Nato supplies halted over protests

2011-04-23 18:34

Peshawar - Pakistan suspended delivery of supplies on Saturday to Nato troops in Afghanistan via its land border for three days as campaigners began a sit-in on the supply route over US drone attacks.

Supporters of cricket hero-turned-politician Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party were gathering on the Peshawar ring road on Saturday for the planned two-day sit-in aiming to block the route used by supply trucks.

The party called the demonstration to protest over US missile attacks from unmanned aircraft in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, which many feel infringe on Pakistani sovereignty and which locals say sometimes kill civilians.

"They (the US) are losing the war - they can never win it," Khan told a gathering in the north-western town of Akora Khattak on his way to the protest site in the Bagh-e-Naran neighbourhood.

"The sit-in will start today and will end tomorrow," he added.


The administration in Peshawar said the Nato trucking service had been halted for three days, and the trucks ordered to park in other cities on the route from Friday.

Organisers said they expected more than 20 000 people to gather locally for the protest, and many more to arrive in the caravan accompanying Khan.

In an article in Pakistan's The News, Khan said that "today we Pakistanis of all shades and convictions need to come together to support our Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) brethren and protest their killing and displacement".

"It is not enough to simply issue statements against US policies and drone killings; we need to act so that the voice of the people becomes a force for the rulers to reckon with," he said.

Banners on Peshawar's main road bore the message "Stop drone attacks on innocent tribal people", and images of crossed-out drone aircraft, while posters of Khan and his party dotted the city.

Covert missile strikes targeting militants in Pakistan's lawless border regions, believed to operate with the tacit consent of Islamabad, stoke rampant anti-American sentiment throughout the country.

US officials said on Friday that the global superpower was considering providing unmanned drones to Pakistan for aerial surveillance, despite tensions between the two countries over measures to combat terrorist activity.

The comments followed a diplomatic furore between the two nations over a drone attack on March 17, which killed 39 people including civilians.