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.
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.