Anti-US protests follow defiant APC declaration


Anti-American protests by religious political parties broke out in several cities on Friday, a day after political leaders joined in rejecting US accusations that Islamabad was supporting militants.
US accusations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had supported this month’s attack on the US mission in Kabul had added to the anti-American sentiment in a country where a poll in June showed that almost two-thirds of the population considered the US an enemy. “The prevailing view in Pakistan is that because of our alignment with the US, our problems have increased,” said retired general and military analyst Talat Masood. “America’s view is the opposite: ‘Because you are not aligning yourself with us, your problems are increasing.’”
“This,” he said, “is the whole dilemma at the moment.” In Hyderabad, about 900 people from an anti-Shi’ite group burned an effigy of US President Barack Obama and chanted “America is a murderer”. In Lahore, at least 800 people protested at the Jamaat Islami headquarters, chanting “Go, America, Go!” Another protest by JI in Peshawar drew around 200 people. They walked a donkey over an American flag spread on the road, and chanted “America’s Graveyard – Waziristan, Waziristan”, referring to the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan that is a hotbed of militant groups.
The previous evening, dozens of political parties emerged from the All Parties Conference (APC), condemning US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s accusations of state links to violent militants as “baseless allegations”. They also pledged to seek a political settlement with militants on both sides of the border. “There has to be a new direction and policy with a focus on peace and reconciliation,” their declaration read. “Pakistan must initiate a dialogue with a view to negotiate peace with our own people in the tribal areas.”