The Pakhtun Tahuffuz Movement (PTM), led by the 26-years old, soul-stirring story teller, Manzoor Pashteen, demands fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan. The tribal Pakhtuns have grievances against the excesses committed by security forces during anti-terrorist operations. The extra-judicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud activated this movement leading to a sit-in in Islamabad for the arrest of Rao Anwar, the cop responsible for Naqeeb’s killing. Though under criminal trial, Rao’s soft treatment by Karachi Police is intensifying PTM’s anger against the state. The PTM is raising a voice against enforced disappearances. These missing persons, ostensibly terror suspects, have not been brought to the courts due to the loopholes in the criminal justice system. Their trial in the military courts is the least that the establishment could do to pacify the agitation. Left-wingers averse to army interference in civilian spaces see Manzoor Pashteen as Che Guevara — the infamous communist revolutionary. They have fused their military restraining agenda into the PTM’s human rights movement. The military’s anti-insurgent operations, as throughout Pakistan’s history, due to failure of civil administration, are never precision guided with no civilian casualties; human rights violations do happen. Like a doctor’s prescription, to say, a strong civilian setup can dispense GHQ’s role. This demand largely seems missing from the PTM agenda. The so-called Pakhtun spring, is a reaction against the state’s racial profiling of the community across the country. PTM was a human rights movement comprised of rural Pakhtuns from the tribal areas in the beginning. Gradually, some urban Pakhtuns, suffering from intense Nationalist sentiments, joined the spring to rejuvenate Pakhtun Nationalism, reasserting their ethnic and racial identity along with the demand for human rights. PTM leaders could not maintain a neutral pro-state posture, and lacked the skills needed to keep their movement objective and non-controversial Pakhtuns are well represented in all the Pakistani federal institutions; and Pakhtun separatism had never been a serious challenge to the country as such. The government’s high-handedness led to many Pakhtun Nationalist joining the PTM wave. The belated, rather, procrastinated FATA reforms, catalysed the process. PTM — a moderate human rights movement in the beginning — attracted controversies because of two reasons. Firstly, PTM unleashed a tirade against the army for its selective action against the militants. This confirms the Kabul and Indo-American narrative of Pakistan’s soft policy on terrorism. Secondly, many irredentists promoting an extreme nationalist agenda also joined PTM, and sparked a pan-Pakhtun Nationalist wave in the region. It can help Kabul revive the Durand Line issue. This is the reason that the PTM receives coverage from many foreign media outlets, and particularly social media. The phenomena, otherwise a potent opportunity for rural Pakhtun empowerment, has acquired an anti-Pakistan and anti-state tinge, earning PTM leaders labels that include “NDS-backed” and “RAW-sponsored”. Italian political scholar Antolia Gramsci wrote in the 20th century that passive revolution can be brought by building alliances with fellow political movements for larger gains. In such a scenario, every group in an alliance has to make compromises and no one can remain a hardliner. PTM leaders could not maintain a neutral pro-state posture, and lacked the skills needed to keep their movement objective and non-controversial. They need to build alliances with other forces in the country. This necessitates that the group stop with its anti-establishment tirade. Pakistan has a history of anti-state agitations. But the state has not developed an institutional system of dealing with protests and demonstrations. Pakhtuns are on the receiving end of the state policies yet fault lines within this repressive cultural and its traditional values are visible. The masses take immense pride in their traditions, many of which are obsolete. Right-wing conservative parties are stronger than liberal and moderate parties in the Pakhtun belt. Religious seminaries are preferred more for education than mainstream education in schools and colleges. The masses are prone to religious sentimentalism and clerics call the shots. That is why since the 9/11 attacks, a mushroom growth of militant organisations was seen in the Pakhtun society. Those who consider militancy an asset have invested religious capital in the Pakhtun masses in general, and tribal areas in particular. Consequently, the Pakhtuns are racially profiled throughout the country. They are considered a security threat and seen as potential insurgents. Purdah, honour killing, etc., are deeply rooted in the Pakhtun society. The status of women education and women at workplace is abysmally low. It necessitates a socio-cultural reformation of the Pakhtun society embracing social dynamism. A viable social value system brings socio-economic revival. Economically prosperous communities assert themselves, well, politically. Thus, socio-economic reformation and socio-cultural reformation in Pakhtuns is essential at this point of time for which the nationalists need to look in rather than going at odds with the establishment. The writer is an Advocate; District Courts Nowshera Published in Daily Times, July 1st 2018.