A rally organised by the Jamat-ud Dawa in Lahore turned out to be a huge success as the militant group has now taken over the role of uniting various religious parties in the country.
Under the banner of the Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasul (Movement for the Honour of the Prophet), the JuD's rally was attended by both Deobandi and Barelvi parties, all of whom called for the death sentence to anyone calling for change in Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws.
Two weeks back, some of these groups were at loggerheads with each other. The rising number of suicide attacks on religious shrines was traced by to Deobandi organisations, particularly the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said government officials. Now, according to some sections of the media, with the blessings of the intelligence agencies, the religious parties have united on one platform and are gunning for the government and the country's vulnerable progressive parties.
The new role that the JuD has found for itself puts it at the centre of right-wing politics. "From a fringe player, now it is aiming to be in the centre of the action," says one analyst who asked not to be named.
The JuD-led protest has halted traffic on Lahore's main boulevard for two days in a row. On Sunday and Monday, activists protested against any change in the blasphemy law and attacked both the government and religious minorities.
Observers said that no political party could have organised the rally: people from all over Punjab had joined the protest on motorcycles, cars, buses and on foot, a major portion also coming from the small cities to Lahore on trucks. The procession that tore down the remaining banners mourning the killing of Governor Taseer and the new ones welcoming the new governor, Latif Khosa.
The leaders spewed hate speechs, targeted minorities, incited people to violence with impunity during the march. Speakers praised the killer of Governor Taseer and warned the media commentators against opposing the fatwas inciting people to violence.