Olympic torch arrives in Pakistan amid tight security

April 16th, 2008 - 12:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
Islamabad, April 16 (DPA) The Beijing Olympics 2008 torch arrived in Pakistan Wednesday as hundreds of security personnel guarded the venue where the relay was to be held later in the day. Syed Arif Hassan, the president of Pakistan’s Olympics Association, received the flame after the plane carrying it from Muscat touched down at Chaklala air base near Islamabad shortly after midnight.

It will be taken to the capital’s main sports stadium in the afternoon where the torch relay will be held at around 4 p.m.

Pakistan was not expecting the protests that hounded the torch journey in London, Paris and San Francisco, mainly because of the decades-long close friendship and deep cooperation in the fields of defence and commerce between Beijing and Islamabad.

Local human rights activists did not have any plans to hold a demonstration against China’s policy on Tibet.

President Pervez Musharraf returned from Beijing after a six-day visit Wednesday to inaugurate the relay together with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. He has condemned protests during torch relays in Western countries.

However, tight security arrangements were in place for the relay owing to the security threats that emanate from pro-Taliban militants who have carried out a suicide bombing campaign across the country over the last one year.

Hundreds of military, paramilitary troops and policemen were deployed inside and around the Jinnah Sports Complex. A group of elite commandos will run with the 66 Pakistani athletes selected for the relay.

The authorities have changed the venue and shortened the route of the relay. Originally it was scheduled to be held on the streets of the capital but the event was moved within the boundaries of the sports stadium.

“We are not expecting any demonstration against China but other security threats exist and we will provide fool-proof security to our Chinese guests,” Hassan told DPA.

The flame’s next stop will be in India Thursday where the authorities were expecting protests from rights activists and Tibetan refugees.

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