The assassination attempt comes amid rising tensions in the poverty-stricken country. On Monday, Sunni Muslim extremists killed 14 people in an attack on a Shi'ite mosque. And with Nawaz the target of fierce criticims from groups as diverse as supporters of Osama Bin Laden and the country's Christian minority alarmed at the government's adoption of Islamic law, Pakistan is starting to look like a time bomb--attached to the side of a nuclear device.
The "usual suspects" may be too numerous to round up. You don't have to look far to find Pakistanis with the necessary motive to carry out Saturday's assassination attempt against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, the man who led Pakistan through its nuclear testing last year even may have brought Saturday's assassination attempt upon himself. "His clampdowns on opposition have created a very dangerous situation where the only outlet for dissent is in the form of acts of violence such as the one we've just seen," says TIME New Delhi bureau chief Tim McGirk. "And he's not very popular with a lot of people."