Pak TV channels air ads showing Obama appealing for calm

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Barack Obama with Zardari
Islamabad, Sept 21: A US Embassy advertisement featuring President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking about America's commitment to respect all religions was aired on Pakistani TV channels on Sept 20 as protests continued against a film deemed offensive to Islam.

The advertisement, issued by the US mission, went into heavy rotation on the Pakistani channels just as a protest by student organisations and extremist groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawah was ending outside the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad. Described as a "message from the President of the US Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton", the advertisement bore the caption "Paid content".

The ad features Obama saying: "Since our founding, the US has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others."

Clinton says, "Let me state very clearly... that the US government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message. America's commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation."

Their remarks are subtitled in Urdu. Similar advertisements were also aired on several FM radio channels. The ads went on air as the State Department asked US citizens to avoid travelling to Pakistan in view of a series of anti-America protests in the country.

Hardline religious and extremist groups spearheading the protests against the controversial video have demanded that Pakistan should sever its ties with all Western nations and expel the US Ambassador to protest the film.

Members of extremist groups who joined today's protest outside the diplomatic enclave shouted slogans against the US and called for the burning of the American mission.


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