Hundreds of thousands protested in Karachi and Hyderabad Tuesday against the 86-year prison sentence for a Pakistani scientist convicted of attempting to kill Americans in Afghanistan.
The rallies were organized by the Muttahida Quami Movement, a Pakistani political party, in response to last week's sentencing of Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted by a jury in February in the United States on seven charges, including attempted murder and armed assault on U.S. officers.
"I appeal to the U.S. government and their people to release Aafia Siddiqui with honor and dignity to get the praises of millions of people," MQM's leader, Altaf Hussain, said during a live address by telephone from his self-exile in London, England.
It was supposed to be a day celebrating Afghan achievements in education. Instead, Afghanistan's embattled president broke down crying at an official gathering commemorating International Literacy Day.
In his emotional speech, Hamid Karzai lamented the estimated 10 million Afghans who are illiterate and repeated an appeal to Taliban militants to lay down their arms and expressed fear that his son might one day be forced to flee his country.
"I have pain in my heart," Karzai said, his voice breaking and his eyes red with tears.
"I'm afraid that my son, my own son will become a refugee one day. Please, I don't want my son and your son to be a foreign citizen. I want him to grow up here ...I want him to serve his nation," Karzai said, addressing an auditorium full of teachers, government ministers, foreign ambassadors and Girl Scouts gathered to celebrate the event.
After wiping his face with a handkerchief, Karzai urged Afghans to do more to educate their children. Several bearded men in the audience brushed away tears as the Afghan leader concluded his speech. FULL POST
Former warlords, village elders and women are among the members of an Afghan peace council designed to spearhead "serious, substantive dialogue" efforts with the Taliban opposition.
The Afghan government Tuesday announced the members of the High Peace Council that will spearhead reconciliation efforts. FULL POST