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In Pakistan, a Pashtun Cry for Equality and Justice

25 621 5377
11.02.2019

I lost my home in 2009 when a major operation by the Pakistan military forced us to leave our village in South Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Around 37 million Pashtuns live in this region that includes the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas — which have now been merged with the province — and parts of southwestern Baluchistan province. Our impoverished region has been desolated by the long war on terrorism.

When I was in high school, we moved to Dera Ismail Khan, a city around 100 miles away. Ours was yet another family among six million people who have been displaced from the region since Pakistan joined the war on terror in 2001. Tens of thousands of Pashtuns have been killed in terror attacks and military operations since.

But our economic and political rights, and our suffering has remained invisible to most of Pakistan and the world because the region was seen as a dangerous frontier after numerous militants moved there after the fall of the Taliban.

The government ignored us when these militants terrorized and murdered the residents. Pakistan’s military operations against the militants brought further misery: civilian killings, displacements, enforced disappearances, humiliation and the destruction of our livelihoods and way of life. No journalists were allowed into the tribal areas while the military operations were going on.

Pashtuns who fled the region in hopes of rebuilding their lives in Pakistani cities were greeted with suspicion and hostility. We were stereotyped as terrorist sympathizers. I was studying to become a veterinarian, but the plight of my people forced me and several friends to become activists.

In January........

© The New York Times