Nine-mile convoy led by Imran Khan heads towards South Waziristan as local officials say it will not be allowed to proceed
Thousands of Pakistanis, joined by US anti-war activists, have headed toward Pakistan's volatile tribal region to protest against American drone strikes despite threats from the Taliban.
The demonstrators, headed by former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, say the strikes violate Pakistani sovereignty and kill civilians.
The rally is heading into a part of the country where the Pakistani military has been battling a violent Taliban uprising. The motorcade started from Islamabad on Saturday morning and, after an overnight stay in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, departed for the tribal belt. Local officials said the convoy would not be allowed to reach its destination in South Waziristan because of security concerns.
In a televised speech before the convoy got under way on Sunday morning, Khan thanked his supporters.
"We have achieved the goal of this march. Our message of peace has reached the world. I am thankful especially to the American group that came a long way here to join this protest against drone attacks," he said.
Thousands turned out on the road outside Dera Ismail Khan to cheer on Khan and the convoy of supporters and accompanying media, which stretched to a length of nine miles. Supporters packed into vehicles waved flags for Khan's political group and chanted: "We want peace."
Videos posted on Pakistani media showed barricades with hundreds of police in riot gear, a sign of concerns that the motorcade would be attacked or become unruly.
After three years of military operations in South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan to the west, the Pakistani military is still struggling to suppress militants.
A senior official in the South Waziristan administration, Hameedullah Khattak, vowed that the motorcade would not be allowed to enter the tribal area. "We will not let them in South Waziristan for security reasons. Here is major security situation and we cannot provide them security," he said.
Factions of the Taliban have threatened to attack the march. On Saturday, a statement from a faction said to be based in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province warned that militants would target the protesters with suicide bombings.
The main Pakistani Taliban group, which is based in South Waziristan, issued a statement on Friday calling Khan a "slave of the west" and saying that the militants "don't need any sympathy" from such "a secular and liberal person".
Khan brushed aside the criticism but indicated that if the protesters are not allowed into South Waziristan, they will simply hold a rally wherever they end up.
Khan has seen his popularity surge in recent years, as the government, led by the Pakistan People's Party of Asif Ali Zardari, has disappointed many.
The US says its drone strikes are necessary to battle militants that Pakistan has been unable or unwilling to control.
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People participate in movements when that particular movement
(1) meets their concrete and tangible needs, (2) offers individuals real experiences in the movement's outcome (3) provides a sense of community, (4) makes available ongoing education and skills training and (5) shows direct and effective ways for people to take further action.
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You can't have peace for the sake of peace. Peace is a consequence of an equitable arrangement.