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Pakistani Protestors Demonstrate Against US Military Campaign - 2001-10-25

Small groups of Pakistani protesters opposed to U.S. bombing raids in Afghanistan have held a series of scattered demonstrations around the country.

Hundreds of university and high school students turned out in the capital Thursday to protest U.S. strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan. The demonstration in Islamabad took place as mourners chanted anti-U.S. slogans in the port city of Karachi at a funeral for Commander Farooq, one of the leaders of the Pakistani based Harkat ul-Mujahideen, a militant separatist group active in Indian-administered Kashmir. The U.S. State Department has placed the group on its list of terrorist organizations because of its links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization.

Commander Farooq and more than 20 other members of Harkat ul-Mujahideen were killed in a U.S. air strike inside Afghanistan on Monday. The bodies of at least eight members of the group were smuggled back into Pakistan on Wednesday after Pakistani border guards refused to allow them entry.

In Pakistan's self-governing tribal areas, which border on Afghanistan, Sufi Mohammed, the leader of a movement seeking to impose Islamic Shariah law in Pakistan, claims to have hundreds of supporters willing to enter Afghanistan to defend the Taleban.

One of the organizers of the Islamabad demonstration, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan who heads a small religious based party says opposition is growing to the U.S. strikes, and to those Pakistani's who support the international effort against terrorism. "I think this is the first drop of the rain after the first drop there will be rain. Then after the rain there will be a flood," he says. "And in this flood all the people who have been loyal to America, and who have imposed the policies of America on Pakistan they will be drowned they will be demolished their government will be demolished," he says.

Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf says the "silent majority" of Pakistani's support his policy of aiding the coalition fighting terrorism saying also that any extremist violence resulting from protests against his government policies will not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities have refused all comment as to why they detained prominent nuclear scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood. The nuclear scientist is well known for both his outspoken opposition to Pakistan signing nuclear control accords, and his support for the Taleban leadership in Afghanistan.