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Tight security ahead of Bush visit to Pakistan

Islamabad virtually turned into a fortress with security forces taking up positions at vantage points.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 14:28 IST

Hours before the arrival of US President George W Bush here, 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.

Army helicopters hovered over the sprawling Margala hills from where militants had planned a rocket attack on President Pervez Musharraf on 2003.

Thousands of troops and police lined the streets and commandoes were deployed on rooftops in Islamabad and the nearby garrison town of Rawalpindi, where Bush will be landing at 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 (MMA) 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 cartoons during Bush visit.

There was no official word here about Bush's programme. Pakistan Ambassador to Washington Jahangir Karamat said besides holding talks with President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday, Bush would attend a ceremony in the US Embassy here.

He is also expected to attend a function related to earthquake relief.

First Published: Mar 03, 2006 16:20 IST