Karachi: Thousands of supporters of Islamist Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) condemned the United States for what they called its anti-Muslim policies at a rally aimed to condemn the publication of blasphemous cartoons by some European newspapers.

"It is a clash of civilisations," said Munawaar Hasan, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a key component of the MMA. "Our philosophy of life is different from theirs. We have to protect our Islamic way of life."

The participants, including several thousand women and children, shouted slogans calling for death to US President George Bush, who was in Pakistan on Saturday on a daylong visit.

The supporters of the Islamist alliance also shouted slogans against President Pervez Musharraf calling him a "lackey" of imperialist powers.

Hasan accused Musharraf of working against the aspirations of Muslims. "He is a friend of Bush. He is using Pakistan army against his own people."

The MMA leaders said that the anti-cartoon campaign would soon transform in to something more meaningful as their supporters set ablaze US flags and effigies of Bush.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the opposition in National Assembly and chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, alleged that Musharraf's pro-US policies have proved harmful for Pakistan.

Crackdown

"We got nothing by supporting the United States in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 incident," he said. "Bush has made nuclear, defence and economic pacts with India, but refused all such agreements with Pakistan," he said.

"Our heads are hanging in shame. India is being declared a global power and Pakistan totally ignored," he said urging the people to support what he called the freedom struggles of Muslims from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Rehman, who is also the general secretary of the MMA, also slammed the military crackdown in North Waziristan.

The rally, one of the many being held in Karachi since the start of the controversy about blasphemous cartoon last month, remained peaceful.