ISLAMABAD: US Embassy advertisements condemning an anti-Islam video appeared on Pakistani television on Thursday in an attempt to undercut anger against the United States, where the film was produced. Hundreds of youths, however, clashed with security officials as they tried in vain to reach the embassy in Islamabad amid outrage in many countries over the film's vulgar depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The ads reflected efforts by the US government to distance itself from the video in a country where anti-American sentiment already runs high. Violence linked to the movie has left at least 30 people in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya. Two people have died in protests in Pakistan.
The television ads in Pakistan feature clips of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during press appearances in Washington in which they condemned the video. Their words were subtitled in Urdu. ''We absolutely reject its content and message,'' said Clinton in the advertisement. The advertisements end with the seal of the American Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. A caption on the ad reads: ''Paid Content.''
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the ad was produced by the embassy, which spent $70,000 to air the 30-second spot on seven Pakistani television stations. Pakistan is the only country where the ads are running. The embassy wanted to run the ads because it determined that the messages of Obama and Clinton were not reaching enough of the Pakistani public through regular news reporting, Nuland said.
''As you know, after the (anti-Islam) video came out, there was concern in lots of bodies politic, including Pakistan, as to whether this represented the views of the US government. So, in order to be sure that we reached the largest number of Pakistanis, some 90 million as I understand it in this case with these spots, it was the judgment that this was the best way to do it,'' Nuland said. In an email, the embassy in Islamabad sent out a link to video of ordinary Americans condemning the anti-Islam film, which appeared on YouTube. The State Department compiled the clips to give foreign audiences an idea of what regular Americans and their religious leaders thought of the video, Nuland said.