Pakistan Arrests 500 Islamic Activists

Pakistani police have reportedly arrested at least 500 activists from the country's three leading Islamic organisations in an attempt to prevent further protests against the ongoing US attacks on neighbouring Afghanistan.

The activists were arrested near the Jacobobad air base, a site that the Pakistani leader has allowed the US to use in its war against Afghanistan.

In recent days, hundreds of thousands of Pakistani protestors have taken to the streets to protest at their Government's support for the US attacks.

In another move to prevent anti-government and anti-US protests, the leader of the Jamiat e-Islami party, the largest political party in Pakistan, was blocked today as he tried to board a plane to join the Jacobobad protests.

Anticipating moves to prevent his travel, Qazi Hussain Ahmed arrived at Lahore International Airport for his flight to Jacobobad backed by hundreds of angry, chanting supporters.

Police at the airport presented him with a written Government order forbidding him to fly to the southern city.

Speaking afterwards, Ahmed said: "The days of this Government are numbered and President Musharraf will no longer be in power after a few days."

The two-week old US war in Afghanistan has created huge headaches for the unstable Pakistani regime.

President Pervez Musharraf seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1999, but he does not command the support of many Pakistanis.

Some opinion polls from the country say only 15 to 20% of the population support Musharraf's backing of the US attacks on the Afghan population.

Pakistan's hardline Islamic parties, mainly comprised of Sunni Muslims, have sectarian and ethnic ties to the Afghans and could attempt to seize power from Musharraf if support for the US war continues to dwindle.


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