[OPE-L:5955] war

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Thu Sep 20 2001 - 02:09:28 EDT

from hindustan times.

                    Islamic alliance warns of civil war if Musharraf helps US 
against Afghan Taliban 
                    Amir Zia (AP) 
                    Rawalpindi(Pakistan), September 19 

                    A powerful alliance of Islamic parties warned Pakistan's 
president on Wednesday that cooperation with the United States in its hunt for 
Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden could plunge the country into civil war. 

                    "Pakistan army will be the target of public wrath and 
hatred if the military-led government allows American troops in
the country to attack our Islamic neighbour," said Maulana Samiul Haq, leader 
of the Afghan Defense Council. 

                    The council, which is a collection of 35 Pakistani 
religious and militant organisations, was established several months ago
 to support Afghanistan's Taliban, following United Nations economic sanctions 
imposed last January to press an earlier US demand for the extradition of bin 

                    The United States also wants bin Laden in connection with 
the 1998 twin bombings of two US Embassies in East Africa. 

                    "The arrival of American soldiers in Pakistan could 
destabilize the country and plunge it into a civil war like Algeria," he said. 

                    The warning came as President Gen Pervez Musharraf won 
praise from the United States for his promise of "unconditional" support in the 
fight against terrorism following the devastating attacks of September 11 in 
New York and Washington

                    The alliance also called a nationwide strike and rallies on 
Friday, the Islamic sabbath. 

                    "We will continue our protests until the government changes 
its decision," Haq told reporters. "And if our Afghan brethren announces jihad 
(holy war) against America, we would also be forced to announce jihad," he 

                    Islamic and militant parties, many of whom are heavily 
armed, have already held several demonstrations in major Pakistani cities. On 
Wednesday, police arrested several people for staging an anti-US demonstration.

                    Many radical Islamic parties are staunch supporters of the 
Taliban and want to enforce a Taliban-like harsh version ofIslam in Pakistan. 

                    The religious groups have large followings in the country's 
conservative northwest frontier and southwestern Baluchistan province, which 
are on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.


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