Pakistani authorities have foiled a plot to attack parliament during President Asif Ali Zardari's address to a joint sitting of the two houses and arrested several terrorists and an employee of the foreign ministry, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday.
The terrorists had planned to attack Parliament when Zardari was addressing a joint session of the National Assembly and Senate on March 17, Malik said.
Several terrorists arrested in connection with the plot belonged to Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan tribal region, he said.
A foreign ministry employee was arrested for helping the terrorists, Malik told reporters after chairing a meeting that reviewed the security situation across the country.
Malik did not give other details about the terrorist plot, including the number of terrorists who had been arrested or the identity of the foreign ministry employee. He also did not name any militant group.
He said he had directed the Islamabad police chief to further beef up security in the city and to take steps to ensure the safety of the citizens.
In response to a question, Malik said a "foreign hand" was involved in the current unrest in the commercial hub of Karachi, with an aim to destabilise the country. He did not give any other details.
Over a dozen people have been killed since Friday in political violence in Karachi that was triggered by the murder of a Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader earlier this week.
During President Zardari's address to a joint session of Parliament on March 17, authorities had put in place extensive security arrangements for the event.
Hundreds of security personnel were deployed at the heart of Islamabad, where Parliament is located, and helicopters were used to carry out aerial surveillance of the city.
In recent months, Pakistani police said they had foiled another plot by terrorists to target key buildings like Parliament and Presidency.
According to media reports, the terrorists had plans to fire rockets at the buildings from mountains overlooking Islamabad, following which suicide attackers would storm the structures.