KARACHI: A rally organised by the Jamaatud Dawa on Monday to mourn the killing of Pakistani soldiers by Nato aircraft on the border with Afghanistan turned into a protest against the government’s decision to grant India MFN status.
Around 60 men gathered at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) and chanted slogans against those in government seeking to improve trade ties with New Delhi.
“It was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who said we would fight with India even if it were for a thousand years,” said Naveed Qamar, a Jamaatud Dawa leader, as a large Indian flag was placed on the road for people to walk over it. “Unfortunately, his party is doing the complete opposite.”
The Jamaatud Dawa will join hands with other religious and political parties to build pressure on the government to reverse the decision to India the status of most-favored nation, he said.
On the Nato attack, in which 24 soldiers were killed, he said that Pakistan should hit back at the helicopters of the international security force in future if it transgresses the border. Leaders of other religious parties also took the opportunity to lash out at India, which is not part of the forces fighting the Taliban. Nasrullah Shajji of the Jamaat-e-Islami said that government was playing smart with people by dividing them on issues of national importance.
“We had all united the so-called United States war against terrorism in which our brothers and sisters are being killed and all of a sudden the MFN status was granted to India,” he said, linking the two.
Other leaders called for an end to what they said were defence deals with US and Nato member countries. They also asked the government to immediately take back the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan from foreign troops from where drones are operated.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal leader Aslam Ghauri said that Islamic leaders had been against the US war in Afghanistan for the past decade. “Now the army is under attack as well. We were called terrorists for speaking against the US. Who are we now?”
Many people had joined the protest for the sake of entertainment. Haseeb came from Ayub Goth. “These people said it would be fun so I joined in,” he told The Express Tribune. “Oh yes, they are protesting against India which attacked our soldiers.” After the rally a funeral prayers were offered for the soldiers.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2011.