According to Pakistan's Dawn online news, the Tehrik-i-insaf's (PTI) peace convoy protesting drone attacks made it to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa town of Dera Ismail Khan late Saturday. The peace convoy was greeted by cheering crowds. En-route it stopped in Mianwali for a brief rally.
The convoy, which departed from Rawalpindi and Islamabad under Khan’s leadership, stopped at Mianwali for under an hour, where the PTI chief held a small address.
“PTI is not scared of anyone. The government tried to make this march unsuccessful but we are determined to bring peace to the country,” Khan said while addressing the convoy in Mianwali.
Khan reiterated his party’s stance against drone attacks, saying that drones kill the innocent and that he stands with the people of Waziristan.
“The people of the tribal regions have been facing difficulties for the last eight years,” he said.
Terming the march a “trailer for change,” Khan vowed to bring peace to the country.
There are questions about whether or not the convoy will be allowed to reach its destination in South Waziristan. The Pakistani government claims that the Taliban plans to target the protest using suicide attackers.
PTI leader Imran Khan responded to the warning by saying - “I condemn the hypocrisy of the government, who tried their best to make this march fail... They are saying that Taliban have sent nine suicide attackers. If (President Asif Ali) Zardari sends even a 100 suicide attackers this march will not stop."
Shah Mehmoud Qureshi, a former foreign minister who left the ruling party to join PTI, said the march would not fail and emphasized its symbolic importance. Shah said “The government is saying we are against drones. The people are saying they are against drones. What are they afraid of? Why are they blocking us?”
Imran Khan suggested earlier in the week that entering South Waziristan may not be possible, but said the peace convoy would go as far as possible and then hold a rally at that point.
Around 30 campaigners from Code Pink and Clifford Stafford-Smith of Reprieve are taking part of the protest.
Stafford-Smith wrote to president Obama and CIA director Petraeus to provide advanced information about the march. In a sardonic touch he asked the president to refrain from including himself [Stafford-Smith] and other marchers in the weekly 'kill list.'
This letter makes a simple request: when I march into Waziristan on October 7th, 2012, please do not let the CIA kill me, Pakistani politician Imran Khan, or the others – including many Americans – who will be marching with me to highlight the plight of the innocent people, including at least 174 children, targeted by drones in recent months and years. Indeed, should my picture come up in your weekly Powerpoint display, please remember that you and I are both lawyers from the same tradition, and it would be unseemly (as well as being both illegal and upsetting for my family) if you were to authorize my assassination.
The people of Waziristan have been on the receiving end of a brand of superpower terror that has wreaked havoc in their communities. The US administration claims its drone strategy is a necessary measure to combat alleged threats, yet the use of drones in extrajudicial killings has become one of the greatest selling and recruiting causes for militants. It is a self-defeating strategy that has been generating widespread anti-American sentiment.
Beneath is a DemocracyNow! interview with James Cavallaro and Sarah Knuckey on drone strikes in Pakistan. Cavallaro is director of the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford University. Sarah Knuckey is a professor at the New York University School of Law and a former adviser to the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.