Taliban ready to defend Pakistan against India

By Reuters Staff
December 2, 2008

                  By Robert Birsel and Zeeshan Haider

Pakistan’s Taliban have indignantly criticised what they said were India’s “unfounded” threats against Pakistan in the wake of  the Mumbai assault and they vowed to rally to the defence of the country in the event of an Indian attack.
 
“If they dared to attack Pakistan then, God willing, we will share the happiness and grief with all Pakistanis,” said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar.
 
“We will put the animosity and fighting with the Pakistani army behind us and the Taliban will defend their frontiers, their boundaries, their country with their weapons.

“We will defend the Line of Control in the same way as we are defending the Durand Line,” he told Reuters by telephone referring to the frontier  with India in disputed Kashmir and the border with Afghanistan.
 
“We will show Pakistanis whether we are miscreants or defenders of the country.”

Pakistan has already said if the tension with India escalates,  it would have to move troops from its Afghan border,  where the Pakistani military is putting the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies under unprecedented pressure, to the Indian border.
 
The last time that happened was after the December 2001 attack on India’s parliament when the Taliban and al Qaeda  were also under tremendous pressure in the weeks after U.S.  special forces and their Afghan allies ousted the Taliban government in Kabul.
 
Are those behind the Mumbai carnage hoping that another face- off across Pakistan’s eastern border will again see Pakistani forces leaving the Afghan border virtually unattended?
 
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence the Mumbai assault came as the  militants seem to be under serious pressure on the Afghan  border.
 
Speaking of coincidences, some in Pakistan see the hand of  India behind the latest round of blood-letting in Karachi.
 
At least 40 people have been killed in Karachi since Saturday in clashes between activists from the city’s majority community of Urdu-speakers and ethnic Pashtuns from northwest Pakistan.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was on television on Tuesday saying it was strange the violence in Karachi erupted just after the Mumbai attack.
 
Conspiracy theorists will no doubt note that six small bombs  exploded in ethic Pashtun neighbourhoods on Karachi on July 7,  in what authorities said was a bid to stir up ethnic unrest.
 
The bombs went off hours after a suicide car-bomber killed 58 people in an attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. India said  Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency was behind that attack

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