Pakistan capital put on high alert

Threats by pro-Taliban fighters prompt deployment of extra security forces.

    Embassies  have restricted movements and schools shut down over fears of more violence [AFP]

    While much of the recent violence has been concentrated in northwest Pakistan, where the army has been fighting pro-Taliban fighters, many fear Islamabad could be next.

    Taliban 'strengthening'

    Mullah Nazeer Ahmed, a senior Pakistani Taliban commander, said: "The mujahidin are getting stronger by the day and ... If they [the US military] continue to attack us, then our soldiers will reach Islamabad."

    Ahmed is based in the province of South Waziristan, where a suspected US missile attack last week killed at least three fighters.

    Scores of Pakistani Taliban fighters have already moved from their stronghold in the Swat valley into Buner, a district located northwest of Islamabad.

    Israr Bacha, a local police officer, said: "About 20 vehicles carrying Taliban entered Buner on Monday and started moving around the bazaar and streets."

    Talat Masood, a senior Pakistani security analyst, told Al Jazeera that the fighters "can easily sneak into the capital".

    "It is very difficult to control all entry points and these militants are very determined," he said.

    Drone attacks

    As the security situation in Afghanistan has worsened, the number of suspected US drone attacks across the border in Pakistan has increased.

    Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban chief who has a $5m US bounty on his head, has cited such attacks as the reasons for its recent assaults on Pakistani security targets, including a police academy in Lahore.

    He has vowed to stage at least two attacks every week as long as the US missile attacks continue.

    "Every time there is a threat issued either by Mehsud or his colleagues, the government puts the city on high alert," Imtiaz Gul, an Islamabad-based political analyst, told Al Jazeera.

    "Pakistan and the US are losing the war against terrorism, and that is the objective of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

    "The way the government responds to these security threat could be interpreted as a success for the Taliban."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.