Pakistan blackmail of India and US?

Times of India:

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In what is turning out to be an elaborate chess game in the region, Islamabad on Saturday made its "Afghan move" to counter the US-India pincer, telling Washington that it will have to withdraw some 100,000 Pakistani troops posted on its western borders to fight the al-Qaida-Taliban and move them east to the Indian front if New Delhi makes any aggressive moves.

In Washington, Pakistan's ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani said there is no movement of Pakistani troops right now, but if India makes any aggressive moves, "Pakistan will have no choice but to take appropriate measures."

Stripped of complexities, Pakistan is conveying the following message to the US: If you don't get India to back down, Pakistan will stop cooperating with US in the war against terror. Consequently, this also means Pakistan will use US dependence on its cooperation to wage a low-grade, asymmetric, terrorism-backed war against India.

Pakistan's withdrawal of troops from the Afghan front would obviously undermine the US/Nato battle in Afghanistan and allow breathing space for Taliban and al-Qaida. It would also ratchet up confrontation with India, which is at low ebb right now because Islamabad has been forced to engage on its western front and this minimizes Pakistan-backed infiltration into Kashmir, allowing India to tackle the insurgency in the state.

In fact, some experts surmise that the terror strike on Mumbai may have been aimed at precisely this - taking the pressure off Pakistan on its Afghan front, where it is getting a battering from US predators and causing a civilian uprising on its border, and allowing Islamabad to return to its traditional hostile posture against India on its eastern front.

The US-India-Pakistan tangle was the subject of intense debate among analysts on Sunday talk shows, with some analysts like former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin expressing apprehension that al-Qaida could be achieving its objective of getting some relief through such proxy attacks.

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There is a way the US and NATO could call this bluff. We could tell Pakistan that if you withdraw troops from the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda we will sends ours into that area and destroy the sanctuaries and training areas for the Taliban and al Qaeda. There will be no further reason for us to show restraint in the use of force in the area.

Pakistan could find itself in a two front war if it does not handle this situation wisely. What we should make clear to Pakistan is that our forces will fill the void along the Afghan border if their forces leave.

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