‘MFN-status to India as a plot against Pak’

An alliance of religious and extremist groups said Pakistan should settle the Kashmir issue.

Islamabad: An alliance of religious and
extremist groups on Saturday said Pakistan should settle the Kashmir
issue and differences over sharing river waters before it
normalises trade relations with India and gives it Most
Favoured Nation-status.

The Defence of Pakistan Council, which includes the
Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat, made the demand
in a joint declaration adopted at a meeting of the top leaders
of the groups.

The declaration described the move to give MFN-status to
India as a "plot against Pakistan".

The council demanded that the government should not take
any unilateral move to normalise trade relations.
"Before beginning trade with India, the issues of
Kashmir and water should be resolved," it said.

The Council`s leaders reserved much of their ire for
the US and NATO, saying they would launch a country-wide
protest if the Pakistan government reopen routes used to
transport supplies to American and foreign forces in
neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistan shut the supply routes in November in
retaliation for a cross-border NATO air strike that killed 24
Pakistani soldiers.

Addressing a news conference at a hotel in the heart of
Islamabad, the Council`s leaders warned they would resist any
move by the government to reopen the NATO supply routes.

"This meeting of the Defence of Pakistan Council
condemns and rejects the attempts to reopen NATO supply routes
under the cover of the recommendations of the Parliamentary
Committee on National Security," the joint declaration said.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has asked the
parliamentary panel to give recommendations for framing new
terms of engagement with the US and NATO.

Maulana Samiul Haq, the head of the Jamiat
Ulema-e-Islam (S), alleged that the government intended to
reopen the supply routes but gave no proof to substantiate his

The joint declaration said the steps taken by the
government after the NATO air strike were right as they had
ended American "attacks and terrorism".

It added: "Therefore restoration of the supply routes
would simply mean an invitation to more attacks and terrorism
against Pakistan."

The declaration asked the Pakistan government to withdraw
the country from the US-led war on terror.

Samiul Haq said the leadership of the Council had decided
to step up its country-wide movement to create awareness about
what he described as "Indian and American terrorism".

He said rallies would be held in Rawalpindi on January
22, in Multan on January 29 and in Karachi on February 12.

JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was present at the news
conference but did not speak.

Others who attended the meeting were former ISI chief
Hamid Gul, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hassan, senior JuD
leader Abdul Rahman Makki, Awami Muslim League chief Shiekh
Rashid Ahmed, PML-Z chief Ijaz-ul-Haq, and senior Ahl-e-Sunnat
Wal Jamaat leader Ghulam Mustafa Jadoon.