Imran Khan addresses the "Peace March" convoy on its stopover in Mianwali – Photo by Reuters
Imran Khan addresses the "Peace March" convoy on its stopover in Mianwali – Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: A convoy of hundreds of vehicles carrying over 1,000 people who were participating in Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf’s (PTI) “peace march” to South Waziristan departed from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa town of Dera Ismail Khan towards Tank early on Sunday, DawnNews reported.

Following an overnight stay in D. I. Khan, the marchers left for the tribal region Sunday morning.

Earlier on Saturday, when the convoy reached D.I. Khan, which lies on the border of the province with the tribal region of South Waziristan, several hundred locals gathered to cheer on the cricketer-turned-politician.

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.

Crowds lined the road to greet Khan, and scrums of media and well-wishers thronged his 4X4 as the convoy of more than 100 vehicles embarked on the 440-kilometre drive from Islamabad to South Waziristan.

But as Saturday wore on, it appeared increasingly unlikely the protesters would be allowed to reach their destination, considered a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold, and often called the most dangerous place on earth.

The government says the Taliban plan to attack the rally, authorities told AFP it was not safe for Khan to enter the semi-autonomous tribal belt and television broadcast footage of shipping containers closing the road into South Waziristan.

“I condemn the hypocrisy of the government, who tried their best to make this march fail,” Khan told around 5,000 supporters at a brief halt.

“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,” added Khan.

Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who defected from the main ruling party to PTI this year, insisted the march would not be a failure if the authorities stopped it from reaching Waziristan.

“The point is it’s symbolic,” he 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?”

Khan is accompanied by around 30 US campaigners from the group Code Pink and the British head of legal lobby organisation Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith.

Dawn.com’s Sajjad Haider adds: The convoy left Mianwali late evening for Dera Ismail Khan, which will be the destination for the overnight stay.

There has been an increase in the size of the convoy along the way, with people joining from towns between Talagang and Mianwali. A number of foreign journalists are also part of the convoy, as well as women, most of whom are PTI supporters and activists.

In D. I. Khan, there are arrangements for an event, where the PTI chief is expected to speak. The convoy will leave for Tank early Sunday.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, meanwhile, decided to provide security to the march until its stay in Tank.

Earlier in the day, the march had left Islamabad for the anti-drone march towards the northwestern tribal region.

Speaking to media representatives prior to departing for South Waziristan’s Kotkai town, Khan said the people of South Waziristan would provide security to the peace rally.

The PTI chief said he was leading the march for peace against US drone strikes and that his party’s rally should not be stopped from proceeding.

Moreover, at least 30 anti-drone campaigners from the United States were taking part in the march which began from Islamabad Saturday morning.

Khan said the government wanted to stop the peace rally but the people of South Waziristan were going to provide security to it.

He said the government’s policy on US drone attacks was dubious and that Interior Minister Rehman Malik was trying to scare people away from participating in the rally.

The interior minister, meanwhile, issued a rebuttal to Khan’s statement on social media website Twitter.

“I am in USA and I have neither imposed any restriction for PTI march nor I have any such intentions to do,” Malik said in a post from Washington, DC.

Khan said attempts were being made to sabotage the march, adding that, the rally was only aiming for peace and he had no intention of initiating a fight with any group.

The PTI chief said the Taliban had no intention of attacking the rally.

While speaking to the protest march 25 kilometers away from Dera Ismail Khan, the PTI chief said: "Military operations is not the solution. We have chosen the path of peace and we will have to take all the tribal people along with us."

"This is a peace march and its purpose is for peace. This march will transform the state of Pakistani people," he said.

"We are going to tell the tribal people we have not forgotten them. We will continue to raise our opposition to drone attacks," Khan said.

Supporters cheer en route

At the Balkasar interchange near Chakwal, hundreds of supporters carrying green and red PTI banners gathered in hot sunshine to welcome Khan and the convoy of around 100 jeeps, buses and cars.

Party workers in “Cornered Tigers” T-shirts — a reference to Khan's inspirational talk to Pakistan before their 1992 World Cup victory — formed a human chain round his 4x4 to clear a path through a scrum of media and well-wishers.

Akhtar Syal, 63, from Sarghoda in Punjab, told AFP he had joined the protest because drones were destroying lives.

“It is a great thing that Imran Khan has raised his voice against it, so I am going to make his voice stronger and join him in this noble cause,” he said.

The march plan

As per the plan, the march starting from Kashmir Highway would be joined by activists from Rawalpindi, Attock and Mansehra at the motorway toll plaza.

