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November 18, 2013

PTI, allies put off Nato supplies blockade

 
November 18, 2013

PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its coalition partners in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Sunday decided to postpone the much-trumpeted blockade of the Nato supplies for three days due to the ‘grave security situation’ in the country.
After all its hard-hitting public statements, the PTI avoided for the second time to block the Nato trucks that travel through the province to carry goods to Afghanistan.The route is also used to take back military equipment from Afghanistan following Nato’s decision to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country by 2014.
After the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud’s killing in a drone attack, Imran Khan had threatened to stop Nato supplies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where his party is in power, even if he had to sacrifice the government. However, the PTI, through a resolution in the provincial assembly, set November 20 as the deadline to block the supplies if the federal government failed to stop drone strikes in Pakistan.
The PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP) sat together on Sunday at the Markaz-e-Islami to thrash out a strategy for Nato supplies if drone strikes continue. The meeting decided to postpone the planned sit-in on Nov 20 that was supposed to block the supplies and set November 23 as the new date for obstructing the Nato supplies.
Addressing a press conference here along with the PTI and AJIP leaders, JI provincial Secretary General Shabbir Ahmad Khan said the sit-in was postponed in the wake of a bloody clash between two groups in Rawalpindi.
In a separate statement, the PTI Chairman Imran Khan said the security situation in the country forced them to defer their protest. However, he made it clear that they would hold the protest.
“This is not a cancellation but a postponement in response to the sensitivities of our people and the acute security situation prevailing in the country,” the statement said.Imran

Khan’s party, in view of its consequences, had already distanced its provincial government from the blockade of the Nato supplies.
According to the new strategy, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government would not sponsor or participate in the planned sit-in and instead the party organisations of the PTI, JI and AJIP would organise the protest.
The fourth party, QWP of former interior minister Aftab Sherpao, in the coalition government, has quit after Chief Minister Pervez Khattak belonging to the PTI sacked its two ministers – Bakht Baidar and Ibrar Hussain – on graft charges.Imran Khan is opposed to drone strikes in Pakistan and had led a protest march to Tank district last year in a bid to enter South Waziristan.
He had also held a sit-in in Peshawar in 2011 against the Nato supplies. However, this time he seems to be in an awkward position as the province that provides passage to the Nato supplies is ruled by his party.
Shabbir Ahmad said they decided to muster support for the protest and formed a nine-member committee that would persuade other political parties to join the sit-in. He said the meeting decided that a large number of people from the province would be assembled in Peshawar to take part in the protest. “This sit-in would send a strong message to the world that people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa don’t tolerate drone strikes,” he said.

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