Editor's Note: This is Greg Palkot's first entry in this series, "Dispatches from the Terror Front." Keep tuning into FOX Fan Blogs for the latest installment.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — To first start you off about my trek to Pakistan, I suppose I should let you know how I got here. We took Pakistan Air flight to Islamabad. Who cares that it’s blacklisted by the European Union? The seats are comfortable and the service is nice (OK, no booze, too).
Minutes after arriving, we were hit by the first news: President Musharraf has named Ashfaq Kayani as his successor for head of the army. It’s a good move for him — Kayani helped pull off the coup that got Musharraf into power in 1999, and as spy agency chief, he rounded up the terrorists who tried to kill him a few years later. Kayani’s new role is good for the U.S. too — he was trained at Leavenworth War College, is a War on Terror believer and thinks politics should stay out of the military.
After hearing this news, we left to attend our “greeting meeting” with Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director Gen. Waheed. The general rejected questions about whether all of Musharraf’s political headaches are taking his mind off the hot War on Terror in his country, and admitted that there have been big losses by his forces to insurgents in recent months.
Ignoring my jetlag, I quickly set forth to Pakistan's Parliament, where legislators are handing in their resignations in protest to Musharraf standing for re-election and (at least for a few weeks) for still wearing a uniform. Former cricket star and heartthrob Imran Khan is also there — he asks whether the U.S. would allow a general to run for president. I guess Ike kept his flak outside the White House door.
Afterward, we made a quick stop to check in at our hotel, which was ironically our home for months during the beginning of the Afghanistan war in 2001. Now, the hotel is ringed by security checks — a sign that suicide bombers have been striking right at the heart of this city and a sign that the War on Terror now rages on multiple fronts.
Soon after, I had to make another courtesy call, with another government official; I learned that Musharraf has made another move to ease his transition. His government will grant amnesty to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto for all of her corruption charges (and there are heaps). That and Musharraf doffing his uniform have been two key demands by Bhutto, which would bring her back into a power-sharing arrangement as prime minister with the president again. The president seems to be obliging. When I interviewed Bhutto from Washington last Friday, she sounded like the deal was nearly done.
Now, I’m back at the hotel to sort out some Blackberry woes, room changes and food needs. It’s the Ramadan holiday here when the Muslim faithful fast during the day — I frankly don't see how they do it. Not even water. My stomach would be in heavy rumble mode by mid-afternoon at least!
Finding food is the least of our challenges as we get ready to deal over the coming days with the rough and tumble world of highest value terror, cut throat politics and regional rumblings that is always the scene here in Pakistan. Come along for the ride.
Greg Palkot serves as a FOX News Channel foreign correspondent based in Paris. Click here to read his full bio.
Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.