Islamabad, March 5 (Reuters): The head of Pakistan’s largest Islamic party today demanded that President Pervez Musharraf stop helping Washington hunt down al Qaida members blamed for the September 11 attacks.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the head of the Jamaat-e-Islami, also warned that the government would trigger a popular backlash if it supported a US-led resolution in the UN Security Council to pave the way for war on Iraq. “The government should think whether US pressure to support its policies would harm it by annoying its own people,” he said in an interview. “It (the government) can represent the aspirations of the people of Pakistan only if it openly tells the US it is against its aggressive designs,” he said.
Pakistan, one of the 15 members of the UN Security Council, says it has not yet decided how it might vote on a further resolution on Iraq. The group reacted angrily to the arrest in Pakistan at the weekend of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
Ahmed denied Mohammed was arrested at the house of the Jamaat-e-Islami official but nevertheless criticised the government for handing him over to the US. “If he had done anything wrong, he should have been tried in Pakistani courts according to our laws, instead of giving him to the US,” he said.
Ahmed said Islamic parties would hold a rally in Rawalpindi on Sunday to protest against any US attack on Iraq and against Pakistan’s co-operation with US agents hunting al Qaida. “You lose your sovereignty and independence when you behave as a servant of America and start rounding up people and handing them over to the US,” he said.