MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World. It's been an especially deadly two weeks in Pakistan. Suicide bombers and gunmen have attacked markets, military headquarters, police stations, even a UN food aid office. All told the attacks have killed more than 150 people. Pakistan's leaders held a four-hour emergency meeting today to discuss the country's deteriorating security situation. The World's Katy Clark begins our coverage.
KATY CLARK: Pakistani officials say at least 11 people were killed in today's attack. It involved a suicide car bombing on a police outpost in the northwester city of Peshawar. Local TV news footage showed the burnt wreckage of the car the bomber apparently used. A nearby mosque was also badly damaged. This policeman escaped relatively unscathed.
POLICEMAN: [SPEAKING PASHTO]
CLARK: He says he was outside his office at the time. He heard only the sound of the blast but he knew immediately what was going on because there was smoke and dust everywhere. After that he says he doesn't know what happened. Pakistan's high commissioner in London, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, thinks he knows why the attack happened though.
WAJID SHAMSUL HASSAN: This is a desperate attempt by the Taliban and the terrorists to dissuade the Pakistan Army and the government of Pakistan and after having seen the success of Swat operation, they know that they have to run away. And while running away they are hitting indiscriminately.
CLARK: The Swat Operation was a Pakistani government led offensive this past spring. Its goal was to route the Taliban from the Swat Valley in the country's largely ungoverned northwest frontier province. Government forces are now going after other Taliban strongholds in Pakistan. But as the past few weeks have shown ordinary Pakistanis in all corners of the country are being caught up in the bloodshed. Khaddija Ali studies law in Pakistan's capital Islamabad. She says no one feels very safe at the moment.
KHADDIJA ALI: People are scared because of the security situation. But then again I think that it only unites us in this war against terrorism.
CLARK: The Pakistani government has been accused in the past of not being committed to a war against terrorism. While it takes US money earmarked for fighting extremism, Pakistan's leadership has been reluctant to alienate those who actually support the Taliban and other militants. But Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution says that's changed since Pakistan's current president came to office last year.
BRUCE RIEDEL: In this conflict right now, President Zardari understands that there is an existential battle within his country between his side and a jihadist Frankenstein that's grown out of control. Why does he understand that? Because his wife was murdered by them and because he's now number one on the hit list that they're going after.
CLARK: And these recent attacks in Pakistan underscore the urgency of the fight. Richard Holbrooke is the US Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In an interview with The World, Holbrooke said the violence in Pakistan is serious.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: But the Pakistani people, the Pakistani Army, they've shown that they're fed up with it. They're pushing back. I think the terrorists have made a big mistake. I think there's going to be a substantial backlash.
CLARK: The Pakistani government doesn't seem to be wasting any time in that regard. War planes and artillery pounded a Taliban stronghold is South Waziristan today. The government says a ground offensive against Taliban forces there is imminent. For The World this is Katy Clark.
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