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LEAD: Pakistan, Afghanistan jointly condemn cartoons.

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 15 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING)

Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday condemned the publication of cartoons about Prophet Muhammad and urged the leaders of the Western world also to condemn the act.

Addressing a joint press conference President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai said they condemn the derogatory cartoons that sparked protests in the Islamic world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

''I being a Muslim condemn the blasphemous cartoons in the strongest term. All of us are one in condemning the blasphemous act,'' Musharraf said, with Karzai standing besides him.

Musharraf said he hoped that the European leaders and those which are directly involved in publishing the blasphemous sketches would take stock of the situation and condemn it.

The Musharraf government was coming under increasing criticism from religious and political quarters for being slow in condemning the cartoons. Mutteheda Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of religious political parties, has announced a series of protest meetings and called for national strike during February and March.

Musharraf said all Muslims whether extremist, moderate, progressive or ultra moderate, were united in condemning this blasphemous act.

''I again ask the leaders of the Western world to also condemn the publication of the blasphemous sketches and come out and speak that freedom of press does not mean that one has the right to insult the religion and beliefs,'' Karzai said.

Three persons were killed in the continuing violent protests in Pakistan Wednesday, raising the death toll to five in two days.

The management of Daewoo Bus Service of South Korea in its head office in Lahore said it had suspended its service between several cities in Punjanb and North West Frontier Province has been suspended after its office in Peshawar was attacked by demonstrators Wednesday.

The office of a Norwegian mobile phone company and an American fast food chain were also torched in Peshawar where nearly 20,000 students of local educational institutions took to the streets and clashed with police in various parts of the city.

NWFP Chief Minister Akram Durrani told a press conference in Peshawar that all the educational institutions in the city have been closed for a week but ruled out the imposition of a ban on rallies and protest meetings against the cartoons.

''It is the right of the people to protest against the derogatory cartoons,'' said Durrani, who heads Mutteheda Majlis-e-Amal in the NWFP.

In Lahore, shops in most of the market remained closed for a second day Wednesday. A 30-year-old employee of a bank was killed during a clash between police and students at the campus of the Punjab University in Lahore.

There were reports of protest meetings and rallies in several other cities but they were largely peaceful.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Feb 20, 2006
Words:452
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