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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 15:09 GMT
High security for Pakistan summit
Checkpoint in Islamabad
Police and soldiers make their presence felt
A huge security operation is underway in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, which is set to host a summit of regional leaders in early January.

Militants have tried to assassinate the Pakistani leader, Pervez Musharraf, twice in the past fortnight.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is still planning to attend despite the security concerns.

However, he has not confirmed he will talk directly with General Musharraf about the divisive issue of Kashmir.

Indian commando teams are already in Pakistan, preparing Mr Vajpayee's security.

I don't think anything has been left to chance. We have made all humanly possible arrangements.
Faisal Saleh Hayat, Pakistani interior minister

Heavily-armed Pakistani soldiers and police are on the streets of Islamabad, manning checkpoints, searching vehicles and frisking passers-by.

Large areas of the city around the airport and the summit venue are expected to be sealed under a security cordon.

Pakistani troops have also scaled the Margalla hills overlooking Islamabad to deter any strikes.

Kashmir connection

The Pakistani leader narrowly escaped death when two explosive-laden cars charged at his motorcade in the city of Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Site of Rawalpindi bombing
The aftermath of last week's attempt on General Musharraf's life

Sixteen people died in the blasts.

In an earlier attempt on 14 December, bombs placed under a bridge in Rawalpindi detonated seconds after the president's convoy had passed over it.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit is due to take place between 4 and 6 January.

Heads of state from the seven members of the Saarc group are expected to discuss ways of improving regional ties.

The summit is preceded by a meeting of the seven countries' foreign ministers, which takes place on 2 and 3 January.

Although the agenda focuses on trade ties, Pakistani officials have said they hope India will take the opportunity to discuss more contentious issues - namely the dispute over Kashmir.

India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring an uprising in its part of the divided territory of Kashmir.

Pakistan denies the charge, claiming only to provide diplomatic backing to an indigenous uprising.

Pakistani officials have said one of the men involved in last weeks assassination attempt on General Musharraf was a member of militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed.


SEE ALSO:
Vajpayee confirms Pakistan visit
04 Dec 03  |  South Asia


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