Pakistan’s anti-U.S. drone march concludes first phase peacefully

Pakistan’s anti-U.S. drone march concludes first phase peacefully
# 07 October 2012 00:45 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA Thousands of political activists, participating in a march against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions, Saturday peacefully concluded its first phase, local media reported.

Cricketer-turned politician, Imarn Khan, who is leading the marchers, vowed to proceed to South Waziristan tribal region, which had been the focus of American strikes over the past several years.

Khan, also Chief of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf or Justice Movement, told thousands of people in Dera Ismail Khan, a main city in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, that the Peace March has no political ambitions and has been organized only to attract the world’s attention to the destruction caused by the U.S. strikes.

The marchers started from the capital Islamabad on Saturday morning and reached Dera Ismail Khan late Saturday after a 12- hours journey in hundreds of vehicles. Khan spoke to several gatherings on the way and condemned the American drone strikes in Pakistan and said that the strikes are killing civilians.

A group of American campaigners against the drone strikes is also participating in the march. Dozens of foreign journalists are covering the event, the first ever march to Waziristan tribal area against the drone strikes.

Marchers will have night stay in Dera Ismail Khan and will leave for Dera Ismail Khan early Sunday for South Waziristan. Officials say that the marchers will not be allowed to enter the tribal region over security concerns. Witnesses say that the authorities have blocked roads to South Waziristan at Tank, a main city at the edge of the tribal region.

A Pakistani Taliban group Saturday threatened bomb attacks on the participants of the march saying that Jews and Christians from the U.S. are participating in the march.

"We request the people of Waziristan not to support the gang of Jews and Christians otherwise their fate will be horrible. We, the Tehrik-e-Taliban, will greet them with bomb attacks," a pamphlet from the Taliban said. The leaflet was distributed in Dera Ismail Khan and adjoining areas.

The Interior Ministry has warned that Taliban could attack foreigners and the PTI leadership in the march, advising the party to give up the plan.

But Imran Khan said in Dera Ismail Khan that threats cannot stop his march, saying that the government and rival political leaders are behind the threats. He said tribesmen have announced support to his march and he does not need security from the government and the Taliban.