World News

Germany worried over Taliban advance in Pakistan

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany expressed concern on Friday at the advance of Taliban fighters toward Pakistan’s capital and urged the government in Islamabad to take decisive action to ensure the security situation did not deteriorate.

Taliban militants have pushed closer to the capital in recent days, vowing to impose their strict version of Islam across the nuclear-armed Muslim state.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari signed a regulation imposing Islamic law in the northwestern Swat valley as part of a deal to end Taliban violence.

“We are following developments in Pakistan very closely and believe like our partners, that the advance of the Taliban ... is worrying,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke told reporters.

Peschke said the Taliban was still far from the capital and warned against overdramatising the situation, but added: “Nevertheless, the infiltration of armed fighters is at odds with the truce agreed with the militants. This is a situation that has to fill us with concern.”

He expressed doubt that deals with the Taliban, like the one in Swat, could help the cause of peace in Pakistan and urged Islamabad to be “active and decisive” in dealing with the security situation.

On Thursday the United States said it was “extremely concerned” about the developments in Pakistan.

A Taliban spokesman said earlier on Friday that a Pakistani Taliban commander had ordered his men to withdraw from the Buner district, a valley just 100 km (60 miles) from Islamabad.

Writing by Noah Barkin; Editing by Giles Elgood