Authorities Stop PTI Convoy From Entering South Waziristan

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) convoy, comprising hundreds of cars carrying over thousand people, led by the party chief Imran Khan was not allowed by the authorities to enter South Waziristan.

PTI Convoy

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) convoy, comprising hundreds of cars carrying over thousand people, led by the party chief Imran Khan was not allowed by the authorities to enter South Waziristan.

The PTI leadership has now decided to hold a public meeting in “Jahaz Ground” in Tank instead of KotKai, reporter, Sajjad Haider, who is travelling with the convoy quoted the PTI official sources.

The PTI’s convoy left D.I.Khan Sunday morning and it was expected to reach Kotkai area of South Waziristan after travelling through Tank.

A large number of local and international media persons were accompanying the convoy. Musician and PTI member  Salman Ahmed was also present in the convoy.

President of the PTI youth wing, philanthropist and pop singer Abrar-ul-Haq was also  present at the occasion and while talking to the media, said that the people of Waziristan had suffered a lot at the hands of the drone attacks and that his party was showing solidarity with the victims.

The convoy entered Tank and was en route but was stopped near Manjhikhel checkpost on Tank Road. The participants of the march removed the containers on their own as the convoy proceeded ahead towards its destination.

Earlier, the administration had stopped the convoy near the Mehram Sultan area as well but then later allowed the convoy to march ahead.

The administration had taken stringent security measures and imposed curfew deploying a large number of policemen and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel in the area.

Earlier on Saturday, Tank district’s PTI chief Ayoub Bittini told Dawn that the administration was pressing his party to terminate the march at Manjhikhel.

The government had decided to provide security to the march until its stay in Tank. The administration has already placed containers there to block the marchers from proceeding ahead on the pretext of inability to provide security any further.

But PTI Chief Imran Khan was adamant that the march would reach its destination at for Kotkai, South Waziristan.

The political administration of South Waziristan banned all political activity in the agency whereas the PTI chief had also said that confrontation would be avoided.

Earlier on Saturday, when the convoy reached D.I. Khan, for an overnight stay, which lies on the border of the province with the tribal region of South Waziristan, several hundred locals gathered to cheer on the cricketer-turned-politician.

The PTI chairman  earlier on Sunday urged activists to remain peaceful and to eschew confrontation with the authorities.

“We are already successful in our mission,” he told the crowd. “Your voice has reached the world over.”Medea Benjamin, leader of a delegation from the US peace group CodePink, apologised for the drone attacks, saying: “We are so grateful that you understand there are Americans in solidarity with you and against our government policy.”However, the US peace campaigners left the convoy before it reached Tank with their spokeswoman saying they felt they had achieved their goals.

There were some 15,000 people in the streets of Tank to greet Khan.

The PTI plans to proceed to the village of Kotkai in South Waziristan, notorious as a place where Taliban commander Qari Hussain — said to have been killed by a drone missile in 2010 — used to train suicide bombers.

Clive Stafford Smith, the British head of the legal lobby group Reprieve, said that whether or not the group reached its intended destination was irrelevant.

“It’s already a wonderful success,” he told reporters. “It doesn’t matter what happens from here on. We’ve generated a huge amount of publicity not just in Pakistan but across the world.”Islamist militants have killed thousands of people in Pakistan since 2007, and US officials say the drone strikes are a key weapon in the war on terror.

US drone strikes in Pakistan

Missiles fired by US drones routinely target militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in what US officials say is a key weapon in the ‘war on terror’.

Peace campaigners condemn the strikes as a violation of international law, Pakistanis as a violation of sovereignty that breeds extremism, and politicians, including Khan, as a sign of a government complicit in killing its own people.

Khan, who has regularly condemned the US-led ‘war on terror’, says he wants to show the world the damage inflicted on innocent people by the drone campaign.

But critics accuse the PTI chief of blatant electioneering ahead of polls next year and of ignoring atrocities blamed on militants.

A report commissioned by Reprieve, Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law last month gave a devastating account of the affect that drone strikes have on ordinary people.

Reliable casualty figures are difficult to obtain but the report estimated that 474 to 881 civilians were among 2,562 to 3,325 people killed by drones in Pakistan between June 2004 and Sept 2012.