Pak threatens to pull back troops from Afghan border

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Islamabad, Jul 12: Pakistan today (Jul 12) threatened to pull back its troops from the border with Afghanistan, as Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar said his country could not afford to keep forces deployed there following the suspension of US military assistance.

Reacting to the Obama Administration's decision to suspend USD 800 million aid to Pakistan, Mukhtar said this would force the country to pull back troops from nearly 1,100 check posts set up along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The check post were set up as part of understanding with Washington to beef up security in the restive tribal belt.

The minister disclosed that USD 300 million of the suspended aid was specifically meant for troops serving in this troubled region.

Claiming that the proposed US move would sabotage efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the region, he said "his money (US military aid) is not for fighting the war, but is money that we have spent already".

Mukhtar told ''Express 24/7'' news channel that Pakistan could not afford to keep its military out in the mountains or in border areas for a long period of time.

"The next step would be that the government or the armed forces will pull back the forces from the border areas," he said.

On recent spurt of claims by Kabul and Islamabad on stepped up cross-border militant ambushes, Mukhtar warned that if theses raids continued there could be cross-border fighting. 

PTI

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