KARACHI: Religious parties in Karachi protested against the potential reopening of Nato supply routes in Pakistan on Friday afternoon.
The Jamaat-e-Islami led a rally in Gulshan-e-Iqbal from Baitul Mukarram Mosque to Hasan Square, while Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) protested at Karachi Press Club. JuD protesters held placards proclaiming that “Pakistan will be defended by jihad” and “We hate Nato forces”. JuD organiser Hafiz Kalimullah said, “We are with the mujahideen,” as he accused US and Nato of atrocities in Afghanistan and condemned the recent desecration of the Holy Quran in Afghanistan. JuD’s Professor Mehmoodul Hasan said “resuming Nato supply is a bargain on our faith”. “We do not call this trade, we call this a dishonour. We will not let this happen.”
A hundred to 150 people, carrying JuD flags, chanted slogans against the US, India and Nato. Hasan threatened that containers carrying Nato supplies would not reach their destination. Engineer Naveed Qamar, the head of JuD in Karachi, said parliamentarians should abandon the idea of reopening Nato supply routes. “Keep the supplies closed, the Pakistani nation is with you,” Qamar said, addressing parliamentarians. He said the Difa-e-Pakistan Council is writing letters to members of parliament urging them not to change their decision. “This bill (on recommendations about US ties) will be presented on March 26. On March 27 we will rally outside the parliament and record our protest.”
“Be brave,” he said, addressing Afghans and Pakistanis. “The US cannot ruin you.”
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Samiul Haq) leader Maulana Abdul Manan also spoke at the event and asked the crowd who elected their representatives.
“America!” responded protesters “No, it’s you who elected them. This is not an American government, this is a government of Muslims in Pakistan. Do not be friends with the US.”
“Every non-believer is an enemy of Pakistan,” he declared.
Protesting the reopening of Nato supply routes is the current issue of choice for religious-political parties, but the logistics of the protests haven’t been smooth. According to a spokesperson, JuD’s protest was slightly delayed because their leadership and members had gotten stuck in traffic jams caused by Jamaat-e-Islami’s rally and a rally by the Sindh nationalist party Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz at Tibet Centre.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.
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