The recent slaying of a young Mehsud has jolted the civil society once again. Aftab Mehsud, was a student of Gomal University and one of the organisers of the historic Pakhtun March in Islamabad. His bruised and battered dead body was found on a street with a message. A chilly reminder to rights activists and anyone who dares to challenge the state narrative. Earlier, the notorious extra-judicial murder of Naqeebullah Mehsud transformed him into a tragic icon of resistance against state repression. The incident, as it woken up the civil society to the bitter reality, reminded of countless other fake counters that were targeted at Pakhtun and Baloch activists. Thus, he became a vivid symbol for many innocent victims of extrajudicial security encounters in Karachi. Three other victims, picked up and brutally gunned down alongside Mehsud in the fake encounter, however, went unnoticed. According to an official report, 402 alleged suspects were killed in police encounters in just Malir district in Karachi. Revelations of 250 people killed in 60 police encounters carried out under direct supervision of SSP Malir Rao Anwar are simply appalling. This could be simply tip of the iceberg of widespread atrocities — will it get the well-deserved justice from authorities so inured to violence? The unanimous solidarity shown by Pakhtun participants of the tribal jirga; male and female, educated and unlettered, urban and rural from various hues and tribes; fired with zeal, spoke with one voice against the human suffering of imposed regional conflicts; recalling the famous quote from the iconic Che Guevara ‘If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine’ Naqeeb Mehsud happened to be one amongst thousands of Pakhtuns, driven out of their hearths and homes, reduced to penury and surviving on government hand outs or eking out a meagre living in distant lands, as the protracted conflict raging across Pak Afghan border takes its human toll, having devastated millions of innocent lives. Despite the deprivations, his remarkable personality proved a blessing, for not being consigned as a random statistic of countless missing Pakhtuns, or killed in staged encounters. Ever since, the public attention has been drawn towards the victimized Mehsud tribe and Pakhtuns in general, bearing the brunt of militant and state gunfire. Having been designated a ‘martial race’ by the British Raj in the erstwhile NWFP, as convenient war fodder in waging imperial wars across the continents; the Pakistani rulers too deigned Pakhtuns as natural fighters on various fronts. As petrodollars and modern munitions poured in, the Mujahid, a modern Salafi holy warrior was trumpeted to the world. This later morphed into Taliban, and lately into a sinister ISIS warrior; in various imperial adventures across the Middle East. The imperial strategy of using the Pakhtun lands as strategic outposts and the tribal people for Jihad during the Afghan conflict became a millstone around the neck of tribal Pakhtun society which is so hard to shake off. Consider for a moment, the long list of towering personalities hailing from present day KP. The distinctive Pakhtun looks and chivalry captivated the British colonists, European travellers and writers, besides, erstwhile — pre-independence — Bombay film industry wherein these actors, poets, writers reigned supreme; besides various renowned academics of repute on the global stage. Ironically, the birthplace of Gandhara civilization preaching peace and tolerance; besides the pacifist Khudai Khitmatgar movement led by Bacha Khan has been subsumed by the flames of conflicts, bigotry and intolerance for decades after independence. The #PakhtunTahafuzMovment marks a peaceful transition from a state narrative of violent Pakhtuns to those being grievously wronged. The unanimous solidarity shown by Pakhtun participants of the tribal jirga; male and female, educated and unlettered, urban and rural from various hues and tribes; fired with zeal, spoke with one voice against the human suffering of imposed regional conflicts; recalling the famous quote from the iconic Che Guevara ‘If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine’. In 1966, Che Guevara’s brutal killing by the Sandinista government in Salvador blossomed into a global anti-imperialist movement. Captured by US-backed Bolivian forces he was executed the next day, aged 39. His last words echo even today, “I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man”. Che Guevara outlived his killers and has ever since been immortalised as a symbol for universal social justice. Naqeeb Mehsud too died young. His brutal death has begun a nationwide movement (PTM) for equal rights of the tribal and all oppressed people which cannot be wished away until peace is restored. The writer teaches Public Health at NorthWest School of Medicine. He is a founding member of Sarhad Conservation Network, Peshawar, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, March 27th 2018.