Bill Roggio reports that Pakistan is denying claims of a deteriorating internal security situation, and troop redeployments away from the Indian border.
In a story published Wednesday, The Khaleej Times of India claimed that large numbers of Pakistani troops had been withdrawn from the heavily-defended border between the two countries, leaving a greatly-reduced military presence. Intelligence reports provided to India's security cabinet indicated that as many as 38,000 Pakistani soldiers have been moved from the border region in recent weeks, a move without precedent in its long, contentious history with India.
According to Indian intelligence, most of the troops are being transferred to Pakistan's western tribal lands, the scene of recent pitched battles with Taliban and Al Qaida terrorists. Press reporting suggest that Pakistani losses have been heavy, and Islamabad has decided it needs more troops to continue that offensive and improve internal security. Indian officials believe as many as 15 Pakistani brigades are now operating in the tribal regions.
Among the units redeployed are elements of Islamabad's Elite Strike Corps, designed to slice into enemy territory in the early stages of a renewed Indo-Pakistan War. The Strike Corps is considered one of the most capable units in the Pakistani Army. The willingness of President Musharaaf (and his generals) to redeploy Strike Corps assets is a clear indication of a worsening security situation inside Pakistan.
The Khaleej Times also reports that Pakistan is facing an ops tempo problem, with over half of its combat brigades now in action. That raises issues about Islamabad's ability to mount sustained operations in the tribal lands, maintain internal security and sustain a credible presence along the Indian border.
We should note that India's intelligence services--like our own--are sometimes off the mark in their assessments. Still, Pakistan is Dehi's #1 surveillance target, and it seems likely that Indian overhead assets--and other platforms--have detected a clear shift among Islamabad's military forces. And that may be the best indicator (yet) of just how perilous the situation in Pakistan has become.