ISLAMABAD: A close friend of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Dost Muhmmad Khan Mehsud, Saturday asserted that the anti-drone caravan to South Waziristan would go ahead next month even if militant groups warned or cautioned them against doing so.
Speaking to The News on Saturday, Mehsud — who hails from Waziristan — said, “I am from Waziristan and I can say in categorical terms that the Taliban are happy over PTI’s planned rally, to be started from Bannu on September 23 and concluded at Essha beyond Mir Ali, a tehsil of North Waziristan after Imran’s historic speech.”
In response to a media report that quoted a Taliban spokesperson warning Imran Khan not to push ahead with the proposed activity — which is stated to be unique in nature to register outrage over drone attacks in the tribal belt — Mehsud said he was not aware of any such warning.
Mehsud reiterated that Imran Khan was the only politician who enjoyed enormous popularity among the ranks of the Taliban for his unflinching stance on US drone aggression and the resumption of Nato supply routes via Pakistan. He claimed Imran was also the only leader to have opposed military operations in the tribal areas, pleading for dialogue to resolve issues there.
The PTI leader further noted that the Taliban were fully aware that Imran’s initiative was aimed at serving a national cause that of course was also theirs, since the Taliban too were averse to drone attacks and having Nato supplies routing through Pakistan.
Mehsud said an “international wrestling championship” was underway in the tribal areas and the warning that he described as a figment of that saga, was simply part of that to force the PTI not to go ahead with its programme, comprising over 0.1 million people including human right organisations representatives and media persons.
He said in addition to certain world players, some national political parties also sought to sabotage the caravan — one that no other politician or religious or politico-religious party leader could dare arrange.
When asked what would happen if a suicide attack hit the caravan on its way to Waziristan, Mehsud tersely replied, “Let them bomb us. It is better to die that way instead of seeing corpses of innocent people almost every day due to drone strikes.”
He also said Imran and other senior party leaders would leave from Islamabad and reach Bannu and from thereon they would lead the caravan of cars, vans and motorbikes to Waziristan to show the world the other side of the story.
Mehsud claimed that those killed in drone attacks were often just innocent men, women and children and not terrorists as reported by local and international media.