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Zardari faces threat from Pakistan army

September 19, 2008 01:12 IST

Pakistan's new President Asif Ali Zardari may face threat from his country's army, which remains unwilling to counter a resurgent Taliban [Images] effectively, a leading think tank claimed on Thursday.

"The Pakistani army remains unable or unwilling to counter effectively the resurgent Taliban and Zardari's major challenge is to gain the trust of the army, which in turn may pose a threat to him," the International Institute for Strategic Studies said.

Zardari: From playboy to Pakistan President

"Zardari's top priority is to fight terrorism and Islamist militancy in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan," said John Chipman, head of the prestigious London-based Think tank, launching the Strategic Survey-2008 report.

"But the Pakistani army remains unable or unwilling to counter effectively the resurgent Taliban with over 110,000 troops deployed in the area."

Chipman said Zardari's major challenge would be to gain the trust of the army and build a consensus against terrorism and Islamist extremism among the political establishment.

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"To pursue the campaign on terror, he will need to balance the conflicting interests of growing US pressure for military strikes in the tribal areas with the Pakistani army's decreasing tolerance for such attacks.

"Most importantly, President Zardari will have to ensure that the ensuing domestic political turbulence, heightened by the growing economic crisis, does not place his own government at risk from the army," Chipman said.

'Pakistan military still considers India as greatest threat'

Zardari has himself spoken about threats to his life stating those who assassinated his wife Benazir are out to assassinate him.

Officials from the United States and Afghanistan have been claiming that the tribal areas in Pakistan are a safe haven for Al Qaeda [Images] and Taliban rebels, who took sanctuary there after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2001.

Pak using US funds for war against India: Obama

But Islamabad [Images] has asserted that it would defend itself against violations of its air space and incursions by US forces from Afghanistan, straining the relationship between the allies of war on terror.

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