Pakistan Militants Continue To
Back Taliban, Oppose Musharraf


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (UPI) - An estimated 2,000 Pakistani Islamists vowed Sunday to continue their support for Afghanistan's ousted Taliban militia and its al Qaida allies, and to oppose President Musharraf's plan to secularize their own country.
Called by the Islamic extremist Council for Defense of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the rally heard slogans lauding fugitive terrorist leaders Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar.
The council is an umbrella organization of more than a dozen religious parties who support Afghanistan's Taliban movement and condemn their own government for joining the U.S.-led anti-terrorist alliance.
"Those pushing Pakistan towards secularism must go somewhere else. There is no place for them in Pakistan," Syed Manawar Hasan, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, told the rally.
He said Musharraf's pledge to turn Pakistan into a secular state had "justified our decision to oppose him and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan from the very beginning. It has proved that the war in Afghanistan is not against Taliban, it is against Islam."
Defending bin Laden, he declared: "Osama is not the name of an individual. He is a movement ... a movement which shall definitely achieve its goal."
Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, a leader of the pro-Taliban JUI party, described the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as "a strategic withdrawal," promising that "the Taliban and al Qaida will be revived again under the leadership of Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden."
"Their movement has already achieved its objective. They have awakened the Muslims against America's conspiracy to destroy Islam," he claimed.
Meanwhile, the parents of thousands of Pakistani volunteers who went to Afghanistan during the war have appealed to the United Nations and the International Red Cross to help free their sons.
In a written statement released Sunday, the parents informed the two organizations the prisoners were "living in inhuman conditions at Shabarghan prison in northern Afghanistan and can be exterminated."
Warlord leaders of the Northern Alliance are holding the volunteers -- who were captured alongside their Afghan allies as the Taliban regime collapsed late last year -- despite having released most of the Afghans they fought with and having turned the non-Pakistani foreigners over to the United States.
The Red Cross has asked the parents to get in touch with its officials in Peshawar if they want to send letters to the detainees.
Copyright 2002 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

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