The frail looking 26-year-old is huddled in a chair surrounded by sturdy, tough looking Pakhtuns. Head bowed under the eponymous Pashteen cap, arms folded across chest, he is in deep thought till his name is announced from the rostrum. Not a single muscle forsakes his imperturbability. Not even when the crowd bellows his name to fracture the air of expectancy. Amidst the orchestrated anthem of ‘Pashteen!’ ‘Pashteen’, the young man takes to the rostrum and turns the appellation into a phenomenon. “Manai quo kana dalta har khwa da Pushtun naarai dee, dalta da zulm doamra wakiyaat showeeday che ze pa dey warasaidam che har zaikay zulm showeday,” (Whether you admit it or not, the slogans of Pukhtuns are resounding everywhere, that for force to conclude that incidence of injustice and tyranny have taken place everywhere with Pakhtuns) censured the thunderous voice of Manzoor Pashteen. The confluence of Pakhtun concurred, their reaction bounding in sound waves to form a rhythmic chorus. The cataclysmic Manzoor Pashteen from South Waziristan, leading the Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), was needed to turn the political banality of the Pakhtun identity into a phenomenon to reconfigure the code calibrated to portray the Pakhtuns as terrorists. Compromises made by political parties to shift from the peripheral to mainstream for purpose of power sharing, whether in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) or Balochistan, gave no option to this marginalised ethnic group but to place trust in representatives forced upon them in the Parliament. They waited for their status to be redeemed. They waited for the constitutional recognition of their existence. They waited to be indemnified for the historical, political and religiously contrived wrong done to them. All for naught. They waited for their status to be redeemed. They waited for the constitutional recognition of their existence. They waited to be indemnified for the historical, political and religiously contrived wrong done to them. All for naught The bayonets used in the erstwhile jihad against the infidel were eventually turned against them. This time the edict was ‘War on Terror’. And yet they waited expectantly to be recompensed for their valour, loyalty and lives. The 1901 Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) remained the standard legal and administrative framework for governance in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The 12 members from this region in the National Assembly (NA) and eight in the Senate are titular representatives who do not have the power to either recommend or legislate on behalf of the tribal people. As tax laws are not extended to FATA, the people end up paying more taxes on certain commodities such as wheat, fertiliser and sugar than the rest of the country. Ruled exclusively through a political agent representing the president of Pakistan, the people are denied the right to refer to the country’s judicial system. The main operative, controversially constitutional article defining the status of FATA, is Article 247. In 2009 Francois Tanguay-Renaud wrote: “Article 247 soon became the subject of judicial attention in the case of Chaudhari Manzoor Elahi Vs Federation of Pakistan (1975, PLD 66). This Supreme Court judgement was to have serious repercussions for the population of FATA, as it set the tone for future interpretation of the Article…..” The judgement of Justice Anwarul Haq interpreted Article 247 clause (7) by stating that the people of FATA “had distinctive features, including a well-defined societal structure and a set of customs enforced by their Jirgas… so that their inhabitants are governed by laws and customs … which suit their genius. (1975 PLD 66). But the question is, why was the Colonial institution of a political agent super imposed over those cherished customs? Much to the disadvantage of the people of FATA, the circuitous judgement interpreting Article 247 granted the Supreme Court and High Courts the right to enforce basic fundamental rights. Rights which were denied to the people of FATA. But the biggest prejudice manacling their right to equal citizenship in the state of Pakistan was their geography. If lineage was not their choice, neither was geography! Whenever they petitioned to the state to question their status, their lineage and geography were brought up as a criminal offence. The response, specifically since the War on Terror, was granted through a blitzkrieg of one operation after another by the Pakistan army. In 2014, Manzoor Pashteen launched the Mehsud Tahafuz Movement, focusing primarily on raising awareness amongst the people of FATA on the life threatening menace of land mines. What the drones and operation Rah-e-Nijat failed to achieve was profusely covered by land mines. In a report published in 2005 by Community Motivation and Development Organisation, more than 5000 people had suffered as a result of a network of land mines laid to subvert the Taliban. But the Islamabad based FATA Research Centre revealed that IEDs (improvised explosive device) were present in large quantity as recently as 2017, specifically in South Waziristan; in Ladha and Sarwaiki (Pashteen’s birthplace). The Peshawar based Tribal News Network wrote in its 2017 report that “more than 2000 cases of landline blasts were reported in FATA during the past few years… the majority of the victims were children and women…” When Pashteen turned into a phenomenon, the issue of land mines, enforced disappearances, removal of check posts and justice for those killed in fake police encounters on the pretext of targeting terrorists spread all across Pakistan. Though the local media wilfully decided to exclude Pashteen to retain the deep state’s sanctimonious facade, his powerful oratory blitzkrieg found space in the social and international media. The phenomenon had become more powerful than martial capacity. Pashteen’s placidity undergoes a slight inflection when RAW is mentioned. “I wasn’t aware of what that was,” said Manzoor Pashteen with a glint in his eyes. No, he was not till the security state’s purveyors started sending messages through various mediums of communication about Pashteen’s alleged connection with the Indian secret service to destabilise Pakistan. If Pashteen is decimated through archaic and obsolete indictments, the elemental imperatives of peace, human rights and constitutional rights of a citizen, making the phenomenon might not remain — too elemental. The writer is a journalist and writer who formerly worked for Friday Times, Frontier Post and the Dawn Published in Daily Times, April 17th 2018.