ISLAMABAD, July 11: Religious parties and figures have criticised the support extended by a US consulate official on Wednesday to the operation against Lal Masjid and demanded that the government expel him for interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

They said the diplomat’s remarks violated diplomatic norms and accused President Gen Pervez Musharraf of giving the US embassy and consulates a free hand to say and do anything against Pakistan.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam also characterised the US consulate official’s statement against diplomatic norms and open interference in the country’s internal affairs. She said a protest would be lodged.

MMA leader Liaquat Baloch said the US was using Gen Musharraf for securing its interests. This is the reason officials of US embassy and consulates here never care about diplomatic norms. Gen Musharraf has allowed them a free hand to appease the US. This is the reason Pakistani people hate American policies.

US Lahore consulate official Bryan Hunt had said they supported Pakistan operation against Lal Mosque and its allied seminary, Jamia Hafsa. The Lal Mosque administration was responsible for killings and destruction, the diplomat said. The US would continue supporting Pakistan in eliminating extremism and terrorism.

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