ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 22 (UPI) -- The Hizb ut-Tahrir political movement may be gearing up for jihad as its opposition to attacks against Taliban targets in Pakistan mount, spokesmen say.
Hizb ut-Tahrir emerged in 1952 as a political movement bent on establishing an Islamic caliphate in Pakistan. It is one of the few political movements in Pakistan that expressed open opposition to attacks on the Taliban.
Imran Yousafzai, a spokesman for the group, has organized mass demonstrations insisting the people in the tribal regions of Pakistan embrace Islamic law, the Emirati newspaper The National reports.
"The majority of Pakistanis want a form of religious law, as survey after survey shows," he said, "and that is despite the brutal form to which the militants introduced Shariah in Swat Valley."
The group was banned in 2004 by the Pakistani government following claims of a Hizb ut-Tahrir plot on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and the group claims to be growing in power as U.S. and international forces couple efforts in Afghanistan with mounting instability in Pakistan.
Though the group claims to favor peaceful opposition over militancy, members of its ranks say jihad is justified to oppose foreign occupation, saying only an Islamic army can wage a necessary holy war.