A True Diplomat

Published on August 21, 2008 at 10:41 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. ISLAMABAD: Three gunmen who attacked the vehicle carrying the chief American diplomat in the northern city of Peshawar on Tuesday were armed with assault rifles and wore long hair and beards like the Taliban, the provincial police chief said.

    The bulletproof Land Cruiser carrying Lynne Tracy, principal officer at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, was stopped by the three men, who got out of a sport utility vehicle and fired, said Naveed Khan, the inspector general of police in North-West Frontier Province.

    Tracy, who was on her way to work at the consulate from her home, was unharmed, Khan said.

    The attack came as the Taliban, in virtual control of the tribal areas adjacent to Peshawar, have been pressing in on the city, conducting suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings of civilians. The incident occurred in a district of the city known as University Town, considered one of the more secure areas, with large houses protected by high walls and security guards.

    About 30 Americans work at the consulate, mostly managing economic development programs and serving as liaisons between the U.S. military and the Pakistani Army. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, American diplomats in Pakistan have been restricted in their movements and are basically not allowed to travel outside the four major cities.

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    In a statement, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Lou Fintor, said: “There was a security incident in Peshawar this morning involving a U.S. Consulate vehicle.” The statement said three employees were in the car.

    A current focus of the consulate is a $750 million program intended to provide economic development to counter the influence of the Taliban in the nearby tribal areas. A number of Americans who work on that aid program – but who are not official employees of the consulate – are now living in the city.

    Two Americans were killed in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, in 2002, when gunmen attacked a Protestant church inside the diplomatic enclave, a relatively secure area. And in 2006, a car carrying explosives killed an American diplomat at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

    On the political front in Pakistan, candidates were garnering support for the Sept. 6 presidential election.

    The candidate for the major party, Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, is favored to win and become the next president, succeeding Pervez Musharraf, who resigned under pressure last week.

    Zardari, who served more than eight years in prison in Pakistan on corruption charges that were dismissed this year under an amnesty agreement, filed medical records in the High Court in London that stated he suffered from a range of mental illnesses, according to an account in Tuesday editions of the Financial Times newspaper.

    According to the newspaper, the medical records said he suffered from dementia, major depression disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The records also said he was unable to appear in court to challenge corruption charges by the Pakistani government alleging that he had bought a British country manor with ill-gotten gains. The case was dropped in March.

    The Pakistani high commissioner in London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, a Zardari appointee, said that Zardari was now healthy,report by Jane Perlez

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