Anti-drone drive – PTI sit-in may turn into alliance

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PESHAWAR – The anti-drone campaign launched by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is likely to transform into a future political alliance as almost all the like-minded political parties are joining the first ever two-day sit-in from April 23 against the US strikes in the tribal areas. Various political parties, except Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), have announced joining the sit-in on the main NATO supply route at Hayatabad, Peshawar, which is a rare political show to press the government and the US-led international community to immediately stop the unlawful drone attacks.
Political analysts foresee the sit-in as a major development that could lead to mass protests across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a coalition more or less similar to the MMA, which united six religio-political parties in 2001-02. The PTI aims at blocking the Pak-Afghan Highway at Bagh Naran in Hayatabad to stop supplies to the NATO forces in Afghanistan. Political parties including Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), JUI-F and JUI-S (the two factions of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Tehrik-e-Istiqlal, PPP-Sherpao and National Democratic Alliance along with representative bodies of transporters and internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Jalozai camp have their announced support to the protest.
The drone attacks started 2004 when a seminary was targeted in Bajaur. More than 2,300 people have been killed in 234 drone attacks so far in which only nine key members of al Qaeda could be eliminated. PML-N might also participate in the sit-in, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president of the PTI, Asad Qaiser said, adding that they were in contact with the PML-N’s provincial leadership. He said his party was determined to raise voice against the drone attacks and if the government did not take serious steps to address the matter, the PTI would hold more sit-ins till the strikes were not halted. He claimed that more than 20,000 PTI workers from across the province along with a large number of people from Punjab led by party chairman Imran Khan would show their strength in the event.
On the possibility of forming an alliance of the like-minded political parties, Hamidul Haq, a JUI-S leader, said the views of his party and the PTI on various issues were same and mutual collaboration could not be ruled out. Maulana Sami-ul-Haq would participate in the sit-in, he added. National Democratic Alliance Chairman Khawaja Muhammad Khan Hoti said they were against the drone attacks and would be join the protest call. Meanwhile, tribesmen and the parliamentarians from FATA have expressed their reservations over the political parties’ involvement in the affairs of the tribal belt.