KARACHI - Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hasan on Sunday charged the ruling party and all the politicians with cowardice, stating they were powerless to stand up for sovereignty of the country, incompetent to stop brazen US drone strikes.

“Our rulers, politicians are scared of America,” Hasan seethed with annoyance in his nearly unprecedented criticism of the government’s helplessness, before a huge protest rally against drone attacks here.

Jamaat chief demanded Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar tendered apology over his wrong figures about civilian casualties from drone strikes and PML-N leader Sartaj Aziz for holding out a void assurance that the US would not spoil peace talks with the Taliban, saying the people, from Karachi to Khyber, had united against the government’s policy on drone attacks.

Hasan alleged the United States had deceived Pakistan a number of times, arguing that it had a history of turning on its allies. “They are using drones only against Muslim countries, notably Somalia and Pakistan,” he went on to say.

He accused the US of adopting double standards, and derided Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz as “a jackal in a tiger’s clothing” for its incompetence to end drone hits.

Hasan said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar shamelessly presented false statistics about civilian casualties from drone strikes in the Nation Assembly. He also pulled up top PML-N leader Sartaj Aziz for giving out a false assurance that US would not strike during dialogue with the Taliban. 

As Jamaat chief’s address progressed, thousands of marchers, who had set off for Tibet Centre from Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum, kept chanting “stop NATO supply routes”.

Commenting on Premier Sharif’s statement about elimination of visa for Indians in Pakistan, Jamaat chief said it would be another measure towards slavery. He added that the award of Most-Favorite Nation status to India was actually aimed at giving the Indians a free corridor to Kabul to enhance its role in Afghanistan and not at providing locals with vegetables at reasonable prices. Hasan also appealed to drivers and helpers on NATO convoys not to serve terrorists and search some other source of livelihood.

On his turn, PTI leader Arif Alvi recalled the ruling party had branded US drone strikes illegal, but now it had taken a u-turn unfortunately. Also, he added, the United Nations had declared drone strikes illegal.

Earlier in his welcome address, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman said unfortunately the rulers were following in footprints of former dictator Pervez Musharraf who had surrendered to the US and given away Pakistan’s freedom on a single phone call from an American official. 

Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair of Milli Yakjehti Council of Pakistan said the nation would neither tolerate drone strikes, nor the US supremacy inside Pakistani territory. He also blamed the US for sectarian riots in the country.

Jamaat Sindh chief Dr Merajul Huda Siddiqui, Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, PTI leader Nadir Laghari and others also took part in the rally.