ISLAMABAD (AP) — A group of American anti-war activists are in Pakistan to join a march into the country’s tribal belt to protest U.S. drone strikes in the rugged northwest territory. Their presence has energized organizers behind the protest but also added to concerns that Islamist militants will target the weekend event.
The two-day march — in reality a long convoy — is to be led by Imran Khan, the former cricket star-turned-politician who has become a top critic of the American drone strikes in Pakistan.
It is to start Saturday in Islamabad and end in a town in South Waziristan, a tribal region that has been a major focus of drone strikes as well as the scene of a Pakistani army offensive against militants.
The American activists — around three dozen representatives of the U.S.-based activist group CODEPINK — along with Clive Stafford Smith, founder of the London-based legal advocacy organization Reprieve, want to march with Khan and publicize the plight of communities affected by the U.S. drones.
Ahead of the march, local media carried reports Friday of alleged suicide bombings planned against the demonstration and a pamphlet distributed in a town along the march route warned participants they would face danger. The main Pakistani Taliban faction issued a statement criticizing the event.