96-day long blockade of NATO supplies at Pakistan border ends

The blockade was imposed in November 2013, following the killing of the then Taliban chief, Hakeemullah Mehsud, in a US drone strike in North Waziristan

The blockade was imposed in November 2013, following the killing of the then Taliban chief, Hakeemullah Mehsud, in a US drone strike in North Waziristan

by Aamir Latif

ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), of cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, announced an end to a 96-day long blockade of NATO supplies from and into neighboring Afghanistan, on Thursday.

The route goes via the Torkhum border, which touches northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) province, where the PTI party rules.

The blockade was imposed in November 2013, following the killing of the then Taliban chief, Hakeemullah Mehsud, in a US drone strike in North Waziristan.

This broke down the peace process between the government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a mother organization of different Taliban groups in Pakistan.

The PTI had announced it would block NATO supplies from the Torkhum border, until the US halted the deadly drone strikes on troubled tribal belt.

“We have been successful in pressurizing the Obama administration to halt the drone attacks by blocking the NATO supplies for four months”, the PTI chief Imran Khan told his party’s executive committee in Lahore on Thursday.

Directing his party workers to end the sit-ins in different parts of the KP immediately, Mr. Khan said that the decision has been taken in line with a recent judgment of the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

The PHC on Tuesday declared that the blockade of trade and business activities by ‘political workers’ was illegal.

“Our purpose has been served as we have forced the US administration to halt the drone attacks”, Mr. Khan said, referring to a 58-day lull in drone strikes, the longest interval between the two strikes for last five years.

However, many believe that the US has halted the deadly drone attacks - that have killed over 3,000 people, mostly civilians, in restive Waziristan region since 2004 - on the request of the federal government.

Some believe that this is because the strikes have turned out to be counter-productive, and are earning sympathies to militants.

“I salute to the party workers who blocked the NATO supplies for 96 days, and compelled the US to halt drone strikes,” Mr. Khan maintained.

NATO transports 70 to 80 percent of its supplies via two key Pakistani routes i.e. northwestern Torkhum and southwestern Chaman borders into war-plagued Afghanistan.

Scores of NATO containers and oil tankers have been burned in attacks by suspected Taliban militants in different parts of the country since 2002. Several crew members have been killed and injured in the attacks as well.

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