Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has succeeded in mustering international support over what is arguably the most ambitious demonstration against unmanned predators conducting airstrikes in Pakistan.
Hundreds of workers from Reprieve, a UK-based not-for-profit organisation working to raise awareness about capital punishment and drone strikes, will take part in PTI’s long march in September.
PTI aims to lead a 100,000-strong rally from various parts of the world to Waziristan in its protest against remotely-controlled airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal region. The convention will congregate in Peshawar, from where it will advance towards Bannu and onwards to Miramshah.
Renowned writer and intellectual Tariq Ali along with other international celebrities are said to be participating in the march. PTI chief Imran Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Khan, who is an active member of the NGO, also took part in an anti-drone march in November last year.
“We are talking to the army and other concerned quarters about the arrangements for the march which is expected to take place on September 23,” said PTI’s central vice president Naeemul Haq.
The event will be the first of its kind. The area in question is said to be housing al Qaeda and Taliban militants and with the exception of the army, movement has been restricted for all.
“The world will witness no less than a 100,000 people march towards Waziristan in September. Preparations are already under way,” said PTI’s nformation secretary(Punjab) Andleeb Abbas.
“We are being told it will be very dangerous to proceed beyond Bannu. Some don’t even think we’ll make it beyond Tank. But barring any major tragedy, we are going to Waziristan for sure,” said an adamant Abbas.
“Reprieve is mobilising people from Europe and the US. We basically want to go there to express solidarity with the people of the area, and find out first-hand who is really being killed by the US drone strikes. We are told the drones are only targeting terrorists, but we want to find out for ourselves.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2012.