The Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella grouping of different religious and political parties, said on Sunday that its supporters would gather in Islamabad on February 20 (today) to protest against drone attacks and the restoration of air supplies for Nato.
Addressing a press conference at a local hotel, DPC leader Maulana Samiul Haq said they would challenge the decision of the interior ministry to ban the entry of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ) leader Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
Despite the ban, Saeed and Ludhianvi reached Rawalpindi on Sunday to participate in the Sarbarahi Ijlas (meeting of the party heads).
Other party leaders including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, General Ziaul Haq’s son Ejazul Haq and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Secretary General Liaquat Baloch also reached Rawalpindi to participate in the rally. The DPC are planning a serious protest against what they perceive as injustices on Pakistan soil. In fact, they have decided to approach the Supreme Court over the resumption of airspace supplies to Nato in Afghanistan, Haq told the media.
“We have decided to gather at Abpara in the federal capital on February 20 to raise our voices against the continuous drone attacks in Pakistan and the resumption of Nato supplies by the federal defence minister,” he said. The alliance of as many as 30 political and the religious parties demanded immediate removal of Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, the federal defence minister, for cooperating on this issue with Nato.
For the DPC leadership, the bans on some members had been imposed on the direction of the United States, as they intend to hold a public gathering in Balochistan on February 27. Condemning the recent resolution put up in the US Congress, the DPC members said that ‘the West’ had never passed any resolution on the freedom of Kashmir from Indian occupation.
The party leader also took up Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s case during his address and said that their “innocent sister” is being “shamefully treated”. He was accompanied by Ludhianvi, who said that the ban on three leaders in Islamabad will be challenged in the court.
A senior police officer in Rawalpindi, who asked not to be named, said that the Islamabad administration had imposed a ban on three leaders of DPC for seven days but despite the ban, the Rawalpindi police as well as the city’s administration have been unable to take any legal action against those breaching the bans.
He added that the Rawalpindi police and the administration are under control of the Punjab government, while the Islamabad Police and Islamabad administration are under the control of federal government.
Answering questions from the media, Haq confirmed that Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed had parted from the DPC.
Meanwhile, former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Hamid Gul issued an apology to The Express Media Group over his allegations that Malik Ishaq’s pictures on The Express Tribune‘s website were “doctored”. Gul said that he was mistaken as he was not aware of all the people who attended the rally.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2012.