Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Huge bomb hits heart of Islamabad

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Scene of destruction outside Marriott Hotel

A suicide truck bomber hit the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday, killing at least 40 people, wounding nearly 250 and starting a huge fire.

The explosion came hours after President Asif Ali Zardari made his first address to parliament a few hundred metres away, calling for terrorism to be rooted out.

Defence analyst Talaat Massood said that militants, who had launched a string of bombings in retaliation for attacks on them, were giving an “unambiguous message that, if the government pursues these policies, this is what we will do in response”.

“They are saying ‘We can strike anywhere, at any time, regardless of how good you think your security is’ … They are are also giving a message to the people of Pakistan: ‘Your government and army are allowing the Americans to attack our territory’.”

Pakistan’s coalition government founders

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Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif/Faisal MahmoodWhen former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the late Benazir Bhutto, agreed in March to form a coalition government in Pakistan, the words of the 19th century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli seemed apt:

“Coalitions, though successful, have always found this, that their triumph has been brief,” I quoted him as saying, in a posting which asked whether the coalition between Sharif’s PML (N) and Zardari’s PPP would survive.

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