Saturday, September 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Two die in Pak protests

Pakistani policeman use teargas
Pakistani policeman use teargas against anti-US demonstrators in Karachi on Friday.

Pakistani police officers stand guard
Pakistani police officers stand guard during a pro-Taliban rally in Islamabad on Friday. — Reuters photos

Islamabad, September 21
Two persons were killed and three injured today in widespread protests across the country by pro-Taliban religious groups against the Pakistan Government’s decision to support possible US strikes on Afghanistan.

Soon after the Friday prayers, pro-Taliban rallies were organised across Pakistan, including Islamabad, southern metropolis of Karachi and North Western Frontier Provincial town of Peshawar, bordering Afghanistan.

Since Pakistan had announced last week that it would support US retaliation against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden was hiding, there had been protests every day.

Today, the police swung into action in several cities, baton-charging thousands of demonstrators and firing tear gas shells to break up rallies during the nationwide strike and foiled an anti-US demonstration in Karachi.

In Peshawar, a large group of people gathered near the main mosque to hear religious leaders make speeches in support of Taliban militia, following which radical Islamists took to the streets. An effigy of US President George Bush was torched as were US flags.

People stayed indoors as schools, offices and business establishments were closed in major cities. Islamabad was calm where some shopping complexes remained opened.

Reports said two demonstrators were shot dead in Karachi and three others injured in an exchange of fire between the police and Islamic groups. The police said at least 10 of their men were injured after being pelted with stones by protestors at various places.

In Karachi, some 15,000 policemen were put on high alert, guarding the airport a foreign consulates and business establishments. Police officials said they had, however, received assurance from Muslim leaders there would be no violence.

In Islamabad, the capital territory police beefed up special security measures.

The police officials said special check-posts jad been put up at all entry points to the Pakistani capital and army personnel had been assigned special duties in sensitive areas during the late hours. PTI


Pak tones down anti-India tirade

Islamabad, September 21
Pakistan today toned down its anti-India rhetoric, saying that it was interested in resuming dialogue with New Delhi to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, but at the same time expressed its resentment about “Indian attempts to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.”

“We want dialogue with India to address Kashmir and other issues. President Pervez Musharraf was looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New York this month.

Invitations have been extended to the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to visit Pakistan.

Pakistan remained interested in resumption of dialogue.” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan told reporters.

Mr Khan alleged that since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, Indian media and certain segments of the Indian leadership carried a “vicious” propaganda against Pakistan saying that it should be declared a terrorist state which called into question Pakistan’s participation in international coalition against terrorism.

“This propaganda has been strongly and firmly rejected and repudiated by Musharraf in his address to the nation two days ago. The President has also asked India to stop anti-Pakistan propaganda,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan wants a firm decision from Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban on the surrender of Osama bin Laden, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

“We hope the Taliban leadership will take a firm decision that satisfies the demands of the international community,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan told a news conference. PTI, ReutersBack

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