KARACHI / HYDERABAD / LAHORE / ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR / MUZAFFARABAD: Amidst seething anger over the vilification of Pakistan Army and its premier spy agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence – by Geo TV, rallies were staged in all major towns and cities of the country to express solidarity with the national security institution.
In the metropolis, various political and politico-religious parties – including Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H), Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Anjuman Naujawanan-e-Islam – organised separate rallies.
Leaders of these parties said that the whole nation takes pride in its armed forces and ISI. They said that Geo TV’s smear campaign against the national security institution and the spy agency was part of a conspiracy to weaken the country’s defence.
They demanded that the media group apologise to the nation for hurling baseless allegations against the ISI and its chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam minutes after the gun attack on anchor Hamid Mir on April 19 in Karachi. They also said that the unilateral media trial of the armed forces must end.
Dozens of supporters of the Sunni Ittehad Council and Anjuman Naujawanan-e-Islam marched to the Geo TV offices where they staged a protest sit-in. They were carrying banners, flags and placards and shouting slogans in favour of Pakistan Army.
On the occasion, speakers
said that the entire nation stood shoulder-to-shoulder with its armed forces and would not allow anyone to malign the national security institution. They said targeting national institution in the name of freedom of expression could not be tolerated.
Similar rallies were staged in other towns and cities of Sindh, including Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas. In Hyderabad, Milli Yakjahti Council Chairman Sahibzada Abul Khair Muhammad Zubair led a rally where he advised the government to step forward and defuse the ominous situation sparked by the smear campaign against the ISI.
Various major cities of Punjab also saw similar outpouring of support for the army. In Lahore, members of the Pakistan Forces Lovers Forum marched from Main Market Gulberg to Liberty Chowk. They were holding placards inscribed with slogans in favour of the ISI and army and against Geo TV.
Addressing the participants, the forum’s president, Shahid Noor said that while the armed forces were laying down their lives for the defence of the country, Jang Group was maligning them as part of its anti-state agenda.
In Islamabad, the Women Wing of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) organised a rally to express solidarity with Pakistan Army. The Muslim-Maseehi Ittehad also staged a demonstration outside the National Press Club against the ‘media trial’ of the armed force.
Similar rallies were held in different cities and towns of Khyber-Pakhtunkwa. In Swat, a large number of madrassa students marched on the city roads and then gathered outside the local press club where Wahdatul Madaris leader Maulana Sadeeq Ahmad addressed the participants. He vowed that any conspiracy against the state institutions would be smashed.
In Bannu, activists of various mainstream political parties hit the streets. They marched up to the local press club where local leaders addressed them. They were all praise for the country’s armed forces who, according to them, were offering their lives for the defence of the motherland. They condemned the attack on Hamid Mir but said that using the incident as a pretext to defame the state institutions was equally condemnable.
In Nowshera, people from different walks of life blocked the main GT Road for traffic to vent their anger at Geo TV’s vilification campaign against the country’s premier intelligence agency.
In Muzaffarabad, hundreds of people turned up at a rally led by AJK Minister for Rehabilitation Abdul Majid Khan. Addressing the participants, the minister said that targeting Pakistan Army and the ISI was part of a nefarious foreign agenda. “We demand the Pakistan government expose those who are behind this malicious campaign,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2014.