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Jul 07, 2012 at 11:05pm IST

Pakistan: Political parties stay away from Hafiz Saeed's conference

Lahore: In a setback to Hafiz Saeed promoted Defa-e-Pakistan Council, no mainstream political parties on Saturday attended a conference convened by it to mobilise support for its planned long march against the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

The conference was not attended by representatives of key political parties like the PML-N or Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf. Leaders of parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami Muslim League, which are part of the DPC, attended the meeting.

Observers said the absence of mainstream parties at the conference indicated that they would not back the DPC's protest against the reopening of the NATO supply routes.

Pak parties stay away from Saeed's conference

Observers said the absence of parties indicated they would not back the protest against NATO routes reopening.

Pakistan reopened the supply lines this week after the US apologised for a NATO air strike that had killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.

Among those who attended the DPC's conference in Lahore were Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Saeed, Jamaat-e-Islami head Munawar Hasan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-S chief Sami-ul-Haq, former ISI chief Hamid Gul and Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

The DPC is a grouping of over 40 religious and extremist groups that was cobbled together last year by Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was recently detained by US authorities for several hours at Houston airport, allegedly for his links with Saeed.

The DPC had invited PML-N president Nawaz Sharif, his brother Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam' chief Fazlur Rehman and Sunni Ittihad Council head Sahibzada Fazal Karim to the conference but none of them turned up.

Though these leaders have opposed the reopening of the NATO supply routes, they do not want to be bracketed with the DPC, sources said.