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Red faces in Pakistan and fears of reprisals

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Red faces in Pakistan and fears of reprisals


At face value Osama bin Laden’s death looks highly embarrassing for Pakistan.

A short distance from a prestigious military academy, in a popular tourist getaway to the mountains, right under the noses of the security forces who always denied having links to al Qaeda, was where its figurehead, America’s most wanted man, was finally found and killed.

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Not in a cave, not in the remote tribal borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan, not blending in among the masses in Karachi – but in the comfort of an enormous high security compound in Abbottabad, 100km from the capital Islamabad.

“This was the safest place in Pakistan and I don’t think it’s going to be like this anymore,” said local resident Naeem Mahmood. “There will be repercussions and al Qaeda is going to plan some revenge attacks, particularly in this place and all over Pakistan.”

Some say they do not believe what the Americans are saying, that bin Laden has really been killed.

But the Pakistan Taliban do believe it, and they are threatening reprisals.

“In revenge for Sheikh Osama’s assassination and martyrdom, Pakistan has become our first target, while America is now second. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari are on our hit list,” said Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan.

Pakistan’s relations with the US are likely to be severely tested. The country, like its western ally, also has to deal with its own heightened security threat.

Up to a thousand demonstrators turned out in the southwestern town of Quetta, chanting “death to America”.

“We want to say to the world that with Osama bin Laden’s martyrdom the jihad is not finished. Every member will be like bin Laden and become a danger for America and the infidel world,” said Islamist party worker Abdul Satar Chisty.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world there may be doubts over bin Laden’s heroic status – not so among the Quetta protesters.

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