military to account for the crimes and human rights abuses it committed against our people, the Pashtuns, in its war against these groups.

Arif's killing devastated us, but it did not harm our resolve to bring justice to our people. On the contrary, it reinvigorated our struggle for rights, equality, and accountability.

Despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, tens of thousands of people attended Arif's funeral in his hometown of Wana on May 3. The unprecedented turnout had a clear underlying message: We will resist any attempt to silence our plight.

In the days following his funeral, supporters of the PTM protested against his murder in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and around the world. They called on the Pakistani authorities to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. More significantly, they reiterated our demands for an end to illegal killings and forced disappearances by the security forces, the removal of landmines, and the right to live peaceful and dignified lives in our........

© Al Jazeera