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Suspicious Pak wants more US pressure on India

December 16, 2009 15:55 IST

In a bargaining tactic, Pakistan has urged the United States to push India for a 'diplomatic rapprochement' with it, in lieu of its crackdown on terror groups, particularly in tribal areas where top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are hiding, a media report said on Wednesday.

This tactic of Pakistan -- for which, observers say, its leaders have been known for -- is clearly being articulated by President Asif Ali Zardari in his three-page letter written to his US counterpart Barack Obama.

Zardari's letter is in response to the two-page letter from the US President, which was hand delivered to him by National Security Adviser General (Retired) James Jones, during his trip to Islamabad in November.

The Washington Post said the Pakistani army has been reluctant to shift its focus away from what it sees as an ongoing threat from neighbouring India towards increased counter-insurgency against Al Qaeda and Taliban.

"Closer Indian-US ties and the expansion of India's conventional capabilities have increased suspicion of US aims," the paper wrote. Referring to the letter by the Pakistan President, The Post said Zardari did not mention India by name.

"But he made repeated reference to Pakistan's core interests, unresolved historical conflicts and conventional imbalances. He called on Obama to push Pakistan's neighbours towards diplomatic rapprochement," it said.

The newspaper said that Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is resisting the US' timeline for fighting insurgents.

"Kayani expressed concern that stepped-up US operations in Afghanistan are pushing insurgents into Pakistan. He said that the military has begun raids in North Waziristan and is working with tribes in the area to expel Uzbek and Arab insurgents," the daily said.

In a written response to a letter from Obama, Zardari assured him that his government was determined to take action against the Al Qaeda, Taliban and allied insurgent groups attacking US forces in Afghanistan from the border area inside Pakistan.

"But, he said, Pakistan's efforts would be based on its own timeline and operational needs," the daily reported. Last week, in an opinion piece published in The New York Times, Zardari had sought US intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue.

"It would be helpful if the United States, at some point, would scrutinise India in a similar fashion and acknowledge that it has from time to time played a destabilising role in the region," Zardari wrote.

"Public mistrust of the United States also stems from regional issues, specifically policies concerning India. I know it is the conventional wisdom in Washington that my nation is obsessed with India," Zardari had said.

"But even to those of us who are striving toward accommodation and peace, the long history and the unresolved situation in Kashmir give Pakistanis reason to be concerned about our neighbour to the east," he had said.

Lalit K Jha In Washington
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