The Pakistan Tehrik Insaaf (PTI)’s march against American drone attacks ended outside Tank on Sunday, when it was stopped because it did not have permission to proceed. This brought to a halt one of the PTI’s main moves, but not before PTI chief Imran Khan had milked it, passing with the crowd through his home constituency in Mianwali. However, he finally managed to get through and address the rally at the terminus. It was a piece of activity that was also important for the PTI before the coming election. The march reflected the fact that drone attacks are among the core concerns which arouse emotion across Pakistan, including potential PTI supporters, and the presence of US rights activists reflected an international aspect which also bought the attention of various international media outlets. The unease in the US over President Obama ordering drone strikes without due legal process being offered to the suspects, is considerable, but not widespread. Though this has made many Americans feel that Obama is indeed a ‘powerful’ Commander-in-Chief, it has worried the more thinking among Americans, who feel that it cannot be right for the US President to perform this function.

While the KP government initially stopped the rally, it was the central government which did not give permission for his going. It might be seen that the PPP is engaged in PTI image-building, as it refused permission, but so arranged matters that Imran Khan still addressed the rally, and thus could claim he carried out his commitment.

Whatever the individual political advantage that might have been obtained by any individual party from the whole episode, it should still be clear that this was a party taking the leading advantage in claiming to reflect the resentment felt by Pakistanis against the violence done to national sovereignty symbolised by drones. It might appear paradoxical that the protesters from the USA had to see anti-American slogans at the final rally, but even the USA must realise that it can no longer use terrorism as a catch-all phrase to justify any illegality it pleases. It must cease these attacks, and the Pakistan government must oppose them. Terrorists elements do indeed exist in these areas and their challenge to the writ of the state has been loud and clear. That is why Pakistan must - absolutely must - deal with it. But it must do so with its own hands - and not by the CIA’s. Both the stoppage of drones and acknowledging this reality is the solution, not one without the other.