Pakistan rights group to protest killing of activist

Friends and family of Arman Loni accuse the police of intentionally targeting and killing him in Balochistan.

    Shopkeepers went on a strike to condemn the death of a prominent Pashtun rights activist [Arshad Butt/AP]
    Shopkeepers went on a strike to condemn the death of a prominent Pashtun rights activist [Arshad Butt/AP]

    A Pakistani civil rights group has called for nationwide demonstrations after the alleged murder of a Pashtun leader who advocated for the rights of his community. 

    Mohsin Dawar, a leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), said on Tuesday, the group's supporters would protest the murder of Arman Loni of Balochistan.

    The Pashtun leader was killed on Saturday in Loralai district of Balochistan as police tried to break up a four-day demonstration against forced evictions.

    Balochistan's chief minister has ordered an inquiry into the killing.

    "[The police] have not even registered a case," Dawar told the dpa news agency.

    'Targeted attack'

    Dawar said the police had singled Loni out and deliberately beat him to death because of his role as a leader of the group.

    "It was a targeted attack on him by police, I think his neck was broken and this was confirmed in the postmortem," Dawar told the Reuters news agency, adding that he was killed for his "association with PTM".

    A police spokesman said Loni had died of a heart attack following clashes between protesters and police.

    The PTM emerged last year after the extrajudicial murder of an ethnic Pashtun in the port city of Karachi.

    The police accused him of having links with armed groups. An inquiry later found him to be innocent, with the incident sparking a public movement to defend the community.

    The PTM blames the Pakistani military and other state organs for what it says are forced disappearances resulting in thousands of unresolved missing person cases, primarily from the ethnic Pashtun region bordering Afghanistan.

    The group draws large crowds at rallies against violence and disappearances allegedly carried out by the state.

    Pashtuns make up about 15 percent of Pakistan's population of 220 million and live mainly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in north-western Pakistan, a semi-autonomous region bordering Afghanistan.

    SOURCE: News agencies