Tens of thousands of Islamic party activists have rallied in
this southern port city of Karachi in Pakistan's biggest protest so far against
a possible US attack on Iraq(Syed Zargham/Getty Images)...
Mon, Mar 3 2003 7:16 AM AEDT
Islamists stage massive anti-war rally in Pakistan
Tens of thousands of Islamic party activists have rallied in this
southern port city of Karachi in Pakistan's biggest protest so far against a
possible US attack on Iraq.
Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil estimated the crowd at more than 100,000 while
a spokesman for the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which had vowed to bring one
million people on to the streets, claimed half a million had already thronged
the city's main boulevard.
Protestors carried portraits of Al Qaeda terror network chief Osama bin Laden,
chanted "Jihad" (holy war) and "no blood for oil" and burnt
effigies of US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Snaking two kilometres through the city centre, it was the biggest demonstration
witnessed in Karachi since the US-led war that ousted the fundamentalist Taliban
regime in Afghanistan in late 2001.
The participants, including a large number of women, shouted "the world
says No to war" and "drop Bush, not bombs".
Police have beefed up security by barricading roads, especially around the US
consulate, where two police guards were shot dead by a lone assailant on Friday
local time, and other diplomatic missions.
The MMA is an alliance of six fundamentalist parties including pro-Taliban
groups, who are bitterly opposed to the US-led military operations that ousted
the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.
Earlier, Pakistani tribesmen at an anti-US rally in the MMA-ruled North West
Frontier Province (NWFP) threatened to target American interests if Iraq was
The rally in Jamrud town, some 10 kilometres west of the provincial capital
Peshawar, was attended by about 3,500 ethnic Pashtuns living in the tribal belt
bordering Afghanistan, organisers said.
The participants, some armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, torched a US flag
and chanted slogans against war on Iraq.
"If Americans attacked Iraq, we would be free to target America at any
place," Malik Ismail, an elder of local Torkhel tribe told the gathering.
"Iraq is the second important place for Muslims after Mecca," march
organiser Hafiz Abdul Malik said, claiming Muslims would wage a Jihad against
the US if it attacked Iraq.
About 100 members from Pakistan's minority Christian community also staged a
rally in Peshawar on Sunday local time, calling on the US to resolve the Iraq
crisis through dialogue.
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