Thousands rally against US, NATO in NW Pakistan
AFP, December 18, 2008
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) — Thousands of protesters rallied in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Thursday, demanding that Islamabad end its logistical support for US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The crowd of about 5,000 demonstrators chanted "Allahu akbar" (God is greater), "Crush America" and "No to NATO supplies" as they marched through Peshawar, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
The rally came amid a recent spike in attacks by Taliban militants on NATO and US supply depots on Peshawar's outskirts, close to Pakistan's lawless tribal areas -- a hotbed of Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity.
International forces in Afghanistan are hugely dependent on Islamabad for their supplies and equipment, with about 80 percent transported through Pakistan and then across the border.
The chief of the radical Jamaat-i-Islami party, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, told protesters: "It is a shame for an Islamic country to supply logistics to the US, which is working against the interests of Muslims all over the world."
He demanded the government abandon its role as an ally in the US-led "war on terror", warning that if logistical support is not suspended, "we will force the government with public support to halt all supplies."
On Wednesday, missiles fired by suspected Taliban militants targeting a NATO supply convoy killed a woman and wounded her two children in the Khyber tribal district, on the main supply route into Afghanistan.