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Taliban make decision on Imran Khan’s Waziristan rally

October 01, 2012

In this photo taken Aug. 6, 2012 Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan, center, flanked by his body guards talks to The Associated Press in the militant group’s stronghold of Shawal in the tribal region of South Waziristan.—AP Photo

KARACHI: The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said that the militant organisation has made a decision regarding cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s peace march to South Waziristan; however, the decision will be announced a day before the rally actually takes place.

According to a report by the BBC Urdu on Monday, a spokesman for the TTP Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the decision was taken during an important meeting of the Taliban council on Saturday attended by the TTP’s central leaders.

The spokesman said that the Taliban has made a final decision; however, he added that he was unable to disclose whether the decision was in favour of Khan’s rally or against it.

Ehsanullah Ehsan, speaking to Dawn.com correspondent Zahir Shah Sherazi over telephone from an undisclosed location, confirmed that the banned organisation had made the decision at a meeting of its central leaders Saturday, but will announce it a day before the proposed rally.

Imran Khan, the chief of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), has vowed to rally to South Waziristan against drone attacks along with thousands of people, including 30 civil society activists from the US.

At a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday, the PTI chief said claimed that the Mehsud, Burki and Bhittani tribes of Waziristan had assured him of providing security to the participants of the rally.

The rally, starting from Islamabad, will pass through Balkasar, Talagang and Mianwali, reaching DI Khan on October 6. On October 7, the participants will gather in Tank and then will move towards South Waziristan where a public meeting will be held at Kot Kai.

South Waziristan is one of the seven regions in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), governed by tribal laws. An Islamist insurgency led by the Pakistani Taliban plagues the region, which is close to the Pak-Afghan border, while the area is known to be infested with militants, including the al Qaeda, the Taliban and several other armed extremist organisations.

The tribal areas, especially North and South Waziristan, have also been the stage of US drone strikes, which many say are ineffective and have claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

No sympathy for liberals

Earlier in August, Taliban spokesman Ehsan had said that a reaction to Khan’s proposed visit will be made public after the “Shurah [council] of TTP…decide what to do a week before his (Khan’s) sure arrival.”

The spokesman, denying earlier reports of a TTP death threat to the PTI chief, however, had made it clear that the Taliban ‘have no sympathy for Khan or liberals, a term they associate with a lack of religious belief.

“It’s sure and clear that we don’t have any sympathy with Imran Khan. Neither [do] we need his sympathy, as he himself claims to be liberal and we see liberals as infidels,” he said.

The spokesman had said that by calling himself a ‘liberal’, Khan had proved that he was a ‘slave of the US and Europe’, and that the Taliban are not satisfied with his policies.