Ambassador's remarks enrage Pakistanis
AP - January 24, 2003
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani Islamic leaders demanded Friday that
U.S. ambassador Nancy Powell be expelled after she said Pakistan must
keep militants from infiltrating India-ruled Kashmir.
Pakistan officials objected to Powell's remarks, but said she wouldn't be
asked to leave. The Foreign Ministry summoned her over the issue,
underscoring the sensitivity among many Pakistanis over perceived U.S.
slights toward their nation, a key ally in the U.S.-led global campaign
Islamic leaders of a coalition of religious parties that govern strategic
Pakistani provinces bordering Afghanistan were enraged at her remarks.
"(The) American ambassador has no right to interfere in the internal
affairs of Pakistan, and she must be asked by Pakistan government to
leave," said Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, secretary general of a pro-Taliban
Islamic group, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.
Haideri said Powell's statement shows "America is not our friend."
India accuses Pakistan-based militants of inciting violence in its
portion of Kashmir. India also says Pakistan materially supports the
militants, who want either outright independence for a united Kashmir or
union with Islamic Pakistan. Islamabad insists its support is limited to
political and diplomatic aid.
Powell said Thursday that Pakistan must adhere to its pledges to prevent
Pakistan-based militants from crossing the border, called the Line of
Control, into Indian-controlled parts of disputed Kashmir to join
secessionist rebels there.
Ranking Foreign Ministry official Aneesunddin Ahmed repeated to Powell
Pakistan's claim that it is doing all it can to stop the border
"Pakistan had taken all measures not to allow any infiltration," the
ministry said in a statement.
The U.S. Embassy has so far declined to comment on the Pakistani
objections. Powell is a career diplomat who arrived in Pakistan a few
Pakistan's information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, questioned the
wisdom of her remarks, but said she had a right to say "whatever she
Powell also said Pakistan has been a staunch ally in the U.S.-led global
war on terrorism. However, she said Washington wanted a cease-fire along
the border that divides Kashmir between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India.
The controversy comes amid outrage among many Pakistanis over new U.S.
requirements for Pakistanis in the United States to be fingerprinted and
photographed by immigration agents, part of a push to register men from
18 nations believed to be linked to terrorism.
Many Pakistanis are also angry over U.S. preparations to attack Iraq, a
fellow Muslim nation, over allegations it is hiding weapons of mass
On Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, an experimental religious theater
group staged a short play outside mosques and markets in the country
accusing the United States of seeking to capture Iraqi oil resources and
establish hegemony over the Middle East.
"Bush is the biggest terrorist as he is attacking the Muslim countries to
grab their natural resources," the theater group, Pattan, said in a news