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One lakh Pak troops could be redeployed along Indian border

November 30, 2008 17:40 IST

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Warning of mounting tension with India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan's security apparatus has said that up to one lakh troops could be redeployed along the border with India after diverting them from fighting militants in the restive Afghan frontier.

The next two days would be crucial in determining how the situation would unfold, senior security officials were quoted
as saying by the local media on a background briefing organised for Pakistani journalists on Saturday.
    
Pakistan would wind up its "war on terror" on the Afghan borders if the situation in the east "spiralled out of control", the officials were quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper. The top officials categorised the current state of
Pakistan-India relations as "tense". "They (Indians) are taking the escalation level up at a very brisk pace," one official said.
    
Describing the situation as "crisis-like", the officials said Pakistan would pull out "all the troops" now deployed in the country's northwest if India deployed forces on its border with Pakistan.
    
There are about 90,000 to 100,000 troops fighting pro-Taliban militants in the tribal belt, the officials said.
    
India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire along the borders in Kashmir in late 2003, allowing Islamabad [Images] to divert more troops for quelling a raging Taliban [Images]-led insurgency in North West Frontier Province and adjoining tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. The US has described the tribal belt as safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements.
    
If tension escalated with India, the "war on terror won't be our priority", a security official said during the briefing. He said the Pakistani security establishment would not "leave anything" on the Afghan border if troops were diverted to the Indian frontier.

Pakistan's stand had also been conveyed to the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, whose forces are battling the Taliban in Afghanistan and need the support of the troops on the Pakistani side of the border.
    
The officials claimed that no clue had been found so far about the involvement of "any Pakistani entity in the Mumbai
attacks". One official said: "If Indians have any evidence, they should share with us."
    
The officials said India had only officially conveyed that the conspiracy behind the Mumbai attacks was "hatched in
Pakistan". Another official was quoted as saying that there was "no involvement of any Pakistani institution in any
manner" in the Mumbai attacks.
    
The officials also said they were "shocked" to see the "level of sophistication" involved in the attacks in Mumbai
and that India "was not ready for that".
    
Some media reports quoted the security officials as saying that External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had
"threatened Pakistan and its leadership" and this had "forced Pakistan to adopt a tougher line".
    
India had put its Air Force on high alert, the officials claimed, adding Pakistan would take measures to "ensure its security and safeguard its interests." Pakistani troops and the Air Force have been put on "high alert" due to the tensions with India, The Nation daily reported. "We're very vigilant. If there is any threat we are ready for that," an official was quoted as saying.
    
The Nation also quoted the officials as saying that Indian authorities should "come to Pakistan with evidence", if
any, of a Pakistani link to the attacks. They said the visit of any Inter-Services Intelligence official to India "was also
in doubt" and unlikely to happen "in the near future".
    
Meanwhile, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha met on Saturday to discuss the situation in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 195 people and injured hundreds more.




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