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Islamabad turns into a fortress
March 03, 2006 17:48 IST
Hours before the arrival of United States President George W Bush, Pakistan's capital was on Friday virtually turned into a fortress with security forces taking up positions at vantage points and forested hills overlooking the city.
On Thursday, an American diplomat was among four people killed in a daring suicide bombing in Karachi.
Army helicopters hovered over the sprawling Margala Hills, from where militants had planned a rocket attack on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in 2003.
Thousands of troops and policemen lined the streets and commandoes were deployed on rooftops in Islamabad and the nearby garrison town of Rawalpindi, where Bush will be landing at the Chaklala Military Airbase after a three-day visit to India.
"Foolproof" security arrangements have been made, said a senior police officer.
Most of the markets and transport services were shut down in various parts of the country in response to a nationwide strike call by Islamist alliance Muthahida Majlis Amal -- in protest against cartoons of Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper -- coinciding with Bush's visit.
Schools and colleges in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been closed on the orders of the government to prevent any attempts by the political parties to mobilise students for organising protests against the cartoons during Bush's visit.
There was no official word here about Bush's programme.
Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Jahangir Karamat said besides holding talks with President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday, Bush would attend a ceremony at the US embassy in Islamabad.
He is also expected to attend an earthquake relief event.