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Are India & Afghanistan Supporting Manzoor Pashteen?

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Islamabad has advised Afghan President Ashraf Ghani against meddling in its “internal matters” of Pakistan after he tweeted his concerns over the arrest of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen.

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“We have noted with serious concern the recent tweets by President Ashraf Ghani, which are a clear interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs and hence, unwarranted,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office following Ghani’s remarks on Monday.

Pashteen was arrested by the Peshawar police earlier in the day on sedition charges and sent on a 14-day judicial remand.  Hours after his arrest, the Afghan president on his official Twitter handle expressed concerns saying: “I am troubled by the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen and his colleagues. I fully echo the concerns raised by [the] Amnesty International in this regard and hope for their immediate release.”

“While our region is suffering from atrocities caused by violent extremism and terrorism… governments in the region must support and encourage peaceful civilian movements for justice and must avoid any means of force and violence against these movements,” he wrote on another tweet.

The president also urged that the difference with “such peaceful” movements should be dealt through peaceful means.

In the response, the FO statement further said such statements are not helpful for the promotion of cordial relations between the two neighbouring countries. “Pakistan wishes to maintain close and cordial relations with Afghanistan based on the principles of non-intervention and non-interference,” the communique said.

Earlier, Pakistan had accused the PTM of getting funds from Afghanistan’s secret agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

“Those who playing in others hands, their time is up,” Ghafoor had stated, adding that possible action against the PTM would not harm anyone.

This was the first time the military spoke about dealing with the PTM. Previously, while the army did express reservations over the PTM’s protests and their activities, it never expressed inclination towards taking any action.

Unlike earlier news briefing, the Pakistan officials in April 2019, started to openly talk about the alleged role being played by NDS and RAW in the ongoing protest movement of the PTM. The DG-ISPR had challenged the PTM leadership to disclose that from where they were getting the funds for their so-called movement. “On the PTM website, they have got a number that states the amount of funds they have collected from Pashtuns around the world. But they have much more funds than actually shown. We have the details,” the ISPR director-general said.

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