- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Secretary of State Colin L. Powell arrived in Pakistan yesterday as President Pervez Musharraf's government called for curtailing U.S. air strikes in neighboring Afghanistan.
Mr. Powell, whose arrival in the capital, Islamabad, was cloaked in secrecy and tight security, was to meet Gen. Musharraf today to bolster an uneasy alliance constrained by widespread Pakistani concern over the bombing campaign.
Mr. Powell's plane touched down at the end of another day of anti-American protests in which demonstrators clashed with police.
Many shops throughout Pakistan closed to honor a general strike called by hard-line Islamic parties to protest the Powell visit. Some merchants shut their doors in fear of militants.
"The strike is a public verdict against the United States and Musharraf must resign now," Ghafoor Haideri, a leader of the Jamiat-I-Ulema Islami Party told reporters.
The general strike was only partially successful and the size of demonstrations in Pakistani cities remained modest. Nevertheless public unease over the air strikes remains a source of concern for Pakistan's government, even as it continues to back the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
"The longer this operation lasts, the greater the damage, collateral damage," Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said in a television interview aired the day before Mr. Powell's arrival.
Shortly after the bombing began, Gen. Musharraf said the air campaign would be short.
In contrast, the United States has signaled that the campaign will be prolonged and open-ended, unless Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime hands over Osama bin Laden, the suspected leader behind the Sept. 11 suicide attacks on the United States.
Police fired volleys of tear gas in Karachi and Lahore to disperse rock-throwing protesters. Dozens were injured and dozens were arrested, according to local news reports.
In Peshawar, near the Afghan border, several thousand protesters dispersed peacefully but their message underscored the divide separating thinking here and in the United States.
Asked about the tragedy of about 5,000 people dying in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, without exception, protesters said it was America's fault, and even worse.
"The graveyard of America will be Afghanistan and Pakistan," read one banner.
"Musharraf is the agent of America, a person who has sacrificed the honor of the country and joined hands with the Jews," roared one speaker.
One man, with the utmost sincerity, asked a reporter whether reports were true that America had begun using biological weapons in Afghanistan, as reported in the Urdu-language press. He had no idea that America was under attack by biological weapons itself.
Pakistani leaders point out that the size of the demonstrations represents a minuscule fraction of the nation's 145 million people.
Still, the constant diet of hatred of America on constant display in the local press underscores the pressures facing Gen. Musharraf as he meets with Mr. Powell today.
En route here, Mr. Powell praised Gen. Musharraf for political courage in giving the United States landing rights at air bases to facilitate U.S. military activities across the border. He praised cooperation from Pakistan's archrival, India, which he will visit tomorrow, as well.
"I'm very pleased that the two nations are aligned with us in the campaign against terrorism, aligned with the entire civilized world," Mr. Powell told reporters.
But as he arrived, his objective of keeping both nations cooperating with the U.S. anti-terrorism efforts suffered a new setback.
Indian forces fired shells and mortars across the cease-fire line dividing Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir to prevent border infiltration by Muslim militants, Indian officials said.
The trip is Mr. Powell's first abroad since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The State Department withheld details of his arrival time and his activities here.
Indicating he believes the demise of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan may be just a matter of time, Mr. Powell told reporters on the plane he sees a key role for the United Nations in the transition.
"Clearly, the United Nations will be playing a leading role. No one government will be able to handle it," he said, adding that the best hope for a future stability is a broad-based government.
USA Today and CBS yesterday reported that Gen. Musharraf told them that the United States should kill Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in order to stop bin Laden.
"Get Mullah Omar and Osama won't be able to operate. He'll be on the run," Gen. Musharraf was quoted as telling USA Today and CBS radio.

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