|Women of civil society hold placards against U.S. drone attacks during a protest rally in northwest Pakistan's Peshawar on April 23, 2011. Thousands of people in northwest Pakistan Saturday started a two-day sit-in against the U.S. drone strikes in the country's tribal regions, blocking main supply route for NATO troops in the neighboring Afghanistan. (Xinhua Photo/Saeed Ahmad)
ISLAMABAD, April 23 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people in northwest Pakistan Saturday started a two-day sit-in against the U.S. drone strikes in the country's tribal regions, blocking main supply route for NATO troops in the neighboring Afghanistan.
Anger runs high in Pakistan against the U.S. drone strikes in the Waziristan tribal area, which CIA considers as the base for al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban militants for planning attacks across the border into Afghanistan.
Despite the public resentment and Pakistan's protest, the U.S. administration has rejected any possibility to halt the strikes.
The protesters blocked Khyber Pass, the main supply route for NATO troops in the neighboring Afghanistan, in the outskirts of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province.
The protest forced the authorities to suspend for two days supplies for nearly 150,000 U.S.-led foreign forces.
Officials said that nearly 70 percent of NATO supplies are transported through Pakistan, the most risky but shorter supply route. Suspected militants regularly attack NATO trucks in Pakistan, which has also forced the United States to sign agreements with Russia for alternate supply route.
The protesters will continue the sit-in till Sunday and the organizers said they would announce future strategy at the conclusion of the protest.
Cricketer-turned politician, Imran Khan, head of Tehrik-e-Insaf (Justice Movement) is leading the protest. Several opposition and Islamist groups as wells as tribal elders have also backed the protest plan. Campaigners against the strikes from Waziristan region have also joined the protest, in a sign of fast growing opposition to the U.S. attacks.
"I congratulate the people on the successful protest," Imran Khan told the protesters. He said the people of Pakistan will continue protest unless the United States halts the strikes. He demanded of the government to shut supply route on the NATO supplies through Pakistan.
"Pakistan will not be made a servant of the United States," he said, asking the government to quit the U.S-led international coalition. He added that anti-U.S. protest will gain momentum in the coming days.
The protest comes just a day after two U.S. drone aircrafts rained missiles into North Waziristan tribal region which killed 25 people including women and children, according to tribesmen in the region.