Pakistan to provide Bhutto with extra security

Islamabad, October 10:

Pakistan’s government said today it will give former premier Benazir Bhutto extra security on her homecoming next week and that it has authorised her to import a special bullet-proof car.

Bhutto’s opposition Pakistan People’s Party has requested police protection for its leader, the first female prime minister of an Islamic nation, when she returns from self-imposed exile on October 18.

The move follows a reported threat by a pro-Taliban militant leader from Pakistan’s troubled tribal belt to kill the Western-friendly, Oxford-educated Bhutto in a suicide attack.

“We will provide her security and we expect her representative to discuss the arrangements with the interior ministry authorities,” Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao told AFP.

Sherpao said the government had already given Bhutto permission to bring a bullet-proof car into the country for her use.

A report from Peshawar said the government of a troubled Pakistani province was dissolved today amid differences between rival Islamist groups that could strengthen President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s hold on power. Gov Ali Mohammed Jan Aurakzai dissolved the Provincial Assembly of North West Frontier Province and will appoint a caretaker government chief later today, officials said.

A report frm Miranshah said residents of Pakistani villages pounded by artillery and warplanes in fighting that has killed up to 250 people secured an army pledge to hold fire while they buried their dead today, a resident said. While residents reported a burst of shelling before dawn today, there was no repeat of the clashes that began on Saturday and have sent thousands fleeing for safety.