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Imran Khan seeks Nato blockade over killing of Taliban leader


November 6, 2013 - Pakistani politician Imran Khan has threatened to blockade supply lines to Nato forces in Afghanistan if the US does not end drone strikes this month.The cricketer-turned-politician accused the US of sabotaging peace efforts with the Pakistani Taliban by killing its leader Hakimullah Mehsud last Friday. "I mean are they a friend or an enemy?" the former cricketer asked the BBC. He said he would organise protests on routes to and from Afghanistan if drone attacks do not end by 20 November. Nato convoys through Pakistan carry more than half the food, fuel and other equipment needed by Western troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan...

[102388]



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Imran Khan seeks Nato blockade over killing of Taliban leader

Big News Network

November 6, 2013

ISLAMABAD - Pakistani politician Imran Khan has threatened to blockade supply lines to Nato forces in Afghanistan if the US does not end drone strikes this month.

The cricketer-turned-politician accused the US of sabotaging peace efforts with the Pakistani Taliban by killing its leader Hakimullah Mehsud last Friday.

"I mean are they a friend or an enemy?" the former cricketer asked the BBC.

He said he would organise protests on routes to and from Afghanistan if drone attacks do not end by 20 November.

Nato convoys through Pakistan carry more than half the food, fuel and other equipment needed by Western troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Hakimullah Mehsud was killed at a compound in the tribal region of North Waziristan near the Afghan border, just as the government in Islamabad hoped to get peace talks with the Taliban and other militants under way.

Khan said there was no coincidence in the timing of Fridays' attack.

"Absolutely deliberate - this was a deliberate targeting of the peace process," he said in a BBC interview.

"The US clearly knew what was going on and everyone in Pakistan knew what was going on.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is headed by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party and one of the two routes on which the Nato supplies reach Afghanistan passes through the province.

On Monday, speaking in the National Assembly, Khan warned the US to stop bombing Pakistani land through its drones campaign and vowed to block the routes from November 20 "if government fails to pursue America to end drone strikes."

Venting his ire, Khan told BBC:

"We'd been waiting for two months for this peace process to start and then finally when everyone had come to a consensus for peace, they destroyed the peace process.

"The people of Pakistan want peace so we will do whatever is in our hands - which is to block the supply to put pressure on the US to stop this madness, because all it's doing is fanning fanaticism."

Khan, who is a strong opponent of US drone strikes in tribal areas of Pakistan, urged political leaders to unite on the matter.Five days

after his death, the Taliban are still discussing Hakimullah Mehsud's successor.

Among the candidates named by local media as a potential replacement is Khan Said Sajna, a regional commander said to be open to the idea of peace talks.

But other candidates such as the hard-line Mullah Fazlullah, whose men shot and almost killed the schoolgirl and campaigner Malala Yousafzai and who is currently based in northern Afghanistan, were also said to be in the frame.

BBC correspondents say the Pakistan Taliban are a loose and at times fractious group, and reaching an agreement on a new leader will test the ability of the senior commanders to work together.

Pakistan summoned the US ambassador over the weekend to protest over the drone strike.

But the US state department said talks with the Taliban were "an internal matter" for Pakistan and referred to Mehsud's alleged role in attacks on US citizens.

The US had a bounty of $5million on Mehsud's head. The state department described him as the head of the group which planned the failed bombing of Times Square in 2010, and said the Pakistani Taliban had a "symbiotic" relationship with al-Qaeda.

In a rare interview with the BBC weeks before his killing, Mehsud laid down his conditions for peace - including the introduction of a harsh and controversial version of Islamic law in Pakistan.



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