No compromise: PTI amasses thousands at anti-drone sit-in

Imran Khan says peace cannot prevail in the region till drone attacks are halted.

Imran Khan says peace cannot prevail in the region till drone attacks are halted. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL / EXPRESS


Bolstered by the recent hit in the settled area of Hangu, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa responded in hordes to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) call for a protest against drone strikes on Saturday.

The majority party took centre stage on Ring Road as thousands of charged protesters chanted anti-drone slogans and stood firm with the PTI and its coalition partners in their decision to obstruct the routes of Nato supply trucks passing through the area.

“We will not compromise on principles even if we lose our government,” PTI chief Imran Khan said in his address to what a police official estimated were 15,000 participants. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should stop this dual policy and reveal the reality to people.”

Imran said that initiatives of the elected government to enter dialogue with the militants were thwarted by drone attacks and that peace could not prevail in the region till such attacks were halted. He also criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for not taking a solid stance on the drone campaign with the Obama administration, despite his recent visit to the US.

“Pakistan has been badly punished for its alliance with the US-led war on terror,” he said, adding that time has come to devise a new policy and separate Pakistan from the war. He said that despite its sacrifices, the US is not happy with Pakistan and is demanding it do more. “Our soldiers were killed by the same ally in Silala. Our children are made orphans by this ally. Young people were arrested in Britain. What has Pakistan got from this war except destruction and humiliation?” he asked.

Imran also questioned why the drone campaign is being allowed despite Parliament’s resolution on the matter, and rebuked the government for not showing seriousness on the matter.

The call for a sit-in was earlier made by PTI chief Imran Khan, after his governing party in K-P passed a unanimous resolution against drones and set November 20 as the date of a rally. On account of the recent violence in Rawalpindi, the party had deferred the protest to November 23.

Traffic was suspended on Ring Road and directed to take alternative routes. Heavy contingents of police were deployed to keep the situation under control on the orders of the provincial government.

Hand in hand

Partners of the PTI-led government, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP) also supported the anti-drone campaign, and responded by bringing thousands of supporters for the day-long protest.

Senior JI leader Liaquat Baloch echoed Imran’s sentiments. “We are not worried about losing our government, we only want to restore the dignity of this country,” said Baloch, adding that while the federal government may have a deal with the US, his K-P government is not bound by any contract.

He also said that JI would block the Nato supply route in Karachi on Sunday, and announced a mega protest for Lahore on December 9.

While Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad of AML did not talk about choking of Nato supply routes, he lashed out at the Sharif and Musharraf governments for failure, even though he was a minister in both.

“How can a government that has come into power through a rigged election represent the people of this country?” he alleged.

Also present at the mammoth gathering was PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who pointed out that the United Nations and Amnesty International have termed drone attacks to be violence against humanity. “But our government doesn’t even think about the killing of its own people,” he said, urging Nawaz to take the drone issue to the UN Security Council and press the US to stop its campaign.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2013.


AnisAqeel | 8 years ago | Reply

@Liaqat Yousufzai: No doubt a fraction of innocent civilians must have been killed in these attacks where they are accommodated as 'honorable guests' and become accomplices knowingly or unknowingly (normally knowingly). My question to you is that how can you justify the barbaric attacks by these so called holy attackers killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians that include children, military and police personnel, minority in churches, mosques and the list goes on and on just to take avenge of unholy Americans!!! You are trying to compare accomplices killed in hundreds with barbaric killings of Muslims by Muslims in tens of thousands.

Liaqat Yousufzai | 8 years ago | Reply

@AnisAqeel: How can you justify the drone attacks ? because drone strike wipe out some Taliban leaders. What about hundreds of civilians who lost their lives.

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