As several quarters in Pakistan join the chorus to condemn a bill on Balochistan moved in the US Congress, thousands of Difa-e-Pakistan Council supporters rallied in Islamabad against American intervention in Pakistan.
DPC Chairman Maulana Samiul Haq told the participants who had gathered at Aabpara Chowk that they have gathered to raise a voice of protest against US intervention in Pakistan.
He observed, “America wants to break Pakistan into pieces. Our protest is against the possible resumption of NATO supplies, US and Indian occupation and to strengthen the country’s defence system.” He spoke in reference to the resolution in America, introduced by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher which calls upon Pakistan to recognise the Baloch right to self determination.
The alliance, which comprises 40 religious groups and parties including conservative right-wing party Jamaat-i-Islami and UN-sanctioned Jamaatud Dawa, was formed after a Nato strike on Salala Checkpost in Mohmand killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
However, three prominent leaders JuD head Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Maulana Ahmed Ludhianwi and Dr Khadim Hussain Dhillon did not participate in the sit-in.
The decision was taken by the DPC leadership to avoid any clash with the government as the administration had imposed a ban on the entry of these three leaders in Islamabad for seven days, said Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat spokesperson Ubaidullah Usmani.
“America can never be our friend, it is our biggest enemy. America will be defeated in Afghanistan and divided into pieces,” Mian Aslam, a former JI lawmaker said in his address to the rally.
Banners strung up in Islamabad denounced US drone strikes on militants, the government’s decision to grant India the Most-Favoured Nation status in a bid to ease trade, and re-opening the Afghan border to Nato convoys.
The rally of Jamat-e-Islami (JI), led by Rawalpindi chapter chief Dr Kamal Ameer, also took off to Aabpara Chowk from Liaqat Bagh Rawalpindi. Other party leaders, along with more than 2,000 activists of ASWJ, gathered in the office of ASWJ to participate in the sit-in, said Usmani.
The participants of the rally chanted anti-US slogans
Allah Buksh, a senior police official, said 2,500 attended the demonstration as it got underway, but witnesses estimated the crowd at 3,500 as hundreds of riot police, armed with batons and wearing bullet-proof jackets stood guard.
“Today, we have gathered here to raise a voice of protest against US intervention in Pakistan,” Chairman Maulana Sami ul-Haq told newsmen.
Also present was Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency during the 1980s US and Pakistani-sponsored war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
“Our protest is against the possible resumption of Nato supplies, US and Indian occupation and to strengthen the country’s defence,” Haq maintained.
“America wants to break Pakistan into pieces,” he added in reference to a resolution sponsored by three US lawmakers calling for self-determination in Balochistan.
The alliance, which uses Twitter and Facebook to promote its message, was set up after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border in late November, which saw Pakistan shut its Afghan border to Nato supplies.
“Death to America” and “America deserves one treatment: jihad, jihad”shouted the crowd in a bustling commercial area, an AFP reporter said.
The coalition has already attracted large turnouts at a series of rallies across the country that some see as a build up to contesting Pakistan’s next general election, which could be called within months.
The government’s 10-year alliance in the US-led “war on terror” and in neighbouring Afghanistan is deeply unpopular in Pakistan.
“For 10 years our rulers as an ally of the United States spilled the blood of this nation. We insisted in the past and say it again now — this is not our war,” Gul told the crowd.
“The Pakistani nation will not allow the resumption of supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan. If the rulers side with US aggression, the nation will rise against them,” he warned.
Banners denounced US drone strikes, the government’s decision to grant India most favoured nation status in a bid to ease trade, and re-opening the Afghan border to Nato convoys.
“Go America Go” and “No to Nato,” screamed out posters.
The government had banned three key members of the alliance from attending the rally.
The capital administration had on Saturday banned the entry of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat president Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Secretary General Maulana Khalid Dhillon and Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed Ahmad in Islamabad for four days.