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Pakistanis in anti-war protests
by repost
Monday Jan 20th, 2003 1:03 AM
Hundreds of people in Pakistan have protested against American plans for war against Iraq.
The largest demonstration took place in Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad, with others held in Lahore and Karachi.
The rallies were organised in solidarity with peace demonstrations taking place around the world on Saturday.

Organisers said they represented Pakistan's silent and moderate majority and spoke not just for Muslims, but for Christians and people of all faiths.

They condemned Pakistan's close ties with the United States, saying appeasement might earn the country a few dollars but it was short-sighted and encouraged injustice.

'No blood for oil'

In Rawalpindi, protesters tried to form a human chain stretching to Islamabad, 10 kilometres (6.5 miles) away.

Hundreds of children turned out with their parents and teachers to chant anti-war slogans.

"No blood for oil", read one banner. "War imposed on the weak is terrorism", read another.

Organisers wanted to make a clear distinction between those who took part and radical Islamic demonstrators normally associated with anti-war protests in Pakistan.

"I think we are raising a voice for the third option, the only hope for peace today," one leading activist, Jamil Omar, told the BBC.

"That option is that all the peace-loving people of the world, irrespective of their race, their religion, their colour, should come together for peace, for justice."

'Death to America'

Meanwhile, in Lahore, police prevented nearly 300 marchers from reaching the heavily-guarded US consulate.

Some protesters set fire to a replica of the American flag in an act of symbolic protest.

March leaders were, however, allowed to the outer gates of the building, where they handed staff a note of protest addressed to President Bush.

"We are against all arms of mass destruction, whether Iraq develops them or the United States or any other country of the world," the memorandum said.

In Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, up to 200 anti-war activists shouted "Down with US imperialism" and "Death to America".

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