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Pakistan halts Imran's anti-drone rally

Posted on Oct 07, 09:07PM | IANS

A huge anti-drone rally led by former cricketer Imran Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was Sunday barred from entering South Waziristan, where it was to culminate in a large public meeting.

They were stopped at Manzai, close to the tribal area by the local administration, as their cars did not have proper documents required to enter the region, Geo TV reported.

The rally reached Manzai after removing freight containers placed by the authorities at various places on the route to stop them from reaching South Waziristan.

PTI was to hold a public meeting in Tank, the headquarters of South Waziristan.

The rally kicked off Saturday from various cities, including Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and other places, despite warnings from the Taliban to carry out suicide bomb attacks.

The Taliban had warned the PTI against holding the rally, accusing it of being a sympathizer of the West.

About 30 Americans, most of them women, of the US anti-war group Code Pink are also participating to draw attention of the US public to the impact of the drone attacks.

Addressing the participants in Dera Ismail Khan Sunday‚ Imran Khan said the rally is aimed at showing solidarity with the people of the tribal areas.

He said: "We are trying to save the people of the tribal areas from the harms caused by the drone attacks."

Security was beefed up in Islamabad Sunday after the Taliban vowed to attack the rally participants.

Interior Minister Rahman Malik has ordered to strengthen security at the entry and exit points of the city.

Security at five-star hotels and the diplomatic enclave was further strengthened, while roads leading to the area were blocked by placing freight containers.

The British Foreign Office issued advice to its citizens in Pakistan not to travel to places such as Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan that are on the rally's path.

The Waziristan region, bordering Afghanistan, has been a stronghold of the Taliban and has seen violent clashes between militants and the security forces.

The US has also intensified its drone strikes against the militants in the region, which has stoked anti-American sentiments in the country.