Pakistan’s security establishment is increasingly wary of the US military buildup in Afghanistan fearing that an additional 30,000 troops there would push “a tide of militants” into its territory,and further destabilize its large southwestern border.
US officials,however,disagree with the assessment,reflecting the undercurrents of mistrust between the United States and Pakistan,The Washington Post said today.
“Doubts linger among Pakistani security officials about the Americans’ ability to intensify the campaign against the Taliban without further destabilising Pakistan’s vast southwestern border or the already volatile tribal areas in the northwest,” the daily said.
“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,” it said.
The Post said Pakistan’s reservations about the US strategy highlight the limits of an America-led war campaign in Afghanistan that must stop at a famously porous border,as Pakistan does not allow US troops to fight on its soil even if the enemy crosses over.
“With a surge in American troops across the border,the militants facing pressure could come to our place,which will destroy peace and stability,” Haji Adam Khan,the top official in Qilla Abdullah,a mountainous Pakistani district that abuts Kandahar in southern Afghanistan,was quoted as saying.
As part of his new AfPak strategy,US President Barack Obama recently announced that his country would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan,and work towards strengthening the Afghan government’s security capability.
Last week,the daily said,Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said the US troop buildup could magnify the problems as it would result in influx of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan. US military officials,however,downplay the Pakistanis’ worry,saying they are working closely with that country’s security forces ahead of the troop increase.
They note that a stream of top American officials has visited Pakistan to seek support for the strategy.
According to The Post,a senior US military official in Pakistan said a spillover of militancy or refugees is unlikely,in part because of regular meetings in which officials from both nations discuss “where we think the forces are going to go,and if that would cause issues”.
However,the Pakistani military,already stretched thin by military operations in South Waziristan and other tribal areas against the Pakistani Taliban,is less sure,the paper wrote.