View Full Version : Pakistan Cancels Army Leave Over Tensions With India: Official

12-26-2008, 11:35 AM
Pakistan cancels army leave over tension with India: official



Pakistan has cancelled leave for "operational" armed forces personnel and redeployed troops to the Indian border amid simmering tensions with New Delhi, a military official said on Friday.

Relations between the South Asian neighbours have been badly strained since the Mumbai attacks, which New Delhi has blamed on Pakistan-based militants. Islamabad says India has not provided it with evidence on which to act.

Both sides have said they do not want war, but warn they would act if provoked.

Pakistan's chief military spokesman, Major General Athar Abbas, declined to comment, but a senior defence ministry official confirmed some troops were being withdrawn from the restive northwest and sent to the Indian border.

"We do not want to create any war hysteria but we have to take minimum security measures to ward off any threat. Leaves of all operational personnel of the armed forces have been cancelled as a defensive measure," he told AFP.

A senior security official told AFP the new deployments on the Indian border were not in "significant numbers, but only in areas opposite the points where India is believed to have brought forward its troops."

The defence ministry official said military authorities here had noticed the movement of Indian troops toward the border near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, and that they believed India had also cancelled military leave.

Pakistan's army and air force have recently scaled back their operations against Taliban-linked militants in both the Swat valley and the Bajaur tribal area bordering Afghanistan. Both operations were launched in mid-2008.

A spokesman for Pakistan's umbrella Taliban group said Friday that if a large number of Pakistani troops were shifted to counter a possible Indian threat, militants would conditionally halt all attacks in the tribal belt.

"We would not only avoid any hostile acts in the tribal territory but also suspend cross-border attacks against foreign forces in Afghanistan," Maulvi Omar, the spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said by telephone.

The spokesman did not specify how many troops would have to be withdrawn from the tribal areas for his pledge to take effect.

In tandem with the military moves, civil defence authorities have launched a public awareness campaign in Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani part of Kashmir, a region ruled by both India and Pakistan but claimed by both in full.

"We have launched an awareness campaign in Kashmir to prepare people for self-defence and response in an emergency situation, amid the looming threat of possible Indian aggression," civil defence official Ghulam Rasool Nagra said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

New Delhi has said the slow-moving peace process with Pakistan is now on hold in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai, in which 172 people including nine of the gunmen were killed.