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Pakistan’s cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (center),
Over 100 Pak legislators stage protest against US drone strikes Clash leaves 6 dead in southwest Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Dec 6, (AFP): More than 100 national and provincial legislators staged a protest on Thursday in the Pakistani capital Islamabad against US drone strikes on suspected militants in the country’s tribal belt. “We will continue our protest against drone strikes and...we will not allow NATO supplies to pass through the (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) province,” former cricket star Imran Khan told the gathering outside parliament. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party rules the northwestern province bordering Afghanistan.

Rallies against the drone attacks began in the region’s main city of Peshawar on Nov 24. Apart from PTI legislators, members of parliament from the Jamaat-e-Islami party took part in the rally, shouting slogans against the United States and the Pakistan government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Khan accused Sharif’s government of double standards on the issue and called for the blocking of supply routes through Pakistan for NATO troops in Afghanistan. “Our rulers have double standards, they say one thing to the Americans and the complete opposite to the nation,” he said. “These missile strikes violate international laws. We do not want a war with America but we are protesting against the cruel policies of America.” Activists in northwest Pakistan, some armed with clubs, have been forcibly searching trucks since late November to try to halt NATO supplies, following Khan’s earlier calls to block routes. Meanwhile, at least six people were killed in southwest Pakistan when security forces exchanged fire with suspected militants during an operation to recover abductees, officials said on Friday.

The exchange of fire took place in the restive Baluchistan province, which is rife with ethnic insurgency and sectarian violence. “Our forces were conducting an operation on Thursday to recover some kidnapped people from the Baluch militants, they faced resistance and five militants were killed in retaliatory firing,” Asad Gilani, home secretary of Baluchistan province, told AFP. “One soldier also embraced martyrdom while another got wounded during the clash,” he said. A senior official of the paramilitary Frontier Corps also confirmed the causalities. “The militants attacked when forces were going to conduct a search operation for abductees near Dera Bugti area. They retaliated and five militants were killed, one soldier also lost his life,” he told AFP on the condition of anonymity. In another incident, gunmen shot dead a Sunni Muslim leader on Friday in the latest sectarian attack to hit Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore.

The drive-by shooting took place as Shamsur Rehman Muawiya, chief of the Sunni extremist organisation Ahl-e- Sunnat Wal Jammat (ASWJ) for Punjab province, travelled by car to the northern Harbans Pura neighbourhood. The shooting comes just three days after gunmen shot dead a senior Shiite Muslim leader, Deedar Ali Jalbani, in the port city of Karachi. “Two gunmen riding a motorbike opened fire on Muawiya’s vehicle, wounding him and his driver critically,” senior local police official, Rana Abdul Jabbar, told AFP. He said Muawiya and his driver were rushed to hospital where the ASWJ provincial chief died of his bullet wounds.

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