Pak ready to shift troops from Indian border to fight Taliban

Pak ready to shift troops from Indian border to fight Taliban

The US has been pressing Pakistan to step up its offensive against the Taliban but Islamabad has been reluctant to move troops from the eastern border as it considers India as its main threat.

US President Barack Obama, who met Zardari here, has been trying to convince Pakistan that such a belief is "misguided" and that the terrorists inside the country pose the most serious threat to its security and safety.

"Let me tell you that we have moved some more (troops) recently because the action asked for it. If need be, we will move more," Zardari told the popular Charlie Rose Show on PBS today when asked about the US request in this regard. Afghan President Hamid Karzai also appeared on the show.

"It was the demand based proposition, when the demand goes up, we shift. Whenever we have to move, we will have to move from that (Indian) border towards this (Afghan border)," Zardari said.

Zardari's comments came after the US said it continues to be concerned over the situation in Pakistan. Washington also voiced skepticism over assurances given by Zardari to Obama on the Taliban issue and made it clear that the country needs to "do more" to meet the threat.

Asked about the perceived threat from India, Zardari said the Indian border is sometimes hot and sometimes cold. "But democracies are always trying to get friendly with each other... We are trying to improve our relationship with India, So we never talk war. Pakistan under a democratic system has never gone to war with India," he argued.
"At the same time, there is an active threat on the Afghan border from our side, from their side, from within the mountains, and that's where we're engaged today. Today's war for the perceivable future for the world and for us is that area," Zardari said indicating he is now convinced that the Taliban posed a serious security threat to his country.

"I can assure you that everybody in my government knows that the threat is to them. It is not a threat to you or anybody else," he said.

The Pakistani President said his country needs the equipments to successfully fight out the Taliban and al-Qaeda from within its territory. "We need much more help. And more technology. We need more helicopters, we need night vision equipment. I have even asked for the drones," he said.

Seeking to allay western apprehensions, Zardari assured that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are safe and it would never land in the hands of the Taliban or al-Qaeda.
The Pakistani President said the reports about an eminent Taliban taken over of Islamabad are a media creation.

"The Taliban are in the mountains, which are geographically 80 miles from Islamabad. They have always been there. Didn't show up yesterday. So if they take one hill top and try to take the others that does not mean that Islamabad is in danger," Zardari said.
But Washington made it known that it was not convinced with Zardari's assurances.
"I think both President Zardari and President (Hamid) Karzai went back to their countries with the understanding that there is some skepticism on the (Capitol) Hill and that Pakistan and Afghanistan are going to have to do more and take the steps that are necessary to deal with these threats, to alleviate some of the concerns that exist on Capitol Hill," State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "Obviously, we continue to be concern about the situation and will watch it carefully."

Responding to a question on the ongoing military action by the army against the Taliban in the Swat Valley, Gibbs said, "we're heartened by the developments thus far".
However, Gibbs was quick to point out that it's something of deep concern to the president and to the national security team, and it is something which the US will continue to monitor.

"This has been on the President's radar for many years and something that the team and the President here spend an increasing amount of time watching to ensure that we continue to make progress," he said.


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