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Pak. tightens security as Sept. 11 nears

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD Aug. 28. Apprehending trouble from the remnants of Al-Qaeda and Taliban ahead of the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks on American cities, Pakistan has geared up its law and order machinery to foil any designs by militants, particularly in Karachi.

Such is the degree of unease among authorities in the country that the Director General Pakistan Rangers (Sindh), Salahddin Sati, today deemed it necessary to brief editors of local newspapers in Karachi about the inputs received by various intelligence agencies on attempts by terrorist outfit to disturb peace.

``We have taken strict security measures in the city to foil possible terrorism by Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists on this occasion'', Mr. Sahi told editors at a special briefing.

There is little doubt that after Afghanistan, if there is another country where the aftermath of September 11 was evident, it was Pakistan. The briefing by the DG Rangers is an acknowledgement of the reality.

Not only was Pakistan compelled to take some important foreign and defence policy decisions in the wake of the September 11 but also that the events in the last few months have proved that it has become the focus of world attention. As the war in Afghanistan drags on and the militants train their guns on the Musharraf regime, the situation could not be expected to be normal soon.

Within days after the September 11 attacks, the military government was forced to abandon the Taliban regime and join the U.S.-led coalition forces in the fight against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban that refused to hand over Osama bin Laden. In the process, Pakistan not only lost its so-called `strategic depth' but also earned the wrath of the fundamentalist elements within the country and in Afghanistan.

The first signs of the dangers ahead were evident within days after the U.S.- led coalition launched its military operations in Afghanistan on October 7. In the last week of October, Pakistan witnessed the massacre of Christians at a church in Bhawalpur town in the Punjab province.

Further proof of the dangerous nexus between the fundamentalist elements in Afghanistan and Pakistan came with a bang in the fourth week of January when the Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, disappeared from the port city of Karachi. To the horror of the Musharraf Government and the rest of the world, he was discovered dead a month later.

There have been a number of attacks against Western and Christian targets since then.

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