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HindustanTimes Sat,12 Jul 2014

World

Imran's march to Waziristan forced to take about turn
Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times
Islamabad, October 07, 2012
First Published: 19:38 IST(7/10/2012)
Last Updated: 07:40 IST(8/10/2012)

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rally led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, which was supposed to enter South Waziristan on Sunday evening, took an about turn after security agencies refused them entry.

Instead, Imran Khan's motorcade returned to the border town of Tank where he addressed a rally in which he claimed that he had achieved what he had set out to do.

"It was my aim to highlight the suffering of the people of the area and draw the attention of the world to the effects of the drone attacks and this has been achieved," he said.

Earlier, the PTI leader had said that he would not force his way into Waziristan because his was a "peace rally and not a rally of violence".

Khan and his followers had bypassed road blocks to reach Tank. However, on reaching the Waziristan border, the rally was stopped by the Pakistan Army at Manzai check post.

Army officials told Khan and his rally that entry and exit to Waziristan was restricted because there was a military operation going on in the area and his rally would cause disruption and a security situation. The caravan then returned back to Tank.

Addressing the rally in Tank, Imran Khan said that several innocent people were arrested on charges of terrorism in the war against terror.

He said that the rally returned from Waziristan border as it was not possible to return from the area before sunset.

Many participants of the rally who were waiting for Imran Khan within Waziristan were also disappointed by the turnaround.

Authorities earlier said Khan's rally will not be allowed to enter the tribal belt for security reasons and blocked the road to Tank with shipping containers.

Interior minister Rehman Malik told newsmen he worried for the safety of Khan and the participants of the rally.

There were reports of possible attacks on the rally once it entered Waziristan.

In the rally at Tank, many foreign visitors also participated. Medea Benjamin, leader of a delegation from the US peace group CodePink, apologised for the drone attacks and told the rally that there were many Americans who did not support the drone strikes.

Earlier, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has said that Khan and his supporters were not welcome in the tribal areas. They refuted reports that the TTP had guaranteed the security of participants.


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