India worried over Taliban Pak inroads
11 Aug 2008, 0150 hrs IST,TNN
NEW DELHI: As Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged NATO and the international community to target terrorist "sanctuaries" inside Pakistan, the Taliban leadership promised over the weekend that they could easily take over Karachi, Pakistan's largest city. It's a development that rang many alarm bells in India, particularly as it views with increasing concern Pakistan's growing tryst with instability. Whether Pakistan's embattled President Pervez Musharraf resigns on Monday or not, India's concerns are more extensive. While political instability rages inside Pakistan, the Taliban and al-Qaida militants are digging in, not only in the FATA areas but also in interiors of Pakistan. According to Indian security sources, almost half of the Taliban strength now comes from foreign fighters like Uzbeks, Chechens and Punjabis from Pakistan's heartland. And the more difficult fact — that nobody quite knows what to do about — is a large number of Uzbeks and Chechens apparently come through Iranian territory. On Saturday, this was manifested in a statement by the Tehrik-e-Taliban, better known as the Pakistan Taliban under Baitullah Mehsud. Maulvi Omar was quoted as saying that Altaf Hussain (MQM) should know that the Taliban could take over Karachi whenever they wanted. He said the people of Karachi "should have no fear from the Taliban as we preach solidarity amongst Muslims". Pakistani media reports quoted Omar as saying that the Taliban had much strength in Karachi as well as in other parts of the country. "We are capable of capturing any city of the country at any given time," he emphatically stated. "We want to strengthen Muslims as well as our movement, so we need cooperation from all the parties, religious or political," said Omar. "Our battle is not with Muslims but with anti-Muslim and tyrannical forces. The jihad against these elements is not only in Karachi but across the country and it will be carried out until we have a complete hold on the world," he declared. Meanwhile, Karzai has been taking an approach that is sorely lacking in India — calling attention of the world on the "sanctuaries" of terror inside Pakistan, instead of airstrikes inside Afghanistan, which only serve to kill innocent civilians and turn public opinion against the West. "If the world acts properly now and pays attention to the nests of terrorists, their training sites...the problem of the region would be solved," Karzai said. The Afghan president said that he did not wish to harm Pakistan but wanted the destruction of financial centres and training bases of terrorists there. According to Karzai's advisors, between the Taliban and Jalaluddin Haqqani's group, there are somewhere around 6,000-8,000 suicide fighters ready to be "martyred". The difficult areas, according to Indian sources, are the Gardez-Khost road inside Afghanistan and the Kunar and Nuristan provinces. "The struggle against terrorism is not in the villages of Afghanistan," Karzai said. "The only result of the use of airstrikes is the killing of civilians. This is not the way to wage the fight against terrorism," he added.