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Pakistani Activist Arrested Amid 'Undeclared Crackdown' On Pashtun Civic Rights Group

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Said Alam Mahsud, a Pashtun human rights activist and leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. (file photo)

Another prominent ethnic Pashtun rights activist, Said Alam Mahsud, has been arrested in Pakistan on charges of making “anti-state” and “anti-military” comments.

Sanna Ejaz, a leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), told RFE/RL that Mahsud appeared before a court in Peshawar on January 4 where a judge ordered him remanded in custody for four days.

Mahsud was arrested at his home in the northwestern city late on January 3 after he attended a protest earlier in the day demanding the release of other PTM leaders and activists from custody.

In a video widely circulated on Facebook and Twitter, Mahsud is seen greeting the policemen in Pashto and then asking, “Am I being arrested?” After a policeman says “yes,” he responds “no problem” in English and then accompanies them.

PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen called Mahsud’s arrest an “extremely oppressive” act while Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker and PTM leader, denounced what he called an “undeclared crackdown" against the group.

PTM activists staged demonstrations on January 3 in several cities and towns in Pakistan, demanding the release of recently arrested leaders and members of the PTM, which has campaigned since 2018 for the civil rights of Pakistan’s estimated 35 million ethnic Pashtuns.

Ali Wazir, a lawmaker and PTM leader, has been arrested on sedition charges over accusations he made anti-state comments during an unsanctioned rally in Karachi on December 6.

His arrest triggered mass protests in dozens of cities and towns across Pakistan on December 18. After the protests, two other PTM members were arrested in Karachi.

The PTM has attracted tens of thousands of people to public rallies in recent years to denounce the powerful Pakistani Army's heavy-handed tactics in its fight against the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups in the country's northwest.

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