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Pakistan and Afghanistan

There are no plans to deploy US ground troops to Pakistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today, this despite concerns over increasing violence between Pakistani troops and Taliban militants.br /Pakistan’s military continues to fight Taliban guerrillas in Pakistan, and on Wednesday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari appealed to President Barack Obama for more help reversing the extension of Taliban-held territory to within 60 miles of the capital, Islamabad.br /Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in southern Afghanistan, told reporters that he expects to see an increase of violence in Afghanistan between now and elections this fall. “This will be a spike, not an upward slope,” he said, because as US-led forces try to secure areas, insurgents are going to try to push back.br /More than 60,000 U.S. troops will be stationed in Afghanistan by fall, up from about 38,000 now. It appears that US strength in Afhganistan will rise to and remain at about 68,000 troops.br /So we won’t be sending ground troops into Pakistan at this time; nothing said about air assets. Clearly the ground troops we have in Afghanistan are needed there, but we sure can’t let the Taliban beat the Pakistani military—we’d better be helping there, too.

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