NATO supply route blocked as Imran Khan leads 2-day sit-in

Last Updated: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 23:48

Islamabad: Thousands of people, led by
Pakistani cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, on Saturday
blocked the main supply route for NATO troops in neighbouring
Afghanistan to protest against the US drone strikes in the
restive tribal regions.

Several opposition and Islamist groups as wells as
tribal elders have backed the protest led by Imran, the chief
of Tehrik-e-Insaf party (Justice Movement).

"I congratulate the people on the successful protest,"
Imran said, adding the people of Pakistan will continue to
protest unless the US halts the strikes targeting the people.

He demanded that the government shut down the NATO
supplies through Pakistan.

"Pakistan will not be made a servant of the United
States," he said, asking the government to quit the US-led
efforts to combat the terrorism.

He said the anti-US protest will gain momentum in the
coming days.

Campaigners against the drone strikes from Waziristan
region have also joined the protest, amid fast growing
opposition to the US attacks.

The protest comes just a day after two US drone
aircraft rained missiles into North Waziristan tribal region
which killed 25 people, including women and children,
according to tribesmen in the region.

The protestors blocked the Khyber Pass, the main
supply route for NATO troops in the neighbouring Afghanistan,
on the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber
Pakhtoonkhwa province.

The protest forced the authorities to suspend for two
days the supplies for nearly 150,000 US-led foreign forces.

Officials said that nearly 70 per cent of NATO
supplies are transported through Pakistan, the most risky but
shorter supply route.

Anger runs high in Pakistan against the US drone
strikes in the Waziristan tribal region, which CIA considers
as the base for al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban militants for
planning attacks across the border into Afghanistan.

Despite the public resentment and Pakistan’s protest,
the US administration has rejected any possibility to halt the
drone strikes. The message was conveyed this month to the ISI
chief, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, when he met with the CIA boss
in the US.

Suspected militants regularly attack NATO trucks in
Pakistan, which has also forced the US to sign agreements with
Russia for alternate supply route.

The protestors will continue the sit-in till tomorrow
and the organisers said they would announce future strategy at
the conclusion of the protest.


First Published: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 23:48

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