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MPs rally outside parliament to protest US drone strikes

06 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: More than 100 national and provincial legislators staged a protest on Thursday in the capital against US drone strikes on suspected militants in the country's tribal belt.

"We will continue our protest against drone strikes and...we will not allow NATO supplies to pass through the (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) province," Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan told the gathering outside parliament. Rallies against the drone attacks began in Peshawar on November 24. Apart from PTI legislators, members of parliament from the Jamaat-e-Islami took part in the rally, shouting slogans against the United States and the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Imran accused Nawaz's government of double standards on the issue and called for the blocking of supply routes through Pakistan for NATO troops in Afghanistan. "Our rulers have double standards, they say one thing to the Americans and the complete opposite to the nation," he said. "These missile strikes violate international laws. We do not want a war with America but we are protesting against the cruel policies of America."

Activists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, some armed with clubs, have been forcibly searching trucks since late November to try to halt NATO supplies, following Imran's earlier calls to block routes. In response the US military has suspended shipments of equipment out of Afghanistan through the Torkham border crossing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Torkham is a key transit point used by the Americans and NATO to withdraw military hardware from Afghanistan.

US officials said trucks have been told to wait for now in holding areas in Afghanistan, with Washington expecting the route to resume operating soon. Islamabad signed a deal with the US in July last year allowing NATO convoys to transit Pakistan until the end of 2015. But a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said they were unable to intervene in the issue. Imran cautioned the Centre not to attempt to overthrow the PTI-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, warning such a move would result in PML-N government's fall.


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