KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Sunday staged a large rally in Karachi to show its solidarity with the Pakistan Army and other law enforcing agencies, calling on them to take stern action against elements that challenge the writ of the government and stoke violence in the country.
“It is time to save Pakistan. The MQM and the whole nation stands united with the armed forces,” bellowed a charged MQM chief, Altaf Hussain.
Titled ‘Solidarity Rally with Defenders of Pakistan against Taliban,’ the rally was held at Karachi’s Shahrah-e-Quaideen. The first large public show of support for the military and law enforcement agencies, the rally comes amidst a breakdown of talks between the government and the Taliban after a number of high-profile attacks, including a suicide bombing on a police bus in Karachi and the murder of 23 FC personnel, diminished hopes of a ceasefire.
Calling on the armed forces to come forward and save the country from destruction, Altaf said that international forces were conspiring to weaken the country and those that supported the Taliban “are not Pakistan’s friends.” Commenting on the regional situation, MQM chief said that an effort was underway to reshape the boundaries of countries in the region. “American and Indian ties are improving and anti-Pakistan elements want a weak Pakistan, therefore the Taliban are being supported in this regard,” said Altaf.
With blaring patriotic songs, the venue of the rally was thronged by participants, including women and children, who were holding Pakistan’s flag and chanting slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad.’ Several children were seen donning police, rangers and army uniform, while women were dressed in green and white.
Holding placards and banners in support of the army, enthusiastic participants said that they had created Pakistan and would stand alongside the armed forces to save the country.
The MQM chief said that Taliban, created to counter the Soviet army, are now involved in heinous crimes against the people of Pakistan and refuse to accept its Constitution. He said that terrorists were enemies of the people of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Appealing to all political parties and their supporters, the MQM chief said that the nation needs unity against terrorism. “Taliban’s friend is Pakistan’s traitor and we all have to join hands at this particular point,” he added.
Religious leaders, including Allama Abbas Kumeli, Maulana Tanveerul Haq Thanvi, and the Bishop of Karachi, Sadiq Deniel; along with political party members including PPP’s Najmi Alam, PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi, APML’s Asia Isaq and others also addressed the rally.
Supporting the call of the MQM, speakers said that they stood alongside the Pakistan army, rangers and police in their fight against the enemies of Pakistan.
An eight-point declaration was passed at the rally which announced that hundreds of thousands of people stand in solidarity with the armed forces. The declaration condemned terrorist attacks on mosques, schools, markets, worship places and law enforcement agencies. Terming such attacks un-Islamic, the declaration said that every citizen, including non-Muslims, has equal rights, including the right to build their sacred places of worship.
Held under strict security, all routes to the rally were blocked and participants were allowed inside the venue after snap checking. A heavy contingent of police and rangers was also deployed in the vicinity of the rally to provide security to the participants.
Meanwhile, appreciating the MQM’s solidarity rally, the Sindh police and rangers issued separate statements thanking participants for their public show of support. Thanking participants and the MQM leadership for taking to the streets in a show of support, the Sindh police in their statement said that they “promise not to let you (people) down before the terrorists and fight till the end of this war, and not hesitate in rendering any kind of sacrifice.”
Similarly, the rangers also appreciated the MQM for organising the mass rally, saying the rally showed sympathy for the armed forces.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2014.