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Pakistan Arrests Second Pashtun Lawmaker Over 'Attack' On Troops


Mohsin Dawar says he voluntarily surrendered to a counterterrorism court in the northwestern city of Bannu.
Mohsin Dawar says he voluntarily surrendered to a counterterrorism court in the northwestern city of Bannu.

BANNU -- A second Pakistani lawmaker and civil rights leader accused of being behind an alleged attack on a military post has been arrested, officials say.

Shaukat Yousafzai, a spokesman in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, said parliament member Mohsin Dawar was captured in a raid in North Waziristan on May 30.

However, Dawar told RFE/RL he had turned himself over to a court in the town of Bannu voluntarily.

“I presented myself to the counter-terrorism court...I have always said that I am not afraid of accountability. But our opponents are afraid of accountability,” he said.

A judge at the court ordered Dawar to be remanded in custody for eight days, reports said.

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which was co-founded by Dawar and campaigns for civil rights for ethnic Pashtuns, said troops killed 13 civilians when they opened fire on May 26 on unarmed people who were gathering to protest heavy-handed tactics by the security forces.

The military accuses Dawar and another member of parliament, Ali Wazir, of being involved in an attack on a checkpoint in the volatile region.

Following the clash, Wazir and eight other people were detained and remanded into custody, while Dawar was declared "at large."

The army said three activists were killed in the violence.

The army had reportedly barred Pakistani television channels from covering the rallies, but phone videos were posted on social media apparently showing unarmed protesters breaching a barbed-wire barricade placed on a road, before gunfire scatters them.

The violence was the most serious incident in a long-running confrontation between the authorities and the PTM, which has vowed to remain nonviolent.

Also on May 30, a Pakistani reporter who was detained in Bannu while covering the North Waziristan protest said he had been released by the authorities.

Gohar Wazir is a reporter working for the private TV station Khyber News.

Human Rights Watch in a statement on May 30 called on Pakistan to "impartially investigate" the deaths of the protesters on May 26.

"Upholding the rule of law is critical for maintaining security and protecting human rights in North Waziristan," said Brad Adams, Asia director of the New York-based rights body.

Pakistan's government should "uphold rights of region's Pashtun population," the statement added.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Dawn