Stages march to Wagah border and flaunts new map of an ‘Islamic South Asia’

Shouting “No-to-MFN [status to India]’’ slogans, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) staged a protest march to the Wagah border on Sunday; showing not just its opposition to increased bilateral trade but also flaunting a new map of an ‘Islamic South Asia.’

After lying low for several months, the DPC has reactivated itself as the scheduled date for operationalising Pakistan’s decision to grant Most Favoured Nation status to India approaches. It is due to come into effect from next month.

And, since the day it chose for this protest action was also the 41st anniversary of Pakistan signing the ‘Instrument of Surrender’ in 1971 leading to the creation of Bangladesh, the DPC leadership played on that with the new map of ‘Islamic South Asia.’ “They made new maps of South Asia. Today, we present you a new map of ‘Islamic South Asia,’’’ said JuD leader Ameer Hamza.

The DPC leadership – including those of the Jamat-ud-Da’wah (JuD) – attached considerable importance to the significance of the protest march moving towards Wagah border. “The first time in 64 years, a caravan has moved towards India from Lahore. We have returned to the Wagah border to remind the promise to Muslims of Kashmir and Gujarat,’’ the speakers said, denouncing Interior Minister Rehman Malik for advocating friendship with India — “a country with the blood of Muslims on its hands.”

Farmers’ concerns ignored

According to the DPC leadership, farmers of Pakistan and the pharma industry had major apprehensions of open trade with India but the federal Commerce Ministry had ignored their concerns in its haste to grant MFN status to India. Further, it alleged that India was not interested in equal trade but in taking over Pakistan’s markets and ensuring access for its products into Afghanistan.

Ironically, even as the DPC leadership was building up its anti-India rhetoric, visiting All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq advocated further opening of trade between the two Kashmirs to help the peace process. He is leading a seven-member APHC delegation to Pakistan at the invitation of the federal government and is expected to hold discussions with the senior-most leadership of the country over the next week.

With the local media not giving the DPC protest march the kind of coverage it used to get when this platform of religious right wing forces was launched last year, the various constituents of this grouping used the social media to send across their message through the day, posting photographs on their Facebook pages and tweeting along the way.

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