Effective screening ordered along Afghan border

Posted in Broader Middle East | 16-Jan-07 | Source: dawn.com (Pakistan)

Pakistani soldiers patrol the tribal district of Malakand near the Afghan border.

ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: President General Pervez Musharraf on Monday called for installation of the state-of-the-art system to record all movements across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and documentation of all those who cross the frontier legally and for right reasons.

He issued these directives while presiding over a meeting that discussed border security.

However, an official handout issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) did not mention what decision had been taken at the meeting on the government’s plan to fence and mine parts of the country’s border with Afghanistan, giving an indication that the government had decided to drop the plan.

When contacted, ISPR Director General Shaukat Sultan confirmed that the issue of mining and fencing the border had not been discussed at the meeting.

"Neither there has been any discussion on the plan, nor has it been dropped," he claimed.

The official handout did not either mention what type of system would be used at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to control any infiltration of terrorists.

During his recent visit to Pakistan, Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew had conveyed his country’s reservations to Islamabad over the fencing and mining plan and offered that Canada could provide sophisticated equipment for installation at the border.

While ordering the compilation of complete record of all movements across the border, President Musharraf emphasised that there should be no difficulties for genuine travellers.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, NWFP Governor Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, Vice Chief of the Army Staff General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, heads of intelligence agencies and other high officials.

The president directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate with the Afghan government for similar measures on the Afghan side as well.

He appreciated the measures being taken for the improvement of existing security, immigration and customs on the Pakistan side and instructed the officials from both Fata and Balochistan to take all necessary steps to curb illegal crossings.

He said the political agents in Fata should be reinforced so that they could deal with miscreants and foreign elements effectively.

The interior minister briefed the participants about the measurers taken for the Pakistan-Afghanistan border control.

It was noted that while Pakistan had over 900 checkposts on its side, the Afghan side had only 100 posts and there was a need for increase in this regard.

It was also observed that only five per cent of the 2,500km-long Pakistan-Afghanistan border lie along North Waziristan Agency.

The participants were also briefed about the measures to check illegal activities originating from the Afghan refugee camps and it was decided that steps would be taken through the United Nations for their early repatriation to their homeland.

The meeting was informed that around 12,000 vehicles and over 30,000 people cross the border everyday.