Huge Protest in Pakistan Against US Drone Attacks

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Common Dreams

Huge Protest in Pakistan Against US Drone Attacks

'Drones are counter-productive'

by
Common Dreams staff

Over 100,000 Pakistanis rallied in Karachi Friday afternoon to protest US drone strikes on their country.

Over 100,000 Pakistanis rallied in Karachi Friday afternoon to protest US drone strikes on their country. The demonstrators also demanded that the Pakistani government continue the blockade on the NATO supply route to Afghanistan.

The Times of India reports:

DAVOS -- Pakistan's prime minister said today that there was "a trust deficit" between Islamabad and Washington as he criticized the resumption of US drone strikes on his country's tribal belt.

Speaking the day after over 100,000 people massed in Karachi to protest the strikes, Yousuf Raza Gilani said they only served to bolster militants.

"Drones are counter-productive. We have very ably isolated militants from the local tribes. When there are drone attacks that creates sympathy for them again," Gilani told reporters at the Davos forum.

"It makes the job of the political leadership and the military very difficult. We have never allowed the drone attacks and we have always maintained that they are unacceptable, illegal and counterproductive."

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have deteriorated sharply over the last year, with Islamabad furious about the surprise deadly raid on al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad last year. [...]

In public, Pakistani leaders always insist they are against drone strikes, which are deeply unpopular in the country, but US officials insist that they privately cooperate with the program.

Agence France-Presse reports:

"We are being forced to become extremists. When you and your religion are humiliated in Guantanamo Bay detention center and your children are being crushed under tanks, then what the victims will ultimately do? They'll counter your extremism with extremism."[...] "We are not the enemies of the people of the West and the United States, but we reject the Americans' attitude by which they always demand of a servile obedience from us," JUI leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman told the crowd in Pakistan's financial capital.

The party was not against the talks between Pakistan and the US, "but it should be between two equal sides," the leader of the country's most influential religous party said, kicking off campaigning ahead of general elections scheduled next year.

Senior police official Ahsan Zulfiqar said more than 100,000 people attended the gathering in front of the mausoleum of the country's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Rehman said communism vanished after the fall of Soviet Union and a similar fate was beckoning the West, with the US staring at an "imminent defeat" in Afghanistan.

"Movements like Occupy Wall Street are just the beginning of the end of the imperialism of America and its Western allies," he said.

"We are being forced to become extremists. When you and your religion are humiliated in Guantanamo Bay detention center and your children are being crushed under tanks, then what the victims will ultimately do? They'll counter your extremism with extremism."

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