ISLAMABAD March 22: A number of political leaders on Monday opposed the ongoing military operation in the tribal areas and warned President Gen Pervez Musharraf against its dangerous repercussions.

Speaking at a seminar held in connection with the death anniversary of the founder of a national Urdu daily at a local hotel, the political leaders highlighted the negative outcome of pitching army against tribesmen who, they said, were natural defenders of the country's western borders.

They stressed the need for national reconciliation for creating a consensus on vital national issues to strengthen democratic institutions and to discourage army interventions.

The speakers regretted that women and children were among those killed in operation in Wana and the Pakistan army personnel were assigned the role of mercenaries on the behest of the United States. They said the slogan of "Pakistan first" was created by the establishment which, in true sense of the word, meant to perpetrate the rule of an individual.

If the former Soviet Union was wrong in occupation of Afghanistan, how come US occupation of the same country and capturing of Iraq be justified, a speaker asked.

PML-N chairman Raja Zafarul Haq chairman condemned the killing of Hamas chief Sheikh Ahmed Yasin by Israel and attributed it to the direct support of United States. He alleged that the Americans were directly financing and supporting establishment of Jews settlements in Palestinian territory.

Veteran Kashmiri leader and former AJK president and prime minister Sardar Abdul Qayum Khan said the identity of Pakistan was being fast diluted due to the actions of the government as youth of today were going without a direction and a clear message.

He termed the efforts of changing educational syllabus as part of a long-term planning against the Islamic status of Pakistan. He called for a national consensus on the so called composite dialogue as, in his view, while work on all other steps was in progress, the Kashmir issue was not addressed at all.

Hafiz Hussain said Pakistan army was wrongly engaged with the tribesmen who could die, but not hand over the people to whom they had given refuge as brethren in faith and who had been related to them.

He accused the US of instigating sectarian hatred in Balochistan to pave its way to intrude neighbouring Iran which was its next target after Iraq. Condemning the Wana operation, Tehmina Daultana termed it a conspiracy of few generals against the image of Pakistan army. She said she knew the price of criticizing the army generals as the ARD and the PML-N president, Javed Hashmi, was a victim of the same crime.

Ikram Chaudhry demanded of the superior judiciary to set a good example of taking suo moto action to end the unconstitutional steps taken by the military rulers.

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