ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan announced on Tuesday that he would lead a ‘peace march’ from Islamabad to South Waziristan on Oct 6 to express solidarity with the people of the tribal area and to protest against US drone attacks.
Addressing a news conference here, he claimed that about 100,000 people, including a sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair and members of the families of American soldiers who had died during the so-called war on terror, would take part in the march.
Accompanied by PTI president Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and other leaders, Mr Khan said the march would reach South Waziristan on Oct 7 after an overnight stay in Dera Ismail Khan.
It has taken almost two months for the PTI to finalise the date for the march which Mr Khan had announced in July.
Last month, national and international media carried an Associated Press interview with a spokesman for the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ahsanullah Ahsan, who threatened that the Taliban would kill Imran Khan if he ventured into their stronghold in South Waziristan.
The following day the TTP spokesman denied having threatened to kill the PTI chief. He said in an email that the stance would be announced after the “Shura of TTP…decide what to do a week before his confirmed arrival”.
On the other hand, Mr Khan had declared that his party would go ahead with its plan despite the threat.
He said Pakistan had been fighting America’s so-called war against terror for eight years which had only resulted in an increase in extremism in the country.
“We have lost 40,000 people and faced a loss of $70 billion during last eight years but still the government is not willing to quit the American war,” he said, adding that an operation in North Waziristan would bring more disasters.
He said so far three million people had been displaced because of operations in the tribal areas.
The PTI chief claimed that 12 drone attacks on tribal areas had taken place in 24 hours last week.
He expressed concern over poor a law and order situation in the country and said that people were being killed in Gilgit-Baltistan, Karachi, Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
“The government has been putting all the responsibility on foreign elements but it is not an excuse. If the government cannot control law and order it should resign,” he demanded.
He regretted that 40 persons were stated to be involved in killing bus passengers in Babusar, but not a single accused had been arrested. The government, he said, did not even bother to send a helicopter for shifting the bodies.
Replying to a question, Mr Khan said he had sent a defamation notice to PML-N leader Khawaja Asif for levelling false allegations about misuse of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital funds. He said Khawaja Asif had been given two weeks to respond to the notice and a failure to do so would land him in the court.