Americans join Imran Khan's march against US drone warfare in Pakistan
[Guardian.uk] Thousands of Paks, joined by a group of US anti-war activists, headed toward Pakistain's bad boy-riddled tribal belt on Saturday, to protest US drone strikes -- even as a Pak Taliban faction warned that jacket wallahs would stop the demonstration.
The motorcade march was led by Imran Khan
Taliban Khan, who isn't your heaviest-duty thinker, maybe not even among the top five...
, the former cricket star turned populist politician who heads the Pakistain Tehrik-e-Insaf
...a political party in Pakistan. PTI was founded by former Pakistani cricket captain and philanthropist Imran Khan. The party's slogan is
Justice, Humanity and Self Esteem, each of which is open to widely divergent interpretations....
party. Militants have dismissed Khan as a tool of the West despite his condemnations of the drone strikes, which have killed many Islamist bad boy leaders.
Paks in small towns and villages along the 250-mile route warmly welcomed the convoy, which included more than 150 vehicles. Footage broadcast on Pak television showed people showering rose petals on the motorcade. But by late Saturday, it appeared increasingly less likely the protesters would reach the South Wazoo tribal area, where they hoped to stage a major rally.
Government officials had warned of dangers in South Waziristan, which is a frequent focus of drone strikes and was the scene of a 2009 Mighty Pak Army offensive. Pak media reported authorities used shipping containers to block the main road leading into the region, where access has long been heavily restricted.
In an interview with the private Dunya TV channel, Khan said he had reached another major town on the route, Dera Ismail Khan
... the Pearl of Pashtunistan ...
, and that he would consult with his party leaders on the situation. The protesters had planned to stay overnight in the Dera Ismail Khan area before heading to South Waziristan on Sunday.
"We have come here for peace," Khan said. "I don't want to put the life of my guests in danger, but I would like to know the level of the threat."
Around three dozen Americans from the US-based anti-war group Code Pink
... an anti-war group that is mainly composed of women. Code Pink describes itself as
a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. It was founded in 2002 by Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin and other usual antiwar suspects. Its website lists hysterical allegations of US war crimes, and states that thousands of non-combatants were killed in Fallujah in 2004. Maybe it was millions. Benjamin was a 2000 candidate for the U.S. Senate on the Green Party ticket. She lost...
joined the march. Foreigners are normally forbidden from entering Pakistain's tribal regions.
The American protesters echoed Pak condemnations of the US drone strikes, saying that contrary to the claims of American officials, the strikes have terrorized peaceful tribes living along the Afghan border and killed many innocent civilians, not just Taliban and al-Qaeda gunnies.
"I'm hoping that what [the protest] will show is that the Pak people and American people and even the people in the tribal areas want peace," said Joe Lombardo, a US activist from Delmar, New York.
James Ricks, another American, said he was going along with the convoy despite the danger. "I am taking this risk because my government is committing international war crimes and we want to stop this," said Ricks, of Ithaca, New York.
Posted by: Fred