Pakistan's army will launch its biggest manoeuvres in 20 years next week to deal with the threat of conventional war with old rival India, military officials said on Monday. Pakistan and India have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947 and ties have been strained since an attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008 blamed on Pakistan-based Islamist militants. But Pakistan's Western allies, in particular the United States, want it to focus on militants who have expanded their fight from remote western regions on the Afghan border to cities and towns and across the country. The exercise, code-named, Azm-e-Nau (New Resolve) 3, will begin on April 10 and will last until May 13 and will involve nearly 50,000 troops. "These exercises will be focused only on conventional war on the eastern border," Major-General Muzamil Hussain, director-general of army training, told a news briefing. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan fought a brief but intense conflict in the mountains in the disputed Kashmir region in 1999 and went to the brink of a fourth war after a militant attack on the Indian parliament in 2001. They launched a tentative peace process in early 2004 but India suspended the talks after the Mumbai attack.

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They held their first official talks since the Mumbai assault last month. Pakistan's army has traditionally been trained to take on forces from India. However, Pakistan has faced a growing threat from Islamist militants since it joined the U.S.-led war on al Qaeda and Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Militants attacked the U.S. consulate in the city of Peshawar on Monday, hours after they killed 42 people in a suicide bombing elsewhere in the northwest. Critics say while the Pakistani armed forces have been trained to deal with the threat from India, they lack capability in counter-insurgency tactics. But Hussain rejected that and said his men were fully trained to fight the insurgency based on the western border. "We are aware of the threat on the western front, we have internal security issues and we can't be oblivious to what could happen on the eastern border," he said. "The Pakistan army has a very comprehensive process of training troops who go into the battle zone in the west." The exercises would be mainly focused in the central province of Punjab and the southern province of Sindh, both of which border India. Military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said India had been informed of the exercise. The army conducted its biggest-ever exercises involving 200,000 soldiers in 1989.
By: Ary News