South Waziristan rally: Imran vows to go ahead with anti-drone march

Published: October 5, 2012

Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan with fellow party members. PHOTO: ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Thursday insisted a planned “peace march” to South Waziristan would kickoff on October 6 despite security fears and doubts over whether the authorities would allow it.

However, he did suggest that the main gathering would take place wherever authorities intervened and stopped the rally – even if that was before the slated destination: Kotkai in South Waziristan.

Imran, who plans to lead a convoy from Islamabad to South Waziristan on the weekend to protest against US drone strikes, said that no one could stop the peace march, adding that President Asif Ali Zardari would be directly responsible for any untoward situation.

“Drone strikes are a crime against humanity. The whole world will be told how drones are destructive and counterproductive through this march,” Imran told a news conference here, adding that the Taliban had given their agreement through intermediaries in the tribal areas.

There have been conflicting reports this week about whether permission for the march to enter South Waziristan has been granted, and by whom – but the PTI chief insisted it would go ahead. “The tribes have got in touch with the militants and the tribes have told us that it’s fine, they have no objections to it,” Imran said.

“I still don’t understand… why is the government going to stop us? When they know neither the militants are objecting to this, nor are the tribal areas objecting to this and certainly the army’s not objecting to this,” the PTI chief said, adding that only the government, which he alleged was profiting by allowing drone strikes in the tribal areas, was against the planned march.

“We cannot win this war until we engage the tribal people in it,” Imran added.

PTI plans to take Western journalists and campaigners on the march, including the British head of a charity called Reprieve. Clive Stafford Smith, 30 American anti-drone campaigners, and Imran’s own children.

PTI plans to lead the march to the village of Kotkai in South Waziristan and rally there, but Imran suggested that, if the authorities intervened, they would hold the rally wherever they were stopped.

Stafford Smith, who wrote an open letter to US President Barack Obama asking him not to order a drone strike on the marchers, said it was important to shed light on what was going on in Pakistan’s tribal areas. “It’s when we begin to open the world up to inspection that people see the truth… and the reason we have to go to stand by people in Waziristan is that otherwise people won’t see the truth,” he said.

TTP version

Meanwhile, rejecting media reports that the Taliban will provide security to the PTI rally, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) central spokesperson Ehsanaullah Ehsan said that the outfit’s Central Shura held a meeting under the leadership of Hakimullah Mehsud and made a decision regarding PTI’s march to South Waziristan. However, the decision will only be shared with the media in the next 48 hours. On the other hand, Railways Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour said that the PTI peace march was a drama orchestrated at someone else’s behest.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2012.

Reader Comments (4)

  • amin khan
    Oct 5, 2012 - 10:39AM

    mass murder of innocent pakistanis by drones is crime against humanity and concern of all peace loving people in the world. all Pakitanis should support Imran Khan’s peace rally irrespective of polical affiliation. so called tv anchors and newspaper colomnists should atleast give him support for this cause.

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  • Jalil Malik
    Oct 5, 2012 - 12:05PM

    There is only one Leader in Pakistan who have dare and courage to get rid of so called war against Terror. We need to support him. Imran Kan Support means Support Pakistan.

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  • Oct 5, 2012 - 2:27PM

    They have decided drones are favorable and drones will be continued and no power on the earth can prevent them to do so,including United nations.

    They also understand it is a last weapon forcing them back to the negotiating table and bow to conditions already set in the American’s minds.

    But they are forgotten at the time,war of Afghanistan is decade long battle Afghan discarded all the offers they don’t live on the earth becoming foreigner slaves.

    They want freedom, they want independent Afghanistan

    Bloody clash may come to and end in case American leadership expose some flexibility in its behave,for example releasing Taliban from Cuba jail and removal of stooges ruler from Kabul presidency.

    In this way more stumble stones can be remove from the way leading to leading to negotiation table .

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  • Dick
    Oct 6, 2012 - 10:37PM

    Imra Khan provides the very reason why drone attacks should continue; they are effective. They can pinpoint specific targets. When the enemy chooses to mix with civilians, the innocent will inevitably suffer. The blame for their death or injury must be laid on their shoulders.

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