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Jon Boone | The Guardian

Anti-drone protest in Pakistan

The political party led by the former cricket star Imran Khan claims to have blown the cover of the CIA‘s most senior officer in Pakistan as part of an increasingly high-stakes campaign against US drone strikes.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party named a man it claimed was head of the CIA station in Islamabad in a letter to police demanding he be nominated as one of the people responsible for a drone strike on 21 November, which killed five militants including senior commanders of the Haqqani Network.

John Brennan, the CIA director, was also nominated as an “accused person” for murder and “waging war against Pakistan”.

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Glenn Greenwald | ZCommunications

Imran Khan is, according to numerous polls, the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be that country’s next Prime Minister. He is also a vehement critic of US drone attacks on his country, vowing to order them shot down if he is Prime Minister and leading an anti-drone protest march last month.

On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, US immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was “interrogated on [his] views on drones” and then added: “My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop.” He then defiantly noted: “Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance.”

The State Department acknowledged Khan’s detention and said: “The issue was resolved. Mr Khan is welcome in the United States.” Customs and immigration officials refused to comment except to note that “our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people, and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband,” and added that the burden is on the visitor “to demonstrate that they are admissible” and “the applicant must overcome all grounds of inadmissibility.”

There are several obvious points raised by this episode. Strictly on pragmatic grounds, it seems quite ill-advised to subject the most popular leader in Pakistan – the potential next Prime Minister – to trivial, vindictive humiliations of this sort. It is also a breach of the most basic diplomatic protocol: just imagine the outrage if a US politician were removed from a plane by Pakistani officials in order to be questioned about their publicly expressed political views. And harassing prominent critics of US policy is hardly likely to dilute anti-US animosity; the exact opposite is far more likely to occur.

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Glenn Greenwald | The Guardian

Imran Khan, centre, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, with party’s supporters. He has led a high-profile campaign against US drone strikes.

Imran Khan is, according to numerous polls, the most popular politician in Pakistan and may very well be that country’s next Prime Minister. He is also a vehement critic of US drone attacks on his country, vowing to order them shot down if he is Prime Minister and leading an anti-drone protest march last month.

On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, US immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was “interrogated on [his] views on drones” and then added: “My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop.” He then defiantly noted: “Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance.” Read More

Andrew Buncombe | The Independent 

Imran Khan and a group of human-rights activists have vowed to press ahead with a march into Pakistan’s remote tribal area to highlight the civilian cost of the American drone missile programme.

The cricketer-turned-politician said he would hold the government of President Asif Ali Zardari responsible if anything happened to those taking part. Mr Khan is tomorrow due to lead a convoy of vehicles into the tribal areas, culminating in a rally in South Waziristan on Sunday night. He is to be accompanied by human-rights campaigners from the US and Pakistan. In recent days, government officials had tried to warn the politician off, suggesting it might not be safe for the large contingent, despite an apparent statement from the Taliban that it would not target the activists.

Last night, campaigners said it was essential they pushed ahead with the plan. Speaking from Islamabad, Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the US-based Code Pink campaign group, said people were prepared to risk danger to show solidarity with the people of the tribal areas. “We came here to show the people of Pakistan that there are Americans who are totally opposed to the drones and that we will try to put pressure on our government to stop this,” she said. “And we are prepared to risk our lives to do this.”

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Tighe Barry, reports from the 2012 Pakistan delegation

On Sunday September 30, a group of peace activists, coordinated by CODEPINK from the United States, held a press conference in Islamabad with Pakistan’s most popular political leader, Imran Khan. Khan is former cricket champion and presently chairman of PTI, a lead party in the Pakistani political landscape today. They discussed the horrific effects that drone strikes are having on the everyday lives of the people of FATA and Waziristan, and all the innocent victims who have died in what the U.S. government describes as “precision strikes.” The group expressed its concern that these murders are taking place in the name of all Americans and that they wanted to convey their apologies and deep regrets for the actions of the U.S. government. Banners declaring “Stop Killer Drones”, and “When Drones Fly Children Die” were displayed to show that the Americans’ concern for the over 175 children who have been killed by drones in Pakistan.

Imran Khan described the debilitating effects that the 11 year war being waged by the United States on the people of Afghanistan and on his nation. He lamented that Pakistan has been paying the price of this proxy war that the United States is waging against Afghanistan, now fought on Pakistani soil.

Khan introduced the U.S. delegation to a group of reporters waiting to ask the question “Why have you come?.” Retired Colonel Ann Wright, who is also a veteran of the U.S. foreign service, spoke on behalf of the delegation. She stated that under international law and the articles of the Geneva Convention, the drone attacks are illegal and are an act of war against the peaceful nation of Pakistan.

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Asif Mehmood | Pakistan Daily Times

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has said that the drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and any other part of the world are insane, immoral, illegal and counterproductive.

While talking to the Times, Khan asked Britain to clarify its role and policy over drones and urged the public to engage in a debate on a form of extra-judicial killing that continues unchallenged despite outrage by human rights groups and the people who live in FATA.

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