السبت، 7 أبريل، 2012

Hafiz Saeed's supporters rally against US bounty - The Times of India

Hafiz Saeed's supporters rally against US bounty

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ISLAMABAD: Supporters of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed organised protests across Pakistan today against the USD 10 million US bounty on the JuD chief, calling for 'jihad' and demanding that President Asif Ali Zardari put off his planned visit to India.

The protests were organised by Defa-e-Pakistan Council, (DPC), which was cobbled together by Saeed.

In Islamabad, a few dozen members of radical and extremist groups assembled outside the National Press Club and shouted slogans in support of jihad (holy war) and against the US.

Many of the protestors carried the black-and-white flags of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), declared a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Saeed's deputy Abdul Rahman Makki - for whom the US has announced a USD two million bounty - was scheduled to speak to the media at the Press Club but did not join the protest.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mian Aslam told a news conference that the US had announced a bounty for the JuD leaders as they were playing a key role in the DPC's efforts to prevent the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

"This bounty is an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty. There is no case against Hafiz Saeed and he has been cleared by Pakistani courts. The government should summon the US Ambassador to protest the bounty and President Zardari should call off his trip to India," Aslam said.

The DPC has been at the forefront of efforts to prevent the government from reopening the NATO supply routes that have been closed since November after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Since the US announced the bounty, DPC leaders have called on Zardari not to go ahead with his private trip to India on April 8.

Zardari is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over lunch before travelling to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.

There were also reports of protests by the DPC in Lahore, Karachi and Muzaffarabad, where about 500 Islamist activists took to the streets after Friday prayers and torched a US flag to condemn the bounty on Saeed.

"Such steps are forcing Muslims towards guns," Abdul Aziz Alvi, a senior JuD leader who was detained after the Mumbai attacks, told the protestors in Muzaffarabad.

"We condemn the American announcement against Hafiz Saeed," said a banner at the rally.

Unlike other terrorists sought by the US, Saeed lives openly in Pakistan and has mocked the bounty, saying he is ready to face "any American court" to answer charges.

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