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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 14:53 GMT
Pakistan's press predicts pain and gain
As Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf left for the United States, he made a few final attempts to stop opposition to the Afghan bombing from boiling over in his absence.

Leaving days before a before a general strike called by Islamic groups protesting Pakistan's support for the US-led campaign in Afghanistan, Gen. Musharraf issued a call for harmony to mark the birth of national poet Allama Iqbal.


Wherever violence took place it was only due to the unnecessary strictness of the law enforcing agencies

Jasarat newspaper
A public holiday for the poet coincided with the strike, which the president touched upon in his message to the country.

"Ours has been a very tolerant government," he said. "We believe in full freedom of expression."

However, there was a warning:

"We shall employ all that is required to keep Pakistan peaceful, stable and secure," Gen. Musharraf said.

Controlling violence

In an editorial headed "Controlling violence", the Karachi Dawn was doubtful that the strike would pass off peacefully.


The United States is putting all sorts of pressure on Pervez Musharraf to stop the protests by the religious parties

Jasarat newspaper
"Any lapse or high-handedness on the part of the police force - as often happens - can cause violence to spiral out of control," the newspaper warned.

The daily Jasarat agreed, saying that generally protests "have remained peaceful".

"Wherever violence took place it was only due to the unnecessary strictness of the law enforcing agencies," the newspaper of the Jamaat-i-Islami Muslim group said in an editorial titled "Do not make patriotism a crime".

The Urdu-language daily reported that "the government has decided to arrest the entire leadership of the Pak-Afghan Defence Council", which called for the general strike.

US pressure

"The United States is putting all sorts of pressure on Pervez Musharraf to stop the protests by the religious parties," it said.

With Gen. Musharraf's visit to the USA about to begin, advice on relations with the superpower was a recurring theme.


The lives of thousands of Pakistanis in the United States have been made miserable

Jang daily
While the news stories detailed his time in Paris and London, editorial writers focused on the weekend talks with US President George Bush.

Reports of arrests and harassment of Pakistanis by US authorities provoked outrage, with Jang reporting that "the New York police attacked a main mosque and arrested a few Pakistanis there".

"The lives of thousands of Pakistanis in the United States have been made miserable," the country's top-selling paper said.

Conflicting signals

Pointing out that the USA was praising Pakistan for its co-operation, the Urdu daily said that "there is a need to remove this contradiction".

The Nation said that "Pakistanis constitute one-third of the 1,147 people incarcerated in the US so far", saying that "the crackdown smacks of the infamous McCarthy era".


It is expected that long-term advantages will come out of this visit

Khabrain
It characterised the arrests as "a massive dragnet, reminiscent of the indiscriminate roundup of thousands of Japanese-Americans in the wake of the 1941 Pearl Harbour attack".

"Pakistan is a key ally in the coalition against terrorism," the English-language daily wrote. "It is highly ironic that its citizens should be thus hounded."

"Islamabad should take up the matter with Washington directly," it said.

Pressure to succeed

There's plenty more for Gen. Musharraf to consider - and pressure to succeed.


Pakistan must secure maximum financial assistance

Khabrain
"It is expected that long-term advantages will come out of this visit," wrote Islamabad's Khabrain.

It saw possible gains for the economy, the military and in the dispute over Kashmir.

"While taking advantage of President Musharraf's foreign visit, Pakistan must secure maximum financial assistance," the Urdu-language tabloid said.

"After the removal of sanctions on Pakistan, the chances for military ties with the United States and other countries have risen," it added.

Quid pro quo

The News took a tougher line.


Pakistan has lived up to its commitments, despite the costs

The News
"It is time Pakistan evolved a long-term perspective on what it should demand as a quid pro quo for its role in the anti-terrorism coalition," the Islamabad paper said.

"While Germany has made some concrete gestures in terms of opening its markets to Pakistani textiles, and Britain and Canada have written off some small amounts of debts, the major player - the USA - has done nothing substantive on the ground," it complained.

"Pakistan has lived up to its commitments, despite the costs," the paper said. "It is high time it looked to its own national interests and made demands accordingly."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

09 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan police fire on protesters
08 Nov 01 | Europe
Musharraf urges quick end to war
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