Police officials in Pakistan's volatile northwest region say an
improvised explosive device detonated under a vehicle carrying troops
and civilian employees of a Pakistani air force base, killing at least
13 people. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports that the attack came as
political leaders in Islamabad continued a campaign to pressure
President Pervez Musharraf to resign.
Pakistan's air force
said the blast struck a truck carrying supplies between the Badaber air
force camp and the nearby city Peshawar. Regional police commander
Malik Naveed told reporters that an improvised bomb had been placed
under a bridge and detonated when the vehicle passed over it.
He says it seems this could be a reaction to operations the government has launched in the tribal areas.
last week, the Pakistani military says troops have killed more than 100
militants in the Bajaur tribal region. The military says operations
have included air strikes using jet planes and attack helicopters.
Local tribal elders have reported that thousands of people have fled
In Islamabad, the political standoff between
Pakistan's ruling coalition government and President Pervez Musharraf
continued Tuesday, with the president's opponents claiming the move to
oust him is gaining momentum.
On Monday, the provincial
assembly in Punjab province voted overwhelmingly in favor of requesting
the president to take a confidence vote. On Tuesday, Information
Minister Sherry Rehman said the provincial assembly in the northwest
frontier province passed a similar measure with the support of some of
the president's former allies.
"This whole exercise is an
exercise for a transition to democracy and a real transition to
democracy. What you have seen today in the frontier province assembly
is a vote of 107 against General Musharraf and only four in his favor,"
Pakistan's other two provincial assemblies, as well
as the national assembly are expected to hold similar votes in the
coming days. Mr. Musharraf's opponents say those measures will build
strength for an impeachment motion in Pakistan's parliament.
Pakistanis have taken a cynical view of the proceedings, arguing the
government should instead focus on problems such as Pakistan's falling
rupee, increased fuel prices and electricity shortages - instead of
settling political scores.
Numan Khan, a graduate student studying business in Islamabad, says we don't understand what the leaders are doing and they can't
resolve the issue in this way. He says with this confrontation we are
sending the wrong message to the outside world.
allies say he has no plans to step down and will contest any attempt to
impeach him - starting with the so-called "charge sheet" that his
opponents say will list his allegedly impeachable offenses under
Article 47 of the constitution. The article says a president can be
impeached on a charge of violating the constitution or gross misconduct.
Legal scholars allied with Mr. Musharraf say he could ask the supreme court to rule on the validity of the "charge sheet."
Ranjha, a former law minister and current senator allied with Mr.
Musharraf, says if the "charge sheet" violates Article 47, then perhaps
the Supreme Court will interfere in the process.
It is unclear
how the Supreme Court could affect what would be an unprecedented
attempt to impeach a president in Pakistan. The country's most powerful
institution - Pakistan's military - which has repeatedly waded into
political crises in the country before, has stayed silent during the