PESHAWAR: US-led coalition troops are getting closer to Pakistan’s western border after the reported withdrawal of “additional soldiers” and their redeployment along the tense Line of Control and the working boundary with India.
Officials from South Waziristan Agency told this scribe on Saturday by phone they had received reports about the coalition troops moving towards the Durand Line. Travellers returning from Afghanistan to Makin and Angur Ada also spoke of unprecedented military movement in areas near the border.
Quoting a well-placed Afghan official, the sources said the coalition forces continued to be in hot pursuits of the alleged terrorists hiding in the tribal belt. “They are being given tip-offs on the fugitives’ whereabouts,” the Afghan official was quoted as saying: “If need be, the coalition men would be asked to cross into certain parts of the Pakistani tribal belt, carry out operations there and come back to their bases in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan Thursday officially announced moving some of its army personnel away from the western tribal belt to the eastern borders in Kashmir. The army troops were earlier fanned out along the 1400-mile porous frontier to block the infiltration of Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives.
“Following Thursday’s departures, a small number of Pak Army troops could be seen in the tribal area. The duties of those withdrawn have been assigned to paramilitary forces,” the officials revealed. Returnees from Khost said that the recent additional deployment of British troops in the southeastern Afghan province had sent shock waves all around. “Many Afghans resent the larger coalition presence and stepped-up attacks on people who in no way could be suspected of any crime, let alone links to terrorism,” they claimed, alleging an unknown number of ‘respectable people’ had been taken into custody on the pretext of interrogation.
“Coalition troops - dressed in the traditional Pashtun attire - are scouring the border. They have hired the services of Pashtun guides in hunting the suspects. Once they gather the required information, raids and search operations follow soon,” one political administration official confided.
Meanwhile, the movement of helicopters and paramilitary troops in South Waziristan Agency is reportedly growing ever since troop withdrawal. “That the coalition people cross over on this side of the border is an open secret now,” confided one official, who was asked to comment on the border situation
Safiulah Gul PRAVDA.Ru Pakistan
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