QUETTA: Scores of people took to the streets near Quetta on Friday to pay “homage” to al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and call for war against America, witnesses said.
The rally was organised by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) political party in Kuchlak, where the crowd shouted “Long Live Osama” and torched a US flag.
“Osama’s services for Muslims will be remembered forever,” said Abdul Qadir Looni, a senior JUI figure addressing the rally.
“He challenged America and awakened Muslims across the globe. This gathering pays tribute to him,” Looni said.
Hafiz Fazal Bareach, a former federal senator and senior party leader, said the US killing of Bin Laden would create thousands of others like him.
“One Osama has been martyred and now thousands of Osamas will be born, because he created a movement against anti-Muslim forces which is not dependent on personalities,” Bareach said.
“America first martyred Osama and then desecrated his corpse,” he said, vowing that “jihad will continue against America and its allies.”
Pakistan’s largest religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami called for protests across the country on Friday to denounce the US operation that killed Bin Laden in Abbottabad earlier this week.
Pakistan on Thursday demanded that the US cut its troop presence in the country to a “minimum” as the fallout from the raid intensified and threatened to review cooperation in the event of another similar operation.
Bin Laden neighbours furious at army failures
Pakistanis living next to Bin Laden’s safe house say they are furious with the failure of their army to prevent the US commando raid that killed him on their doorstep.
The army, the most powerful institution in the country, admits failing to detect the terror kingpin lived near its top training centre and has been deeply embarrassed by a US raid in the dead of night on the quiet neighbourhood.
Many are incredulous to discover Bin Laden was living next to Pakistan’s answer to Sandhurst or West Point, surrounded by at least 5,000 soldiers.
Yet it took the army more than an hour to arrive on the scene after being alerted to the covert US raid, and by the time they arrived, bin Laden was dead, his body was on a helicopter and the US Navy SEALs were gone.
Pakistan says the US helicopters arrived undetected and that it only found out what was going on when one of the choppers crashed with a bang — it was subsequently abandoned.
All of this leaves resident Sardar Amir deeply unimpressed and losing confidence in the armed forces.
“I am disgusted, angry with the army, the ISI (spy agency), the government,” he said.
“If Americans can attack here, they can do it anywhere.”
“This is a shameful incident for us. Our army should have shot down the US choppers,” concurred 23-year-old medical student Tahirullah.
The fact that the target was the man blamed for inspiring militants who have killed more than 4,000 people in bomb attacks across Pakistan over the last four years, does not change people’s minds.
A classmate of Tahirullah, Yakat Hussein, won’t cry for bin Laden.
“But the Pakistani army should have arrested him earlier,” he said.
Washington decided things would not work that way. CIA director Leon Panetta said the United States chose not to inform Pakistan in advance of the raid for fear it “could have alerted” bin Laden — provoking anger from Islamabad.
The breach of national territory has tarnished the reputation of the army, previously revered as the only stable institution in a country obsessed with security and that of its military and nuclear facilities.
Graffiti now adorns several walls of the area: “Osama bin Laden Town” it reads, ensuring the new infamy of the once sleepy garrison suburb will live on.