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Pakistan Army may stop operation against militants

December 01, 2008 17:27 IST

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In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks [Images], the Pakistan Army [Images] chief has informed the country's leadership that if tensions with India mount further, the military will have to move troops from its restive tribal areas to the eastern borders, ending the war against local militants.

Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [Images] that if India escalates tension, then Pakistan has to move its troops from the tribal areas to the eastern borders and it would not be possible to continue the war against terrorism, reports said.

Kayani met Zardari and Gilani twice on Saturday and informed them about the operational preparedness of Pakistan's armed forces to meet any eventuality.

Meanwhile, militant groups in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas contacted the government following an increase in tensions with India and offered a truce if the army stops its operations against them.

As a sign that the ceasefire offer may be accepted, the Pakistan Army has declared to the media that "some notorious militant commanders, including Baitullah Mehsud and (Maulana) Fazlullah, (are) 'patriotic' Pakistanis," the pro-establishment The News daily reported on Monday.

Mehsud, blamed by former president Pervez Musharraf's [Images] regime for the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto [Images], and Fazlullah have been fighting the army for the past four years. The "aftermath of the Mumbai carnage has suddenly turned terrorists into patriots," the daily said.

"We have no big issues with the militants in (the tribal areas). We have some misunderstandings with Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah. These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue," a top security official told Pakistani journalists on Saturday.

The report said, "Indian allegations against Pakistan have suddenly forced the military establishment in Pakistan to finally accept that they are not fighting an American war inside the Pakistani territory."

Munir Orakzai, the leader of a grouping of 12 parliamentarians from the tribal belt, said, "I see a bright ray of peace in the tribal areas and if we come out of American pressure, I can guarantee that there will be peace in the tribal areas in a few days and we will be ready to fight against India on the eastern border along with the Pakistan Army."

A top government official told the daily that "some late night telephone calls made from Washington and London [Images] helped to cool down the temperature in New Delhi [Images] and Islamabad [Images]."

Despite the assurances by President Zardari on sending a director of the Inter-Services Intelligence to India for helping probe the Mumbai attacks, it has been decided by the government that no Inter Services Intelligence official will visit India in the next one week, the report said.

Some federal ministers openly criticised Prime Minister Gilani for "giving an assurance to India that the ISI chief will go to New Delhi" as he made the decision without consulting his cabinet colleagues.

The cabinet advised Gilani that no ISI official should be sent to India in the near future.

The cabinet also agreed that "Pakistan will not come under any Indian pressure, but efforts will be made to decrease tensions without annoying the public opinion."

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