News / Asia

Pakistan's Imran Khan to Go Ahead With 'Peace March'

Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer turned politician, gestures during an interview with at his residence in Islamabad, November 16, 2011.
Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer turned politician, gestures during an interview with at his residence in Islamabad, November 16, 2011.
Sharon Behn
Pakistani cricketeer turned opposition politician Imran Khan is dismissing government warnings about marching into South Waziristan to protest U.S. drone strikes. Some analysts say Saturday's scheduled protest is the latest move by Khan to boost the prospects of his political party.  
 
Khan says his so-called peace march will leave for South Waziristan on Saturday. He says the convoy has been invited into the area and promised security by the three main tribes in the tribal agency -- a known militant stronghold.

Authorities have said they cannot guarantee the safety of the marchers. Khan says he is confident of security even though foreigners will be participating in the planned protest. 
 
“We will take it as it comes," he said. "We know exactly where we are going, we worked out with local people what is the most secure place because obviously our foreign guests are very important to us, and we care for their security.”

Among the protestors will be about 30 American peace activists who are also opposed to the U.S. policy of drone attacks in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas. The activists say the strikes kill many innocent Pakistani civilians and are counterproductive.  
 
The United States believes the drone strikes are an effective tool to kill militants taking refuge in Pakistan’s mountainous border area with Afghanistan.   
 
The drone strikes are highly unpopular with Pakistan's public.  Analyst Megha Kumar of Oxford Analytica in Britain says the planned protest appears to be a move by Imran Khan to win the support of the disaffected tribal population in that part of the country.
 
“And, he can do that partly also because of the strong anti-U.S. sentiment across Pakistan, this is the card that he can play very well,” said Kumar.

According to a survey released to political parties last week by the U.S.-based International Republican Institute, Khan’s PTI party has plummeted in popularity, while that of one of his rivals, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has gone up.

Sharif, who heads the PML-N party, is seen as the main challenger to the ruling PPP party of President Asif Ali Zardari. But many analysts say neither of the two major political parties have enough support to win an outright majority in parliament in the 2013 elections.

Kumar says that could put Imran Khan in the position of political kingmaker in any future coalition government -- a government that will need the political strength to enact badly needed economic reforms.   
 
Kumar also says tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan are unlikely to ease and no politician in Pakistan wants to be seen as supporting U.S. policies in the region. 
 
“The anti-U.S. hostility in Pakistan is so extreme that neither political party, the two main parties, or even the smaller ones, can afford to appear at least rhetorically pro-U.S.,” she added.
 
According to Khan’s PTI party spokeswoman, his convoy plans to take its protest to the town of Kotkai in Waziristan. However some observers say authorities could intervene to block the convoy of marchers from crossing into areas where their safety could be at risk.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs