Karachi: Thousands of members of hardline
and outlawed extremist groups joined a rally in the Pakistani
port city of Karachi on Sunday, with Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz
Mohammed Saeed using the occasion to target the US and India.
In a fiery speech, Saeed said the 40-odd members of the
Defa-e-Pakistan Council would oppose any move by Pakistan to
give India Most Favoured Nation-status.
"India will not be a favoured nation. We will not let
Pakistan become a market for India," he said as members of
banned groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Sipah-e-Sahaba
shouted slogans against India and in support of jihad.
Saeed and his aides had maintained a low profile after
the UN Security Council declared the JuD a front for the
banned LeT in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. Though he
was placed under house arrest in late 2008, Saeed was freed on
the orders of the Lahore High Court in less than six months.
Since last year, Saeed has stepped up his public
appearances and attacks on India even as the trial of seven
Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai
attacks, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, stalled
for a variety of technical reasons.
Saeed has played a key role in cobbling together the
Defa-e-Pakistan Council, a grouping of some 40 hardline and
The Council has organised a string of large rallies
across the country, especially after 24 Pakistani soldiers
were killed in a cross-border NATO air strike in November.
During today`s rally, Saeed also attacked the US and
demanded that Pakistan should pull out of the war on terror.
He said the Council will oppose any move by Pakistan to
reopen supply routes for foreign forces in Afghanistan that
were closed after last year?s NATO attack.
"We have repeatedly told the government that they should
get out of the war on terrorism and there can be no compromise
on Pakistan?s independence and security. We are clearly saying
that NATO`s supplies will not be restored. For that, this
Council will do everything that is necessary to block the
supplies," he said.
Other leaders who addressed the rally held at a ground
near the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah included
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hasan, Awami Muslim League chief
Shiekh Rashid Ahmed, Maulana Samiul Haq, former Inter-Services
Intelligence chief Hamid Gul, former Sipah-e-Sahaba chief
Ahmed Ludhianvi and late Gen Zia-ul-Haq?s son Ejaz-ul-Haq.
Surprisingly, Ejaz Chaudhry, the senior vice-president of
Imran Khan`s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, too addressed the
In recent weeks, Khan has sought to distance himself from
the activities of the Defa-e-Pakistan Council though there
have been widespread contacts between the two sides.