Difa-i-Pakistan begins ‘long-march’ to Islamabad-only 8000 people participate

Dawn: Prominent Pakistani hardliners who oppose their country’s anti-terror alliance with Washington led thousands of people in a protest Sunday against Pakistan’s decision to allow the US and other Nato countries to resume shipping troop supplies through the country to Afghanistan.    

The demonstration in the eastern city of Lahore was organized by the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC), a group of  right-wing politicians and religious leaders who have been the most vocal opponents of the supply line.

Thousands of people joined a convoy of buses, trucks and cars, many carrying the black and white striped flags of the Defence of Pakistan coalition, on the 275-kilometre journey from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad.

Pakistan closed the route in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops. After months of negotiations, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the route last week after the US apologized for the deaths.

“Some 25,000 people have joined us at the start of (the) long march and many more would join on the way, while we have 3,000 people with us who are performing security duties,” the organisers’ spokesman Yahya Mujahid told AFP.

Police, however, estimated up to 8,000 people were taking part.


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