- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

From combined dispatches
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Thousands of Pakistanis yesterday protested the presence of U.S. troops in the region, any plans to attack Iraq and what one banner called the "Holocaust of the Muslims."
Demonstrators also burned an effigy of President Bush in nationwide protests organized by the six-party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, or MMA, a hard-line Islamic coalition that made huge gains in an October election by tapping anti-U.S. sentiment.
The demonstrations prompted tight security around the U.S. Embassy and other sensitive sites in the country.
In all, fewer than 12,000 protesters showed up across this Muslim nation of 145 million, and most shopkeepers ignored calls to close for the day.
In the biggest showing, about 7,000 people gathered outside the Madni mosque in the western city of Peshawar, chanting "Down with America" and "Long Live Saddam Hussein." The protesters burned an effigy of Mr. Bush and shouted, "No war on Iraq."
Police looked on as about 2,000 people gathered in the central city of Multan, and similar numbers gathered in Karachi, Lahore and in Quetta, near the Afghan border, where opposition to U.S. action in Afghanistan is strongest.
"War will continue until Bush's destruction," the crowd shouted in Multan, located in the populous Punjab province. "Bush is thirsty for Muslims' blood."
In the capital, Islamabad, 800 men crowded near the Red Mosque. "Stop the Holocaust of the Muslims" read a banner there.
Islamic groups were infuriated when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf backed Washington in its fight against Afghanistan's former Taliban government, which was armed and trained by Pakistan. The hard-line Islamic Taliban sheltered Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda militant network, blamed by Washington for the September 11 attacks.
The MMA, whose election successes gave it control of the North West Frontier Province and a share of power in Baluchistan, both bordering Afghanistan, counts pro-Taliban clerics among its leaders.
Gen. Musharraf has said a strike against Iraq would bring a negative response across the Muslim world. A series of fatal attacks on Christian and Western targets in Pakistan last year were blamed on Islamic militants opposed to his pro-U.S. stance.
Resentment among Pakistanis has intensified in recent days since the arrest of nine family members in a case involving FBI agents operating in Pakistan.
The U.S. military also bombed a religious seminary near the Afghan-Pakistan border after a shootout between a man dressed as a Pakistan border guard and U.S. troops. One American soldier was wounded.
Pakistani officials say the bomb fell on Pakistani territory, but the United States says it fell on Afghan soil. The U.S. Army announced it had the right to pursue al Qaeda and Taliban suspects into Pakistan if they fled from Afghanistan.
In Islamabad, Maulana Samiul Haq, whose religious school nurtured thousands of Taliban members before they crossed into Afghanistan, called for FBI agents to be hanged publicly if they repeated raids and arrests at homes of suspected militants.
In the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, hundreds of protesters chanting "Death to Israel, death to America" marched in the capital, Manama, yesterday. Some demonstrators carried the Iraqi flag.

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