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Pakistan threatens NATO supply lines

Standoff over US drones escalates

Pakistan threatens NATO supply lines

Pakistanis protest against US drones. File photo: Asianet-Pakistan/ reporter, Islamabad

October 28, 2013

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Authorities in restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province have threatened to block NATO supply lines into neighboring Afghanistan as the standoff between Pakistan and the US over drone strikes escalated further over the weekend.

Following US reports last week that Pakistan collaborated on drone strikes, denied on Friday by Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN Masood Khan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Kattak warned NATO operations in Afghanistan could be undermined if the strikes continue.

“We are tired of picking up dead bodies, whether they are victims of terrorism or drone strikes,” he said on Saturday.

Pakistan’s prime minister traveled to the US last week and held a meeting with President Barack Obama in which he called for an end to drone strikes. The US is yet to respond.

The family of a grandmother killed by a US drone strike a year ago is due to give testimony in Congress this week, the first time US lawmakers will have heard from a victim of the secretive program.

Imran Khan, the former cricketer and head politician in tribal Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, is among the most vocal opponents of drone strikes which he again termed “illegal” last week as he called for peace talks with militant groups.

NATO forces, led by the US, are due to pull out of Afghanistan next year as attacks by the Taliban continue, particularly in remote border regions where the Islamist group controls large areas.

Khattak on Saturday joined Khan in calling for the Pakistani central government to begin peace talks with the Taliban following a mandate given to the administration to do so from a recent all-party conference.

“The war against terrorism has not resulted in anything beneficial during the last 10 years. It is high time that talks are given a chance,” he said.

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