The former cricket star long had a reputation as a playboy, but in recent years he has said he has grown stronger in his Muslim faith. He also has used attacks on the U.S. drone program as a means of gaining attention and esteem in Pakistan. His popularity surged in recent years in Pakistan, where the government, led by the Pakistan People’s Party of Asif Ali Zardari, has disappointed many.
In the capital of Islamabad, the U.S. Embassy warned its citizens about possible terrorist attacks Sunday in the city on key government installations and major hotels such as the Marriott and the Serena. The embassy said Pakistan’s Interior Ministry had issued an alert about the threats, and urged American citizens to avoid these areas.
The U.S. government already advises its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Pakistan, citing the threat of militant groups as well as protests such as the violent ones that shook the country earlier this month against an anti-Islam film made in the U.S.
The film has outraged Muslims around the world for its vulgar portrayal of Islam’s Prophet Muhammed, and protests in Pakistan have been especially intense. About 2,000 supporters of the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party rallied in the southern port city of Karachi Sunday against the film.
Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Rebecca Santana in Islamabad and Adil Jawad in Karachi contributed to this report.