Imran Khan, standing on a vehicle, adresses the participants of the 'march'.
Update: A thousands-strong motorcade rally against US drone strikes in Pakistan led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has been stopped from entering restive tribal regions.After negotiations near the frontier, Mr Khan turned back and decided to hold a rally in the nearby town of Tank. But he said he still intended to reached his intended final destination, in South Waziristan.
The authorities have barred him from the region, citing security
Imran Khan the Pakistani former cricketer who became a politician, has begun a march to Pakistan's restive tribal areas to protest against US drone strikes. The two-day protest, which isn' t really a march as the protesters move in cars, started in Islamabad and is due to end in South Waziristan, a major focus of strikes.
The start was with a few hundred participants, but Khan said to hope in the end tens of thousands will take part. He said that the attacks kill large numbers of civilians and foster support for militants. "No-one should be allowed to be judge, jury and executioner," Khan said before setting off. "It's totally counter-productive. All it does is it helps the militants to recruit poor people. Clearly if they were succeeding, these drone attacks, we would be winning the war. But there's a stalemate."
US officials insist strikes by the unmanned aircraft rarely claim civilian casualties and are an effective weapon against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Observers say it is unclear how far the convoy of vehicles will be able to proceed and if the Pakistani authorities will allow the march to reach the tribal areas. The Taliban have criticised both Mr Khan and the rally, but the politician told the BBC he was not worried about militant attacks. About 80 western peace activists are in the protest convoy.
Recent research by the British Bureau of Investigatig Journalism has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.
Although the drone attacks were started under the Bush administration in 2004, they have been stepped up enormously under Obama.
There have been 260 attacks by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan by Obama’s administration – averaging one every four days. Because the attacks are carried out by the CIA, no information is given on the numbers killed.