ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ‘peace march’ to protest against drone strikes left Islamabad for South Waziristan on Saturday, Express News reported. The rally is currently being lead by party chief Imran Khan.
Making its way towards South Waziristan, the convoy of at least 100 vehicles has reached DI Khan. A large number of people have gathered to greet Khan, who will be arriving in the city shortly.
There is little official security with Khan and the foreign journalists and members of civil society traveling with him. Members of Insaf Student Federation are personally providing security to the party chief.
From DI Khan the convoy will head towards Tank.
More people had earlier joined the rally at Jahaz Chowk in Mianwali, which is Khan’s former parliamentary seat.
"I condemn the hypocrisy of the government, who tried their best to make this march fail," Khan told around 5,000 supporters at a brief halt on the outskirts of Mianwali.
"They are saying that Taliban have sent nine suicide attackers. If (President Asif Ali) Zardari sends even a 100 suicide attackers this march will not stop," added Khan.
As Saturday wore on, it appeared increasingly unlikely the protesters would be allowed to reach their destination.
The government says the Taliban plan to attack the rally, authorities told AFP it was not safe for Khan to enter the tribal belt and television broadcast footage of shipping containers closing the road into South Waziristan.
According to sources, the administration in Tank has set up containers on all routes leading to South Waziristan and will not allow the rally to proceed any further.
The administration has also said that any foreigners who do not have permission letters for entering Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will not be allowed to enter the province.
An emergency was imposed in Tank and police holidays were recalled for dealing with the march.
Chief Coordinatior DI Khan PTI Malik Abdul Qayyum Khan said that the government had blocked routes between Tank and Pezo and had set up containers from DI Khan to Tank and at Manzai to stop the peace march from going beyond Tank.
Khan says Rehman ‘hypocrite’
Speaking to the media before leaving Islamabad, Khan had said, “[Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief] Maulana Fazlur Rehman is spewing venom against our peace march by calling us agents of Jews and Christians.”
Calling Rehman a “hypocrite”, Khan said that his condemnation against drones is only “superficial” and that the JUI-F chief did not want the drone campaign to end as it is running their “business”.
Answering a question regarding security threats to his march, Khan had said that if someone tries to stop them, they will stop.