Anti-neocon conservative analyst Stephen P. Cohen tells Indian TV that Pakistan is unable or unwilling to control terror groups on its territory. A
December 26, 2008

Anti-neocon conservative analyst Stephen P. Cohen tells Indian TV that Pakistan is unable or unwilling to control terror groups on its territory.

An AP report quotes Pakistani unofficial officials as saying that Pakistan is moving thousands of troops to its border with India, snubbing Bush administration offcials who had pleaded with the Pakistanis not to.

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-Qaida 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 all troop leave had been canceled.

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

Both countries have said they want to avoid military conflict over the attacks. But India has not ruled out the use of force as it presses its neighbor to crack down on the Pakistani-based terrorist group it blames for the attack.

Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has promised to respond aggressively if attacked but reassured India Friday that Pakistan would not strike first.

The Pakistani military has denied the AP's report and its anonymous Pakistani military sources. They claim that the military is undergoing regular, scheduled rotations, and that if an AP reporter saw trucks moving out of a tribal area, those troops were on a scheduled rotation, and not acting under new orders.

Of course, the Pakistani military has proven that its official pronouncements are entirely trustable...

Just days ago all the analysts were saying that there was almost no chance of war between the two nuclear-armed nations but now one retired Pakistani general has told the AP it's to deter US-style missile strikes on suspected militant targets:

"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.

I don't think the analysts are wrong - war is still highly unlikely although tensions have just ratcheted a little higher. The Pakistani military has always defined itself exclusively by its opposition to India and large swathes of both the military and the Pakistani general populace have become more and more hostile to fighting what they see as "America's War" along their Western border with Afghanistan. Using the current situation as a convenient excuse to walk away from that war and back towards facing off India was always on the cards, will be popular on Pakistan's streets and will strengthen the military's political position as the new civilian government attempts to be less than its puppet in many areas of domestic and foreign policy.

However, as my colleague Fester noted in an email, this redeployment means that supply lines for US and allied forces in Afghanistan will become more vulnerable and that militants along the Afghan/Pakistan border will become more active. That's a feature rather than a bug as far as much of the Pakistani military and the ISI intelligence agency are concerned. That the Bush administrations diplomats and generals have been unable to prevent this redeployemnt, despite their constant claims that Pakistan is a staunch ally in the War On Some Terror and recent assertions that Pakistan is committed to helping India investigate then root out the extremists responsible for the Mumbai attacks is indicative of just how badly they've been had by Pakistani spin and doubletalk over the last eight years.

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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