Imran Khan tells Obama to 'give peace a chance', end U.S. drone attacks
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has said that he hopes Barack Obama would "give peace a chance" and stop U.S. drone strikes now that he has been re-elected as U.S. President.
Khan said that Obama's first term in office had been "very tough on Pakistan - an increase in drone attacks and a surge in Afghanistan and increased militancy in Pakistan as a result".
"Now, he (Obama) is no longer under the pressure to be re-elected we hope that he will give peace a chance which we so desperately need," The Dawn quoted Khan, as saying.
"What Pakistan would be hoping for is a de-escalation of violence now in Afghanistan and the drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas," Khan further said.
Khan has campaigned for an end to U.S. drone strikes against suspected Taliban and Al- Qaeda militants in Pakistan's tribal areas, saying they result in civilian casualties. Khan argues that drone strikes are illegal and counterproductive and last month led thousands of supporters - and some U.S. peace activists - on a march to the edge of Pakistan's restive tribal districts to protest against them.
The Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician said he wanted Obama to call a ceasefire in Afghanistan, saying that if Americans do not "get it right it is conceivable that they will leave it in a bigger mess than they found it".
The White House has said that Washington will gradually hand over security responsibility to the Afghans and eventually withdraw U.S. troops. The U.S.-led NATO force plans to pull out its 100,000 troops by the end of 2014.
Islamist militants have killed thousands of people in Pakistan since 2007, and U.S. officials feel that drone strikes are a key weapon in the war on terror.
Pakistanis call them a violation of sovereignty that breeds extremism, and politicians including Khan say the government is complicit in killing its own people.
Casualty figures are difficult to obtain, but a report commissioned by legal lobby group Reprieve estimated last month that 474 to 881 civilians were among 2,562 to 3,325 people killed by drones in Pakistan between June 2004 and September 2012.