According to organizers, the blockade that began on November 23 will continue until Washington ends the drone attacks inside the South Asian country.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan members have been holding a sit-in on one of the main NATO routes in Pakistan’s city of Peshawar and have not let any NATO supply trucks cross the northwestern border into Afghanistan for the past three weeks.
Demonstrators spend days and nights stopping all travelling trucks and checking them to make sure they are not carrying supplies for foreign forces in Afghanistan, before clearing them to pass through the province.
On his recent trip to Pakistan, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reportedly warned Pakistani leaders that “if they do not resolve protests halting the shipments, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an ongoing aid program for the country.”
On Thursday, the Pakistani government rejected US media reports that Hagel linked the aid program to the supply routes.
“US Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel held positive talks with Pakistani leadership during his recent visit,” Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told the media during weekly briefing.
The United States says the CIA-run drone strikes primarily kill Taliban militants who threaten the US-led international forces in Afghanistan, although casualty figures show that Pakistani civilians are often the victims of the non-UN-sanctioned attacks.
The slaughter of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, in US drone strikes has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, and Pakistani officials have complained to the US administration on numerous occasions.
In September 2012, a report by the Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law gave an alarming account of the effect that assassination drone strikes have on ordinary people in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
“The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — estimated at just 2 percent,” the report noted.
The aerial attacks, initiated by the former US president, George W. Bush, have been escalated under President Barack Obama’s administration.
The United Nations says the US-operated drone strikes in Pakistan and some other countries pose a growing challenge to the rule of international law.
The UN and several human rights organizations have already identified the US as the world’s number one user of “targeted killings,” largely due to its drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.