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Pakistani Troops Amass at Indian Border as Tensions Grow

BY Admin  December 26, 2008 at 1:20 PM EST

Pakistani soldier; AP photo

Two intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the army’s 14th Division was being redeployed from the tribal areas near Afghanistan to the towns of Kasur and Sialkot, near the Indian border, the Associated Press reported.

They said about 20,000 troops were on the move.

An Indian Defense Ministry spokesman offered no immediate response.

An AP reporter in Dera Ismail Khan, a district bordering Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal area, said he saw about 40 trucks loaded with Pakistani soldiers heading away from the Afghan border.

The redeployment might deepen concerns among American officials about Pakistan’s commitment to fighting Taliban militants in the western frontier region, according to the New York Times.

A senior security official said it was “a limited number” of soldiers from areas where they were not engaged in any operation, quoted the AP.

Analysts said the redeployment was likely meant to warn India against launching missile strikes against militant targets on its territory.

“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, the AP reported.

India has demanded that Pakistan arrest the perpetrators behind the attacks in Mumbai, which occurred at the end of November and left 171 people dead. India says they are members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group believed to have been created by Pakistani intelligence in the 1980s and used to fight Indian rule of the Kashmir region.

Pakistan’s government has said it would cooperate with the investigation but has seen no evidence that its citizens were involved.

Meanwhile, Indian police reported Friday that violence in Indian Kashmir has fallen to its lowest level since a separatist insurgency began about 20 years ago, according to Reuters.

The number of militant attacks in 2008 fell 40 percent to 709, which is the first time the number of attacks dropped below 1,000, said Kuldeep Khoda, senior police official of Jammu-Kashmir. In 2007, about 1,100 militant incidents were recorded in Indian Kashmir, he said.

India and Pakistan both claim the region in full but administer different parts of it, along with China.

Indian officials attributed the drop in violence to a peace process initiated by India and Pakistan in 2004.