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November 24, 2013

PTI, allies sit-in halts Nato supplies via Peshawar

November 24, 2013

PESHAWAR: Thousands of workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its allies on Saturday staged a sit-in here on the Ring Road to block Nato supplies in order to press the US to stop drone strikes in Pakistan. Imran Khan asked the federal government to use the air force to hit drones following the US disregard for Pakistan and its leadership.
Not a single truck was allowed to transport supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan, or pull out military equipment from the war-torn country where the US and Nato forces are gearing up for withdrawal. The protesters sat on the dual carriageway that forks from the Grand Trunk Road to bypass the city and runs through Khyber Agency to Afghanistan. Several containers were stacked on top of one another across the road to make a lofty stage that blocked the road.
No container-laden trucks, Nato or others, were seen stalled at the site of the sit-in. A police official said containers were stopped in Nowshera and other cities and some were diverted towards Chaman, another route used for Nato supplies.
The PTI chief Imran Khan said in his address that his party would block Nato supplies not only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI is in power, but across the country. He asked the provincial government to initiate action to officially stop Nato supplies travelling through the province.
Before the start of the sit-in in Peshawar, Imran said the protest would continue until a US assurance that it was stopping the unmanned aircraft strikes. However, the protest was called off on Saturday evening soon after he and other leaders addressed the participants.
The Nato trucks may be able now to use the route for supplies. However, according to PTI provincial spokesman Ishtiaq Urmar, the party workers would stop Nato supplies at different points in the province. He said workers would launch sit-ins at the Khairabad Bridge, Swabi Motorway Interchange, Charsadda Motorway Interchange and toll plaza on the Ring Road near

Imran Khan said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised the nation that he would stop drone strikes. “Mian Sahib,” he addressed the prime minister, “will you now issue mere condemnations over drone strikes or order the Pakistan Air Force to knock drones down?”
He said Mian Sahib should act like a leader and the whole nation will support him.
He said Nawaz Sharif did not take up the issue of drone attacks in a meeting with US President Barack Obama, which shattered his hopes. The PTI leader said he had accepted the election results despite rigging and trusted Nawaz Sharif in an effort to collectively rid the country of US aggression. “We still stand with you,” he said, addressing Nawaz Sharif.
He was angry that the US disrespected Pakistan’s parliament and political leadership by carrying out drone strikes at a time they were being opposed.
“Parliament passed a resolution asking for an immediate halt to drone strikes and the US conducted an attack that night. For the first time, an elected government initiated talks after a mandate by all political parties and the US attacked (the slain TTP chief) Hakimullah Mehsud to sabotage it. They have no respect for us,” he said. “And Sartaj Aziz’s trust was shattered a day after he was assured of a halt to drone attacks during talks,” Imran added.
The PTI chief said his was a defining movement for Pakistan to choose between disgrace and self-respect and independence. He said Pakistan should be treated as a friend, not a slave. “There is a difference between slavery and friendship,” he said, standing in front of a giant banner that read: “Our Land, Our Way.”
He asked the prime minister whether he would also tell lies to the nation like previous rulers or take a stand. “Nations are not made by begging before others, but by taking stand,” he said.
He said the federal government should tell the US it was with it in establishing peace, not in waging wars. He said conflict and violence had wreaked havoc in KP and destroyed the lives of the six million people of Fata.
When Pakistan was joining the US war, he said, it owed Rs5,000 billion in debt but now it had soared to Rs14,000 billion. “The increase in debt in one decade of war is more than the debt Pakistan got in several decades. The debt increased because Pakistan spent a huge amount of money in the US-led war,” he claimed.
Imran said that not a single attacker of 9/11 belonged to Pakistan but it was made to suffer in lives and materials. He said 50,000 people, including thousands of soldiers, had died in this war, yet the US was not satisfied.
“It (the US) is still trumpeting ‘do more,’ it’s telling us that we are not fighting honestly and competently despite the fact that their soldiers are losing the war in Afghanistan,” he taunted. He condemned the US policy that made Pakistanis suffer immensely and at the same time disgraced and maligned them.
In response to a statement by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he said the PTI did not want to become Shaheed but would emerge as a Ghazi. He indicated a dissolution of the assembly if his party’s government was destabilised in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “We, the allies, have decided not to become Shaheed if our government is destabilised, rather we will seek a fresh mandate,” he maintained.
The Jamaat-e-Islami’s central secretary-general Liaquat Baloch said his party had decided to stop Nato trucks in Karachi today (Sunday).
The PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said if Nawaz Sharif was not pursuing a dual policy as he claimed he should convene another APC to make a new strategy.
Javed Hashmi said the American nation was becoming extremely intolerant towards Washington’s policy of wars and was rising up against the government.
Sana adds: Awami Muslim League (AML) president Sheikh Rashid, while addressing the gathering, said, “We are dying of hepatitis, TB, inflation and missile attacks.” He said the government has ruined the country’s economy by raising prices of petrol to a record level.
Sheikh Rashid alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was following the agenda of unleashing violence across Pakistan.
He said today democracy is threatened by democracy. He said the country’s economy has suffered the most and has almost been destroyed. “The PM doesn’t even know the prices of flour and vegetables in the country,” the AML chief said. He said a ‘gang of seven’ is ruling the country.
He also spoke against the federal government harshly during his speech.
Javed Aziz Khan adds: The police across KP have been directed not to allow Nato supply trucks to move in their areas and bring a halt to the supplies for the Nato forces to protest the US drone attacks.
Police have refused entry to the Nato trucks at Attock since Saturday, an official said. The provincial government has ordered the police to stop the movement of the vehicles transporting supplies for the Nato troops based in Afghanistan.
“The police have stopped the movement of trucks from Punjab at Attock because the PTI’s sit-in,” Capital City Police Officer Ijaz Ahmad told The News.
Another official said they have received fresh orders not to allow any trailer, truck or any other vehicles carrying goods for Nato forces via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The PTI spokesperson Ishtiaq Urmar said no Nato truck would be allowed to enter the province till the government was assured that no drone attack would take place in future.
The police force in Peshawar, Mardan and Dera Ismail Khan has been directed to stop the vehicles taking Nato supplies to Khairabad on the Grand Trunk Road as well as the Swabi and Charsadda interchanges on the Motorway.
Also, the police force has been directed to stop the movement of vehicles carrying goods for Nato forces in Afghanistan at Hayatabad and on the GT Road via the Ring Road.
The cops in Dera Ismail Khan were also directed to halt the Nato containers and goods being carried across the border.

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