After making a brief stopover at Balkasar interchange, the marchers would be received in Talagang, Rikhi, Mianwali, Kundian and Paharpur before reaching Dera Ismail Khan for an overnight stay.

On Sunday morning, the march would start from Tank for Kotkai in South Waziristan via Jandola and Aspikai Raghzai.

Kotkai has gained notoriety in recent years as the home town of Qari Hussain, who was considered the main trainer of suicide bombers within the Pakistani Taliban but is said to have been killed in a drone strike in 2010.

Sources in the party said that in the event of authorities intervening and stopping the march at any place a gathering would be held there.

Moreover, unconfirmed reports on Saturday quoted sources as saying that attempts were being made to stop the rally at Jandola, Tank.

The reports moreover said that barbed wires were being laid at Jandola's entry points.

The PTI chief was expected to hold a press conference later on Saturday after the march reached D I Khan.

Khan was also expected to hold a meeting with citizens from the tribal regions in D I Khan.

KP govt to provide security till Tank

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to provide security to the march until Tank.

For this purpose, the KP government has posted an additional 400 police personnel and has also posted personnel from the Frontier Constabulary.

The Pakistan army has also been directed to remain on stand by for this purpose.

TTP declines to provide security

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Friday declined to provide security to the peace march and declared that Khan was a westernised and secular man.

TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said in a statement that the TTP was an ideological organisation based on fundamentals of Islam and performed all activities in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

“Imran Khan is a liberal and secular person and so is his party. Therefore, we deny all baseless statements that we have offered to provide security for his so-called peace rally,” the spokesman said.

Earlier on Friday, local and foreign media had quoted unnamed sources as saying that Taliban had offered to provide security to the rally.

US drone strikes in Pakistan

Missiles fired by US drones routinely target militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) in what US officials say is a key weapon in the ‘war on terror’.

Peace campaigners condemn the strikes as a violation of international law, Pakistanis as a violation of sovereignty that breeds extremism, and politicians, including Khan, as a sign of a government complicit in killing its own people.

Khan, who has regularly condemned the US-led ‘war on terror’, says he wants to show the world the damage inflicted on innocent people by the drone campaign.

But critics accuse the PTI chief of blatant electioneering ahead of polls next year and of ignoring atrocities blamed on militants.

A report commissioned by Reprieve, Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law last month gave a devastating account of the affect that drone strikes have on ordinary people.

Reliable casualty figures are difficult to obtain but the report estimated that 474 to 881 civilians were among 2,562 to 3,325 people killed by drones in Pakistan between June 2004 and Sept 2012.

Dawn.com's Sajjad Haider, who is travelling with the march, contributed to reporting

Updated Oct 06, 2012 06:31pm

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Comments (75) (Closed)


