The sudden rise to prominence of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), a collection of religious parties and militant groups, has raised fears in Pakistan's political arena that these parties will be used to tilt the balance in the coming elections by intelligence agencies.
The council came into being after Pakistan banned the overland transport of NATO supplies last year following a controversial raid that left 28 dead in November.
The DPC has held several rallies so far.What makes these rallies worrisome is that members and leaders of militant and banned outfits have also joined the DPC, primarily the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Jamaat-ud Dawa.
It is speculated, that behind the scenes, orchestrating the rallies, is a retired army general and chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Hameed Gul.
The DPC on Monday protested in front of the parliament in Islamabad against the possibility of lifting the ban on overland movement of NATO supplies and also the admission by Pakistan's defence minister Ahmad Mukhtar earlier this month that Pakistani airspace was being used to transport NATO supplies with government permission.
Behind the DPC, say observers, is the ISI which seems to be cobbling together yet another political alliance ahead of the elections scheduled for the end of the year or possibly 2013.
The extremist nature of the DPC can be gauged from the fact that on Monday three prominent leaders of the council could not turn up in Islamabad as their entry is banned in the federal capital.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed , Maulana Ahmed Ludhianwi and Dr Khadim Hussain Dhillon announced that they will not participate in the sit-in at Aabparah Chowk in Islamanad.
The decision was taken by the leadership of DPC to avoid any clash with the government as the administration had imposed a ban on the entry of these three leaders in Islamabad for seven days, said Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat spokesman Ubaidullah Usmani.
This will also ensure peace during the rally, he added. All three are accused of fermenting sectarian hatred.