Tribesmen protest against drones, Nato supply


Hundreds of tribesmen kicked off here on Saturday protests and a two-day sit-in against US drone attacks outside the Parliament House.
The tribesmen, most of them belonging to North Waziristan Agency, arrived in Islamabad to convey their resentments to the Pakistani authorities and the world against the attacks,” an anti-drone attack campaigner from North Waziristan, Karim Khan, who lost his son in one of US drone attacks, told Online. The protesters from the tribal areas were accompanied by the workers of various political parties including PML-Q, JI, PTI, JUI as well as workers of NGOs and HR organisations besides a large number of other people.
The protesters carrying banners inscribed with anti-drone attack slogans and appeal for stopping it gathered in D-Square outside the parliament. They were chanting slogans – ‘the friend of America is traitor’.
Later on, the sit-in was addressed by leaders of protestors Karim Khan and former JI Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmad, PML-Q leader Ajmal Wazir and PTI senior leader Javaid Hashmi. The speakers said the US drone attacks on the tribal people were being carried out by the covert consent of Pakistani authorities. They demanded of the government to take concrete steps for protecting its people by stopping the attacks.
One of the protestors said that protests would continue across the country till the end of attacks. After a lull of about two months, the CIA-supported drone attacks were resumed in January.
Earlier on Thursday, a protest rally was staged against the drones in Miranshah, while the tribal people had also launched a protest last year.
So far 288 drone strikes have been carried out in the various locations of the tribal areas and over 2,700 people including militant leaders had lost life in the attacks.
Drone strikes were halted in November 2011 after Nato forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in the Salala incident. Shamsi Airfield was evacuated of the Americans and it was taken over by the Pakistanis the next month. The incident prompted an approximately two-month stop in drone strikes, which were resumed on January 10, 2012.
Pakistan had stated times and again that attacks were counterproductive and created problems in the war on terror. However, the CIA controlled attacks continued unabated.
The issue of drone attacks was raised by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in her meeting in London with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, no change is expected as it is not for the first time that the issue was discussed.
Meanwhile, Hundreds of people hailing from South Waziristan staged a protest demonstration against the restoration of Nato supply. The parade avenue was filled with hundred of protestors carrying placards, posters and banners against the US as well as Pakistani government.
An anti-drone campaigner namely Ayesha Gulala Wazir said that more than 1,350 people have lost their lives in the drones out of which 1,000 belonged to South Waziristan.
“The United Nations (UN) didn’t give mandate to anyone to breach the sovereignty of an independent state,” she stated. She said that number of innocent women, children and elders lost their lives in drone attacks. She said national and especially international media projected wrong picture of tribal people that they (tribal) are savages, who like violence and brutality. “The case was not like that, tribal didn’t like violence in the area but they want peace and progress,” she added.
She further said there was still no engineering university, medical college and other facilities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).