Pakistan closes Afghan border ahead of drones protest

    By IANS,

    Islamabad : Pakistan Saturday closed its border with Afghanistan ahead of protests against US drone attacks, official sources said.

    Thousands of people will begin a protest sit-in on the main NATO supply route in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, later Saturday, Xinhua reported.

    Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) or Justice Movement, which rules the province, has announced it will close the supply line for NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan as part of its anti-drones protest strategy.

    Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who leads PTI, said the protest will continue unless the US stops drone strikes.

    Protest rallies outside the US embassy and UN mission in Islamabad have also been planned in the coming days, said Shah Farman, spokesman for the provincial government.

    The authorities closed the main border point of Torkham with Afghanistan ahead of the protest over security concerns, officials said.

    It is one of the two main border points used for NATO supplies.

    Officials say nearly 70 percent of supplies for thousands of foreign troops are transported through Pakistan.

    The police in Peshawar Saturday blocked “Ring Road”, the route NATO containers use to head to Afghanistan.

    Officials said hundreds of police personnel were deployed in the city to tighten security in Peshawar and surrounding areas. Experts from the Bomb Disposal Squad also visited the venue of the sit-in and searched the area.

    PTI chief Imran Khan would speak at the rally and announce the future protests strategy, organisers said.

    Activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a coalition partner of the provincial government, will also join the protest.

    Processions from other areas of the country are on the way to Peshawar to make the show successful, PTI leaders said.

    The protest was planned after the Nov 1 drone strike in North Waziristan which killed the Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud just a day ahead of a meeting between a government-led team and the Taliban.

    Pakistan accused the US of sabotaging the peace process with the Taliban.

    The US expanded its drone campaign and rained missiles on a religious school in a non-tribal district of Hangu Nov 21 and killed six students and teachers.