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Pakistani rallies slam US killing of Iran's Soleimani

Hundreds of activists from different Shia groups gather in Islamabad, Karachi

Aamir Latif   | 06.01.2020
 Pakistani rallies slam US killing of Iran's Soleimani FILE PHOTO

KARACHI, Pakistan

Police on Sunday blocked roads heading to the U.S. Consulate in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi to hold off thousands of protesters who tried to gather outside the consulate to protest the killing of Iran's Al-Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad on Friday.

The rally, organized by the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) -- a conglomerate of various Shia groups in Pakistan -- began from Karachi Press Club, and proceeded towards the U.S. consulate located in the southern district of the metropolis.

But heavy contingents of police -- many carrying tear gas canisters -- stopped the protesters, including women and children, half a mile away from the consulate.

The police placed empty containers at several spots to hold off the protesters.

"Death to America", "Down with the U.S.", and "Long Live Soleimani", were among the slogans raised by the charged protesters who called for revenge to the Iranian commander's death.

A senior police officer, on the condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency that around 5,000-7,000 protesters took part in the rally.

Maulana Shahanshah Hussain Naqvi, a central leader of the MWM, termed Soleimani's death "a calculated move to plunge the entire region into a war".

"Martyrdom of Gen. Soleimani is an attack on the entire Islamic world," Naqvi said in his address to the protesters, dubbing the U.S move as "terrorism".

In capital Islamabad, hundreds of protesters, mostly Shia, gathered outside National Press Club, and marched towards D-Square, local broadcaster Dawn News reported.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Army spokesperson, Major Gen. Asif Ghafoor has said that his country would not allow its soil to be used against any other country.

In an interview with the local broadcaster ARY News on Sunday, Ghafoor quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan, as saying: "Pakistan will not be party to anyone or anything but will be a partner of peace and peace alone".

He said the regional situation had changed following Soleimani's killing, and added: "Pakistan would play its role in helping peace prevail," added.

In a related development, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi over the phone talked to his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif to discuss the situation after the killing of Soleimani.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Aisha Farooqui said in a statement that Qureshi was in touch with other regional counterparts with respect to ongoing developments.

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