Imran Khan Protests US Drones, Vows To Block NATO Supplies In Pakistan

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s most successful international cricket captain who led his nation to a World Cup Victory in 1992, vowed to block important supply routes for NATO forces into and out of Afghanistan following a deadly US drone strike yesterday.

A U.S. drone attack yesterday killed six people at an Islamic seminary in the Tal area of Hangu district in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province near Afghanistan. All those who died were Afghan nationals but this matters little to Khan.

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Imran Khan tweets:


“We will announce at the protest on Saturday that we will permanently block the supply route until they stop drone attacks,” Khan said yesterday in a televised press conference. “If it’s in our hands, we will block it today. Our powers are that we can tell them that NATO supplies can’t pass through our province.”

While the US military has struck in this region numerous times in the past, this strike especially angered Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has only been in power for six months, will have some decisions to make following Khan’s announcement. There is no precedent for a provincial government acting in such a way over the constitutionally decreed federal control in matters of  defense and foreign policy.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a former lecturer at Columbia University and present independent security consultant based in Lahore, told Bloomberg News that Khan’s stance is a first.


“This is going to be the first time that any provincial government is going to openly challenge the policy of the central government,” he said. “It will create more chaos in domestic politics and isolate Pakistan at the international level.”

The supply routes in question have been open for less than a year following their closures in 2011. The agreement only allows US-led NATO forces to use the routes to bring in non-lethal materials.

While Khan has pledged a longer closing, the Americans on the ground seem to disagree.

“Current reports state, that this protest will be largely symbolic and likely not last more than one day,” the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force joint command said in an e-mailed message yesterday. “It should have minimal to no impact on ISAF’s supply mission.”

Clearly US drone strikes are an important part of operations in the area, it is however, quite possible that yesterday’s may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back with regards to Pakistani compliance.

According to the Pakistan foreign ministry, yesterday’s attack included the deaths of children and “has deeply disturbed the people of Pakistan.”