Los Angeles Times
Thousands of followers of leading Islamist clerics began marching Sunday from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital, Islamabad, to protest Pakistan’s decision to once again let NATO move Afghanistan-bound supply convoys through the country.
The protest was organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, a coalition of hard-line religious groups that has among its leaders Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, an Islamic cleric who India claims engineered the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people. The procession – made up of buses, cars and motorcycles – was peaceful.
After completing the 185 mile journey, they plan to hold a protest in front of the parliament building Monday.
Pakistani leaders have been bracing for a backlash since announcing last week that they were reopening NATO supply routes. The blockade was imposed after American air strikes mistakenly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border in November.
Saeed, who was seen alongside other Islamist clerics atop a vehicle leading the caravan Sunday, maintains a high profile despite the $10 million bounty that the U.S. government placed on him in April. Pakistani officials refuse to arrest Saeed, saying the United States must provide evidence that ties him to militant activities.