December 5, 2008 – Attacks on Mumbai have fueled concerns that rising tension with India will divert Pakistan’s attention from fighting insurgents in its western tribal areas who are infiltrating Afghanistan to stage attacks on U.S., NATO and Afghan forces.
Here are some potential consequences of the Mumbai attacks for the Afghanistan war and the fight against al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
* PAKISTAN REDEPLOYS TROOPS TO ITS EASTERN BORDER
Washington is trying to defuse tensions that could lead to a redeployment to eastern Pakistan, which could ease pressure on the tribal-area militants in the west.
International forces in Afghanistan have been quiet about contingency planning, but Pakistan has sharply denounced any cross-border attacks by U.S.-allied forces against the militants, a big hurdle to increased U.S. military activity in western Pakistan.
An alternative is to seek cooperation from tribal leaders — who also have chafed at the Pakistani army presence — to expel insurgent fighters. This could work better than an army crackdown, said David Kilcullen, who has served as a counterterrorism adviser to U.S. Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has spoken with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari since the attacks, and the leaders are to meet again in Turkey on Friday. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zaher Azmi said: “We are hopeful that the issue and difficulty do not reach that stage (of a relocation of Pakistani troops). Our expectation is cooperation in the fight against terrorism.”