Imran clarifies party position on drones to NATO envoys
Chairman PTI Imran Khan, accompanied by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Shireen Mazari and Naeemul Haq, held a dinner meeting with NATO envoys at the residence of the Greek Ambassador.
Mr Khan explained the PTI position on drones especially the fallout in FATA and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa in the form of heightened militancy and terrorism.
He referred to the APC mandate and the sabotage of the commencement of peace talks by a US drone attack. Khan made it clear that it was in keeping with the electoral commitments made by PTI on drones and the APC resolution - which was similar to earlier APC and Parliamentary resolutions - that PTI had finally taken the action of stopping NATO supplies through KP. Had the government moved on furthering the APC mandate and making it clear to the US that drones were not acceptable, the PTI may not have been compelled to take the step of halting NATO supplies through KP, Khan asserted. He stated this action was a protest which is the democratic right of people. "PTI does not want war with the US or NATO", but we need to send a clear message to the US that drones are destroying the very fabric of FATA and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa which is surrounded on three sides by FATA.
While appreciating the assistance provided by many of the NATO countries to the province of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa's social sector, Chairman Khan explained that all this assistance would be nullified if there was no peace and security in that province. As Khan explained, peace in KP cannot come without a total halt in drone attacks and commencement of dialogue. "It is only by ending the militants narrative of jehad that the state can isolate the hard liners from those prepared to dialogue", Khan stated.
Presently, Khan asserted, KP and its people and leadership were all under immense pressure and threat. That is why all the Parties in the Provincial Assembly, including those who had been seen as "pro-war", had passed a resolution in the Provincial Assembly demanding the federal government commence dialogue and stop drone attacks.
While conceding that there were multiple types of terrorism afflicting Pakistan, Khan reiterated that the fallout of the US War and drone attacks was fuelling an already incendiary situation.
Khan answered all the questions and concerns of the NATO envoys while making clear that PTI would stick to its principled position on drones, dialogue and NATO supplies.
Khan also expressed the hope that the NATO envoys would convey the PTI position to the US which is also an integral member of NATO. Khan reminded them that there was a national consensus against drones and the US War and it was counter productive for US interests also to continue with such policies.
Campaign against drones: PTI rally outside parliament today
After rallying in the streets of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will be holding a protest demonstration in the federal capital and in front of the parliament house at D-Chowk today (Thursday).
The party will also submit a petition against the drone attacks in the National Assembly on Thursday, the first day of the lower house’s seventh session. The party had perhaps waited for the NA session to file such a petition, as it has no representation in the Senate, which has been in session since December 2.
The US suspended its shipments of military hardware out of Afghanistan via the Torkham border for the safety of truck drivers amid the PTI’s ongoing blockade of Nato supplies. After this, the party now plans to take its protest against drone attacks up a few notches, leading to the decision of submitting a petition.
Accompanied by a select group of MNAs, K-P Chief Minister Parvez Khattak will go to the National Assembly Speaker’s chamber where parliamentary leaders including Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will receive the petition, as per the plan. A statement issued by the party said that the CM would present the petition to the interior minister and the leader of the opposition, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Khursheed Shah.
PTI Secretary Information Dr Shireen Mazari claimed the US decision to suspend the ground shipments as a ‘tactical success’. “However, the strategic success will come when the US commits to stop drone attacks on Pakistan.”
Criticising the government over its stance on the US drone campaign, she said, “It has become abundantly clear that the Nawaz government has arrived at a covert deal on drones with the US in the same manner as its predecessors had.”
Dr Mazari said the impact of PTI’s protest had been admitted by Pentagon’s spokesman Mark Wight who conceded that the protest had affected outgoing ground shipments of equipment and other goods from US units on Afghan soil.
Earlier on November 24, the PTI blocked the NATO supply route in Peshawar after inviting all political parties to join their protest against the drone attack in which Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed.
Both the government and the opposition benches shared a common thought that the attack had scuttled the peace process with the Taliban, but the PTI was advised not to ‘fly solo’ in blocking the Nato supply route.
In response, the party still went for the blockade and its chief, Imran Khan, has now vowed to continue the protest until the drone strikes come to a halt.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.
US military halting ground cargo shipments via Pakistan is a tactical success for the Party’s protes
Responding to the news of the US military halting ground cargo shipments from Afghanistan via Pakistan because of the PTI NATO supplies stoppage as a protest against drone attacks on Pakistan by the US, PTI Central Information Secretary stated that this was a tactical success for the Party’s protest. However the strategic success would come when the US committed to stopping drone attacks on Pakistan.
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She said that the impact of the PTI protest on the US has been admitted to by Pentagon spokesman Mark Wight who conceded that the protest had affected outgoing shipments of equipment and other goods from US units on Afghan soil.
Mazari said if the PTI’s determined protest through stoppage of NATO supplies from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa could register an impact with the Pentagon, a resolute show of determination by the federal government to stop drones backed by the APC mandate would have the desired impact on the US. Unfortunately, Mazari said, the federal government after the Sharif visit to Washington has sacrificed the interests and mandate of the people of Pakistan and the APC to US interests. “It has become abundantly clear that the Sharif government has arrived at a covert deal on drones with the US in the same manner as its predecessors”, Mazari concluded.