PESHAWAR, Nov 23: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan declared on Saturday that his party had decided to stop Nato trucks to and from Afghanistan through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa till a complete halt to the US drone attacks in the tribal areas and the province.

“There will be complete blockade of supplies to Nato forces till the US assures us of halting drone strikes,” he said at a public meeting after launching his anti-drone campaign.

Members of the PTI’s coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stayed away from the protest on the Ring Road, near the Motorway Interchange, one of the routes for Nato trucks.

The PTI kept alive its tradition of adding colour to such events as speeches of its leaders were interspersed with national songs.

“I also appeal to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to come forward and join our protest because the latest attack has taken place on its soil. There should be a complete ban on Nato supplies because the US has violated our land,” Mr Khan said.

“It is a defining moment for us – either we resign ourselves to slavery or assert our independence and sovereignty,” he said.

The PTI chief accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of not standing up to US aggression despite being entrusted with a responsibility to take measures for peace by participants of an all-party conference in September. The PTI leader urged the prime minister to order stoppage of Nato supplies.

“Nawaz Sharif had promised (during the election campaign) that he will not permit drone attacks in our territory and will take the matter to the UN Security Council, but nothing has happened,” he said.

Imran Khan alleged that the prime minister hadn’t conveyed the nation’s concerns to US President Barrack Obama during their meeting last month.

DIALOGUE SABOTAGED: According to the PTI chief, the United States had sabotaged the peace dialogue supported unanimously by all political parties by killing Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud in a drone attack.

“It has no regard for Pakistan’s concerns and treats it like a slave,” he said. There should be distinction between a friend and an enemy, he added. “America doesn’t care about our sovereignty and is no friend of ours,” he said.

He recalled that the US had carried out a drone attack in Waziristan last year just a day after the then government had passed a resolution. “The whole nation will stand behind the prime minister if he shows teeth to the US. It is his responsibility to protect the people.”

The prime minister had the best opportunity to emerge as a hero by ordering a halt to Nato supplies, he said.

The US did not bother about “statements of condemnation we have been issuing against illegal drone attacks for the past nine years and now we should take steps to protect our voters in the face of foreign aggression.”

The public meeting was dominated by the Punjab-based PTI leaders because a majority of its key figures in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are part of the provincial government.

“We have lost 50,000 people in the war against terrorism, but the US still does not trust us,” Imran Khan said, adding that it was time to distance ourselves from the US-led war for the sake of peace in the country.

Jamaat-i-Islami leader Liaquat Baloch said protests would be held in Karachi and Lahore on Sunday (Nov 24) and Dec 9 against the drone attacks.

The Obama government had carried out 317 drone attacks in the country, he claimed.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of the Awami Muslim League said the prime minister didn’t know about the prices of essential commodities and was instead “interested in making assets and securing business deals for his family empire”.

The nation was passing through a dark period of history while the prime minister was devoting his time to foreign tours, he said.

Among other speakers were the PTI’s Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Usman Tarakai of the Awami Jamhuri Ittehad.

Opinion

Editorial

Elections in India
Updated 21 Apr, 2024

Elections in India

Independent accounts and spot reports are at variance with Modi-friendly TV anchors and they do not see an easy victory for the Indian premier.
IHC letter
21 Apr, 2024

IHC letter

THIS is a historic opportunity for the judiciary to define its institutional boundaries. It must not be squandered....
Olympic preparations
21 Apr, 2024

Olympic preparations

THIS past week marked the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the Paris Olympics, with the symbolic torch-lighting...
Isfahan strikes
Updated 20 Apr, 2024

Isfahan strikes

True de-escalation means Israel must start behaving like a normal state, not a rogue nation that threatens the entire region.
President’s speech
20 Apr, 2024

President’s speech

PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari seems to have managed to hit all the right notes in his address to the joint sitting of...
Karachi terror
20 Apr, 2024

Karachi terror

IS urban terrorism returning to Karachi? Yesterday’s deplorable suicide bombing attack on a van carrying five...