[Last year when General Musharraf visited this country, Bush gave him a most rough time, choosing the moment to open negotiations with India about nuclear assistance.  This clumsy move was probably meant to intimidate the Chinese, but it could not have been worse timed.  Musharraf is now caught in a squeeze between Pakistan’s liberals who object to his having fired their Chief Justice and the radicals who want to bring Taliban style Sharia into force there.  The upshot is that Pakistan’s nuclear stock of weapons is now potentially up for grabs, should Musharraf be driven out of power by bullet or ballot.  Pray!
Ed Kent}



Shots fired at Pakistani leader; mosque siege drags on
Fri Jul 6, 2007 8:31 AM EDT

By Mian Khursheed

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Gunmen fired Musharraf’s aircraft as it took off on Friday, while a radical cleric holed up with hundreds of followers at an Islamabad mosque said they would rather die than surrender.

There was no indication the attack on Musharraf’s plane was connected with the siege at the Red Mosque, now in its fourth day, but it will inevitably add to a sense of foreboding over risks posed to Pakistan’s stability by Islamist militants.

Adding to a sense of crisis, a suicide bomber killed six soldiers in a northwest region where the hardliners in the Islamabad mosque have many allies.

The military denied there had been an attack on the president but later called a news conference. An intelligence officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been an unsuccessful attempt on Musharraf’s life.

“There was an attempt, that was missed,” said the officer.

U.S. ally Musharraf, who came to power in a military coup in 1999, survived two assassination attempts by al Qaeda-linked militants in Rawalpindi in December 2003.

A Reuters photographer saw two large guns mounted on the roof of a two-storey house close to Islamabad’s military airport, and a neighbor said he heard firing. One appeared to be an anti-aircraft gun, the other a light machinegun.

They were placed between satellite dishes and a water tank on the flat roof, under the flight path close to the runway. A low wall ran around the perimeter of the roof.

Security is normally deployed ahead of president’s flights, the timings of which are kept secret. Forces cordoned off the house and the owner, a shopkeeper, had been detained.


Musharraf has not commented publicly on the siege at Islamabad’s Red Mosque, or Lal Masjid, but has urged security agencies to be patient and allow maximum time for parents to take children out of a madrasa, or school, in the mosque compound.    Continued …

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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