08/21/2008, 00.00
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Terrorism on the offensive as the debate over a new president heats up

by Qaiser Felix
At least 50 people are killed and dozens are hurt in a double suicide bomb attack against the country’s main defence industry complex. At the same time the country is starting to vet the candidacy of Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of the late Benazir Bhutto, to the presidency. Political parties are however split over the issue.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside two entrances to Pakistan's main defence industry complex in Wah (30 km north-west of Islamabad), killing at least 50 people and injuring another 100, many very seriously. Meanwhile the country is debating a possible candidacy to the presidency by Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which will be officially made tomorrow. At present Mr Zardari is co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party.

The attack targeted workers leaving the complex at the end of their shift. “There were bodies lying everywhere and wounded people soaked in blood were screaming for help,” said Shah, the manager of a nearby petrol station. “Many of the wounded were either without legs or hands. I could see body parts hanging on trees,” he added.

Wah is home to Pakistan's main defence industry complex where about 25,000 workers produce explosives, ordnance and weapons in about 15 factories.

This attack follows another, two days ago, that killed 32 people in a suicide attack on a hospital in the northern town of Dera Ismail Khan.

It confirms the need for a quick decision to replace Pervez Musharraf after his resignation.

However, Zardari’s candidacy (third from left in the photo) is resisted by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which would prefer the next president to come from Balochistan or the North-West Frontier Province. Still as the largest party in parliament the PPP is entitled to present its candidate.

Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission on Justice and Peace, said that he would be a good choice for minorities. Even without the PML-N, the PPP can get the support of smaller centre parties and the provinces.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain is already backing Mr Zardari.

Besides now that Musharraf is out of the picture, the “glue” that held together the PPP and PML-N is gone. Differences over how to reinstate judges the former president dismissed on 3 November or how to deal with the Musharraf himself are coming to the surface.

Muslim league Chief Nawaz Sharif has even suggested that his might party might quit the government if the judges are not reinstated forthwith.

According to the constitution, the president must be elected within 30 days, i.e. before 17 September, by a joint assembly that includes representatives of the four provincial legislatures, the National Assembly and the Senate.

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See also
Muslim League withdraws its ministers, plunging Pakistan government into crisis
Delay “expected” in Pakistan Election
Islamabad: talks underway for a new government
Pakistani elections delayed till 18 February
Lahore: supporters of ex Prime Minister Sharif stopped by police


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