Amid efforts to bring down tensions and restart the bilateral dialogue,the Jamaat-ud-Dawah,a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT),organised an anti-India march on Friday from the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi to Islamabad.
Thousands of supporters led by JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed,travelling in buses and on foot,began the “Defa-e-Pakistan” rally in Rawalpindi this afternoon.
The JuD mobilised its activists across the country for the rally. It had promised to put up an “impressive anti-India show” by organising the rally.
Shouting slogans,the crowd moved towards Islamabad under heavy security. The JuD,declared a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba by the UN Security Council,had its own security guards dressed in black.
The group also had a media van to record the event and provided regular updates on its Twitter account.
Buses filled with JuD supporters lined the Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad. Those participating in the rally included old men,youths and teenagers.
Asked why he had come for the rally,Abdul,a youth from Faisalabad in Punjab province,told the Press Trust of India,”We support him (Hafiz Saeed). We are making Pakistan stronger.”
Leaders who attended the rally included former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul,one of the founders of the Defa-e-Pakistan Council. JuD said it would organise similar protests in other cities.
The march culminated at Islamabad’s D-Chowk,near the ‘Red Zone’ that houses important government buildings and the diplomatic enclave. Security was beefed up in the zone with heavy restrictions on the movement of people.
Policemen could be seen on rooftops monitoring the march. Vehicles with commandos of the anti-terrorism squad were parked along the road.
Saeed is accused by India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed 166 people. The US has offered a 10-million dollar bounty for him but he continues to live openly in Lahore.