In first of its kind meeting, Manzoor Pashteen of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) along with the member of the National Assembly Mohsin Dawar met the Special Committee of Senate this Tuesday. The meeting is indeed an important first step. The Senate Committee concurs with PTM’s contentions that the Pashtuns have unjustly paid and are still paying the price for militancy that once plagued their regions. The meeting proved fruitful in the sense that the committee agreed that demands of the PTM were genuine and that a solution was needed to address the grievances of the group.

It is true that a consensus has yet to be reached out for solving the issues of missing persons, landmines in tribal districts and formation of truth and reconciliation commission. However, the highlight of the meeting, i.e., the emphasis of both the sides on solving the issues through provisions of law and constitution makes one optimistic that sooner or later all the outstanding issues will be addressed.

Keeping the recent comments of the Senate Committee in mind, it is now clear that what PTM demands is within the limits of the law of the land and according to the constitution of the country. The recent rally of the movement in the tribal district of North Waziristan attended by tens of thousands informs the state that PTM is going nowhere no matter how hard the government tries to sweep it under the rug.

Why is Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) then reluctant to address the grievances of the group on an urgent basis is a worth asking question. That why is the state so keen on maintaining the “status quo of injustice” against Pashtuns is the question that the incumbent party will find difficult to answer. It is not very difficult to understand then, in the light of these questions, that movements such as PTM are the natural outcome of the state’s insistence on maintaining the “status quo of injustice”.

Nevertheless, the credit goes to the Senate of Pakistan for stepping in where the incumbent government seems to have ignored the movement and its genuine demands altogether. The initiative taken by the Senate gives some semblance of hope to people that dialogue is the process that democratic states prefer.

Moreover, the Senate took many initiatives, in recent times, which can be called genuine efforts to repair the political fault lines. Furthermore, the latest developments in the first meeting of the Senate Committee and PTM activists prove that the legislature, with the power of oversight and legislation, might be the best place for the social movement to seek redress for their demands.