Thousands of Pakistani Islamists gathered in Lahore on Sunday in support of their nation’s troops and protesting the United States following the NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month, the Associated Press reported.
The protest of more than 30,000 people was organized by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front group for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant organization, the AP reported.
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“Long live the Pakistan army,” protesters chanted in Lahore, Reuters reported.
Condemning the US for the NATO attack, speakers such as Hafiz Saeed rallied the crowd. Saeed is believed to be “a fiercely anti-American cleric” and is suspected of links to the group blamed for the 2008 militant rampage in Mumbai, India, which killed 166 people, Reuters reported. Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, know as the father of the Afghan Taliban, also spoke.
"All agreements [with the US] should be terminated," Saeed said, Al Jazeera reported. "We say all agreements terminated the day the attack happened."
Similar protests took place in Peshawar, where leaders of the Jammat-e-Islami criticized the Pakistani government for how it handled NATO interventions in Pakistan, Al Jazeera reported.
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"This wave of humanity should be able to convince the president that the people are unstoppable,” was the rally cry of organizers in Peshawar, reported by Al Jazeera’s correspondent Kamal Hyder.
Pakistan’s military came under fire in May, when US special forces killed Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in Abbottabad, Reuters reported. But since the Nov. 26 cross-border air raid that killed 24 soldiers, ties between Pakistan and the US have become strained, causing Pakistanis to rally behind their military.
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