No thinning of troops by Pakistan: Indian ArmyMay 12th, 2009 - 8:21 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) The Indian Army, which has been keeping a cautious eye on developments across the western border where the security forces have launched a major operation against the Taliban, Tuesday said no thinning out of troops on the Pakistan side of the frontier had been noticed.
“There have been no indications of thinning out of (Pakistani) troops,” a senior Indian Army official told IANS, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari was last week quoted as saying an unspecified number of troops had been moved from the border with India to fight the Taliban.
He said if need be more troops would be moved out but pointed out that Pakistan’s command posts and cantonments were all on the “southern border” with India.
Asked why Pakistan would not move troops from the Indian border to its porous western border region with Afghanistan where the Taliban have found safe havens, he said: “We have already done so.”
Later appearing on “Charlie Rose” show on PBS with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Zardari responded to the question a bit differently.
“It’s a complex answer to that. In the simple term, let me tell you that we have moved some more (troops) recently because the action asked for it. And if need be, we will move more.”
According to the Indian Army officer, “Pakistan had moved an estimated four-five divisions to the border after 26/11 (the Mumbai terror attack). We were expecting it to move back these troops. However, nothing has happened so far”.
According to officials, the Indian Army has 11 divisions deployed on this side of border, while Pakistan has nearly 9 divisions deployed on its side of the frontier.
The Pakistan Army went into action against the Taliban on April 26 after it violated a controversial peace deal with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government. With the Taliban fortifying itself in the region, the US apparently pressurised Pakistan to ease its troop deployment on the border with India and concentrate on the fight against the Taliban.
Heliborne troops of the Pakistani Army Tuesday landed in Peochar, in the heartland of the Swat Taliban, in what seemed to be the final push against the militants, the military said.
Peochar is the headquarters of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, the son-in-law of radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered the peace deal, under which Sharia laws were to be imposed in Swat and six other districts of the NWFP, which are collectively known as the Malakand division, in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.
The accord came into force in mid-April but the Taliban reneged on it and instead moved south from Swat to occupy Buner district that is just 100 km from Islamabad.
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