PESHAWAR: Police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province prevented activists protesting US drone strikes from blocking trucks carrying Nato troop supplies to and from neighboring Afghanistan on Monday.
The intervention was the latest chapter in a saga that began Saturday, when thousands of protesters led by Pakistani Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan blocked a road in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is used to ship goods to and from Afghanistan.
The PTI, which also leads the ruling coalition in the province, has said they would block Nato shipments until the US ends drone attacks in Pakistan.
On Sunday, members of the party stopped trucks and roughed up drivers ferrying Nato supplies at a toll booth on the outskirts of Peshawar, the provincial capital. Police were present at the scene Sunday but did not stop the protesters, some of whom were carrying wooden batons.
Police officer Behram Khan said Monday that police would permit peaceful protests on the roadside, but activists would not be allowed to stop trucks as they did before. Police also opened an investigation into the activists’ actions that could lead to legal charges, he said.
The provincial police chief in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Nasir Durrani, ordered police to prevent protesters from stopping trucks and open an investigation into those activists who were halting vehicles on Sunday, said a statement from the police chief’s office.
The route blocked by the activists leads to one of two crossings used by trucks to carry Nato troop supplies and equipment to and from Afghanistan. The other crossing is in southwest Balochistan province and has not been affected by the protest.
The land routes through Pakistan have been key to getting supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan. They now increasingly are being used to ship equipment out of Afghanistan as the US seeks to withdraw most of its combat troops from the country by the end of 2014.
Also on Monday, provincial lawmakers gathered outside the US consulate in Peshawar and handed over a protest memorandum against drone strikes.
Demonstrators, led by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader Maulana Sirajul Haq and belonging to the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and its allied parties in the provincial government, staged a sit-in and shouted anti-US and anti-drone slogans outside the consulate premises.
The memorandum said that the people of Pakistan wanted peace but the US drone strikes were sabotaging the peace process.