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Pakistan Considers Re-Deploying Troops to Reinforce Indian Border


Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says he is considering moving some Pakistani troops from the Afghan border to reinforce the border with India.

Thousands of Pakistani troops are stationed on the country's western border in order to stop al-Qaida terrorists and Taleban militants from fleeing Afghanistan.

But President Musharraf says if the threat of war with India persists, he may re-deploy Pakistan forces to the Indian border. He was addressing a news conference after signing an energy pipeline agreement with Afghan interim-leader Hamid Karzai and Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyzov.

"For Pakistan the first priority is its on security, and nobody should grudge that. If we are subjected to aggression, then certainly all our resources will confront the area or the points where this security is being threatened," he noted. "And that is where shifting of the forces from the west to the east comes in. But the movement has not yet started. We are seriously contemplating on moving some elements out of these on to the east if at all the tensions remain as high as they are now."

Tensions between India and Pakistan have rapidly increased in recent days, raising fears of another conflict between the South Asian nations. India accuses Pakistan of supporting terrorist attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegations.

President Musharraf has again said his country condemns terrorism. He says Pakistan wants to live in peace and does not want war with India.

"I think all that I can do is to give my assurance that we will try to avoid conflict. It will be my utmost endeavor to avoid conflict,'" president Musharraf said. "And I have been saying that all along, that conflict will only take place here [only] if it is initiated by India. We will not be the initiators. This is my guarantee."

Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai also made an appeal to both India and Pakistan to ease border tensions and settle difference through talks.

"I would like to tell both India and Pakistan, to come and see the destruction in Kabul and then decide. They must see what has happened in Afghanistan," he said. "They must see the suffering of the people there and then choose the path that they want to take. And I am sure they would take the path of peace and co-operation and economic well being for all the people."

The United States has warned that "irresponsible elements" could spark a conflict if tensions between India and Pakistan escalate.

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