[Dawn 17 April, 2019]

ISLAMABAD: A Senate special committee on Tuesday held a three-hour marathon session with the leadership of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and asked it to nominate a focal person for effective coordination and to present its demands in writing in order to suggest a workable solution after consultation with all stakeholders.

After listening to the grievances of the PTM leaders, including its chief Manzoor Pashteen, the special committee headed by Senator Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif decided to continue “consultative process” to resolve the outstanding issues.

According to an official handout issued by the Senate Secretariat after the meeting, the PTM chief apprised the committee of their demands and grievances. Mr Pashteen said: “Measures must be taken for resolving the issue of missing persons, demining of the landmines and for constitution of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to restore the confidence of the people of the [tribal] area.”

Sources told Dawn that the PTM leaders also expressed concern over the media blackout of their activities. Due to a bar on the media from highlighting their activities, the PTM leaders said, they had no forum to express their grievances and present their viewpoint.

According to the sources, some of the committee members suggested that a fact-finding mission be constituted to visit the tribal areas and to interview the locals to hear their viewpoint. The committee members agreed with the PTM demands and called for their prompt solution. The members were of the view that differences provided the basis for the democratic process. They termed it a “historic day” and said the Senate would raise effective voice for addressing the grievances.

Later, Senator Mushahid Hussain of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), who also attended the meeting, wrote on his official social media page on Twitter: “The three-hour marathon session saw receptive response to what the PTM leadership stated about redressing grievances, reversing wrongs/taking concrete policy measures to alleviate long-standing problems with the Senate committee serving as bridge, since dialogue on issues is the way forward.”

In another tweet, the PML-N senator said: “Historic meeting at Parliament of Senate Special Committee where PTM delegation invited to address parliamentarians, with articulate and charismatic Manzoor Pashteen giving detailed presentation on developments in Fata, MNA Mohsin Dawar also present; candid and cordial dialogue.”