Friday, December 26, 2008

Pak may curb fuel sale to save for war

:: International
Pak may curb fuel sale to save for war

By Shafqat Ali


Dec. 26: Pakistan is left with only 6 days of oil reserves and the government is considering to halt fuel sale to the general public citing possible war with India, highly placed official sources said.

"We only have fuel for 6 days left in our reserves. We have requested the Prime Minister to order halting of oil sale to the people to save it for an emergency situation, especially possible war with India," a senior official of the petroleum ministry told this newspaper.

He said the petroleum ministry has sent a summary to the Prime Minister for approval. "We hope he will approve the summary considering the situation," he added.

The official said the government will send delegations to Saudi Arabia and Iran to seek oil on urgent basis. "In these circumstances, we need fuel. God forbid, if war is imposed, we cannot move without fuel," the official said.

Also, Pakistan Army is partially pulling back from the western borders to concentrate on the eastern borders with India, official sources said. "The troops are being pulled back from the snow bound areas. The troops will be deployed, if needed, along the eastern borders," a security official told this newspaper. He said the pullback from the western borders does not mean any preparation for war. "The world knows that we want peace," he added. Earlier, in the day, citing tension with India, the government cancelled leaves of all armed forces’ personnel.

"There is a high alert at the border areas in the wake of continuous attack threats by India," a security official said.

The official said, "Activities of Pakistan Air Force have also been minimised against militants in tribal areas of the country to spare them for the eastern border." He said the PAF is in a state of high alert and is conducting aerial surveillance of the Chashma power plant and other sensitive sites amidst fears of a possible surgical strike by India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Pakistan Army and Air Force have recently scaled back their operations against Taliban-linked militants in both the Swat and the Bajaur tribal area. Both operations were launched in mid-2008. A Taliban spokesman said on Friday that if a large number of Pakistani troops were shifted to counter a possible Indian threat, militants would conditionally halt all attacks in the tribal belt.

"We would not only avoid any hostile acts in the tribal territory but also suspend cross-border attacks against foreign forces in Afghanistan," Maulvi Omar, the spokesman for banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said.

Meanwhile, amid heightened tensions between the neighbours, former President Pervez Musharraf on Friday said India "cannot dare cast an evil eye" on Pakistan as long as the armed forces are there to defend the country.

Mr Musharraf, who resigned in August to avoid an impeachment, threw his weight behind the government, saying the country had a democratically elected President and Prime Minister who would take steps for its security.

As long as the Pakistani armed forces are there, the country is in safe hands, Mr Musharraf told the media at a reception here to mark the wedding of the son of former foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri.

He said the armed forces are fully capable of defending the country against India. As long as the Pakistani military is there, India can not "cast an evil eye" on the country, he said.

Also, a hitherto unheard of pro-Taliban group called ‘Ansar Wa Mohajir’ has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s car bomb attack in Lahore, for which four alleged Indian nationals have reportedly been arrested by Pakistani authorities.

A man identifying himself as Toofan Wazir, the commander and spokesman of the group, phoned the News daily from somewhere in North Waziristan to claim responsibility for the blast in Lahore and earlier rocket attacks on Dera Ismail Khan city. Wazir threatened more attacks against security forces and government installations to avenge two recent US missile strikes in North Waziristan in which several militants from Punjab province were killed. The report in the influential Pakistani daily on Friday said it appeared "obvious that he (Wazir) and his men are pro-Taliban and part of the Pakistani Taliban".

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