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Top Pakistani Pashtun Rights Activist Expelled From Balochistan

Manzoor Pashteen, the leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), addresses hundreds of protesters from the Maseed tribe on January 30.

Pakistani authorities have expelled the leader‏ of a civil rights movement campaigning for the country's ethnic Pashtun minority from the southwestern province of Balochistan after he attended a condolence ceremony for a slain political leader despite a ban on entering the region.

Activists of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) said Manzoor Pashteen and other PTM leaders traveled to the town of Chaman on March 1 and that security forces escorted them out of the province after he secretly attended the ceremony.

Asad Khan Achakzai, spokesman for the secular Awami National Party (ANP) in Balochistan, was laid to rest in Chaman the previous day amid province-wide protests by party supporters.

Achakzai's body was discovered on February 27 on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Quetta, five months after he went missing.

Police has said a member of the paramilitary forces had confessed to the kidnapping and guided the investigators to the place where the body was found.

In December, Balochistan’s government banned Pashteen from entering the province for a period of 90 days citing security reasons. The ban was later extended for an unspecified period.

The PTM has campaigned since 2018 for the civil rights of Pakistan’s estimated 35 million ethnic Pashtuns, many of whom live near the border of Afghanistan where the military has conducted campaigns it says defeated the Pakistani Taliban.

The movement has attracted tens of thousands of people to public rallies in recent years to denounce the powerful Pakistani Army's heavy-handed tactics that have killed thousands of Pashtun civilians and forced millions more to abandon their homes since 2003.

International rights groups say authorities have banned peaceful rallies organized by the PTM and some of its leading members have been arbitrarily detained and prevented from traveling within the country. Some members have also faced charges of sedition and cybercrimes.