| ||Pakistan Islamists to march on Afghan border|
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Govt to be pressured into closing NATO supply routes
ISLAMABAD - Pakistani Islamists opposed to the country’s anti-terror alliance with Washington announced on Monday plans to march on the Afghan border to pressure the government into closing NATO supply routes.
Around 30,000 protestors converged on Islamabad after a “long march” to protest the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.
They gathered outside parliament to chant anti-US slogans and wave the banners of the Defence of Pakistan Council, a coalition of right wing and hardline Islamist groups which organised the march from the eastern city of Lahore.
“This long march is against the Crusade (against us) and the Jews. This movement will continue and we will now focus on the areas from where the supply goes to NATO forces in Afghanistan,” the chairman of the coalition Maulana Samiul Haq told the crowd. “We will now stage a long march from Quetta to
Chaman on July 14-15 and Peshawar to Torkham on July 16-17,” he announced.
Islamabad agreed to reopen overland routes to NATO convoys last week after a seven-month blockade sparked by a botched US air raid on a border post that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba blamed for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, also present at the protest, urged Pakistanis to stand up against the slavery to US.
“Pakistan’s original problem is slavery to the US. We don’t accept it, We want freedom,” he said. The Defence of Pakistan coalition has attracted large turnouts at recent rallies across the country, which some see as a build up to the formation of a political party to contest the next general election, widely expected within the next year.
Coalition chairman Maulana Samiul Haq told a rally on Sunday before the convoy of buses, trucks and cars left Lahore on the 275-kilometre (170-mile) journey to the capital that the movement would continue until Islamabad severed all ties with the US and NATO.
Outside parliament on Monday evening the crowd chanted slogans including “Death to the USA” and one speaker called for the arrest of the CIA chief in Pakistan.
Pakistan is doubling the capacity for NATO trucks at a key border crossing, officials said Monday, to speed up processing for an expected influx of supplies for troops in Afghanistan.
Earlier on Monday, gunmen killed six soldiers and a police officer at a camp close to Islamabad hours after the march had passed through the area.