Pakistanis upset with U.S.

Pakistanis upset with U.S.

By Joe Baker, Senior Editor

President Bush’s plans to attack Iraq and recent U.S. military action along the Pakistani border have prompted violent demonstrations across that country.

Thousands of radical Islamists threatened Americans in Pakistan and burned effigies of President Bush in nationwide rallies.

“If the U.S. attacks Iraq, there will be open war here,” said Maulana Samiul Haq, one of the leaders of the newly powerful Islamic party alliance as he addressed 400 shouting protesters outside Islamabad’s Red Mosque.

Agencie France Press reported Haq said: “No American will be safe here.” Demonstrators waved signs reading “Stop Muslim Genocide” and “We stand by our Iraqi Muslims” as they yelled “Death to America.”

The Islamic bloc, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, which enjoyed massive gains in the October elections, led rallies in the capital as well as in Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta and the Punjabi cities of Lahore and Multan.

In Lahore, some 2,000 protesters marched through the city chanting “War against Iraq is war against Islam.” In Peshawar, more than 3,000 demonstrators were in the streets for protests led by MMA chiefs Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

“We are with Iraq. We will stay with Iraq,” said Ahmed.

“An attack on Iraq will be considered an attack on Islam,” Rehman declared.

The turnout was smaller in Karachi, only a few hundred, but Shah Ahmed Noorani, president of the MMA, warned of attacks by jihadi groups if the U.S. attacks Iraq.

“It is in their own interest not to attack Iraq; otherwise, it can be all-out war between the Americans and the jihadi forces,” he said.

Approximately 700 persons turned out in Quetta, bearing posters of Osama bin Laden and placards reading “Long live al-Qaeda” and shouting “Long live Osama.”

Anti-American sentiments have risen in recent weeks as the result of FBI arrests of several doctors and the U.S. bombing of a religious school on the Afghan border.

At the Islamabad rally, Haq said: “The Americans have crossed all limits in Pakistan. They are interfering in our affairs. They are raiding private homes and arresting innocent Muslims, including doctors. This is intolerable. The Americans are bombing our areas without any fear and shame.”

Washington’s decision last month to put U.S.-based Pakistanis under extra scrutiny has generated public anger in Pakistan that it is not being properly acknowledged for its efforts to help stamp out the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Source: Agency France Press

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