Nasir
Oct 06, 2012 10:13am
I am an Indian, but I whole heartedly support Mr. Imran Khan for his initiatives for bringing change in the lives of people of his country. May Allah grant him all the success he deserves.
Ye Z
Oct 06, 2012 06:20am
May Allah (swt) protect all the well-wishers of Pakistan. Ameen
Abdul Basit
Oct 06, 2012 11:04am
I think its worth taking the Risk. Those people need help!! In long this campaign can relatively save many more lives and can help in removing the Terrorism.
Cyrus Howell
Oct 06, 2012 06:41am
When you are in office it is the businessmen, corporations, relatives and middlemen who come to you with the deals, not the other way round.
shafeeq
Oct 06, 2012 06:21am
Go ahead imran khan we are with you...do not worry about rahman malik....we are against the drone attacks.
Parvez
Oct 06, 2012 08:39am
The saying is true............nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Morad786
Oct 06, 2012 12:21pm
Better Late than Never! I sense the rally is purely political but atleast it will raise awareness about the attrocities commited by US (in collaboration with Pak Govt and People)
Saeed
Oct 06, 2012 12:21pm
May Allah protect you and all in your march. You have sown the kind of courage those cowtads hiding behind high walls cannot even dream about. You will succeed in your mission, by the grace of God because you have dedication courage of conviction and an honest love for your country. Unlike the other politicians of the country. Best of luck and all sour prayers. Only the brave will succeed. Those who dare win.
G.A.
Oct 06, 2012 12:22pm
Thank you Imran Khan for speaking up. "First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me." -Pastor Martin Niemoller.
Waqas Shaikh
Oct 06, 2012 01:12pm
Good job, Imran Khan. I wish Pakistani politicians had done the same thing when Military action was taken in East Pakistan and dismemberment of country could have been saved.
Asif Khan
Oct 06, 2012 01:22pm
Under the present political circumstances Pakistan needs Imran Khan and Imran Khan needs Pakistanis confidence and their help. Go for Imran Khan.
Zafar Malik
Oct 06, 2012 01:32pm
"Trust in God but keep the powder dry"
Ahmed
Oct 06, 2012 01:29pm
So, 881 civilians were killed by drones while 2,444 (i.e. 3,325-881) militants were killed. Given that over 30,000 civilians have been killed by militants, the only thing "devastating" about this account is the blindness of the Pakistani "elite" to reality.
Cyrus Howell
Oct 06, 2012 01:50pm
Militants who are Pakistani and Afghan.
irfan Sadiq (sialkot)
Oct 06, 2012 01:50pm
Lets welcome a change in our country. Let's abolish the rotten politics and stand togather to make this land peaceful and prosperious. Good Luck Imran Khan......Good Luck Pakistan
Amjad Wyne
Oct 07, 2012 12:43pm
No harm in worshiping a "hero". It is better than worshiping non-heros, thieves and thugs.
Muhammad Alvi
Oct 06, 2012 02:06pm
I fail to understand what Imran Khan is trying to achieve by taking all the risks, including his own life. He is the only hope of Pakistan at this time. I pray for his success and security. Drone attacks have some collateral damage, but they are very effective in controlling the terrorist activities. Is it not what Pakistan wants to do, control terrorism?
Mohammed Sharif
Oct 06, 2012 02:14pm
if somebody can, its Imran Khan
Baset
Oct 06, 2012 08:43pm
God bless you Imran Khan the only true leader in this hopeless nation !!
Nawaz
Oct 06, 2012 09:06am
There are over 50 thousand people in the peace caravan heading to South Waziristan. Seeing it on TV is making me very emotional. WIsh i was there with all my Pakistani brothers. The only man who is sincere towards Pakistan. Imran Khan is the only hope we have. Long Live Imran Khan.
Junaid
Oct 06, 2012 07:38am
All of our prayers are with you and your team; it is requirement of time. I was very much surprised reading that government is not only supporting; it is trying to scare the people who are atleast trying to show sympathy with the suffering people. The price of a person is so cheap now that people sitting in Presidential Palaces or in US will decide whether the life of you or your children worth to live or not
Fahad
Oct 06, 2012 09:31am
Imran Khan you are the true leader. All the best
arman khan
Oct 06, 2012 10:18am
i hope that you will come back safely i also belong to south waziristan really people will respect but if you go WANA it will be better coz there no facillities in kotkai go direct wana is already control d.
Abdullah Hussain
Oct 06, 2012 09:13am
Imran Khan the majority of Pakistanis in Pakistan & abroad appreciates what you are doing to bring change in Pakistan. Inshallah no harm will be done to you. Keep your march and show to the world that the peoples of south & north Waziristan are victim themselves. They need education, healthcare and other amenities of life as well. They don't deserve the sky shower they are getting every alternative day.
M. Asghar
Oct 06, 2012 08:27am
The PTI's march to South Waziristan will be a game-changer for the good of the country. Hence, one needs the participation of all the citizens of the land to make it successful.
Asif Bhatti
Oct 06, 2012 06:59am
you are the man Imran Khan. I
Ronnie
Oct 06, 2012 08:57am
lol u tawk like sumone who says my home isnt at fire y should i worry if its my neighbor's home....remember drones are striking their women, children and innocents today, tomorrow its going to be your and mine home..then will u expect such a march or u wud stay criminally silent?
salman
Oct 06, 2012 11:14am
commendable and daring effort by Imran Khan
