The charismatic 26-year-old, rarely seen without his “Pashteen hat”, leads the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM), which has convulsed the country with unprecedentedly virulent criticism of the powerful armed forces.

It accuses the military of being behind a litany of abuses in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), an inhospitable, mountainous region on the border with Afghanistan dominated by Pakistan’s 15-million-strong Pashtun minority and which has played host to a variety of terrorist groups.

Although Pashteen is committed to non-violent protest, his youthfulness, firebrand speeches and distinctive headgear have drawn comparisons with Che Guevara.