Saturday, January 13, 2007

Aghanistan/Pakistan: Fencing Across The Border

Fencing Across The Border Whose Fooling Who By Abid Mustafa

To assuage international concerns over cross border filtration into Afghanistan, the Pakistani government has announced a series of measures. These include selectively fencing the 2,430km border, laying down mines and introducing biometric identity checks on the Pakistani side of the border. This is in addition to the 80,000 Pakistani troops manning the border. If this was not enough- Pakistan has also proposed to convene a tribal Jirga in an attempt to stymie the flow of militants into Afghanistan. In the near future, Pakistan also plans to repatriate 2 million or so Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan.

Rather than welcoming such measures the government in Kabul has fervently reprimanded Islamabad and continues to blame Pakistan for providing sanctuary to Taliban and other Pushtoon fighters. Meanwhile, the US is staying clear of taking sides in the dispute and maintains that the matter must be resolved bilaterally between the two countries." I'm not going to get into disputes between states, both of whom are allies...It is clear that the issue of border crossings is one of shared interest and concern," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. The only clarity the Bush administration has offered is that it concurs with media reports that Taliban fighters are using Pakistan to re-organise and launch attacks against coalition troops operating in Afghanistan. So what is going on?

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