Pakistan deploys troops from tribal areas to the Indian border

Map of India and Pakistan. Created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal. Click to view.

As tensions rise between India and Pakistan over last month’s terror assault in Mumbai, Pakistan is withdrawing troops from the tribal areas and redeploying to the eastern border with India.

Pakistan’s redeployment of forces from the northwest to the eastern border with India comes as NATO supply lines moving through the region are under a Taliban assault and US forces look to double the number of troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban have taken control of the seven tribal agencies bordering Afghanistan and are in control of or have a strong presence in much of the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province. The Taliban have struck NATO supply trucks in Peshawar, the provincial capital. More than 300 NATO trucks have been destroyed at shipping terminals in Peshawar and on the roads in neighboring Khyber agency over the past several weeks.

More than 20,000 Pakistani soldiers from Pakistan’s 14th Army Division are being moved to the cities of Kasur and Sialkot in Punjab province, The Associated Press reported. The eastern cities are close to the Indian border and sit along the projected path of an Indian armored assault into Pakistan. Leave for Pakistani soldiers also has been canceled, intelligence officials told the news agency.

Pakistani forces in the Waziristan region are also reported to be redeploying to the eastern border. A large column of 40 military trucks was spotted heading eastward, an AP reporter in Dera Ismail Khan said.

The 14th Pakistani Army Division was deployed in the Bajaur-Dir region in the insurgency-wracked Northwest Frontier Province along the Afghan border. Elements of the 14th were conducting counterinsurgency operations in the Bajaur tribal agency against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The 14th Division is part of Pakistan’s XXXI Army Corps based out of Bahawalpur. “The XXXI Corps is the defensive formation assigned to take the brunt of an Indian armored assault,” said Ravi Rikhye, the editor of, a Web site that tracks the order of battle for armed forces throughout the world. Mandeep Singh Bajwa published an order of battle for Pakistani forces fighting counterinsurgency operations in northwestern Pakistan at just days ago. “The II Corps in Multan is assigned to follow up the XXXI Corps holding action and counterattack against invading Indian forces.”

The movement of regular Pakistani Army forces from the Northwest Frontier Province and tribal areas should not be a surprise, Rikhye said, noting that few regular Army forces are engaged in fighting the Taliban. “They largely sit in garrison.” The Pakistani government claims more than 100,000 soldiers have been deployed in the northwest, but the Frontier Corps and other paramilitary units have conducted much of the fighting against the Taliban.

“The Pakistani military does not want to be deployed in the Northwest Frontier Province to fight the Taliban, so if the military pulled them out, it does not surprise me. It is possible they are being reassigned for training, but I do not expect this is happening,” Rikhye said, noting there are only three training locations in Pakistan and this is the time of year forces rotate for training.

The location of another Pakistani division, the 16th, “is currently unknown,” Rikhye said. “If the 16th is in Baluchistan, then the Pakistani military may fear the US and India have stepped up operations to destabilize the province.” It is unknown if the 16th Division has moved eastward. Rikhye said the unit is a “holding” division, just like the 14th.

The 3rd Independent Armored Brigade and the 10th and 11th divisions, all part of IV Corps based in the Lahore region, have also moved to forward positions near the border, The Times of India reported. These units have recently been conducting training exercises. The 10th and 11th Divisions are also holding formations, assigned to absorb and delay an Indian assault. The Pakistani Army is said to be upgrading bunkers and fighting positions along the border with India.

The Pakistani redeployment of Army units to the east is the latest action in an atmosphere of heightened tension over the Nov. 26-28 Mumbai, India, terror assault that lasted more than 60 hours and resulted in more than 170 civilians killed. India has presented evidence that the Pakistan-based al Qaeda and Inter-Service Intelligence agency-linked Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group conducted the attack.

Last week, Indian Air Force fighter planes violated Pakistani air space, while the armed forces of both countries have been put on alert. India has demanded Pakistan hand over 20 “most wanted” terrorists. Pakistan has said it would not extradite anyone to India, opting to try them in Pakistani courts if evidence is presented of their guilt.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Rajat says:

    Do you not agree that this whole drama smacks of an ISI concoction?
    ISI is unhappy because Bush in his last few months as President is pushing Pakistan to end its charade in the FATA and take real actions against the Taliban.
    ISI uses its favorite proxy LeT to launch an outrageous and barbaric attack in Mumbai to provoke India.
    After India refuses to get provoked and uses diplomacy, Pakistan deliberately goes easy on LeT to frustrate India.
    India gets antsy and takes the bait and threatens Pakistan
    Pakistan now has an excuse to end its costly fight against the Taliban and moves its troops to the Indian front – allowing ISI’s Taliban pals free reign in the FATA
    Is anyone fooled by this?

  • JD says:

    (mumble mumble) This is stripping the North Eastern tribal areas of troops. That means there will be fewer troops who might get injured in crossfire and fewer who might be moved to support the Taliban and injure our troops.

    This moves the troops down to where India might get moved to take action. Suppose the Indians might be expected to win against perhaps poorly supported troops assured they’re not really going to be attacked, supplies for their attack on India are due, please stand-by. The Indians are pushed into doing something about this troop concentration of troops who do not want to fight the Taliban. The government can make patriotic noises. Meanwhile we attack at leisure to rid the North East of more Taliban clusters than usual without Pakistani interference.

    The question is whether the Pakistani government might do something that “dirty” to protect their own skins from what might otherwise become a nuclear exchange with India or not.

    This silly paranoid thing I keep locked away in my mind is having a field day with North East tribal region being stripped of troops that really don’t want to fight the Taliban and put in a potential sacrificial position against India. I find it “fraught with possibilities.” But then, I am not now and never have been a military being trained in the ways and wiliness of war. I just have a vivid imagination and have experienced plausible deniability before.


