Thursday, April 17, 2008

China's Torch Relay Reaches NEW LOW-Public Banned At Private Ceremony

China's doomed world torch relay reached another NEW LOW when Pakistan banned the public from the PRIVATE EVENT held behind closed doors as torch bearers took turns running around a heavily armed track. Carefully selected guests loyal to Musharraf filled the stands and pretended jubilation at the stilted event. China was quick to race to it's Torch Relay Propaganda site to DECLARE the event a roaring success. God, what's next, Torch Bearers running around the desk in a government office building guarded by tanks?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Olympic torch relay began its Pakistan leg under heavy guard and literally behind closed doors on Wednesday.

President Pervez Musharraf, left, and PM Yousaf Raza Gilani hand over the Olympic torch to hockey star Samiullah.

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Security concerns sparked by the violence in earlier runs in Britain, France and the United States prompted Pakistani officials to close the relay to the public and hold it in Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad.

And instead of traversing city streets, the 65 torchbearers ran multiple times around the stadium before handing off the torch to the next runner.

The ceremony, which began around 4:30 p.m. local time (1130 GMT), was open to invited guests and the media only, and featured singers and a marching band. Video See the torch arrive in Pakistan. »

Dignitaries on hand included Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf and newly-elected Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Heavily armed security officers dressed in camouflage could be seen in the stadium. Video Watch highlights of the torch ceremony. »

After the relay was finished, torch-bearers waved to the cheering crowd.

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(CNN) -- The Olympic torch relay will be closed to the public when it reaches Pakistan on Wednesday because of security concerns, a Pakistani government spokesman told CNN.


Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, left, with Chinese President Hu Jintao over the weekend in Boao, China.

Instead of the original plan of holding the relay in public streets in Islamabad, the relay will be held in front of invited guests in a stadium, said Lt. Col. Baseer Haider Malik.

The decision to move the relay behind closed doors came a day after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf attacked the West over the protests that have dogged the event.

Musharraf accused Western leaders and media of politicizing the Olympics by criticizing China's human rights record and its policy in Tibet.

"First of all, we consider Tibet an inalienable part of China," he said in an interview with China Daily on Sunday. If "anyone is harboring or abetting the separatists, we condemn that."

Musharraf is in Beijing to meet with various Chinese officials.

Last week the international leg of the Olympic torch relay set off protests in London, Paris and San Francisco. The relay received warmer receptions over the weekend in Argentina and Tanzania.

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