Pakistan protests against US drone strikes attract thousands


Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, gestures while addressing a protest rally in Peshawar on November 23, 2013.


A Majeed

Thousands of Pakistani demonstrators blocked a road near Peshawar on Saturday in protest of American drone strikes in the country's tribal areas.

The protest, led by led by Pakistani politician and former cricket player Imran Khan, sought to block a road used by NATO to supply troops in Afghanistan.

''We will put pressure on America, and our protest will continue if drone attacks are not stopped,'' Khan told the crowds.

“We by this step wanted to tell the world that we could do what we said and we could do anything for our people.”

The protest is more symbolic than practical as there is little NATO supply traffic on Pakistan's roads on Saturday.

Khan said, however, that officials in the province would begin stopping NATO supply trucks at the border on Sunday, a move that could increase tensions with the US and Pakistani government.

Khan said that the stops would continue until the drone strikes were halted and an apology was sent to the Pakistani people.

The road in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province leads to two border crossings on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

The US drone program aimed at Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the tribal areas of Pakistan are deeply unpopular in that country.

Although the Pakistani government has condemned the strikes, there is mounting evidence to suggest that authorities have turned a blind eye or collaborated with the US Central Intelligence Agency to target militants.

The protest comes after a drone strike that allegedly killed militants at an Islamic seminary outside of Pakistan's tribal areas, outraging Pakistani officials.