  • KnightHawk says:

    Great… could the Taliban\AQ\ISI write this script any better?
    “Is anyone fooled by this?”
    Probably, but not likely any lwj readers, lol.
    JD – When they’re all out to get you paranoia’s just good thinking.

  • kaja says:

    Moving troops from Afgan borders does not maer at all. Pak forces were never fighting with the terrorisrs but protecting them and arranging safe paths for them whenever in jam.
    ISI and jihadis are hand in hand. Listen to what Zardari said today, “I know who killed Benazir, let UNO find that” It shows Zardari’s helplessnss in controlling ISI and Kayani. The democracy in Pakistan, has not touched ISI and it’s Army. Unless these radicals are routed out, terorism can’t be finished; there will always be some poor, illiterate who will kill themselves in the name of relgion. These terror centers have to be shattered to bring a change and lasting peace in Pakistan, Afganistan and in India.

  • crosspatch says:

    There is another way of looking at the movement. It could be a way of signaling to allied forces in Afghanistan that Pakistan may be easing off of threats to attack allied incursions into Pakistan.

  • Render says:

    I’ve been a Ravi ( reader since forever (around ’01 or about two Ravi wives ago).
    When Ravi is on his game, he’s one of the very best. When it’s Indo-Pakistani (in that order), Ravi is always on his game. Over the years I’ve disagreed with Ravi’s opinions on a lot of subjects, but never on Ravi’s game. That wouldn’t be prudent…

  • Jerjes Talpur says:

    at least some of the Mumbai attackers were not Indian and certainly not Muslim. Pappu Mishra, a cafe proprietor at the gothic Victorian Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, described “two sprightly young men dressed in black” with AK47s who were “foreign looking, fair skinned.” Gaffar Abdul Amir, an Iraqi tourist from Baghdad, saw at least two men who started the firing outside the Leopold Cafe. “They did not look Indian, they looked foreign. One of them, I thought, had blonde hair. The other had a punkish hairstyle. They were neatly dressed,” Amir told the BBC.
    According to Andrew G. Marshall, the ISI “has long been referred to as Pakistan’s ‘secret government’ or ‘shadow state.’ Its long-standing ties and reliance upon American and British intelligence have not let up; therefore actions taken by the ISI should be viewed in the context of being a Central Asian outpost of Anglo-American covert intelligence operations. The presence of foreign looking, fair skinned commandos who calmly gunned down dozens of people after drinking a few beers indicates that the Mumbai attacks were likely the work of the Anglo-American covert intelligence operatives, not indigenous Indian Muslims or for that matter Arab al-Qaeda terrorists. The attacks prepare the ground for the break-up of Pakistan and the furtherance of destabilizing terrorism in the Middle East and Asia. The Mumbai attacks had little to do with India or the relationship between Muslim Pakistanis and Hindu Indians. Pakistan’s position as a strategic focal point cannot be underestimated. It borders India, Afghanistan, China and Iran.

  • Raven says:

    Ravi is the best. I have been a frequent visitor to the site and enjoyed his in-depth knowledge, strategy/research and of course, humor (klass klown awards that he bestows). Go Ravi….
    Ravi and Bill: Thanks for all the hard work.

  • bard207 says:

    Jerjes Talpur
    Please cite some background and provide links to establish Andrew G. Marshall as a valid authority on Pakistan — ISI. I have never heard of him until your mention.

  • KW64 says:

    Come on Jerjes! You expect us to believe the Mumbai attackers were blond white men who were not moslems? You expect us to believe that Britain and the US were behind the attack in Mumbai in order to break up Pakistan?
    The last thing the US & Britain wanted was a conflict with India that would draw the Pakistani army away from the Tribal areas. That would allow the Taliban to complete their objective of cutting the supply lines of NATO forces in Afghanistan. Also, the security films and photos of the attackers showed them not to be white or blond.

  • Neo says:

    We are living on borrowed time with respect to the political situation in Pakistan. The current PPP led administration came in as a result of the public shock over the Bhutto assassination. What little bargaining power the PPP government had this spring, has disappeared in the face of Taliban pressure, an impossible economic situation, and a military accustomed to directly imposing its political will.
    As the PPP coalition loses its popularity there will come a point when a coalition of the military and conservative political parties will impose themselves, sweeping away the current administration. At that point, the new Pakistani government will probably end any remaining cooperation with the United States government.
    The Taliban would be quite willing to decapitate the current civilian government, but I’m not sure that the military would like to hand them that much license. The ISI might try to precipitate another international incident against the interests of either India or the United States. Any retaliation against Pakistan will be played as a violation of territorial sovereignty and may serve as pretext to sack the current civilian government.
    As repeatedly stated here, a cut in supply lines through Pakistan would make the situation in landlocked Afghanistan very difficult for the Americans. At that point it becomes a matter of political will whether the Americans can stomach a difficult situation.

  • allone says:

    What is not clear is what action has the pak army actually been engaged in, in the ‘wild west’ (Dawn’s label)? Is moving the troops easier on their army to minimise their losses? Isn’t it inevitable, now that the world’s focus is on this wild region (a full 7 yrs on from 9/11 !) that somebody has to clear it up? Is the Pak army capable of it, esp when they/the ISI are mid-wife to the variety of frankensteins, the non-state actors? And what has been their real contribution to the War on Terror in the last 7yrs?
    Is pakistan a democratic state, in fact? Has it ever been? Or have their attempts at democracy been mere interruptions to Army rule? Violence breeds violence and nuclear reactors breed the potential for a global catastrophe. The clock is ticking loudly! The world needs to stop being scared of pakistan and defang it decisively.

  • asish says:

    change the map it is an manipulated map of india


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