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Taliban pledges support to Pak in war against India

December 23, 2008 13:00 IST

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Hunted by the United States and NATO forces for committing acts of terror in Afghanistan, the Taliban [Images] on Tuesday said they would back the Pakistan Army [Images] by deploying hundreds of suicide bombers in case of any military action with India.

Claiming that 'thousands of our well-armed militants are ready to fight alongside the army if any war is imposed on Pakistan', chief of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, told The News daily by phone from an undisclosed location.

Hundreds of would-be bombers had been 'given suicide jackets and explosive-laden vehicles for protection of the border in case of any aggression by the Indian forces', he said.

'The time had come, to wage a real jihad that the Taliban had been waiting for,' Mehsud, for whom the Pakistani and US forces are on the look out claimed.

'We know very well that the visible and invisible enemies of the country have been planning to weaken this lone Islamic nuclear power. But the mujahideen will foil all such nefarious designs of our enemies,' he said.

This is for the first time Mehsud has admitted that Taliban has marshalled thousands of fighters close to the Afghan-Pak border and where Pakistani army has launched a major operation to flush them out.

Mehsud said people might question how the Taliban would fight alongside the Pakistan Army when the militants had been fighting the force for a long time.

'Therefore, I want to make it clear that the army was acting otherwise (in the past). But now it would fight for the protection and survival of the country, which is why we will support them,' Mehsud said.

Mehsud, who was accused by former President Pervez Musharraf [Images] of masterminding the assassination of Pakistan People's Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto [Images] in December last year, significantly said the Taliban would defend the country's frontier with Afghanistan in the event of hostilities with India.

He said he wanted to 'assure the nation, government and army that they should not worry about Pakistan's western borders with Afghanistan' as 'thousands of his armed fighters had already been deployed to safeguard the strategically important frontier'.

Taliban fighters are ready to fight under the army's command, he said, but remarked it would be better for the military to 'give them a separate sector or specify special targets for the militants'.

Tensions have escalated in the region after India blamed Pakistan-elements for the Mumbai terror attacks [Images], which killed over 180 people. India has asked Pakistan to take action against elements, including the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] terror group.

Though India has said war is not an option, Pakistan's top leaders, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [Images], have said the country is prepared to face any aggression on the eastern border. Several Taliban commanders have pledged their support to the Pakistan Army in the event of hostilities with India.

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