Anti-drone protesters start march in Pakistan

Dozens of US activists join hundreds of Pakistanis led by Imran Khan on a march to restive tribal areas.

    Anti-drone protesters start march in Pakistan
    Rally aims to reach the tribal regions in northwestern Pakistan, though it is unclear how far they will get [Reuters]

    Hundreds of Pakistanis, joined by dozens of American activists, have launched a motorcade "march" against US drone strikes that they hope will reach the Afghan border region in northwestern Pakistan.

    The main faction of the Pakistani Taliban has denounced Saturday's protest, and it is unclear how far the protesters will get; access to the tribal areas is controlled by Pakistan's military and security agencies.

    The march, in reality a long vehicle convoy, is being led by Imran Khan, the former cricket star-turned-politician.

    It began Saturday morning in Islamabad and is intended to end in South Waziristan tribal region, a frequent target of drone-fired American missiles.

    Khan has been a voiciferous critic of American drone strikes in Pakistan and has alleged that large numbers of innocent civilians and tribes living along the border have been killed.

    The American activists are from the US-based anti-war group CODEPINK.

    Drones 'terrorise' civilians

    Critics of the strikes allege such attacks kill numerous innocent civilians and terrorise peaceful communities. A report released last month by researchers from New York University and Stanford University found that the drones "terrorise" civilians living in the tribal areas.

    The US rarely discusses the top-secret drone programme, but American officials have said the majority of those killed in the strikes are Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, and that the missiles used in the strikes are very precise.

    According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US has launched more than 300 drone strikes in Pakistan in the last eight years, killing more than 2,500 people in North Waziristan alone.

    Some estimates say a quarter of those were civilians, including children.

    The American presence has buoyed organisers behind the protest but also added to concerns that certain groups will target the weekend event.

    Ahead of the march, local media carried reports of alleged suicide bombings planned against the demonstrations, and a pamphlet distributed in a town along the march route warned participants they would face danger.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Almost 300 people died in Mogadishu but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Japan's third-largest steelmaker has admitted it faked data on parts used in cars, planes and trains.