Sunday, February 25, 2024

Pak cancels troops’ leave over tension

Pakistan’s army has canceled troops’ leave and ordered them to report to duty because of tension with old rival India over last month’s militant attacks in Mumbai, a military official and soldiers said on Friday. Tension has escalated between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India since 179 people were killed in a militant assault on several places in India’s financial hub that India has blamed on Pakistan-based militants. “Leave has been canceled because of the situation.
All soldiers have been asked to report to duty,” said a military official who declined to be identified. Pakistan’s military spokesman was not available for comment but several soldiers confirmed that orders had gone out calling soldiers back from leave.
Pakistan has condemned the Mumbai attacks, denied any role in the assault and offered to cooperate with India in investigations, but at the same it has time warned that its desire for peaceful coexistence should not be taken as weakness. India has put a pause on a five-year-old peace process that Pakistan had been trying to push forward. Indian officials have said they were keeping all options open, comments the Indian media have widely interpreted to mean that a military response was possible. Most analysts believe the tension is unlikely to descend into war.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from British rule in 1947 and went to the brink of a fourth after an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001 also blamed on Pakistan-based militants. Some Pakistani media also reported troop movements from Pakistan’s western border with Afghanistan, where soldiers are battling al Qaeda and Taliban militants, to its eastern border with India.
But military officials and the government’s top Interior Ministry official, Rehman Malik, denied that, saying there was no movement of troops from the northwest and operations against militants were continuing.
The redeployment of Pakistani troops from the Afghan border to the frontier with India would give a free hand to militants operating in remote enclaves in the northwest and would deal a blow to U.S.-led efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan.

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