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Thousands of hardline Fundamentalists stream to Pakistan’s capital to protest NATO supply line

Thousands of hardline Islamists stream to Pakistan’s capital to protest NATO supply line

By: Wichaar Desk

LAHORE, Pakistan — Thousands of hardline Islamists streamed toward Pakistan’s capital in a massive convoy of vehicles Sunday to protest the government’s decision to allow the U.S. and other NATO countries to resume shipping troop supplies through the country to Afghanistan.

The demonstration, which started in the eastern city of Lahore, was organized by the Difah-e-Pakistan Council — Defense of Pakistan Council — a group of politicians and religious leaders who have been the most vocal opponents of the supply line.

Pakistan closed the route in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops. Following months of negotiations, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the route last week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for the deaths.

Clinton met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for the first time since the apology Sunday on the sidelines of an Afghan aid conference in Tokyo and expressed hope that resolution of the supply line conflict would lead to better relations between the troubled allies.

One of the reasons Pakistan waited so long to resolve the conflict is that the government was worried about domestic backlash in a country where anti-American sentiment is rampant despite billions of dollars in U.S. aid over the last decade.

The protest started Sunday in the center of Lahore, where several thousand people assembled with scores of buses, cars and motorbikes. They linked up with thousands more supporters waiting on the city’s edge and drove toward Islamabad in a so-called “long march” against the supply line. The convoy included about 200 vehicles carrying some 8,000 people when it left Lahore, said police official Babar Bakht.

After completing the 300 kilometer (185 mile) journey to Islamabad, they plan to hold a protest in front of the parliament building Monday.

“By coming out on the streets, the Pakistani nation has shown its hatred for America,” one of the Difah-e-Pakistan leaders, Maulana Samiul Haq, known as the father of the Taliban, said in a speech on the outskirts of Lahore.

Supporters showered Haq with rose petals as he rode through Lahore in the back of a truck with other Difah-e-Pakistan leaders, including Hafiz Saeed, founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group; Hamid Gul, a retired Pakistani intelligence chief with a long history of militant support; and Syed Munawar Hasan, leader of Pakistan’s most powerful Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Many demonstrators rode on the tops of buses, waving party flags and shouting slogans against the U.S. and NATO. “One solution for America, jihad, jihad!” they shouted.

The crowd was dominated by members of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for the attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is led by the group’s founder, Saeed.

“The movement that has been started to reverse the government’s decision to restore the NATO supply will go on until America leaves this region for good,” Saeed said in a speech on the outskirts of Lahore. “The mission is noble because it is to save the country and the nation from slavery.”

The U.S. announced a $10 million bounty earlier this year for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Saeed, but he operates freely in the country. Pakistan says it doesn’t have enough evidence to arrest Saeed, but many suspect the government is reluctant to move against him and other militant leaders because they have longstanding ties with the country’s military and intelligence service.

Rehman Malik, a government security adviser, said members of banned militant groups would not be allowed to enter Islamabad for the Difah-e-Pakistan protest Monday, but all others would be welcomed.

“They are patriots. They are not anti-state people,” Malik told reporters. “We will welcome them with open arms.”

It’s unclear if they will try to prevent Saeed from attending the protest.

Difah-e-Pakistan is widely believed to be supported by the Pakistani army as a way to put pressure on the U.S. Its leaders have vowed to stop NATO trucks from making the journey from the southern port city of Karachi to the Afghan border. But if the group has army backing, it could moderate its actions.

Continue reading Thousands of hardline Fundamentalists stream to Pakistan’s capital to protest NATO supply line

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CNN – Somali Islamists offer 10 camels as bounty for Obama

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — The United States offers millions for information leading to the capture of the world’s most wanted terrorists.

A Somali militant group has purportedly countered with an offer of camels for U.S. officials.

Al-Shabaab has placed a bounty of 10 camels for President Barack Obama and two camels for information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

An audio statement posted on jihadist websites purportedly from Al-Shabaab jeered news that the United States is offering millions of dollars for information on seven key members of al-Shabaab through its Rewards for Justice program.

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US-Pak: how bad can it get? Worse. Maybe much worse.

U.S.-Pakistan Relationship Hits New Low

By: Walter Russell Mead’s Blog

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is fraught in the best of times, but we may be approaching a new low. Pakistani politicians of all stripes have united in denouncing the $10 million dollar U.S. bounty on Hafiz Saeed, the man behind the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, who is currently living openly in Pakistan. Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate in turning over Saeed is the latest sign that the already chilly U.S.-Pakistan relationship is beginning to freeze over.

Continue reading US-Pak: how bad can it get? Worse. Maybe much worse.

PTI President, Javed Hashmi backs ‘most wanted’ Hafiz Saeed

Javed Hashmi backs ‘most wanted’ Hafiz Saeed, Hafiz Abdur Rehman Makki

By Owais Jafri

MULTAN: Javed Hashmi, the Paistan Tehreek-i-Insaf President, on Friday extended his support to Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed on whom the US recently placed $10 million bounty for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Calling him a preacher of peace in the world, Hashmi said, that if something should happen to Hafiz Saeed, then the entire nation will be responsible.

He was addressing a public demonstration organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council in Ghanta Ghar  Square in Multan on Friday. The gathering was also addressed by leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, Lawyers community, Jamat-e-ahl-e-hadees, Ahle-SunnatWal-Jamaat, Jamiat ulema-e-Pakistan, and members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Digging our own graves – By Kamran Shafi

As we Pakistanis heap more ridicule on the American action to place a bounty on Hafiz Saeed’s head, derisively pointing out to the world how he is living openly in known residences; attending rallies in the open; addressing announced press conferences, and how he is thumbing his nose at his adversaries, we lose sight of the fact that (most of) the world is not on the same page as us.

No matter what defence we trot out: there is no evidence that he is a terrorist, the Lahore High Court having given him a clean chit; he heads a charity, the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), and not a militant group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT); that he has even asked the United Nations to strike the JuD off the terrorist organisations list, and so and so forth, we lose complete sight of the fact that the United States is a power that can exert its influence anywhere in the world.

Continue reading Digging our own graves – By Kamran Shafi

US puts $10 million bounty on Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed Jamaat-ud-Dawa group

By AFP

ISLAMABAD — A man with a $10 million US government bounty on him might be expected to have gone into hiding, but Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is one of Pakistan’s most high-profile and outspoken Islamists. ….

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Patriotism, treason, and bounty hunters

By Kamran Shafi

It is an undeniable fact my friends, that our blessed country has become synonymous with the very worst acts of terrorism carried out across the world and with those caught in the planning stages of such attacks. …

Read more » The Express Tribune