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Prince saddened by curtailed visit

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Religious ruins: the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall among the ruins of a Buddhist monastery in Taxila, near Islamabad

Religious ruins: the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall among the ruins of a Buddhist monastery in Taxila, near Islamabad

by Rachel Harden

THE PRINCE of Wales was forced to cancel a visit to an Anglican college in Pakistan on Monday, after mass demonstrations were expected in the area in response to a government attack on a suspected militant centre,

The Prince, accompanied by his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, is in the country to promote greater understanding between the Muslim majority and Christian minority.

Their planned journey to Peshawar in the north-west of Pakistan, was to include visits to both the Anglican college and a neighbouring madrassa, or Islamic school.

But after the attack on another Islamic school near the Afghan border, where 80 suspected militants were killed, the royal couple instead visited a women’s college in the northern city of Rawalpindi, further away from the expected demonstrations.

A Clarence House spokesman said that the change of plan had been made on advice from the Pakistani Government.

Thousands of mourners attended Monday’s funerals for those killed by the helicopter strike on the school. A report by the Associated Press said that many protesters believed that the United States had instigated the attack, and that the victims were innocent students, not militants.

The BBC described the Prince as “extremely disappointed” by the cancellation. His prepared speech would have focused on moderation.

The Prince was also due to meet the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, and Bishop of Lahore, Dr Alexander John Malik.

Bishop Malik is at present at the centre of a row after the marriage of his daughter to a Muslim. The retired Presbyterian Bishop of Pakistan, Dr Major Nasir, called for him to leave the country. In an article in the Pakistan Christian Post Dr Nasir accused Dr Malik of “wilfully” allowing his daughter to betray Christianity and convert to Islam because of her marriage to a Muslim. But in an interview with The Sunday Times, Dr Malik’s daughter Nadia denied she had converted to Islam.

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