Several thousand Pakistanis poured onto the streets of Islamabad on Monday, chanting “death to America” and demanding holy war at a rally whipped up by right-wing, religious organizations.
It was the latest show of support for Defense of Pakistan, a coalition of around 40 parties chaired by a cleric dubbed the father of the Taliban that include organizations blacklisted at home and abroad as terror groups.
“Today, we have gathered here to raise a voice of protest against US intervention in Pakistan,” chairman Maulana Sami ul-Haq, who runs an extremist madrassa that educated several Taliban leaders, told AFP.
Also present was member Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency during the 1980s Pakistani-sponsored war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan that gave rise to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
His membership has helped fuel suspicions that Pakistan’s security establishment is backing the coalition as a means of exerting pressure on the weak government and whipping up rhetoric against the unpopular US alliance.
“Our protest is against the possible resumption of NATO supplies, US and Indian occupation and to strengthen the country’s defense,” Haq said.