WASHINGTON, Dec 5: Pakistan has assured the United States it is not withdrawing troops from the Afghan border despite tensions with India following the Mumbai terrorist attacks, a US general said on Friday.
Major General Michael S. Tucker, the deputy chief of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, also told a briefing in Washington that Pakistan had deployed additional troops along a key route to protect the convoys that bring supplies for US and allied troops in Afghanistan.
Gen Tucker said US military commanders had contacted their Pakistani counterparts after the Mumbai attacks and were assured that Islamabad did not plan to withdraw troops from the Afghan border.
Last week, a senior Pakistani military official had told journalists in Islamabad that Pakistan would be forced to withdraw its troops from the Afghan border if India deployed additional troops on the eastern border.
His remarks followed speculations in Washington that increased tensions between India and Pakistan could have a negative impact on the US-led war against terror in which Pakistan plays a key role and has deployed more than 100,000 troops along the Afghan border to prevent cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
Asked if he had seen any reduction in Pakistan’s efforts on their side of the border following the Mumbai attacks, Gen. Tucker said: “We have not”, but acknowledged that it was a concern.
“We stay in close dialogue with our Pakistani military counterparts in that regard, but to date we have not seen any reduction,” he said. “And they’ve told us that they’re remaining committed to their fight here on the western side of their border.”
Gen. Tucker also said that Pakistan committed an infantry battalion to escort vehicles across the border into Afghanistan following attacks last month on US supply convoys inside its territory.
“It was quite effective, but it wasn’t getting throughput. And so early last week, they committed an additional battalion, and now we have throughput, more commensurate what we’re expected to,” he said.
“But the bottom line up front is that the Pakistanis are protecting our lines of communication. And we have had no real effect in our logistics status here in Afghanistan because of that.”