LAHORE, Jan 28: Alarm bells have started ringing for the United States and pro-US organisations to limit their secular activities in Pakistan after the first-ever huge rally staged by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) in Karachi on Friday.

This was claimed by JUI-F central information secretary Maulana Muhammad Amjad Khan while talking to Dawn after he reached Lahore from Karachi on Saturday. He said the party leadership was itself surprised about the massive turnout, including the presence of students from religious seminaries, but the rally was a public referendum against the US and other secular forces in Pakistan.

The Maulana, however, dispelled the impression that most of the young people present in the rally were students of seminaries.

He said the leadership was of the view that the JUI’s successful rally had not only created a great enthusiasm among party workers but also among activists of other religious forces/parties to foil any anti-Pakistan move.

About any role of the establishment in gathering of a huge number of people in the JUI rally as had been witnessed in the case of the PTI, he said: “The establishment never likes to change players frequently. It (the establishment) has already selected a ‘party’ and will facilitate it by all means. The JUI-F has never been and will never be a party of the establishment.”

The Maulana said the JUI-F leadership was not making an alliance with the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC). “The JUI-F rallies were the part of our political campaign to transform Pakistan into an Islamic welfare state while the DPC, an alliance of over 40 religious parties, is purely a non-political alliance meant to promote religious activities,” he said.

He said the DPC leadership claimed that it had formally invited the JUI-F in its Lahore rally, but it had neither formally nor informally invited the party.

He said the JUI wanted to revive Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal by involving all stakeholders, including the Jamaat-i-Islami, in the on-going process of dialogues in this regard.

The Maulana said the party had formally started political mobilisation campaign which would continue till the next general elections. “Today (Sunday) we are holding a road caravan from Lahore to Gujranwala where a big public meeting will be held. We are planning to hold a million-march in Lahore and big public meetings in Rawalpindi and other cities in the near future,” he said.

Reacting about the JUI-F rally, a spokesman for US embassy Mark Stroh said the US always respected Pakistans sovereignty and does not interfere in its internal affairs.

He said the US was proud of its strong and enduring relationship with Pakistan. “We are committed to working together with Pakistan to fight extremism, improve regional security and assist Pakistan in its economic development, particularly in the energy sector,” he said.

He said: “The US recognizes that Pakistan is reviewing its policy towards America and we respect it and hope that the bilateral relationship will become stronger in the days to come”.

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