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Pakistanis Protest US Death Sentence of Mir Aimal Kasi - 2002-11-14

A few hundred demonstrators in Pakistan Thursday protested the scheduled execution Thursday of a Pakistani national convicted of murder in the United States.

About 300 protesters took to the streets in Quetta, the hometown of the condemned man, Mir Aimal Kasi. They chant anti-U.S. slogans and condemn the execution. Most of the participants belonged to Aimal Kasi's powerful tribe in this southwestern Pakistani region. The protesters also set an American flag on fire.

In the central city of Multan, about 100 people held a protest. One of the rally organizers, physician Javed Siddique, alleges that the United States did not give Aimal Kasi a fair trial.

"Our demand is that America should stop this death sentence and he should be given a fair and free trial in Pakistan," he said. "And if he is guilty he should be punished, but if he is not guilty then he should be set free."

Aimal Kasi has been convicted of killing two employees of the CIA near Washington in 1993. A Virginia court condemned him to death by lethal injection.

Mir Aurangzeb is a lawyer in Aimal Kasi's hometown, Quetta. He says the American government should have reconsidered the death sentence.

"Generally, people have their grievances against the American government," Mr. Aurangzeb said. "In the opinion of people over here in his hometown, they say it would be a very good gesture if he is not executed and if he is pardoned, or if his execution is converted into life imprisonment, then people would have good feelings about the American government and about the Americans."

Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali is a well-known politician from the south western province of Baluchistan.

Well, he is from my province, but every country has their own law of land and I think they act accordingly," he said. "It is a pity, I definitely feel sorry, but then the law has to take its own course.

The State Department has warned that the execution could trigger attacks against the United States or its foreign interests. Pakistani authorities say they have stepped up security around American facilities in the country to prevent violence.

Aimal Kasi fled to Pakistan after the killings. He was arrested in 1997 by U.S. and Pakistani agents who sent him back to the United States for trial.