Just one week after an enormous anti-US rally in Karachi, the “Defend Pakistan Council” today saw thousands of demonstrators turn out in the capital city of Islamabad. Leaders of a number of secular and Islamist factions joined to demand a break with the US.
In particular, today’s speeches focused on ending Pakistan’s involvement in the US “war on terror.” Munawwar Hassan, the head of the Jamat-e Islami (JI) said it is “America’s war” and that it only increases terrorism in Pakistan.
Today’s rally was missing a few speakers, however, including the Jamat-ud Dawa’s leader, who was banned from attending by police. Several other attendees were reportedly barred from the city ahead of the rally.
The rallies could indicate that Pakistan’s relationship with the US will be a serious subject of discussion in early elections, which Prime Minister Gilani conceded could be called soon. The ruling Pakistani Peoples Party (PPP) has been under fire for close ties with the US, and a number of conservative and religious groups have pushed for varying levels of reduction in that relationship.