- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

From combined dispatches
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistan said Afghanistan's Taliban rulers had brought yesterday's U.S.-led military strikes on themselves but hoped the operation would be brief and spare civilians.
However several influential Pakistani clerics swiftly denounced the attacks, calling them an attack against Islam and grounds for holy war against America.
One organization summoned Muslims to "extend full support to their Afghan brothers."
The Pakistani government, through a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "We regret that diplomatic efforts to convince the Taliban leadership to respond to the international demands did not succeed and now military action has started against the Taliban regime."
He was speaking after U.S. and British planes attacked targets in or near several Afghan cities with precision missiles and bombs launched from air and sea.
"Pakistan did whatever it could to convince the Taliban leadership of the gravity of the situation and take the right decisions in the interest of the Afghan people," the Foreign Ministry statement said.
Pakistan tried repeatedly to persuade the Taliban to hand over Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, Washington's prime suspect in last month's hijacked- plane attacks on the United States in which about 5,600 people were killed or missing.
Pakistani military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf scheduled a televised news conference this morning at which he was expected to discuss the attacks against his erstwhile Taliban allies.
Pakistan had sought international recognition for the radical Islamic movement, but it joined the U.S.-led coalition in a "war on terrorism" after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Pakistan promised to support a U.S.-led action in Afghanistan by sharing intelligence information, allowing use of its airspace and providing unspecified logistical support.
The influential Afghan Defense Council, which is sympathetic to the Taliban, issued a call for holy war. The council based in the eastern city of Lahore comprises more than 30 religious and militant groups.
"It is the duty of every Muslim to support their brothers in this critical hour," said Riaz Durana, the council's central leader. "We will support the Taliban physically and morally against the aggression of America."
Munawar Hassan, deputy chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's most powerful religious political party, called the strikes on the Afghan capital, Kabul, "an attack against Islam." He warned of "serious backlash" within Pakistan's military against Gen. Musharraf, who came to power in a bloodless military coup in 1999.
"The Pakistan army does not agree with Musharraf," Mr. Hassan said, calling for protest rallies across the nation today.
Pakistan shares a border of more than 1,050 miles with Afghanistan. Languages, ethnicities and even family ties overlap, and many Pakistanis, even those with no sympathy for the ruling Taliban militia, are reluctant to see Afghanistan attacked.
In downtown Peshawar, a northwestern city near the Afghan border, knots of angry men gathered, shouting "Osama, Osama" and "America is a terrorist." Some held crackling radios to their ears and called out news updates.
"It is terrorism against terrorism, and that will solve nothing," said Amin Shinwari.
Meanwhile, a prominent cleric and supporter of the Taliban was confined to his house for nearly 20 hours yesterday, said Abdul Jalil Jan, deputy secretary of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, or Party of Islamic Clerics.
Heavily armed police and paramilitary troops had been stationed for much of the day at the home of Maulana Fazal-ur Rehman in Dera Ismail Khan, 120 miles south of Peshawar. Mr. Rehman has been fiercely critical of Gen. Musharraf's promise to help the United States in its crackdown against bin Laden's network, run from neighboring Afghanistan.
A statement from officials in Northwest Frontier province said Mr. Rehman had been detained because he planned to lead an anti-American rally Sunday in Multan, in Punjab province about 270 miles southwest of the capital, Islamabad. The Punjab provincial government had banned his entry, the statement said, explaining the arrest.
An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people showed up for the Multan rally nevertheless. They burned an American flag and an effigy of President Bush.
Rashid Quereshi, a Pakistan government spokesman, said Pakistan's airspace was used by U.S. and British forces to conduct the attacks one of the concessions granted as part of its support for the anti-terrorism coalition.

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