Pakistan’s governor escapes missile attack


Militants fired two missiles at a rally led by the governor of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province killing one person and wounding four, but the governor was not hurt, security officials said.

Governor Masood Kasur was to address ethnic Pashtun tribal leaders when the rally was attacked in Kalaya, a town in the Orakzai region, the officials said.
“The governor was receiving a briefing before the start of the function when the rockets struck. He is safe,” senior government official Fazal Qadir told Reuters.
“One rocket fell near the helipad while the other landed inside the ground where the rally was being held.”

Orakzai is one of the seven agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the northwest. All but Orakzai shares a border with Afghanistan.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attack but Pakistani Taliban, who have been fighting to topple the U.S.-backed government for years, operate in the area.

The army has launched a series of offensives over recent years which it says have weakened the Taliban, although analysts question the effectiveness because the militants tend to melt away and set up strongholds elsewhere.

The militants have stepped up attacks since the death of their ally, al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, in a secret U.S. raid in a Pakistani town in May. They have vowed to avenge bin Laden’s death.

The United States sees Pakistan as a key, if difficult, ally essential to its attempts to root out militant forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is often accused of playing a double game, battling its home-grown militants while using others as proxies in Afghanistan to limit the influence of old rival India, despite vows to help the United States.

U.S. President Barack Obama said last week the United States would not be comfortable in a long-term strategic relationship with Pakistan if it felt that Pakistan was not mindful of U.S.

Ties were seriously damaged after the raid by U.S. special forces that killed bin Laden, which Pakistan saw as a violation of its sovereignty.

Relations deteriorated further after the top U.S. military official accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of supporting a September 13 attack by the Taliban-allied Haqqani militant group on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

Pakistan denied the accusation.