- Matt Wade
- November 30, 2008
PAKISTAN could divert tens of thousands of troops fighting terrorists on its border with Afghanistan to the Indian border if tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours continue to escalate following the terrorist strike on Mumbai, a senior Pakistani security official has warned.
Relations between the two countries are at a turning point after the Indian Government alleged Pakistani involvement in the attack and summoned the head of Pakistan's peak intelligence agency, the ISI, to assist with investigations.
The Pakistan Government initially agreed to this demand but then decided to send a lower-ranking representative instead.
The senior official was quoted in the Pakistani media as saying that if cross-border tensions continue to rise, "the war on terror won't be our priority. We'll take out everything from the western border. We won't leave anything here. Next two days will prove crucial to relations."
If the Pakistan army acts on this threat about 100,000 troops might be diverted away from fighting Taliban militants along its north-western border. This would be a setback to Western forces based in southern Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is believed to have spoken to Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, urging India not to escalate tensions with Pakistan. But Mr Mukherjee says the Mumbai attacks have made efforts to improve relations "impossible".
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari attempted to soothe tensions during a rare interview with an Indian broadcaster, saying he had been "bleeding" watching Mumbai's trauma. "I stand with the people of India. I stand with the leadership of India. I am sorry that you are going through this," he said.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on India not to turn the attacks into a diplomatic conflict.
"No evidence (of Pakistani involvement) has been provided so far — the Government of Pakistan and all the institutions of Pakistan are unanimous that Pakistan is not involved in the ghastly attack." Continued...