Pakistan blocks anti-U.S. protest in tribal region

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“A made-for-TV dog and pony show that will be high on drama and low on substance will resonate with Khan’s base,” wrote Pakistani newspaper columnist Cyril Almeida in the English-language newspaper Dawn Sunday.

The rally originally was intended for South Waziristan, a tribal region in which the Pakistani military has been battling a violent uprising by the Taliban, and factions of the Taliban threatened to attack the march. On Saturday, a statement from a Taliban faction said to be based in eastern Punjab province warned that militants would target the protesters with suicide bombings.

The main faction of the Pakistani Taliban, which is based in South Waziristan, issued a statement Friday calling Mr. Khan a “slave of the West” and saying that the militants “don’t need any sympathy” from such “a secular and liberal person.”

The former cricket star long had a reputation as a playboy, but in recent years he has said he has grown stronger in his Muslim faith. He also has used attacks on the U.S. drone program as a means of gaining attention and esteem in Pakistan. His popularity has surged in recent years in Pakistan, where the government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party of Asif Ali Zardari, has disappointed many.

Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Rebecca Santana in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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