Islamabad: Defying official warnings, thousands of supporters of Imran Khan's party along with American peace activists on Sunday headed to Pakistan's volatile South Waziristan tribal belt to protest US drone strikes, with the cricketer-turned-politician saying the march has drawn the global attention to the issue.
As part of his 'peace march', Khan's motorcade of hundreds of vehicles carrying activists of his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf set off for Tank town, which adjoins the tribal belt, after an overnight halt at Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, despite indications that they may not make it to their final destination of Kotkai.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the march, which began in Islamabad yesterday, would not be allowed to proceed beyond Tank in keeping with the provincial Governor Masood Kausar's instructions.
The Governor is the federal government's representative and the provincial government is bound to act on his instructions, Hussain said.
He made it clear that the authorities had not barred the rally from entering the province.
The Pakistani Taliban has dismissed reports that it was ready to provide security to the march, saying it had not made any such offer.
Khan yesterday claimed that there was no threat to his march from the Taliban and only the government was trying to stop it.
Earlier this morning, authorities removed road blocks on the highway to Tank and dozens of cars joined the motorcade.    

Addressing people participating in the march, Khan said his party had succeeded in its mission of raising international awareness about drones.
"We have succeeded in our mission. The whole world has heard your voice and the international media has condemned drone attacks," he said.
Khan claimed the government had failed to tell the international community about the Pakistani people's opposition to the drone campaign.

American peace activists participating in the march apologised for their government's actions and led the people in shouting slogans like "Bandh karo drone hamle bandh karo (stop the drone strikes)."
Pakistan government publicly criticises the attacks by CIA-operated spy planes as counter-productive and a violation of the country's sovereignty.
However, analysts believe there is a tacit understanding between the US and Pakistan on the drone campaign.
Dozens of Taliban and al-Qaeda commanders have been killed in drone strikes over the past four years though peace activists claim the attacks cause considerable collateral damage.
Accurate figures on casualties in the drone strikes are hard to come by as reporters and rights groups are barred from operating in the tribal belt.
Addressing a gathering at Dera Ismail Khan last night, Khan claimed that the US drones kill innocent people and create militants.
He said the time had come to find a new way to win the battle against militancy.
Khan contended that the march was also being held to express solidarity with the tribal people who have suffered because of the war on terror, which he claimed was not "Pakistan's war."
He said the government should end military operations and open a dialogue to end militancy.
The organisers of the march have said they intend to go to Kotkai village in South Waziristan.
However, Khan has indicated that the motorcade would turn back if it is peacefully stopped before its final destination.
Authorities have beefed up security in all towns and villages along the route of the march following reports that the rally could be targeted by suicide bombers.


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