Islamabad in frontline of Pakistan struggle with Islamic militants

Daredevil

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Islamabad in frontline of Pakistan struggle with Islamic militants


Declan Walsh in Islamabad
The Guardian, Saturday 18 April 2009

Fortifications are springing up across Islamabad as foreigners retreat from public view and Pakistanis worry about the possibility of a Mumbai-style attack on shops, offices or even schoolchildren.

Twelve-metre (40ft) high sandbag walls, nests of gun-toting soldiers and concrete blast walls have started to appear around the once sleepy federal capital, where over the last year Taliban suicide bombers have attacked a five-star hotel, the Danish embassy and several army and police posts.

The most visible precautions have been taken at UN offices, most of which now resemble facilities in war zones. "In terms of security instability Pakistan has become as dangerous as Iraq and Afghanistan," said a senior UN official.

Last week a Taliban commander, Mullah Nazir Ahmed from South Waziristan, threatened to overrun the city. "The day is not far when Islamabad will be in the hands of the mujahideen," he told al-Qaida's media wing As-Sahab.

Few residents take that warning seriously, but there is a creeping sense of menace fed by the march of extremist forces in neighbouring North-West Frontier province. This week the government met Taliban demands to impose Sharia law in Swat, 100 miles north-west of Islamabad. On Thursday it released the firebrand cleric Abdul Aziz, who led the bloody Red Mosque siege two years ago, on orders from the supreme court.

Only four years ago Islamabad was considered one of the safest places in Pakistan, a small city of wide boulevards and low crime, if a muted social scene. Now it wears a tense face. Streets have been sealed, five-star hotels are fortified like army bases and a heavily protected area around parliament is known as the "red zone".

Convoys bristling with gunmen escort ministers to work, while western ambassadors travel in bullet-proof limousines. The government is urging foreign embassies to move into a diplomatic enclave that may soon resemble Baghdad's green zone.

A spring ball at the British high commission, due to take place tonight was cancelled yesterday over security concerns. Meanwhile hardware stores have found a lucrative new product line: blast film. "If a bomb goes off, it stops the glass from flying into your home," saleswoman Zahida Hashmi explained at the Ideal Home store.

But the most profound changes are being felt by Pakistanis, including the well-heeled, who are starting to feel their city has moved to the frontline of the war against militancy. Last weekend most English language schools in the city closed, some for several days, amid rumours of a commando-style gun attack on a school. One institution, which caters to foreigners, remains shut, with classes continuing by email.

School owners said they were installing closed circuit television and hiring armed guards, but admitted the precautions were insufficient to stop a suicide bomber. "Privilege won't buy you security any more," said one. "We are wondering how we can stay here if your kids are not safe."

For others, the closure of a main road outside the anonymous-looking headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) this week was a measure of the seriousness of the threat.

It is also hitting business. At Sufi restaurant, a popular kebab joint opposite a police building, sales are down 40%, said waiter Muhammad Asfandyar. "People are afraid to come out these days," he said, indicating a row of empty tables.

Some flag their resistance through culture. At the height of last weekend's scare, theatregoers flocked to see a play about Bulleh Shah, an 18th century Sufi mystic who defied the mullahs with a message of love and tolerance.

The play sold out, said director Madeeha Gauhar. "Unfortunately a minority seems to be winning this war of ideas through coercion. But this sends a strong message that people want to live, to be entertained, and to watch a play."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/18/islamabad-war-islamic-militants
 

Daredevil

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Finally, it seems Taliban is at the door step of Islamabad. Lahore, Karachi are next I guess.
 

shiv

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if this happens india will have no choice but to enter pakistan with a collation of western powers to get it rid of terrorists and secure their Nukes.
 

Vinod2070

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Finally, it seems Taliban is at the door step of Islamabad. Lahore, Karachi are next I guess.
Too late now. They are in every Pak city already.

Al-Qaeda, Taliban present across Pakistan: police officer

In a sensational disclosure, a top Pakistani police officer has said Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists were present in every town and city of Pakistan and had plans to destabilise the Middle East to use the region as a “launch pad” against the US and Europe. The police chief of North West Frontier Province, Malik Navid, has told a Standing Committee of the Pakistan National Assembly that the two outfits “planned to carry out terrorist attacks similar to the September 11, 2001, strike on the US and European targets.
“The terrorists and extremists were spreading across Pakistan and they had plans to destabilise the Middle East so that it could be used as a launch pad against the US and Europe,” Navid was quoted by Pakistani newspaper ‘Daily Times´.
The Taliban are “present in every city and town” in Pakistan, “active in some places and dormant in others”, he said, adding that they are moving towards southern Punjab “with the intention of reaching Karachi”.
Maintaining that the “porous” nature of the 1,000 km long border with Afghanistan was the prime reason for large number of weapons coming into Pakistan’s tribal areas, the police chief said “the Taliban were trying to turn the tribal areas into Islamic Emirates of Waziristan”.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/Story...liban+present+across+Pakistan:+police+officer
 

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