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Protesters want Musharraf to go

From CNN Producer Syed Mohsin Naqvi

story.lahoreprotestsap.jpg
Fazal ur Rehman, opposition leader in the National Assembly, addresses a rally in Lahore.
SPECIAL REPORT
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Pakistan
Pervez Musharraf
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LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- U.S. flags have been set alight and thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Lahore to call for the resignation of Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf.

In the second such display in four days, thousands of members of an alliance of Islamic parties on Wednesday protested in the capital, accusing Musharraf of being beholden to the United States.

A similar demonstration occurred in Karachi on Sunday, when tens of thousands of Pakistanis crammed the streets to express dissatisfaction with the general, who seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1999.

The events were organized by an alliance of Islamic parties called Muthaida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA).

The group's president, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, called for a revolution, and exhorted the crowd not to cease their struggle until Musharraf had resigned.

Ahmed also warned the U.S. government not to interfere in Pakistan internal issues and said the nation would not tolerate Musharraf being replaced by a U.S. puppet.

Opposition leader in the Parliament, Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, urged the crowd to support a general strike, which has been called for April 2.

He vowed to continue the movement until Musharraf, whom he said had made the country into a U.S. colony, is ousted.

Rehman ridiculed U.S. officials' descriptions of their troops' presence in Afghanistan and Iraq as a quest for peace, saying the massive number of Muslim civilian casualties in those two countries made it clear that was not the case.

In Sunday's demonstration in Karachi, throngs of people carried banners inveighing against the United States and Musharraf.

"Musharraf motto is to kill the people, rob the people and lick the boots of Americans," said one sign.

Musharraf has been a strong supporter of the United States in its war on terrorism.

During a visit to Pakistan earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lauded Pakistan for its role, and for helping promote stability in neighboring Afghanistan. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding along the border with Afghanistan.

Rice, who met Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz during her visit, called on Pakistan to continue down "a democratic path" that will lead to free and fair elections in 2007, but also praised Musharraf's courage.


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