PESHAWAR, April 24: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan warned on Sunday that workers and supporters of his party would march on Islamabad if the US did not change within a month its policy of carrying out drone attacks in tribal areas.
“If the drone attacks continued after this deadline then PTI’s workers would march on Islamabad,” Mr Khan announced at the conclusion of the two-day sit-in his party had organised in Hayatabad in protest against attacks by unmanned aircraft. He urged the government to respect the parliament’s resolution that called for stopping drone strikes.
“Politicians should end hypocrisy. They should either support the drone strikes or oppose them openly. The government should abandon the dual policy on drone attacks,” Mr Khan said amid thunderous applause.
People sang, danced and shouted for an end to US missile attacks as leaders made speeches.
Mr Khan also demanded that teams of media organisations and human rights groups should be allowed to visit the tribal areas to investigate whether those killed in drone attacks were terrorists or innocent people.
He said problems could not be resolved through wars and the use of guns, adding that talks were the only way to solve them. He offered to help in talks between the government and the Taliban.
“The American people do not know that drones are killing innocent women and children,” he said, adding that if they were apprised of the facts protests would be held against the US government by the American citizens.
He said that international law guaranteed protection of the rights of all human beings irrespective of their race, territory and financial status.
He said Pakistan was the only country that had been using its army to kill its own people and alleged that the rulers had allowed the drone strikes for a few dollars “which was a matter of immense shame”.
Criticising the leaderships of the PML-N and the PPP, Mr Khan said that Mian Nawaz Sharif paid only Rs5,000 income tax while President Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the People’s Party, paid nothing. He regretted that the rich did not pay income tax creating a situation in which price hike hit the masses the hardest.
The PTI leader said the nation did not want to continue to be slaves of America and wanted an independent Pakistan in line with the wishes of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. “We will make Pakistan so strong that people of other countries would come here to seek jobs,” he said.
PML-N’s MNA Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and PML-Q’s lawmaker Marvi Memon also attended the sit-in, which had started on Saturday. Mr Khan welcomed them. Extending an invitation to Marvi Memon to join the PTI, he asked workers of other political parties to tell their leaders to stand up against the US or join the PTI.
“We will provide protection to women, children and other weak elements of society against the international aggressor; the US is an aggressor because it violates the international law by targeting the innocent people,” he said, adding that all those not convicted by courts were innocent and therefore the US had no right to kill the Pakistanis.
He said the PTI would end discrimination between the rich and the poor and do away with the existing class-based education system and introduce a unified system for the children of the country.Mr Khan said the PTI would gather Shias and Sunnis on a single platform and there would be no difference among the residents of various provinces of Pakistan.