The frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan serves as the flash point for tensions between the two countries as Kabul grows increasingly critical of Islamabad's seeming inability to control cross-border raids by Islamic militants. The solution proposed by Pakistan last month to mine and fence the roughly 1,500-mile Durand line (VOA) did little to reassure Afghans, who have long disputed the boundary. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose criticism was echoed by Washington and the United Nations, said Islamabad should instead eliminate terrorist sanctuaries (BBC) within Pakistan rather than separate families who live in the border region. Pashtun tribal leaders on both sides of the boundary warn if Pakistan carries out the plan they will remove any barriers or mines (Pajhwok Afghan News).
Served as writer.
Ambassador Dennis Kux, a senior policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Asia program and former Foreign Service South Asia specialist, discusses the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Under international pressure to control the Taliban and other extremists from making cross-border raids into Afghanistan, the government of President Pervez Musharraf recently proposed mining and fencing the border. Kux says the idea is not a viable solution and that the Pakistanis cannot stop “individuals going across what has long been an open border.” He also says that the Pakistani intelligence agency’s longtime links to militant groups as well as sympathy for the Taliban in tribal areas near the border serve as obstacles to stopping incursions into Afghanistan.
A suicide bomb targeting a Pakistani military school (BBC) has claimed at least forty-two lives in Dargai, a village in the North West Frontier Province and a stronghold of a banned pro-Taliban movement. The militant attack was the deadliest suffered by Pakistani armed forces since 2002, when they began efforts to control terrorist elements in the volatile, semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Pakistani-Afghan border. Federal Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao says the attack was likely retaliation (VOA) for last week’s bombing of a madrassa in nearby Bajaur. Although some Pakistanis speculate U.S. or NATO forces were behind the madrassa attack, President Pervez Musharraf continues to defend what he says was a Pakistani counterterrorism air strike (Dawn).
Pakistan’s remote Federally Administered Tribal Areas (the tribal lands) have been a training ground for insurgents and a focal point for terrorism fears, particularly since the 9/11 attacks. President Pervez Musharraf finds himself squeezed between U.S. demands to control militants in the tribal lands and opposition from his own army against fighting the region's predominant ethnic Pashtuns, who have strongly resisted Pakistani rule just as they fought British control during colonial times.
Meanwhile, tensions between Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Musharraf grow. Karzai insists Pakistan increase security and stop incursions by Taliban insurgents into his country, even though the Afghan leader refuses to recognize the disputed common border, which divides tribes of the Pashtun ethnic group on either side of the frontier. As the tribal lands continue to serve as a training base for terrorists and the Taliban, deploying Pakistani troops into the region has harmed efforts to integrate the tribal areas into Pakistan. Bill Roggio, a U.S. veteran who has written from Iraq and Afghanistan, says the uncertainty over how to handle the tribal lands “makes the problems in Iraq look like a picnic.”
Co-authored by Carin Zissis and Jayshree Bajoria.
When the Taliban was in power, most of the women who filmed Afghanistan Unveiled could barely leave their homes, let alone study or work. But in 2002, the young documentarians - some still teenagers - traveled across mountains, rivers, and deserts to make the first film by and about Afghan women.
Copies of "Wuthering Heights" and "Othello" recently began a lengthy journey, along with "Essentials of Internal Medicine" and "Principles of Economics."
They are among 9,000 books from Boston and Cambridge bound for Afghanista, via Belgium, Uzbekistan, and bumpy rides across the Afghan border.