Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has taken a convoy of over 1,000 people, including PTI activists, leaders and local and foreign journalists on a two-day march towards South Waziristan to register his party’s protest against drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal region.
While the march has been at the receiving end of criticism from government officials as well as other political parties, some arguments have also been made in its favour.
Anti-drone activists from the West have also joined Khan and prior to leaving for the tribal regions, they met with people affected by the drone strikes and mingled with crowds in the capital to create awareness about their anti-drone stance.
Drone strikes remain a crucial point of discussion whenever Pakistani and US officials meet and while it has been reported that Pakistani officials approve of the strikes, the government continues to reiterate its anti-drone stance in official statements.
Khan, who has been vocal against the unmanned-plane missile attacks from the onset of his recent political activities, has claimed that the march and the eventual address in the South Waziristan tribal region will help bring international attention to the issue and show that the people of tribal regions are supportive of his stance.
It has been said that Khan’s destination for the march is not so much closer to the issue of drone attacks as it is to militancy training, as opposed to North Waziristan, which has borne the brunt of majority of drone attacks in the last few years. However, Khan’s step to go ahead with the march, despite security threats from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and the government’s statement that it will not provide security beyond Tank, has been hailed as a brave move.
It remains to be seen whether the march and the address in Waziristan will only result in political point-scoring for Khan and his party or will it actually force a rethink on the drone war.
Will the presence of international media and anti-war activists bring international attention to drone strikes in Pakistan?
Will Imran Khan be able to gain support of tribal locals?
How will the government respond to the “peace march” once it concludes?
Will the march help bring about a change in drone policies?
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