Video: Musharraf talks about cartoons

By Tom Brokaw Correspondent
NBC News
updated 2/15/2006 8:27:15 PM ET 2006-02-16T01:27:15

Wednesday’s violent riots in Peshawar were another reminder of Pakistan's precarious state. An estimated 70,000 protesters took to the streets in the frontier city — the unofficial capital of Pakistan's radical Muslim movement. Peshawar is the gateway to the tribal region on the Afghan border, where the Taliban continues to operate with the support of the local population.

For his part, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says, flatly, the cartoon controversy is canceling out much of the goodwill the West gained with its response to Pakistan's devastating earthquakes.

“There's a terrible amount of anger,” Musharraf says. “They've forgotten about all the good. They're just talking about this.”

What can the West do?

“There are many people who are voicing support of this,” Musharraf says. “I think they should stop that.”

Video: More with Musharaff What puzzles people in the West is that when Islamic suicide bombers attack a Muslim mosque and kill Islamic women and children, there's no outrage in the rest of the Islamic world — no protests then. But when cartoons are published, it just becomes another jihad against the United States and against Western nations.

“Cartoons are published against the Prophet and when they attack mosques this can't be compared,” Musharraf explains. “However, I'm not saying that that should not be condemned, but as far as publishing the cartoons, now this we call blasphemy.”

With President Bush due to visit President Musharraf in just a few weeks, this is an especially volatile time in Pakistan. It's not just radical students who are on the streets protesting. This is a demonstrations of professionals — doctors, lawyers and intellectuals.

So while the victims of the earthquakes in the north of this country struggle to rebuild their lives with massive Western aid, in other parts of Pakistan ever larger numbers of Muslims are determined to punish the West because of the controversial cartoons.

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