PTI peace march: Western voices add swagger to rally

Published: October 8, 2012

Lauren Booth, sister of Blair’s wife, one of many foreign activists that came with PTI’s Peace March. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

TANK: 

Few sights would be more peculiar than seeing former British premier Tony Blair’s sister-in-law walking in main Tank Bazaar.

Lauren Booth, the sister of Blair’s wife, Cherie Blair, was one of the many foreign activists that came along with the PTI’s Peace March.

With the convoy stuck in a jam in Tank, Booth, who recently converted to Islam, decided to take a stroll.

Having spotted her, The Express Tribune and TV One caught up with her for a chat – albeit a brief and frenzied one.

“[The people] are saying thank you, thank you for remembering Waziristan,” said Booth, wrapped in a white dupatta.

Will this march achieve the goal of stopping drone attacks, asked journalists.

“What is the option? Do nothing, sit at home and let people die,” responded an irked Booth.

“When we ask negative questions we have to consider the options. The option is: We oppose oppression because we are Muslim,” she said, much to the delight of a small crowd that had gathered around, which obviously found a Western woman making such a statement quite novel.

But what about the genuine terrorists that may be in these areas?

“I can’t believe that when thousands of people are dying, you are taking the American line,” she snapped. “It’s offensive.”

“I’m here for the people who are Muslim. We don’t want anyone to die, but we are here to protest drone attacks, not Pakistanis,” she said, storming off.

Special jalsa

Booth was not the only novel participant in the rally.

The PTI jalsa in Tank was made special not only because of its location, but because it was addressed by an American, in English. And got cheers.

The head of American non-profit organisation Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith, said he was an American who did not support drone strikes.

He said he brought a message from his mother who had suffered at the hands of Hitler – and that she too felt the pain of drone victims and their families.

US peace delegation

The PTI rally was also attended by Joe Lombardo, coordinator of the US peace delegation and co-chair United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC).

Speaking to The Express Tribune in Islamabad before the march, Lombardo said he wants the US government, his people and the rest of the world to realise that drone strikes are counterproductive.

The UNAC co-chairman believed that the US government was well aware that their (military) campaigns were creating more terrorists.

“In order to justify something called war on terror they need terrorists. It allows the US to keep the war long,” Lombardo said.

Commenting on embarking on a journey to Waziristan, Lombardo said: “Yes I am a little afraid (going to Waziristan). But then there are lots of dangerous places even in New York and other parts of the world.”

Lombardo said his delegation did not come to support Imran Khan or his party.

“We are not endorsing his (political) campaign. We will love if all parties join us,” he said.

Speaking on the war in Afghanistan, Lambardo pressed for a dialogue with the Taliban.

The UNAC chairman added that there is no shame if the US quits Afghanistan today.

“The right-wing in US might feel ashamed but I do not because I think US was on the wrong side in this war,” he added.

(With additional reporting by Umer Nangiana in Islamabad)

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2012.

 

Reader Comments (14)

  • Bilal Khan
    Oct 8, 2012 - 10:37AM

    These people are great who came across the other side of world in solidarity with innocent Waziristan residents. Almost more than half the population is displaced due to continuous fight. Drones are additional threat to their lives. Congratulations to PTI for successful march.

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  • Buttler
    Oct 8, 2012 - 11:00AM

    We are thankful to you..

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  • black
    Oct 8, 2012 - 11:28AM

    So let me get this straight, At first, Tribune editorial desk lamented IK of supporting taliban’s terrorism by his waziristan march, but then again, now you guys are all cheery that you’ve caught hold of some western protesting in that march ?

    hypocrisy thy name is you!

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  • Ozymandias
    Oct 8, 2012 - 1:10PM

    @black:
    You do realise that there’s a difference between news and opinion/editorial right?

    Recommend

  • Hashmi
    Oct 8, 2012 - 1:12PM

    Great initiative..

    About time that we realize the magnitude of this mass genocide. We need to protest against this barabarism.

    The only thing media highlights is US apologists..

    Women, children, infants have been slaughtered. The world needs to wake up from its slumber..

    Recommend

  • Owais
    Oct 8, 2012 - 1:26PM

    Pakistani media were more obessed that shes the sister in law of Tony Blair than the reasons why she was in pakistan. I was watching a pakistani programme where she was a guest, the host kept asking her about her meetings n relationship with the Blairs’. She quiet rightly shut up the anchor saying shes not interested in answering personal questions n asked him stick to the topic!! What embarrasment n immautrity exposed amongst pak media. Recommend

  • Ali Tipu
    Oct 8, 2012 - 1:41PM

    Thank you to all our guests too, who flew all the way from Britain and the US,the so called ‘Yahoodo-Nisara’ in the words of some of our hypocrite leaders. .King Khan does it again and this time with style. People who had always called him ‘Taliban Khan’ are appreciating this brave,daring and audacious display of strength and unity by PTI. This is what is called as Paradigm Shift and that too without even a drop of blood .

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  • Asif Nawaz
    Oct 8, 2012 - 1:47PM

    Strange stuff from ET
    I am waiting for Saleem Safi’s article. I wonder where was he hiding before the Peace March. Just one thing bothers me the most, whatever PTI does, becomes highlighted in a negative way like they have been ruling this nation from almost 50 years now. Face Palm :|

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  • Kay Kay
    Oct 8, 2012 - 2:07PM

    @black…. You’ve hit the bull’s eye & were quite cruel in doing that, mate :)

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  • black
    Oct 8, 2012 - 3:05PM

    @Ozymandias: Yes I do. And you should know that editorial / from-our-correspondent both represent the tribune…
    Your argument is invalid.Recommend

  • Usman Masood
    Oct 9, 2012 - 12:17AM

    Its shocking how some people can still wonder out aloud that stopping drone attacks will help the terrorists. Honestly, I hope that you become “collateral damage” in this war as well. You’d hate that wouldn’t you? Collateral losses are taken far too lightly!

    This war is the result of greedy war profiteering corporations. Who made billions thanks to the military contracts! Terrorism only ever truly went sky-high in Pakistan after the Waziristan operation. And After 9-11. Why wasn’t there a Pakistani version of Taliban Asserting their ideological struggle was divine before?

    Terrorism should be eradicated, but not with drone strikes.

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  • lol
    Oct 9, 2012 - 5:18AM

    swagga LOLRecommend

  • curious
    Oct 9, 2012 - 2:18PM

    @black human nature in general wherever you go around the world is fraught with hypocrisy.

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  • Rehman Dhillon
    Oct 10, 2012 - 8:17AM

    Don’t have enough words to say you thank you!

    Recommend

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