Pakistani troops to remain on border with India: Kayani

May 16th, 2009 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 16 (IANS) There would be no thinning of troops on the border with India, the Pakistani Army chief says, cautioning President Asif Ali Zardari - and the US - that decisions on deployments ought to be collectively taken by this country’s political and military leadership.
“The military leadership (has) told the national political leadership that there was no chance of moving the armed forces from Pakistan’s border with India for their deployment at the western borders,” The News said Saturday.

The army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, made the affirmation Friday during a five-hour in-camera briefing to the national leadership on the military operation being conducted against the Taliban in three districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The response came on a query of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the situation on the border with India.

“The military leadership told the political leadership that the United States had asked for the deployment of forces at the Afghanistan border by moving them from the Indian border and was even ready to give guarantees that India would not make any misadventure against Pakistan,” The News said.

“Pakistan rejected the proposal and made it clear that on the issue of national security, it did not trust any kind of international guarantees,” it added.

This was reiterated Saturday in a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) that began by saying: “Lately a lot of comments from various quarters are coming on the level of Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) training of Pakistani troops and about their shifting from the eastern borders.”

“Chief of army staff… reaffirmed that strategic decisions regarding where, when and how many troops are deployed in each operation or sector is always a Pakistani decision based on objective analysis and our full understanding of threat spectrum.

“These decisions are undertaken in accordance with our national interest by our leadership keeping in view the aspirations of people of Pakistan. Any outside advice/subjective comments towards this end is counter productive and divisive in effect rather than helpful,” the statement added.

Observers here said the statement was in direct response to Zardari’s remarks during his US visit earlier this month that Pakistan had moved an unspecified number of troops 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.”

As for the LIC training, Kayani, according to the ISPR statement, “stated that Pakistan Army has developed a full range of counter insurgency training facilities tailored to train troops for such operations.

“Therefore, except for very specialized weapons and equipment, high technology, no generalized foreign training is required.

“Owing to its vast experience, Pakistan Army remains the best suited force to operate in its own area. Uncalled for aspersions through various quarters on our training methods/orientation is apparently due to lack of knowledge and understanding of our training system in vogue,” Kayani said.

Pakistan has repeatedly rejected Washington’s suggestions that US troops be deployed in the virtually ungovernable areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, saying it was equal to the task of taking on the militants operating in the area.

The Pakistani military April 26 went into action against the Taliban in the NWFP after the militants reneged on a controversial peace accord with the provincial government.

Instead of laying down their arms, the Taliban moved south from their Swat headquarters and occupied Buner district that is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations began in Lower Dir, the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered the peace accord, and were then extended to Buner and Swat.

Close to 1,000 militants have so far been killed in the fighting.

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