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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pak-Afghan border remains in profile

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Oct 3, IRNA
The Pakistan-Afghanistan border continues to be the focus of international attention ever since the fall of the Taliban regime.

Reports say scores of remnants of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban took cover in the rugged and inhospitable mountains of the border areas in 2001.

Based on the report, Kabul has been alleging attacks on Afghanistan from the Pakistan side. The charge has been outrightly rejected by Islamabad.

However, on a tip from intelligence reports, Pakistan has resorted to several military actions in the tribal areas to root out suspected elements which are on the run.

On its side of the border, Pakistan has deployed some 80,000 security forces and established several posts, backed by surveillance and helicopter service.

Afghanistan has also been trying to nab terrorists on its side of the Pak-Afghan border.

US-led coalition forces and Afghan personnel have launched a number of operations to flush out such elements following the defeat of the Taliban.

Presently, Pakistani security forces are fighting unwanted elements in North and South Waziristan Agencies.

Since late 2001, around 280 security personnel have died while 400 terrorists have been killed and over 300 arrested.

Similarly, a report said that this year alone 50 coalition forces have been killed on the Afghan side of the border.

Reports have been surfacing about incursions of US and Afghan forces, planes and helicopters into Pak areas.

Weary of allegations that terrorists could freely cross his country's border and carry out attacks inside Afghanistan, President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf, during a recent visit to the United States, proposed fencing of the border.

It remains to be seen to what extent the proposal could be practically enforced to cover the 2400-kilometer stretch.

One way or the other, the Pak-Afghan border remains a focus of international attention. It has a history of its own: a Durand Line was created to separate the then British India from Afghanistan in the 19th century.

There are certain indications from across the border that the time would come soon when Kabul would ask for a formal demarcation of the Pak-Afghan border.

Afghans do not accept the present border -- the Durand Line -- as an international border. Pakistan's two provinces, i.e., the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan share a 2400- kilometer (1500-mile) border with Afghanistan.

The people on both sides of the border are Pashtu-speaking and cling to old traditions. Education and other amenities of the modern world have yet to take firm roots here.

Pakistanis have relatives on the other side of the border and Afghans vice-versa.

The government of Pakistan has over the past few years built roads, hospitals, schools and supplied power to many localities in order to integrate them into Pak society.

A lawmaker from the tribal area of Maulana Haroonur Rashid told IRNA that people from the tribal areas have their own history and have never appreciated too much penetration.

Tribal areas -- the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan -- have sizeable presence in both houses of parliament -- the National Assembly and the Senate.

How and when the restive tribal areas will witness complete peace and elimination of terrorists is a question which only time will answer.

Needless to say, the elimination of terrorists in tribal areas is key to securing lasting peace in the region.


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