|PTI peace march: ‘Foreigners unlikely to make it past Attock’|
06 October 2012
DI KHAN / PESHAWAR:
Around 100 foreigners, who have arrived in Islamabad amped to ride the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s tsunami to the country’s badlands, are likely to be turned around.
Officials have said that the foreigners, including journalists and human rights activists, participating in Imran Khan’s much-hyped “Peace March” to South Waziristan will probably not make it beyond Attock.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa by law only allows entry to foreign nationals who have a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the government.
While talking to The Express Tribune, an official from the K-P Home and Tribal Affairs Department ruled out the possibility of any foreign national’s entry into the province without an NOC.
He said that the K-P government has already banned the entry of foreigners, including aid workers, to 10 districts, including Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu and Tank.
“We cannot put their (foreigners) lives and our jobs at stake. They can’t and will never be allowed to enter K-P even by air without an NOC,” the official said.
According to PTI’s former information secretary Saad Abdullah, 40 of the 100 foreigners are US citizens and members of Code Pink, a civil society organisation that will be joining Imran Khan’s rally.
The official Code Pink website was found inviting human rights activists through an invitation from “friends in Pakistan” to take part in the peace march.
“We will be seeking the governments’ permission for entry into Miramshah. Participants should be prepared to meet risks during their voyage. In case, the government does not allow us to accompany the peace march, we will be holding meetings as well as a rally in Islamabad,” the website said.
The K-P Home and Tribal Affairs Department official, however, said the department has issued clear instructions to foreigners to inform them of their plans 15 days in advance so that adequate security steps could be arranged.
“If they fail to produce an NOC, we will send them back to Islamabad from Attock,” the official said, adding that they have neither been contacted, nor have they received any written application from any foreigner seeking entry into K-P.
Regarding the presence of foreign media at the rally, the official said that filming or photographing any place without prior notification is also banned. Anyone caught doing so, would be booked under the relevant section, he added.
TTP denies assuring security
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) denied reports that it had assured a safe passage to the PTI’s ‘peace march’ to South Waziristan.
In a statement issued on Friday, the outlawed outfit denied all reports of offering protection to the rally, which it called an attempt by party chief Imran Khan to “increase his political height”. TTP Spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the TTP is an organisation based on the fundamentals of Islam.
“As Imran Khan is a liberal, secular person and so is his party, we deny all baseless news stating that we have offered to provide him security for his so-called peace rally,” he said.
The statement further said that the “mujahideen” were not so worthless that they would be deployed “to protect a westernised and secular personality”.
“Imran Khan’s so-called peace march is not in sympathy of drone-hit Muslims; instead it is an attempt by him to increase his political height,” said the TTP spokesperson.
The statement further said that they would not reveal their plans against anyone as that would be against “military tactics”.
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