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Pakistan ready to shift troops from Indian border to fight Taliban

May 09, 2009 12:08 IST

Under pressure from the US, President Asif Ali Zardari today said Pakistan is ready to shift some of its troops from the Indian border to its western frontier to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists.
 
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 on Saturday 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.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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