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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 10:48 GMT
Profile: Aftab Sherpao
Aftab Sherpao (file pic)
Aftab Sherpao believes Pakistan's militants are a growing danger
Aftab Sherpao, who appears to have been the target of a bomb attack at a Pakistani mosque, is well aware of Pakistan's problem with militancy.

As interior minister in the outgoing government of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Mr Sherpao has been a key ally in President Pervez Musharraf's battle against Islamist bombers.

He was a prominent figure during the tense stand-off around Islamabad's Red Mosque earlier in 2007.

Hard-line clerics barricaded themselves and hundreds of religious students inside the mosque compound during the summer, eventually prompting a pitched battle with security forces that left many dead.

For his role in ending the siege at the Red Mosque Aftab Sherpao became a high-profile target for Pakistan's Islamist militants.

National figure

He had already survived one attempt on his life, in April 2007, when a suicide bomber attacked a rally for his political party, killing at least 28 people.

Years earlier, in 1975, Mr Sherpao's brother Hayat Sherpao was killed in a bomb blast. Shortly after that attack, Aftab Sherpao entered politics during the administration of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

He quickly rose to become a leading political figure in Pakistan's restive North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), serving as chief minister from 1988 for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

He was a strong supporter of Benazir Bhutto during her time as prime minister before splitting from her during the 1990s.

Like Ms Bhutto, Mr Sherpao spent some time in exile amid charges of corruption, before he eventually joined President Musharraf's military administration and left the PPP.

In recent years he has remained nationally prominent in the role of interior minister, charged with battling the country's Islamist threat, which he suggests is dangerous, widespread and growing.

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