Protesters demand media coverage of drone-hit areas
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Hundreds of tribesmen rallied in Wana, the headquarters of South Waziristan Agency, to protest US drone attacks in tribal regions.
Local administration officials told The Express Tribune that hundreds of the Ahmadzai Wazir tribesmen, including clerics and tribal elders, participated in the rally, carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the US.
Demonstrators marched from Wana College Road to Rustam Bazaar, where they staged the rally. Markets were partially closed during the protest.
Addressing the demonstration, Maulana Merajud Din of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) said that drones only killed innocent people and were a blow to the country’s sovereignty.
“Americans are now killing innocent people through drone attacks as revenge for their defeat in Afghanistan,” he said.
Wazir tribal leader Malik Murad Khan Yargulkhel said drones not only target innocent people but have also caused psychological problems to women and children. “They are [extremely] afraid of the sound of the drones,” he said.
Protesters demanded that the government allow journalists to visit the ‘no-go area’ to report on what they called was a massacre by US drone attacks that had continued for the past four to five years.
The rally was unique in that journalists were allowed to cover the event and also take pictures, a practice that is usually disallowed in the region.
A few days ago, 15 militants, including two key commanders named Amir Hamza and Shamsullah, were killed in two separate drone strikes. Amir Hamza was buried in Karikot and Shamshullah in Azam Warsak, their respective native areas.
The Wazir area of South Waziristan has been under a fragile peace treaty but has seen no major military operation.