Pakistan under siege

THE security situation along Pak-Afghan border has been further complicated by reports of build-up by Nato and US forces. Even as both sides try to play it down, the movement of helicopter gunships, tanks and armoured personnel carriers is fuelling tensions in Pakistan.

This has coupled with strong calls from Washington and Kabul vowing military action. On Wednesday, Nato used helicopters and artillery fire into Pakistan in retaliation to rocket attacks by militants from Pakistani side of the border.

While Afghan President Karzai blamed Pak intelligence agencies of masterminding the deadly blast outside Indian embassy in Kabul, India's top security adviser called for elimination of ISI. The US and its allies are increasingly frustrated over what they see as Pakistan's failure to contain the infiltration of pro-Taleban militants from its tribal region. President Bush even went further saying his successor would have to be concerned more about Pakistan than Iraq or Afghanistan because its tribal regions have become haven for Al Qaeda terrorists. The main concern at the moment is that while militancy is on the rise in tribal areas, Pakistan's new elected government has been unable to evolve a coherent policy to tackle it. It began with a policy of engaging the militants. But pressure from the US and its allies derailed the talks.

The Pak government finds itself in an extremely difficult position. Militancy threatens its own security and peace. But the use of force, as demanded by the world, could ratchet up terror bringing it to its own cities. The intrusion by Nato forces or missile attacks from across the border result in lot of collateral damage, fuelling extremist sentiments and a rage against the US. Pak PM Gilani is visiting Washington later this month. Both sides are expected to evolve a coordinated strategy to curb infiltration. Pakistan maintains that it cannot unilaterally do that.

It has deployed over 100,000 troops and set up over 750 check posts along a very difficult terrain. On the other side the Allied Force has established a little over 130 posts. While the US has to raise level its troops' strength on the other side, it has to provide more technical assistance to Pakistan to accomplish its task.

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