Thousands of hardline Islamists streamed toward Pakistan's capital in a massive convoy of vehicles yesterday to protest the government's decision to allow the US and other NATO countries to resume shipping troop supplies through the country to Afghanistan.
The demonstration, which started in the eastern city of Lahore, was organised by the Difah-e-Pakistan Council, Defence of Pakistan Council, a group of politicians and religious leaders who have been the most vocal opponents of the supply line.
Pakistan closed the route in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops. Following months of negotiations, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the route last week after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologised for the deaths.
Clinton met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for the first time since the apology yesterday on the sidelines of an Afghan aid conference in Tokyo, and expressed hope that resolution of the supply line conflict would lead to better relations between the troubled allies.
One of the reasons Pakistan waited so long to resolve the conflict is that the government was worried about domestic backlash in a country where anti-American sentiment is rampant despite billions of dollars in US aid over the last decade.