Pak Says Tension On Border, Can’t Act Against Taliban26 March 2010
The Economic Times
New Delhi: Flagging the India bogey, Pakistan has moved extra troops to the border with India. It claimed that the tension on the border with India prevented it from acting against the Taliban on the western border. But the troop numbers have been described as “modest”. Pakistan’s envoy to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, told the Financial Times that the threat on the border with India was draining his country’s ability to take action against the Taliban. “The government has had to send some troops down there because we don’t want to leave ourselves exposed,” said Mr Hasan, a confidant of the family of President Asif Ali Zardari. He further claimed India was creating tension by building military cantonments close to the border over the past year. “This is taking away from our defence capabilities on the Afghan border,” Mr Hasan said, adding: “We really wish the international community would intervene, but nobody has said anything to the Indians.” The newspaper report also quoted unnamed Pakistani officials as saying that the number of troops that have been deployed on the border was “modest”. The timing of the latest Pakistani action has confounded New Delhi, which has done its best to establish channels of communication with Islamabad. In fact, it is Islamabad which has put roadblocks on the Indian attempt to establish dialogue at the foreign secretary level. Pakistan has continued to push for the resumption of the composite-dialogue process while refusing to make any commitments on taking action against the terror groups targeting India. The envoy’s remarks also come after fulsome praise by Washington on Pakistan’s action against the Taliban in South Waziristan and Swat. Washington’s outreach programme for Pakistan is based on the assumption that Islamabad will step up action against Taliban and Al Qaeda safe havens. This latest statement from a senior Pakistani diplomat, however, suggests that Islamabad is unwilling and unable to broaden the offensive against the Taliban. In exchange for action against the Taliban, the Obama administration had announced a plan to give a multi-year security-assistance package to Pakistan and promised to expedite supply of military hardware. The supply of military hardware and, in particular, drones and F-16 are of concern to New Delhi, which foresees the F-16s with air-to-air missile capabilities being deployed against India and not against terror elements. Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Washington had also continued to push for killer drones, which includes a closely guarded technology by the US. India is expected to take up the matter of military supplies with the US, which hasn’t taken Indian concerns on board.