Musharraf’s life at risk: Minister

Himalayan News Service

Karachi, May 6:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has a number of enemies within who could make an attempt on his life again at any time, a junior minister has said.

“Musharraf has a number of enemies who can try to assassinate him,” Aamir Liaqat Hussain, minister of state for religious affairs, told Daily Times in an interview.

Musharraf, who survived two assassination attempts in 2003, could be targetted a third time by “elements within the forces”, Hussain feared.

“No common people could attack Musharraf (but) there are elements in the forces who can launch another attack against him,” he maintained.

The authorities earlier this week captured alleged Al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libbi who is accused of masterminding the two attempts on Musharraf. Al-Libbi is said to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden and ranks third in the hierarchy after Osama’s Egyptian-born deputy Ayman Al Zawahri. Musharraf himself has named al-Libbi as the ringleader of the attempts to assassinate him in December 2003.

According to Hussain, there was “an ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) within the ISI which is more powerful than the original and still orchestrating many events in the country.” The minister said even his life was in danger due to his radical thoughts about religion, which were unacceptable to many fundamentalist forces in the country. Hussain, who is regarded as a proponent of a “tolerant Islam”, says he has been tasked to persuade the West and the Pakistani orthodoxy that moderation is the gist of Islam. “We are preaching the true religion to all levels, including the army ranks,” said the minister.

Hussain said he was also authoring sermons that would be delivered at military mosques after the Friday prayers.