Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, accused by India for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, on Sunday led an anti-Israel rally in this eastern Pakistani city that was attended by thousands of people.
Around 10,000 activists of religious groups and organizations representing traders, lawyers and students participated in the rally that made its way from Nasser Bagh to Charing Cross on the Mall, a key thoroughfare in Lahore.
It was only the second time that Saeed led and addressed a rally since he was released from house arrest on the orders of the Lahore High Court in June last year.
He was detained for about six months in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
Addressing the gathering, Saeed claimed Israeli aggression was not confined to Gaza as it had spread to areas near Pakistan. He claimed the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad had established offices in Jammu and Kashmir.
"With the active connivance of Israel, attempts are being made to convert Pakistan into a barren land by constructing dams on rivers (in Kashmir)," he alleged.
Saeed claimed suicide bombings were aimed at defaming jehad or the holy war against infidels. The issue of the threat posed by the Punjabi Taliban was being raised to "justify army operations" in the province, he claimed.
"Pakistan is facing an external threat and it is not appropriate to have differences between the parliament and the judiciary," Saeed said, referring to the ongoing standoff between the Pakistan People's Party-led government and the Supreme Court.
The participants in the rally opposed the expansion of military operations against militants in Pakistan and expressed solidarity with Palestinians. They carried placards and banners inscribed with slogans against the brutalities of Israeli security forces, which attacked the freedom flotilla to Gaza led by Turkish nationals.
A large contingent of police and JuD volunteers provided security cover to the rally. Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hasan, who also addressed the rally, said: "The spirit of jehad is strengthening among Muslims."
Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith president Sajid Mir said as long as cowardly rulers are imposed on Muslims, they would continue to face atrocities at the hands of Israel and America. PTI