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Is Zardari playing Kashmir card?
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 10
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s statement that his country had moved some of its forces from the Indian border is being seen here as another attempt by Islamabad to play the ‘Kashmir card’.

Knowledgable government sources were quite cautious in reacting to Islamabad’s move and said any troop reduction by Pakistan would have to be verified on the ground.

It was pointed out that ever since US President Barack Obama assumed charge (on January 20), Islamabad has been under intense pressure from Washington to step up the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Islamabad has been arguing that it was unable to put its full weight behind the fight against extremist forces operating on its soil, as it could not afford to move forces from its eastern border in view of the threat from India.

In fact, Islamabad tried hard that President Obama include Kashmir also in the agenda of Richard Holbrooke when he was appointed US special envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Thanks to some deft diplomacy by India, Kashmir is not part of Holbrooke’s agenda though he has been consulting the Indian leadership on how the Afghan crisis could be resolved.

The sources explained that the heavy presence of Indian troops along the Line of Control (LOC) was not part of any aggressive posturing against Pakistan but to check infiltration from across the border as also to thwart any misadventure by Pakistan forces. However, Pakistan has been using its troop deployment along the border to facilitate infiltration.

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