Scores of Pak soldiers desert forces as"Fighting Taleban not Islamic"

India Times 

ISLAMABAD: Scores of Pakistani soldiers have deserted the security forces deployed in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, mainly because they were not sure whether fighting against their 'own people' was morally right, media reports said on Saturday.

"I did not desert the force because I feared death, but I was not sure whether the fighting in tribal district Waziristan was Islamic or not," a soldier from paramilitary Frontier Corps told the Daily Times.

The man, who recently refused to serve in tribal areas, claimed the same question was haunting many other soldiers and the confusion was stopping them from "putting up a tough fight" against the Taliban and Al-Qaida elements in the area. Pro-Taliban militiamen pulled out of peace treaties with the government after troops stormed the Lal Masjid in the capital on July 10, and launched a series of raids on security forces.

He confirmed the desertions but insisted these should be ignored as "insignificant incidents”. "Small-scale desertion takes place in any force and in any country for one reason or another," Arshad told the newspaper.

However, six soldiers from only one suburb of Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, have deserted the Frontier Corps. The force is the first line of defence of around 90,000 troops deployed along the country’s western border against militants launching attacks at international forces in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is setting in process a plan to withdraw its army from the restive tribal areas and replace them with paramilitary forces, a news report has said.

President Pervez Musharraf told a group of parliamentarians from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that army would be withdrawn from tribal areas after January 2008, the same newspaper reported.

"Paramilitary forces including Frontier Constabulary, Levies and Khasadars will take over the charge of tribal areas from the military, which would be withdrawn after January 2008,"sources quoted the Musharraf as saying

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