Mussarat
Oct 06, 2012 06:03pm
We must support Imran's peace initiative aimed at eliminating global terrorism.
Omar
Oct 07, 2012 03:08am
My Leader.. My Hero.. Our Sir IK.. :)...
ali
Oct 07, 2012 01:19am
It would have been better if Imran Khan had gotten elected first and then stopped the drone attacks officially as this march is not going to unfortunately impress the Americans.It is difficult to understand on what basis Imran Khan is saying that the talibans will not attack this rally,the talibans are crazy people and are running a parallel government in that area and no one should be surprised if they attack this unarmed rally consisting of innocent people.It is also difficult to understand how this march is going to bring peace to the country.Thousands of people have already lost their lives in the country and hopefully there will be no further bloodshed during the course of this rally.
Hassaan
Oct 07, 2012 02:01am
Only if you had some brain to think. No wonder Pakistan is here today.
Kashif Aslam
Oct 07, 2012 06:47am
Honestly Speaking Look at Muslims History We have a history of taking care of our Public and having an office is just finding a routine for the system to work but the moto is Welfare of Citizens
NAVEED
Oct 07, 2012 06:45am
The only hope we see right now who can bring peace and prosperity to our great country (which is full of natural resources, has great geographical location and nation full of talent) is Imran Khan. Let the critics say whatever they want to cause what we believe is important and our believe is in the policies of Imran Khan.
Fahad
Oct 07, 2012 04:45am
The only credible leader of Pakistan is Imran Khan !
Kashif
Oct 07, 2012 07:04am
this is precisely why I used the words "hero worship". We need to change our psyche.
sumaira khan
Oct 07, 2012 05:17am
A great effort towards the betterment and peace for Pakistan and and a big slap for the coward rulers and corrupt politicians.
Hassham
Oct 07, 2012 05:44am
Brave move by a brave man. Indeed we need to tell the people of Waziristan that we have not left them alone as we have been for last 8 years. These drone strikes are Not killing terrorists, they are Making new, as a reaction of killing innocent people there.
John
Oct 07, 2012 06:01am
But in this case, it seems, the "majority" is afraid of coming on roads. Illiterates are far brave than the literates themselves. Most of the "majority" is sitting in the drawing room with their lcds turned on.
Hassham
Oct 07, 2012 06:06am
Brave move by a brave man. Indeed we need to tell the people of Waziristan that we have not left them alone as we have been for the last 8 years. We and the world need to realize that these drone strikes are creating more terrorists as a reaction than finishing them
shafeeq
Oct 07, 2012 06:25am
See the vote up this is the big proof for imran khan, he is the next prime minister op Pakistan..
Kashif
Oct 07, 2012 06:29am
Cricket being the second religion of this country, the below comments reek of nothing but hero worship. How absolutely disgusting. Can’t we behave more maturely and stop supporting hypocracy for political motives?
110
Oct 06, 2012 08:23pm
May Allah bless Imran Khan..
Irfan
Oct 07, 2012 12:08am
Very true, still i dont understand that why ppl oppos the peace rally, as a foreign pakistani, I proud on Imran Khan, mayLord protect you. BRAVO!, Whitby,ON
abid
Oct 06, 2012 08:10pm
May ALLAH bless the whole region of Waziristan with peace and peace and peace. Insha ALLAH the rally will reach safely. this will be a great message for rest of the world that people of WANA are peace loving and peaceful. it is th e only drone attacks which are creating trouble in the region.
ali
Oct 06, 2012 09:18pm
this peace march was a hard step that no body can even think about bur Mr khan is able to take this step we should appreciate their services and we should have to support his march. long live Mr KHAN
Waqar
Oct 06, 2012 09:28pm
Only 5Thounsands people in the country of 180Millions+ ? Why it is so much center of attention? Drama for no reason. Let's put our energies on real problems.
Practical
Oct 06, 2012 10:01pm
What has stopped you from joining ? Being so emotional and living in a foreign country does not help...don't just mess around with words .
Syed rizvi
Oct 06, 2012 10:25pm
A brave attempt by imran khan wish him luck. There may be some change after this. Lets cross our fingers
Human
Oct 06, 2012 10:26pm
Shame on Pakistan government, they think Waziristan is a other country and those innocent people are not Pakistani.
Imran
Oct 07, 2012 09:44am
The last hope of Pakistan is Imran Khan. Everybody should support him and also join him to do something for our country. PTI is not family party if someone thinks that he capable of doing anything for his country than he should join PTI. Pakistan is our country and we should treat it as our own house. Would anybody will accept and drone attack on his house or land?
Agha Ata (USA)
Oct 07, 2012 02:02pm
Never seen so many comments in favor of a Pakistani leader. :)
Hussain Shah
Oct 06, 2012 03:10pm
MR IMRAN KHAN is leader of all ,what is going to do is logical we can not be chicken all our lives and by the way tribal people respect the guests coming to their place by any means ,tribal people are our own brothers and sisters who will stand for them in this crazy war.
ashfaq abbasi
Oct 07, 2012 01:55pm
salam, its a great effort by PTI chief Mr. Khan to show reality to the world. that these done attacks create extremist not stop extremist and causes collateral damage at large.
Janan
Oct 06, 2012 06:18pm
