Monday 8 October 2012

Anti-drone event a success for Imran Khan

Imran Khan addressing the rally in Tank
In the end it was not as big as predicted - by all accounts no more than 10,000 people took part, with maybe 15,000 attending the final rally in Tank - nor did it reach its goal of Kotkai in South Waziristan, but Imran Khan's peace motorcade at the weekend undoubtedly drew world attention to the issue of drone strikes in Pakistan's badlands. More importantly, it drew attention to Khan himself, who will play on the moderate success of this event in Pakistan's upcoming elections.
Once again, Khan has shown that he is a canny politician who can call upon his growing number of supporters to organise a large public event. In a country where most people have little faith in their corrupt political leadership this will do him no harm.
Cynics will say that Khan knew all along that the motorcade would be turned back once it got to the border of South Waziristan and that a deal had been done in advance with the military. Not surprising really - if the event had been attacked Khan's political career would have been in ruins.
It is unlikely that the motorcade will change US policy on the use of drones, at least in the short term. Washington continues to believe that the benefits of drone strikes far outweigh the negative publicity generated by Codepink, Reprieve and the rest of the opposition.

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