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Islamic hard-liners want U.S. out of country
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Six hardline Islamic parties demanded the government order American troops out of Pakistan and announced Tuesday that they would hold nationwide rallies to condemn Israeli military moves against the Palestinians.
The leader of the six-party United Action Committee, Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani, said the presence of the U.S. military forces in Pakistan undermines the country's independence and represents "a threat to our religion and culture."
"The longer the American troops stay in Pakistan, it would have adverse affects on the country," Noorani said at a press conference joined by Pakistan's three top pro-Taliban religious leaders -- Maulana Fazal-ur Rehman, Maulana Samiul Haq and Qazi Hussain Ahmed.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf allowed American forces to use bases in Pakistan as part of the U.S.-led campaign against neighboring Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers and the al-Qaida terror network.
He also allowed U.S. forces to use Pakistani airspace for attacks against Afghanistan last year.
During the press conference, Noorani, who is also head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, or Party of Pakistani Clerics, also announced nationwide rallies Friday to show solidarity with the Palestinians. They will be followed by a major rally Sunday in Karachi.
Hard-line Islamic parties have been seeking to galvanize opposition to Musharraf since he reversed Pakistan's longtime support for the Taliban following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.