Pakistani Taliban vows to battle India


Baitullah Mehsud from a recent Taliban video.

The Pakistani Taliban has vowed to back the government in the event of war with India, the leader of the group said yesterday.

In an interview with The News, Baitullah Mehsud said he would to send “thousands of our well-armed militants” and hundreds of suicide bombers to Pakistan’s eastern border with India “to fight alongside the army if any war is imposed on Pakistan.”

“Our mujahideen would be in the vanguard if fighting broke out,” Baitullah said. “Our fighters will fall on the enemy like thunder.”

While Baitullah did offer to fight alongside the Pakistani Army, he suggested the Taliban forces be given their own area of operations or be directed to hit specific targets.

Baitullah said a conspiracy was underway to destroy the Pakistani state. “We know very well that the visible and invisible enemies of the country have been planning to weaken this lone Islamic nuclear power,” he said. “But the mujahideen will foil all such nefarious designs of our enemies.”

He dismissed the notion that the Army and the Taliban could not fight together against the Indians because of the years of fighting in the Northwest Frontier province. “Therefore, I want to make it clear that the army was acting otherwise [against the Taliban]. But now it would fight for the protection and survival of the country, which is why we will support them.”

Baitullah’s commitment to back the government confirms the policy of the Pakistani military and government of creating “strategic depth” by supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and a host of Islamist terror groups inside Pakistan and Kashmir. The Pakistanis believe that the terror groups will provide manpower and support in the event of war with India, and that Afghanistan and the mountainous Northwest Frontier Province would serve as an impenetrable fortress in the rear in case of an Indian invasion.

Shortly after the end of the Mumbai terror assault, the Pakistani military reached out to the Taliban and attempted to paper over the fighting in the Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

A senior Pakistani military official called Baitullah and Swat Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah “patriots” and said the military and the Taliban are clashing due to “some misunderstandings.”

“We have no big issues with the militants in FATA [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas],” the official said. “We have only some misunderstandings with Baitullah and Fazlullah. These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue.”

The Pakistani military official was a corps commander, a senior US military intelligence official, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told The Long War Journal. Pakistan has nine Army corps, each commanded by a lieutenant general.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have risen in the wake of the Mumbai terror assault that shut down the city for three days and killed more than 180 people. India and the United States said that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the largest and most powerful terror groups backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency, was behind the attack.

India has not ruled out military action against Pakistan. Indian Air Force fighter planes violated Pakistani airspace last week, and the militaries 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.

Yesterday the Indian government turned over to Pakistan evidence of Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai attacks. The information included an admission of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the only Mumbai terrorist captured alive. Pakistan has dismissed the evidence. President Zardari said there is no proof Kasab is from Pakistan. Kasab’s parents, who reside in Pakistan, have confirmed he is indeed their son.

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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  • KW64 says:

    The Mumbai attacks may accomplish there objective after all. As for Baitullah actually being on the front line against Indian conventional forces where his units would get chewed up, I doubt it would be much more than a propaganda photo op appearance. I suspect the The Taliban/Al Queda want India to distract the armies attention and weaken the Pakistani government so that they can step in when the government falls or is about to; or more minimally pull the army out of western Pakistan so that the radicals can secure their hold.
    Elsewhere, I heard Baitullah quoted as saying he would secure Pakistan’s western border with Afghanistan while the army fought India. That sounds like “shouting an HELLO from the rear” rather than real combat support. In any case, in the event of conflict with India, the securing of our supply lines to Afghanistan will doubtless be a low priority for the Pakistani army.

  • pink says:

    Taliban.. pakistan… pakistani army…ISI…
    just different names for the same thing.

  • jayc says:

    OK Baitullah,
    I’ll take a grand on any wager you care to make about putting up your men against a battalion of Indian Army Rashtriya Rifles.
    Perhaps you might want to talk to the Afghani resistance about the heavy losses they suffer in a conventional showdown with ISAF forces before you start running your gob.
    Better yet, look into the camera, smile, and say “Kargil!”

  • KaneKaizer says:

    No surprise here. There’s nothing more the Taliban would like than a war with India. Not only will the Army’s operations in Bajaur and Swat cease, but the Taliban will appear as heroes to the Pakistani population, and any further military actions against them wouldn’t be supported.

  • Allone says:

    The Bombay attacks have served to bring power together, against these cowards. Here’s the rocket science:
    !. America and India have a common enemy, ie the whole shooting gang in the wild west/n west of pakistan
    2. Russia signs up as strategic partner…it has its own issues in chechnya, besides it sorely needs to up its image in the west
    3. together they show 2 powerful diplomatic fingers to china
    4. Together they go in and flatten every training camp, safe-house, recruiting madrasa, ammunition dump and cave. Whats left….a safer world.
    5. The UN blacklists Pakistan until they turn over their nuclear weapons only after which the world gives a helping hand to rehabilitate this poor beggar of a friendless country that lives on american and chinese handouts.

  • Rhyno327/lrsd says:

    Actually, its called MUMBAI, not Bombay, or Bangalore anymore. The Russians are NOT going to help, and its up to the US and finding a new logistics route may be able to give the US a freer hand in dealing with T-ban/AQ in the tribal areas. Will this get posted? Ah, its ok, it don’t mean nothing anyway. Its just an opinion.


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