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Zardari in power struggle with Army over India: Report

June 26, 2009 18:50 IST

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is locked in a power struggle with the army over his plans to ease tensions with India and his assertion that Taliban, not India, is the greatest threat to his country, a news report said today.

Quoting sources close to the Pakistan Army chief, Gen Ashfaq Kiyani, The Daily Telegraph today reported that senior officers are alarmed at the President's plans to divert troops and aircraft from the India-Pakistan border and deploy them in a new offensive against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

President Zardari's comments that India no longer posed a military threat to Pakistan and "the greatest threat came from Islamic guerrillas in its tribal areas along with Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan", raised hopes of a thaw in the frosty relationship between India and Pakistan, the report said.

During a meeting with EU officials in Brussels earlier this week, Zardari said: "I do not consider India a military threat, India is a reality, Pakistan is a reality, but Taliban are a threat, an international threat to our way of life and at the moment, I'm focused on the Taliban".

Quoting analysts, the report in the British daily said they did not expect Zardari to win his fight to redeploy the army.
Despite signals that India would welcome talks - possibly between their foreign ministers at a meeting of the G8 group of nations in Trieste, Italy, this weekend – New Delhi believes a willingness "to deport terrorist suspects such as Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Toeba, would be more meaningful statement, the report said.

The report quoted Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood, a respected Pakistani political analyst, saying Pakistan's military chiefs firmly believed that there must first be progress in finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute before a better relationship could be considered worth having.

Until then, the army chiefs will focus on India's vast military capability rather than its stated intentions.
"Intentions can change, and you can't rule out the possibility," he told the newspaper.

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