Pakistan moving troops to India border

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Old 27-Dec-2008
deepak pace
Post Pakistan moving troops to India border

Islamabad: Pakistan began moving thousands of troops to the Indian border on Friday, intelligence officials said, sharply raising tensions triggered by the Mumbai terror attacks.

India blames Pakistani-based militants for last month's siege on its financial capital, which killed more than a hundred people and has provoked an increasingly bitter war of words between the neighbours.

The troops headed to the Indian border were being diverted away from tribal areas near Afghanistan, officials said, and the move was expected to frustrate the United States which has been pushing Pakistan to step up its fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants near the Afghan border.

Two intelligence officials said the army's 14th Division was being redeployed to the towns of Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border. They said some 20,000 troops were on the move. Earlier Friday, a security official said that all troop leave had been canceled.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

A spokesman for India's Defence Ministry offered no immediate response.

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Friday with the chiefs of the army, navy and air force to discuss "the prevailing security situation," according to an official statement.

An Associated Press reporter in Dera Ismail Khan, a district that borders Pakistan's militant-infested South Waziristan tribal area, said he saw around 40 trucks loaded with soldiers heading away from the Afghan border.

A senior security official confirmed that soldiers were being moved out of the border area, but said it was "a limited number from areas where they were not engaged in any operation."

He decline further comment and asked his name not be used, citing the sensitivity of the situation.

Analysts said the redeployment was likely meant as a warning to India not to launch missile strikes against militant targets on its territory, a response that some have speculated is possible.

"It is a message to India that if you think you can get away with strikes, you are sadly mistaken," said Talat Masood, a retired general and military analyst based in Islamabad

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