- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

From combined dispatches

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Pakistan's major cities yesterday, burning effigies of President Bush and screaming opposition to their government's support for the U.S. campaign against terrorism. At least two civilians died.

However, in a boost for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's handling of the crisis, turnouts for demonstrations after Friday prayers in most major cities were below expectations and passed off peacefully.

The exception was Karachi, where crowds swelled to 40,000 and at least two persons died as the protests turned violent in Afghan-dominated areas of the city.

The demonstrations were called after Gen. Musharraf backed U.S. efforts to apprehend terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and to break up his suspected terrorist network operating from Afghanistan. Demonstrators vowed to fight U.S. forces if they attack Afghanistan.

"The terrorist attacks in the United States were so monstrous, so big, that no sane person would like to implicate himself with such action. Many Pakistanis now feel that Osama bin Laden may not be as innocent as they once thought," said Riffat Hussain, a political analyst at Qauid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.

However, he also said public support for religious parties that want to unseat Gen. Musharraf could quickly swell if U.S. forces attack Afghanistan, especially if innocent people are killed.

In neighboring Afghanistan, the ruling Taliban militia defied the warning from Mr. Bush Thursday, saying it was not prepared to surrender bin Laden, the prime suspect in last week's attacks on New York and Washington.

"We are not ready to hand over Osama bin Laden without evidence," Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salaam Zaeef told reporters.

Mr. Bush said Thursday he wanted the Taliban to hand over both bin Laden and senior officials in his al Qaeda terror network "immediately" and that the demands "are not open to negotiation."

The words angered ordinary Afghans, who said Washington was uniting people behind the Taliban and appeared to be signaling that its quarry was not bin Laden but the Islam religion.

"The U.S. should revise its stubborn decision and no more bring about a situation whereby youngsters like me join the Taliban against the devil America," said one grocer in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

In their sermons at Friday prayers, mullahs called on the faithful men and women to join a holy war, or jihad, against the United States.

In an aside to the anti-U.S. rhetoric, Taliban fighters found themselves locked in bloody battles in the north against the main opposition Northern Alliance, which said the ruling movement had suffered setbacks.

In addition, the leader of Afghanistan's Uzbek minority, Gen. Rashid Dostum, joined the fray, sending his forces against the Taliban.

But back in Kabul, Mohammed Muslim Haqqani, the Taliban's deputy higher education minister, told a congregation of several hundred in the city's main mosque:

"Jihad is the soul of Islam. We believe that the time of death will come when Allah wants it and there is no better honor than being martyred."

In Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar, as many as 10,000 people marched, screaming slogans against the U.S. and Pakistani governments.

They gathered in front of the main mosque, where religious leaders made speeches supporting bin Laden and the Taliban leadership that has protected him and his followers in Afghanistan for years.

Jamming the streets, the protesters burned at least three life-size effigies of Mr. Bush and shouted slogans, including "long live Osama."

One tribal leader told the crowd that, in his region, the price of guns would be reduced from $124 to $8.

"I invite the Americans to come to our land so you can see for yourselves what will be done to you," he said.

In Karachi, the country's biggest city and commercial hub, police fired tear gas and clashed with protesters who threw stones and burned tires.

At least 70 demonstrators were arrested. One demonstrator was killed and a shopkeeper was beaten to death by protesters when he refused to close his business for the strike, police said.

In Islamabad, the capital, a preacher at the towering Lal Masjid mosque warned: "Musharraf, listen.

The nation will not accept your decision, and any collaboration with the United States is treason."

In the southwestern city of Quetta, several thousand people rallied outside the central mosque, holding signs saying "Osama: Hero No. 1" and pictures of bin Laden. They chanted "Death to America." After several hours, the rally dispersed peacefully.

In defying the United States, Afghanistan's Taliban leaders and militants in Pakistan picked up support through the Arab world.

Cleric Bakir Abdul-Razak, in prayers carried on Iraqi state television, condemned "the new crusade" as "war with a new cover."

"By God's will, the Americans will not have an upper hand on us," the Iraqi cleric said. "We call for jihad, and we defy you, the Americans."

In Amman, Jordan, cleric Mussa Abu-Sweilem said that "the Muslim people are united, just like one body."

At the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinian supporters of the militant Muslim group Hamas urged bin Laden to bomb Tel Aviv and the United States.

"The Americans cover their colonial aims with hollow slogans such as war against terrorism while everyone knows that the real American motives are not that," said cleric Sheik Maher Hammoud in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon.

In Egypt, hard-line clerics of the Al-Azhar Ulama Front said those Arab countries that join the alliance may one day find themselves the target of it.

An until-now unknown organization, the Islamic Quzeda Army, Unity of the Arabian Peninsula, said in a statement released in Beirut that it would "strike with an iron fist" if Muslim governments provided the United States with any assistance, information or ground, air and naval installations.

"Revenge will increase against the United States if it takes any action," a cleric warned at Bahrain's Grand Mosque in Manama. "The United States has no right to take action before investigating this matter."

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