Pakistan seals off capital for Clinton visit
By Tahir Ikram
ISLAMABAD, March 24 (Reuters) - U.S. President Bill Clinton's motorcade will be given the tightest security ever provided for a visiting foreign leader on Saturday when he is driven from a military airport in Islamabad to the majestic President House.
The drive is about 25 km (15 miles) and army teams on Friday were checking the route with metal detectors.
Flights arriving and taking off at the adjacent civilian airport will be cancelled or delayed around the time of the visit and large parts of the capital will be brought under a virtual curfew, local officials said.
Clinton is due to spend several hours in Islamabad at the end of his South Asia trip. The military has taken over security arrangements from the police.
Official announcements in newspapers on Friday warned people that roads into Islamabad would be closed for several hours and they should find alternative routes.
Drivers of heavy commercial trucks and buses were asked to park their vehicles outside Islamabad in ``a single file'' from 6 a.m. (0100 GMT) to 6 p.m.
``All approaches towards the Islamabad Highway will be sealed at 10 a.m. and no traffic of any kind will be allowed to enter Islamabad highway,'' it said.
Local authorities have asked shops, schools and offices in areas near the routes along which Clinton will travel to stay closed, although there was no official holiday announcement.
Clinton, the fourth U.S. president to visit Pakistan, cancelled a trip to a Bangladeshi village for security reasons but there have been no specific threats against him in Pakistan, although Americans have been attacked in the country in the past.
The most recent attack was on November 12, two days before the U.S.-led U.N. sanctions against Afghanistan's ruling Taleban were to take effect.
Six rockets from homemade mobile launchers were fired, two at the U.S. Cultural Centre, two at the U.S. Embassy and two at a building housing U.N. offices.
No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, in which one guard was slightly wounded.
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