Tags: Pakistan | Afghan | border | battles

Pakistan Worries Over Afghan Border Battles

Tuesday, 05 Jan 2010 10:40 AM

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - As 30,000 U.S. troops begin to deploy to Afghanistan, fears are rising in Pakistan that a stepped-up war just over the border could worsen the increasingly bloody struggle with militancy here.

Residents in border areas such as the violence-plagued city of Peshawar worry that a tide of militants could flee Afghanistan to seek targets in Pakistan. Doubts linger among Pakistani security officials about the Americans' ability to intensify the campaign against the Taliban without further destabilizing Pakistan's vast southwestern border or the already volatile tribal areas in the northwest.

"With a surge in American troops across the border, the militants facing pressure could come to our place, which will destroy peace and stability," said Haji Adam Khan, the top official in Qilla Abdullah, a mountainous Pakistani district that abuts Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. officials disagree with that assessment, reflecting the undercurrents of mistrust between allies whose relationship President Obama has called crucial to success in Afghanistan. Pakistani reservations about the U.S. strategy highlight the limits of an American-led war campaign in Afghanistan that must stop at a famously porous border -- Pakistan does not allow U.S. troops to fight on its soil -- even if the enemy crosses over.

A wave of bombings has swept Pakistan since October, devastating Peshawar but also reaching far beyond the troubled northwest. Attacks on places believed to be safe, such as the military headquarters in Rawalpindi and a popular market in the eastern city of Lahore, have struck fear into the population.

Last week, Pakistan's foreign minister warned in a statement that the U.S. troop buildup could magnify the problems by bringing an "influx of militants and refugees from Afghanistan into Pakistan." The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 led thousands of Taliban and al-Qaeda members to flee the fighting and seek refuge in Pakistan. Since then, insurgents have continued to use Pakistan as a staging ground for launching attacks into Afghanistan and within Pakistan.

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ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - As 30,000 U.S. troops begin to deploy to Afghanistan, fears are rising in Pakistan that a stepped-up war just over the border could worsen the increasingly bloody struggle with militancy here.
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