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Gordon Brown was at it in December. "The time has come for action not words," he demanded, standing beside Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at a press conference in Islamabad in the diplomatic aftermath of the Mumbai attacks which had left at least 170 people dead, including three British citizens.

But huddled against the whip of the winter wind in their positions in Bajaur, the remote tribal agency abutting Afghanistan, Pakistani soldiers may be forgiven for wondering what more Britain expects of them in the wake of Mr Brown's remarks.

For if blood were proof enough then they have already offered ample evidence of their commitment to the fight against militancy. Sometimes out-gunned, often out-manoeuvred, in three months of fighting with the Taliban there last autumn along a stretch of road just eight miles long, more than 80 soldiers were killed and another 300 wounded. A further 20 are missing, presumed dead. In turn, Pakistani officers claimed to have slain at least 1,500 militants of a force they estimated to be over 3,000 strong.

"We are not afraid of these sacrifices," a colonel's wife told me at the hospital bedside of her husband, wounded in Bajaur. "I believe he has done a noble job for his country and religion and I am proud of him." The colonel had lost a leg to shrapnel and been shot twice. His battalion had begun their attack at 6am on a September day. Their objective looked small, just a few mud-walled compounds. Little more than three hours later, seven of his soldiers were dead, 27 wounded. The card at his bedside, made by his two children, had "Our Hero" crayoned on its front.

No lack of commitment there. It could have been Selly Oak, Birmingham.

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Gary O
February 12th, 2009
5:02 PM
Taliban and islamist extremists are the golden geese for Pakistan that regularly lays golden eggs in the form of billions of dollars in "aid", free military hardware, intelligence training and much more from Western countries, not to mention the almost universal praise heaped upon its politicians by our governments thereby giving boost to their self importance and ego. And what happens if you kill the goose that lays the golden egg?

February 7th, 2009
9:02 PM
"What can the West do about it?" errm mind its business- maybe just for once.

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