Supporters of more than 40 political parties and hard-line religious groups, some of them proscribed for terror activities, will stage a march starting from Lahore to the capital city of Islamabad in Pakistan to show solidarity over the growing unrest in Kashmir in India. The rally will pledge support from the Pakistani establishment for the 'liberation of Kashmir' in India. Pakistan has declared July 19 as Kashmir Solidarity Day.
Tehreek e Azaadi Jammu Kashmir (TAJK), a front group of the banned militant organisation Lashkar e Taiba and its charitable affiliate Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), is organising the rally called 'Caravan for Kashmir' starting on Tuesday, following a call by its chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.
Several militant groups focusing on armed jihad in Indian Kashmir are participating in the rally. Cutting across political and ideological lines, groups like Difa e Pakistan Council – an alliance of more than 40 parties including JuD, Sipah e Sahiba and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, headed by Maulana Sami ul Haque, also known as founding father of Taliban, will take part.
Mohammad Safi, representative of Hurriyat Conference in Pakistan; PoK-based United Jihad Council led by Syed Salahuddin, Hurriyat Conference, Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haque, Awami Muslim League, Muslim Conference, Muslim League (Zia faction) and intellectuals including Abdullah Gul (son of former ISI chief Hamid Gul), Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, former prime minister of PoK, Izazul Haq (son of late President Zia-ul-Haq), will take part in the rally.
The road show starting from Shuhada mosque in Lahore will make its way through Gujranwala, Wazirabad, Jhelum and Rawalpindi before reaching Islamabad. "The route can be covered in four hours, but since lakhs are joining, the rally will stop in main cities where leaders will make speeches. It will reach Islamabad the next day,'' media coordinator TAJK, Nadeem Awan, told dna.
The road show is expected to receive wide support from the villages and districts on the route populated by Kashmiri immigrants who have settled in Punjab province after partition. The province is also a major recruitment ground for armed jihadi groups fighting in Kashmir.
Awan said that Kashmiris living in Pakistan wanted to organise a rally to "express their support to the brothers suffering under the atrocities of the Indian army.''
"The road show will bring national and international attention to the dreadful situation in Kashmir. It will also let our brothers and sisters in Kashmir know they are not alone. Kashmiris are a part of Pakistani blood,'' he said.
The TAJK had organised a similar road show in 2009 on Kashmir Solidarity Day, attended by the top leadership of jihadi groups including the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.
The rally will collect 'funds' or donations from supporters for the Kashmir cause. Awan said that on social media, Kashmiris were posting on shortage of medical supplies and food and money will be collected to send relief across the border. "We will send relief packages of food and medicine. We will also try to send a team of doctors if permission is given for them to travel to Kashmir.''
The unrest in Kashmir followed by the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani a week ago has caused political frenzy in Pakistan with cabinet ministers in the Nawaz Sharif-led government calling the deaths as 'genocide'.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari accused the foreign policy based on 'Sharif-Modi' friendship for failing to address the Kashmir issue. Sharif, the ministry of foreign affairs and LeT chief Saeed issued statements castigating India for "using excessive force against street protestors and civilians".
The confrontation has resulted in 41 civilian deaths, injuries to over 1,000 persons, censorship on local media and a curfew restricting daily movements to bring the situation under control.
India has rebuffed calls from Pakistan, saying the latter has no right to talk on India's internal matters.