Pakistan to move troops if Indian tensions worsen


Islamabad : Pakistan will divert troops to its border with India and away from fighting militants on the Afghan frontier, if tensions erupt in the wake of the attacks on Mumbai, a senior Pakistani security official said on Saturday.

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The next two days would prove crucial to relations between the nuclear-armed rivals, a second official said, after India blamed ‘elements’ from Pakistan for the coordinated assault on Mumbai that killed 195 people.

“If something happens on that front, the war on terror won’t be our priority,” the senior security officer told journalists at a briefing.

“We’ll take out everything from the western border. We won’t leave anything there.”
The warning will alarm the United States and other governments with troops in Afghanistan, as Pakistan currently has around 100,000 troops in the border areas, and the army is fighting militants in several tribal regions.

The country’s support is regarded as crucial to efforts to defeat al-Qaeda globally and quell a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The senior officer described the communication received from New Delhi notifying Pakistan of suspicions of a Pakistani link to the attacks on Mumbai as ‘well within limits.’
But a second more junior, but also high-ranking, officer said Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee had been aggressive and the Indian accusations had implied that Pakistani agencies were somehow involved.

“I can say with my authority under my command that there’s no involvement of any Pakistani institution in any manner,” the high-ranking officer said.

“It’s not an ideal situation for a country to go to war. Coercion is there and it’s going up and it needs to be neutralized.” Indian suspicions are focused on Lashkar-i-Taiba, one of several militant groups fighting the Indian army in Kashmir.

Analysts say LiT had enjoyed support from Pakistani agencies in the past. Pakistan denies the allegations and says it only ever gave moral and diplomatic support for Kashmiri freedom fighters.