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'Bush visit a complete failure for Pakistan'

The MMA chief said that Pakistan had got little from the Bush visit besides praise for Musharraf.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 21:35 IST

Pakistan's opposition parties termed US President George Bush's visit "a complete failure for Pakistan", even as demonstrators in Rawalpindi protesting the trip faced baton charge and many courted arrest.

More than 50 activists of the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Tehrik-e-Insaf were arrested after police foiled their attempt to march towards Islamabad.

Khan had been put house arrest on Friday evening.

Perveen Rehmani, president of the women's wing of Tehrik-e-Insaf in Rawalpindi, was among the 10 women activists arrested.

The MMA's local parliamentarian Hanif Abbasi was also detained early on Saturday at his residence.

Hundreds of police and paramilitary Rangers were deployed in the city to check against any attempt at holding anti-Bush demonstrations.

Police personnel had been posted at the venues of the planned rallies, but the opposition activists changed their strategy and some two dozens activists appeared on the main road, shouting anti-Bush slogans.

Police took quick action, surrounded all the demonstrators and arrested few of them, though some succeeded in breaking the police cordon.

Representatives of an NGO, the Watan Development Organisation, also staged demonstrations and police used batons to disperse them.

The organisation's chairman Naeem Mirza and several members were arrested.

The hide-and-seek between police and demonstrators continued for several hours in nearby Rawalpindi.

However, there were no protests in Islamabad because of heavy security arrangements.

MMA President and Jamaat-e-Islami Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmad said that after President Bush's praise for Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, people should understand that "Pakistan cannot be freed from the US slavery unless the military rule is removed".

The MMA chief said the US President had handed over the security of the whole South Asia to India with the nuclear agreement while President Musharraf did not have courage to even criticise it.

Ahmad said it was the complete failure of the Pakistan government that Bush pushed Indian designs with the deal.

He added that Pakistan had got little from the Bush visit besides praise for Musharraf.

Reacting to President Bush's call for fair elections in his news conference here, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, chairman for the opposition's Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), said: "This is like asking the cat to guard milk."

Fahim said the US had killed hundreds of people for restoration of democracy in Iraq, but Bush was merely asking a general to introduce democracy here.

He said it was strange that Musharraf said that he would act according to Pakistan's constitution, which he had himself violated repeatedly.

"There is absolutely no provision in the constitution for a military rule... by this we can understand that Musharraf will amend the constitution to prolong his tenure like General Zia-ul-Haq did before," Fahim said.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz spokesman Saddiqqul Farooq said: "Bush called Musharraf his personal friend. Musharraf is only serving American interests. Now it should be clear to all that Musharraf is just securing his rule and has no interest in the welfare of the country and its people."

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 21:35 IST