Pakistan's Swat truce worries India

A K AntonyNew Delhi - The pact between the Taliban and Pakistan in the Swat valley has added to India's worries on regional security, the country's Defence Minister AK Antony said Friday.

"From 26/11 (the Mumbai terrorist attacks) onwards, we are very much concerned about the security scenario. This new development, in a way, adds to our worries," Antony was quoted as saying by PTI news agency.

Other Indian officials have expressed similar concern over the peace pact in Swat, which is just about a five-hour drive from northern Indian towns like Amritsar and Srinagar located near the India-Pakistan border.

Indian strategists are concerned that the Pakistan authorities' decision to allow Sharia law in the Swat valley indicates the weakness of the country's civilian government in the face of growing Islamic radicalization.

"It also increases the risk of cross-border militant attacks like the one on Mumbai in November," Brahma Chellaney of the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research said.

India claims Pakistan-based militants were responsible for the Mumbai attacks which left more than 170 people dead.

The developments in Swat may encourage such radical elements, analysts said.

India's concern was amply evident in comments by Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee earlier in the week.

"The fact of the matter is that Taliban is a terrorist organization. Taliban believes in nothing but destruction and violence. In my assessment, Taliban is a danger to humanity and civilisation," Mukherjee said. (dpa)