Pakistan party ends blockade to Nato supply

PESHAWAR (AFP) - A Pakistan party which has been staging sit-ins to block the NATO supply to Afghanistan in protest against covert US drone strikes in the country on Thursday announced an end to its campaign.

The decision of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), led by the cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, came after a local court ruled on Tuesday that no private individual has a right to block or check vehicles on roads.

"Given PTI's commitment to rule of law and respect for the senior judiciary, the Party will end its blockade of NATO supplies," said a statement issued by the party.

"The Core Committee felt that the pressure of the blockade had already resulted in a shift in the Obama Administration's drone policy and as a result drones had been stopped for the present," it added.

PTI set up the unofficial checkpoints on November 24 last year in the northwestern city of Peshawar, which is on the main route leading to Afghanistan and has been a key stop for vehicles carrying NATO supplies to the war-torn country.

Activists in northwest Pakistan, some armed with clubs, have been forcibly searching trucks in an effort to halt NATO efforts in protest over US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt.

However, the Peshawar High Court (PHC), hearing a petition regarding the checking of the vehicles carrying items being taken to Afghanistan under the transit trade agreement between the two countries, decided on Tuesday that no private people have any right to check the vehicles.

The US had already "voluntarily halted" shipments of cargo leaving Afghanistan through the Torkham border crossing in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in December 2013, the Pentagon has stated.

Reports also said the US has halted the drone strikes to provide the Pakistani government a chance to have talks with the militants.

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