July 1999 News

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Islamists protest at pullout

26 July 1999
Reuters, Lahore

Tens of thousands of Islamic faithful chanting anti-US and anti-government slogans yesterday staged the biggest rally yet against the pullout of Kashmiri militants from Indian Kashmir.

The rally, organised by Pakistan's biggest Islamic party, Jamaat-i-Islami, marched peacefully down the main street of Lahore, calling the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, a coward and the pullout pact a betrayal of the Kashmiri cause.

Scores of Kashmiri militants marshalled the rally, which appeared to fall far short of Jamaat's goal of a "million-man Kargil march" to denounce Mr Sharif's July 4 deal with President Clinton.

But the demonstration dwarfed previous scattered protests after of the government's disengagement pact with India this month.

Pakistan agreed to withdraw hundreds of fighters, whom it had been calling Kashmiri freedom fighters outside government control, who were trying to wrest Kashmir from Indian rule.

India and some western governments said the forces which occupied the Kargil peaks were regular troops of the Northern Light Infantry regiment.

Islamabad vehemently denies the accusation.

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