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Saturday, October 06, 2012 3:44:32 PM (IST)  

Imran Khan Holds Peace March Amid Taliban Threat

Islamabad, Oct 6 (IANS): A peace march to Waziristan organised by Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party kicked off Saturday from various cities despite warnings by the Taliban to carry out suicide bomb attacks on the participants.

The march started from Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and other places, Geo News reported.

Former cricketer and PTI chief Imran Khan said: "We are not going to fight anyone. Everyone should take benefit from the march, if we are asked to halt then we will stop."

The Taliban has warned the PTI against holding the rally, accusing it of being a sympathizer of the west, the Jews and the Christians.

The militant group has threatened to carry out suicide bomb attacks on the participants who are heading to South Waziristan, where the US has unleashed major drone attacks.

"Earlier I was blamed to be a supporter of Taliban, now they were blaming me of working for the West," Khan said.

He blamed Islamist leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman for "spreading disinformation" about him.

The PTI chief said Rahman was propagating against him because of his rising popularity, and that there was no threat to his peace march.

"If anything happened with us then the president ((Asif Ali Zardari) and his allies and Maulana and the like would be responsible. The people of Waziristan would be providing us security," he said.

Khan accused the government of creating problems for the marchers and said the Taliban will not attack them.

However a Taliban group has distributed pamphlets in Waziristan and other areas, warning of attacks on the marchers. Copies of the pamphlets have also been sent to the media.

"We request the people of Waziristan not to support the gangs of Jews and Christians otherwise their fate will be horrible. We, the Tehrik-e-Taliban, will greet them with suicide attacks," Xinhua quoted the pamphlet as saying.

The Urdu-language pamphlet was issued by the Punjab faction of the Taliban, considered close to the Al Qaeda.

The Waziristan region, bordering Afghanistan, has been a stronghold of the Taliban and has seen violent clashes between militants and the security forces.

The US has also intensified its drone strikes against the militants in the region, which has stoked anti-American sentiments in the country.

The group claimed that Americans and other Westerners are taking part in the march, and also accused the Western media of pursuing the agenda of anti-Islam forces.

"Islam calls upon the women to observe veil. But the gangs of Jews and Christians are forcing us to take harsh steps against them," the pamphlet said.

Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said Imran Khan has organized the march for political gains and that he has no sympathy with the people of Waziristan.

The interior ministry has warned that Taliban could attack foreigners and the PTI leadership, and advised the party to give up its plan.

But Imran said here Saturday that he will proceed to South Waziristan as per plan.

"The government should support my peace march as it is against the American drone strikes if the government opposes these attacks," he said. He said that the march will be stopped if the government created hurdles in its way.


 
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