Parliamentarians have been in jail since May over their alleged role in a clash at a rally in North Waziristan
The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday ordered the release of two parliamentarians who were arrested months ago for allegedly inciting violent clashes with security forces.
Both Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir—who rose to fame as rights activists for their strong criticism of Pakistan’s military—have been virtually unheard of since being arrested in May.
“Today, Justice Nasir Mehfooz from Peshawar High Court accepted the bail application and ordered the release of Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir,” said Tariq Afghan, one of the defense lawyers. Afghan said both M.P.s were set to be released after completing legal formalities and paying bail.
Sangeen Khan, another defense lawyer familiar with the case, said the court accepted their bail application after finding contradictory reports in the investigation.
The two lawmakers have been held in custody since May over their alleged involvement in a violent clash at a rally near the Afghan border in Pakistan’s restive tribal region that killed 14 people, according to authorities. Both M.P.s had been charged with murder, attempted murder, attacking law enforcement personnel, disturbing law and order, and terrorism, according to the lawyers and a court official.
The clashes followed months of rising tensions between the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)—a group the two lawmakers helped found—and Pakistan’s security forces. Since bursting onto the scene last year, the PTM has often taken aim at Pakistan’s armed forces though their rallies seldom feature in broadcast media. Despite the pushback, the PTM has continued to demand action against the military’s conduct during its fight against militancy—including investigations into disappearances and extrajudicial killings and an end to what it says is undue harassment of Pashtuns at security checkpoints.
North Waziristan, where the movement is believed to draw much of its support was once plagued by militancy, and Washington pressured Pakistan for years to act against Islamist groups based there. The Army has carried out multiple operations in North Waziristan and other tribal regions, and security—both there and across Pakistan—has dramatically improved in recent years. The PTM claims the operations came at a heavy price because of alleged abuses.