Archive for February 25th, 2008

A suicide blast in Rawalpindi today killed 8 people, including Pakistan’s top army medical officer, Lt. Gen. Mushtaq Ahmed Baig, reported newswires. According to Reuters, the general “was the most senior military officer killed by militants to date.” The NY Times reported, “The attack took place in a crowded, commercial neighborhood of Rawalpindi. The blast, which could be heard from several miles away, tore through a busy road and damaged at least five vehicles. The general’s car was left badly mangled.” The attack was the latest in a series of violent incidents in Rawalpindi, and “it is likely to revive concern about Islamic militancy in Pakistan just days after moderates won parliamentary elections.” Pakistan’s The News also provided breaking coverage of the incident, and cited Interior Ministry officials, who said, “The suicide bomber was on foot, who blew himself up by the car of Lt. Gen. Mushtaq Baig which was stationary before a red signal.” The newspaper added that the attacker was allegedly between 15 to 18 years of age, and “had a fair complexion.” A separate article released by the news agency reported that Punjab’s governor, Lt. Gen. Khalid Maqbool, “strongly condemned” the bomb blast, labeling it “a highly heinous act of cowardice” perpetrated by those who have no concern for Islam or humanity.The violence comes just a day after Tehreek-e-Taliban leader Beitullah Mehsud announced that he is ready for talks with the new government if it stops President Musharraf‘s ‘war on terror’ in the tribal areas. Both Dawn and the Daily Times reported on the development today, and cited Maulvi Omar (Mullah Omar) , Taliban spokesman, who said, The Taliban movement welcomes the victory of anti-Musharraf political parties … and announces its willingness to enter into negotiations with them for bringing peace...Whoever makes the government, we want to make it clear to them we don’t want fighting. We want peace, but if they impose war on us, we will not spare them.” PML-N responded to the statement by saying that political and economic solutions were needed to deal with extremism. Party spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said, “Our stance is that General Musharraf has mishandled the situation to stay in power. We feel that if Musharraf steps down, half of the terrorism would end.”

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