MIRAMSHAH: Thousands of armed tribesmen on Thursday rallied against US drone attacks in North Waziristan, demanding compensation for damage and losses, witnesses said.
A complete shutter down strike was observed and markets remained closed during the rally in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan.
Up to 2,000 tribesmen gathered in Miramshah bazaar shouting “Death to America” and “Stop drone attacks in Pakistan” at the rally organised by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), witnesses said.
“The United Nations should take notice of American drone strikes,” cleric Maulana Abul Rehman told the gathering.
“America should immediately stop drone strikes, stop interfering into the internal affairs of Pakistan and put an immediate end to incidents such as the burning of the Holy Quran by Nato,” he added.
The crowd demanded an immediate end to drone attacks and compensation for those who lost relatives or property, and condemned this week’s burning of Holy Qurans at a US-run base in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Other speakers endorsed the resolution which demanded compensation for the loss of property and life in all operations and drone strikes in the area. Maulana Saleem Gul, Maulana Naik Zaman, Maulana Muhammad Alhaj Ahmad Saeed and others also spoke against drone strikes and warned to make the protest a countrywide one, if their demands weren’t taken seriously.
According to an AFP tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt in 2009, the year Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011.
The programme has dramatically increased as the Obama administration looks to withdraw all foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.