Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who led an anti-drone attacks rally in northern Pakistan, Sunday reiterated that the higher the number of drone strikes in Waziristan, the more hate they will create for the US.
The PTI's peace-march caravan, which consisted of scores of vehicles and hundreds of activists, had kicked off from Islamabad for South Waziristan Saturday. At one time it was 15 kilometer long. However, the authorities barred it from entering South Waziristan which remains a no-go area for journalists and observers as a Pakistan military operation continues amid news censorship.
The government had decided to provide security to the march until its stay in Tank, the last town near South Waziristan border. The administration had already placed containers there to block the marchers from proceeding ahead on the pretext of inability to provide security any further.
Addressing a mass anti-drone rally in "Jahazi Ground" in Tank, Imran Khan accused the Zardari government of playing a double game as behind closed doors it allows US to carry out drone strikes inside Pakistani territory but tells people that it always opposes the attacks.
Imran Khan advised the Zardari government to abandon double standards and to tell the truth to the people of Pakistan.
He said drone strikes kill many innocent people and these attacks spread hatred against America, adding that these are counterproductive against terrorism - as relatives of victims lift weapons against US.
He criticized the government saying that most of the victims of drone attacks are innocent Pakistanis and it's government's basic duty to protect its citizens. But this puppet government even did not know names of those who have been killing in these attacks.
The people of Waziristan stand isolated, infrastructure has been destroyed, people have been displaced, their children haven't gone to schools in years and economic activities stand paralyzed," Khan argues.
The PTI chairman said that they had ended their march at Tank because traveling further could be dangerous in darkness. "The rally turned back because of curfew in South Waziristan," adding that army had sent message that it was a security risk to stay in the lawless tribal area, Khan said.
Khan thanked foreign activists for participating in the march. Several British and US activists were also along with Khan in the march.
Medea Benjamin, leader of a delegation from the US peace group CodePink, apologized for the drone attacks, saying: "We are so grateful that you understand there are Americans in solidarity with you and against our government policy."
British & US peace activists
However, the US peace campaigners left the convoy before it reached Tank with their spokeswoman saying they felt they had achieved their goals.
Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK and the human rights group Global Exchange, is the author of the recently published book: "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control." In an article published by Op Ed News on September 26, 2012, Medea Benjamin wrote:
"Pakistanis have been asking us questions. "Why do the American people support these barbaric and cowardly drone attacks?" "How would you like it if foreigners flew death machines into your airspace, murdering innocent men, women and children?" "Don't you know that these attacks are counterproductive, driving locals into the hands of extremist groups out of a desire for revenge?"
She went on to say that "many Pakistanis who raged against the "Innocence of Muslims" film were venting long-held resentments towards the United States stemming from drone attacks (along with other policies such as the US mishandling of the war in Afghanistan, the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, and the US pro-Israel bias in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict)."
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