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Amer
Oct 08, 2012 04:41am
I think, Imran's vision towards POSITIVE CHANGE be seen in the country is impressive. We need him. We should support him aggressively. We should bring a chnage in the country diceplinally. Whether te recent peace march was so called drama or not but it really leaves a good impact in the media. This is good opportunity for Pakistani Media to charge with for highlighting the issue in internationl media. It would push the media prevail internationally or locally to dicuss it in discussions and plateforums. Lets join our hands to get this isuess resolved and to get the country changed positivelly.
Ali321
Oct 06, 2012 06:46pm
why would anyone "thumb down" such a comment..???
Maz
Oct 06, 2012 03:35pm
Imran Khan who should lead Pakistan towards peace while others dont care because millions$ are plundered at the back of " war on terror "and the victims are the people of pakistan are laying their innocent lives and leaving a unstable country without the much needed security.
a khan
Oct 06, 2012 03:50pm
he is the one honest man alive in pakistan. we are here living in US condemn drone attacks and support imran khan every step of the way and pray may allah help him elect the great leader of poverty stricken pakistan.
M-khan
Oct 08, 2012 06:00am
Bravo Imran Khan and the people who have stood by him and gone on the long march!! May Allah make his efforts fruitful! Ameen! We badly need a change and Imran khan has certainly paved the way for us, now all we need to do is VOTE and make our beloved country in to a peaceful and happy home again for us all..and most of all for our children so they can stand up proud in front of the world and say " I Am PAKISTAN!"
imran
Oct 06, 2012 04:52pm
Interior minister is in the USA tweeting. That about sums up why we are where we are as a country. Imran Khan and PTI are the only hope for Pakistan.
p r sharma
Oct 06, 2012 05:00pm
Let us hope for the best for Pakistan and Imran Khan .
Aamir
Oct 06, 2012 05:27pm
Your this move, Imran, has set the vultures of TTP in thinking mode. They will not attack you, they cannot stop you, but they don't like you. You have become a bitter pill for them that they will have to swallow.
Michael Malcolm
Oct 06, 2012 05:34pm
People like you are no true patriot Pakistani. Give the man the courage he has and all the people with him from the start and hundreds joining him. Any attempt on his life or the people would tantamount to keeping peace over Drone strike alive. March on Imran Khan GOD be with you Ameen.
Al Khan
Oct 06, 2012 05:36pm
The young generation of Pakistan, this is the opportunity of a life time to make Pakistan successful and make it the country of dreams and peace for everyone. We all need to support Imran Khan and give him and the young people of this country to make it a peace loving, progressing, and strong country. If Barack Obama was given a chance by the American voters to be the President of the the United States, we all must give a change to Imran Khan to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan. It is our duty for ourselves and for our kids and for the future generations. Irrespective of if you are from PPP, PMLN, ANP, MQM, PMLQ, IJT,JUI, JI, or any other party, you should just once - ONLY ONCE - give the chance for a change to Imran Khan. It will open the doors of justice, new jobs for all, education, less corruption, respect, religious freedom, and peace for all. God Bless you for Listening and for trying to bring the change.
HinduWatch
Oct 07, 2012 07:54pm
Hindus, Indians, they work as a team in this manner.
umair khan
Oct 06, 2012 10:53am
its responsiblity of every peace loving and awared Pakistani to support imran.
M.Saeed
Oct 06, 2012 10:37am
Zindgi aur Mout Khuda k hath mei, only Imran Khan going to show of that dignity and Bravery against the bitter Drone Attacks by American terrorist.. God Bless u n' Best of Luck Imran bhai,,,
nas
Oct 06, 2012 09:43am
a very good step, pray for its successs
Banday
Oct 06, 2012 09:30am
I hope Imran Khan will take out next rally for the rebuilding of schools destroyed by Taliban in the FATA area....may be naught as he doesn't want to be on the wrong side of the Taliban...after all he has to negotiate with them for power sharing in FATA after becoming PM of this country....A classic case of selective BRAVERY....
Cyrus Howell
Oct 06, 2012 06:39am
"People of South Waziristan to provide security to peace rally:( Imran)." That is how it should work according to plan. A lot of politicians will block his bid for election if they can because he is not too cozy with the powers than exist in government.
Dust Sky
Oct 06, 2012 07:39am
Dear Mr. Imran Khan, how can people of South Wazirastan protect you when they can not even protect themselves!. If some thing goes wrong, who will be responsible, do you take the responsibillity?..... How many lives you are risking with this craze???....Suppose you are successful, what all will you get, a glamour that you marched there where no body goes, .....but if something goes wrong due to any terrorist action, whom you will blame - wazirastan, taliban or your ownself......
Gul Orakzai
Oct 06, 2012 06:38am
How can the people of South Waziristan can give you protection, when they are being ousted by militants from their own land for last couple of years??? haha, dont mock at us please
Muhammad Farooq
Oct 06, 2012 07:45am
cool
True Indian
Oct 06, 2012 09:07am
I wish all the best to Imran Khan...May he succeeds in all his endeavours and bring peace and prosperity in Pakistan...Insha Allah...