ISLAMABAD, Oct 4: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chief Imran Khan declared on Thursday that he would go ahead with his planned peace march to South Waziristan despite security fears and government’s refusal to give permission.
He said the PTI did not want a confrontation with the government. “It is a peace march and we are not going for any confrontation,” Mr Khan said at a press conference, two days ahead of the march which is scheduled to start from Islamabad on Saturday morning.
He said he was surprised by the government’s opposition to the rally. “It is strange that the government is opposing the march despite the fact that the Taliban, tribal elders and the army have no objection to it.”
The PTI chief warned that President Asif Ali Zardari would be responsible for any untoward incident. He accused the rulers of being hand in glove with the Americans on the issue of drone attacks for the sake of money.
“Our rulers don’t want peace in Waziristan. They are complicit in drone attacks because it is a source of income for them. They are provided money in return for their support to drone attacks. If any untoward incident comes to pass, President Zardari will be responsible,” Mr Khan said.
Local and foreign journalists and American peace and anti-drone campaigners will take part in the march and Mr Khan said he wanted them to see what was happening in Waziristan.
Since media personnel, peace activists and other people could not go to the volatile tribal region they were unaware of the actual situation there, the PTI chief said. In reply to a question about security concerns, he said the party had made adequate security arrangements. “The greatest protector is God. Anyhow, police as well as our own workers will also be there for security.”
He said there was no political motive behind the rally. Waziristan had only one seat, he said, adding that his only objective was peace in the region and to prevail upon the US to stop killing innocent people in indiscriminate drone attacks.
“We want to take the media, peace activists and other people to the drone-destroyed areas where they will meet the affected people and then ponder over the solution. The urgent need is to get out of the US-led war. This so-called war on terror has become a war of terror,” he said.
The only solution to this problem, Mr Khan said, was that Pakistan distanced itself from the war it had been fighting for more than 10 years.
He said drone attacks were counter-productive and violated international law and all norms of humanity. The remote-controlled attacks bred extremists and terrorists, instead of solving the problem.
The PTI chief appealed to the people to join the march to demonstrate solidarity with the people of Waziristan.
A group of 35 American peace activists has arrived to join the march.
“A child of Waziristan is as important and valuable as my own child in America. We have arrived here to show that many Americans are against the drone attacks. My government is terrorising the people of Waziristan,” said American peace activist Clive A. Stafford Smith.