After Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), All Pakistan Muslim League and Fazlur Rehman’s faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, it is now Difa-e-Pakistan Council’s (DPC) turn to take over Karachi’s landscape to advertise its upcoming event.
Even though Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) is the ‘host’ party for the event, Jamatud Dawa (JuD) seems to have taken it upon itself to aggressively promote the rally, scheduled for February 12 at the ground opposite Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum.
Dozens of billboards, posters and banners have been put up, and activists have been painstakingly painting an advertisement on a flyover on behalf of the Ahl-e-Sunnat wal Jamat (ASWJ), formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a banned militant outfit.
A committee set up by the DPC has been meeting delegations of ethnicity-based groups, traders, lawyers and doctors to elicit their support for the rally.
Difa-e-Pakistan Council is a coalition of over 40 religious and political parties that has been vocally demanding the government keep Nato supply routes closed and withdraw its decision to grant India the status of most-favoured nation.
While he declined to provide any estimates of how many people they expected to turn up, JuD’s Karachi spokesperson Ahmed Nadeem said they hoped the Karachi event would be bigger than the ‘historic rallies’ the council has held in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan.
“We have received a no-objection certificate for the venue,” Nadeem said, referring to the controversies that bogged down the PTI when it sought permission to hold its rally at the same venue.
A delegation met JUI-F’s Karachi Secretary General Aslam Ghori, but Ghori said the visit was not political. “They came to offer condolences for my father’s death. There was no talk of this [event].”
Ghori reiterated that JUI-F’s central leadership has decided not to join the DPC. “Other than Nawaz Sharif, everyone who was part of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad is part of this council,” he explained, referring to the coalition of religious-political parties formed in 1990. “Hamid Gul (former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence) was leading them then, and he is leading them now too. We were not part of the Ittehad then, and we are not part of this council now.” However, it is widely believed that the JUI-F has refused to join the DPC because it has still not made peace with Jamaat-e-Islami after the collapse of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.
Hameed Gul is one of the speakers at DPC, along with Sheikh Rashid and the late General Ziaul Haq’s son Ejazul Haq among others.
The event is scheduled to start at 11 am on Sunday and will wrap up by Maghrib prayers.
The DPC has also been promoting the rally online through a newly launched website and the microblogging website Twitter.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.