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Fencing across the border, whose fooling who?

17 January, 2007

By Abid Mustafa


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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?

It is obvious that the measures spelt out by Pakistan will only succeed if Musharraf is prepared to stem the tide of Pushtoon fighters crossing into Afghanistan. Partial fencing of the border will not stop those determined to get across. Neither will mining, as sign posts and maps can be used to navigate around such hot spots. Moreover, mines are likely to maim and kill civilians than deter militants. Biometric checks are only good as the intelligence on the ground. Besides, it will take months to implement these measures effectively by then the present government in Kabul may not be around.

Hence the stigma of Pakistan abetting Taliban fighters will remain unless Islamabad chooses to terminate their activities. But Pakistan's unwillingness to withdraw support to the Taliban and other Pushtoon fighters is being fuelled by the US which continues to support Pakistan's policy of embracing Taliban militants. Despite the growing international pressure, especially from NATO members, the Whitehouse has hitherto refused to apportion blame at Musharraf's government for incubating militants on its soil.

It is also apparent that the US is quietly supporting Pakistan's efforts to make the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan permanent and this explains much of the hostility of the Kabul government towards the measures. The Afghans still dispute the Durand Line which was invented by the British in 1893 to divide Afghanistan from British India. Afghans consider the agreement illegal and regard Peshawar and Quetta part of Afghanistan.

America's current plan is to buy precious time for the Taliban to take leadership over the Pushtoon resistance and then execute a major offensive against Kabul in the Spring of this year. Thereafter, the US will convene an international conference to construct a new government in Kabul one that enjoys the support of the Pushtoons; resolve the border issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and integrate the tribal belt into the civil polity of Pakistan. Aspects of this plan have been put forward by Martin Inderfurth a former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs and Dennis Kux a former US ambassador to Pakistan. On 5/12/06 in an article published in the Baltimore Sun, the two advocate that Afghanistan should

override the Jirga decision of 1948 and accept the Durand Line as the defacto border, and that Pakistan should undertake reforms with the assistance of the World Bank to integrate the tribal region.

But if somehow the Pakistan's establishment believes that America is going to safeguard Pakistan's integrity then they are gravely mistaken. American policy makers have already discussed several plans which elaborate on how Pakistan should be divided along sectarian lines. One plan proposes to reduce Pakistan to Punjab and Sindh and its security and economy integrated with India. Musharraf often talks about sectarian violence and blames Islamists or outside powers for fomenting it. Yet it is his pro-American policies that are laying the seeds of an even bigger sectarian disaster- the dismemberment of Pakistan.

 

Reader Comments:

Fencing of Durand Line

Assalam o Alaikum!
There was a time that the Muslim government of India was extended from Barma to Amu Darya or River Jihun which is now the border between Afghans and Central Asian Muslim states. Those Muslims were so keen and open hearted who united the whole of India that never existed before.
Pity for us to follow the divisions and rules that the British government left leaving the country that were arranged just to establish their political supremecy against the will of the societies. These tribal areas never existed and these boundaries that destroyed the might and supremecy of a huge Muslim Empire.

Mohammad Ilyas, Pakistan - 17 January, 2007

Absorb tribal areas in NWFP.

A howling wind of change is blowing over Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. The British pulled the sub-continent out of its medieval state and catapulted it in the modern age. The sub-continent further advanced in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries after gaping independence. This change would not be possible to come from within. Likewise, the NWFP and Afghanistan resisted change and both places are now being pried open by outside powers. The Frontier people have no vision of the future that is unfolding in central Asia. China has stirred India from its slow growth to enter into the new century as a great industrial power. Pakistan's strategic location is putting great pressure on the people of this country to wake up and redouble endeavours to take full advantage from vast opportunities that the economic transformation of the region will open for them. Where does the tribal area fit in this possible scenario? Would Talibans fit in the new picture? There was a time when before the British Raj, the Marathas had become so powerful that they started nursing ambitions of ruling Delhi. They didn't fit in with the world at large and became instinct when the change overtook them. The tribal "sardars" and the warlords in Afghanistan are mere small hurdles that stand to be wiped out. The region is entering into a new phase where economics and industry would catapult it in a similar manner as it did in the United Arab Emirates. The President of Pakistan and his colleagues in the Army are well aware of the wind of change and there is little fear of anarchy and darkness spreading in Pakistan. We need young and vigorous people like Imran Khan to follow in the footsteps of great leaders and breathe new life in the nation.

Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 17 January, 2007

Durand Line

Personally I feel that our leaders are not ready to learn from the past experience about divide and rule policy of the west.India was bifurfcated into 2 in 1947(india,pakistan) and then into 3 in 1971(bangla desh).
Now the talk of peshavar and quetta.We wish to live like a weak nuclear family.Atleast after separation we should live with peace,think about others,give congenial/honest atmosphere to the next generation.We should understand the policy of the west that they are not supplying the arms and ammunition to strenghthen us but to weaken our economy.Economy should be diverted towards education,hospitalisation to make the better people,better country but big chunk goes to defence and that too on debt.When will we think on our own?When will we stop looking towards west for petty things?When will stop taking instructions from west on our internal matters?When wll we think about our own people?When will we become independent?If we don't get the answer to these questions I think we are still under someone else's rule.

suresh taneja, Pakistan - 18 January, 2007

Fencing across

Who is going to fence? No one. Pakistan does not want to hinder or stop any one from Afghanistan knowing that they are also part of Pakistan if not in full but do have relations everywhere in Pakistan. They must not be stopped instead taken into confidence and help them in time of distress. Taleban are there to be there for good and are not coming in the way of progress of either Afghanistan or Pakistan. US and allied forces entered into Afghanistan not to help them but they have their own agendas, OIL and natural resources. Pakistan is very strong military wise and also politically they do have a very intelligent man on top who can play around with politics of the world and has become a figure known all over the world. His trips to those countries where no Pakistani leader went for business Gen. Musharaf visited, such as Australia and South American countries. He means business and nothing but business. He is not siding anyone if one thinks he is with US that is wrong, he is protecting his own country and its boundaries together with its interests. Pushtoons do have a right to live either side of the border and they must be given special permission and families not to be separated as some children come to schools in Pakistani areas. The past shows they were not willing to adapt to the new developoments and progress taking place in 20th century and also when Gen. Ayub Khan was President he wanted to provide them with the basics such as water but they resisted. There will be changes made and they will help that area well. Coming to the point where some think that Pakistan be reduced to Punjab they must be joking and under estimating the strength of Punjab itself. Without Punjab there is no Pakistan and anyone thinking on those lines is out of touch. Gen. Musharaf and his colleagues are aware of what agenda US has got there and being an ally of US just trying to protect its own interests. Being on the gate to Central Asia and located at a prime place in Asia Pakistan is going to be a very prosperous country with its 55% population under 19 years of age. By 2050 Pakistan will be a developed country though rise in population is alarming but at the same time your poeple are your capital. Without manpower you can't progress and run your industries etc. I personally am very happy with the set up of Pakistan though there are people who are not working for the country and do need to change their attitude. Imran Khan is a good and honest man but no chance for him being alone. He got to get into the ruling party and can play a vital role and perhaps could rise to the ladder of success. No point for him to be in oppoistion. Unite with the PML Q and work together for your Pakistan. You won Cricket World Cup for Pakistan and saw your command on your players. My compliments for you but not happy the way you are conducting your affairs of politics. Make a change and show your worth being in the government. You can do a lot in those areas where you have access and people listen to you. Writer is just seeing the ngative side of Pakistan, there is no anarchy, no darkness spreading, on the contrary country is doing fine except a few who are out of the government are failure in politics. They belong to the parties of the past like PPPP BB and PML N Nawaz Sharif and run down Pakistan. They are not happy because they have no chance of making money for themselves and in seven years could not fill their pockets, otherwise rest of the population is happy with PM Mr. Aziz and Gen. Musharaf with their work. There is always room for improvement and would suggest again Imran Khan to joint PML Q. In the end must say that Pakistan is not under any threat from oustiders, if there is any may be from inside and that can be tackled by the government.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 18 January, 2007

Building Fences for Whom!

Is this plan based on lost archives of the Second World War. That Hitler forgot to implement against the Allies?

Khalid Rahim, Canada - 19 January, 2007

You are right on the ball.

A well written article.
Today more than ever muslims should see things based on ground reality as they are and identify players in politics(for foreign policy success they control internally also through loans,pressures ,preferring one kind of Govt(mostly Military) over civilian.
Before wests' control over muslim lands about 300 years ago,world was a peaceful place,people could easily move around and settle any where if they liked people or area.To control muslims, west(British,French) divised a nation-state policy meaning a country is a nation and so every country is different and to sell their arms and ammuniton they encouraged wars,internally to control they created hatred and fights between different lingual regional and religous groups.Throwing Pig head in mosque and cow's head in mandir was a faourite British way.Well even today in America they throw pig's head in mosque's compound and next to mosque they do pig races(being done right now in Katia,Texas,US)British on way out did a lot of homework to let system of hatred and wars and geographical boundries they made to remain permanent.Americans who are cousins of British wanted to continue it but even to make the countries on grounds that even a small spark should start war so more and more ammunitions can be sold.In war between muslims no matter who looses Americans win.In past decade events were going in the direction that there was a possibility that may be Afghanistan and Pakistan could have merged,may be Kahsmiris could have gotten independence and merged with Pakistan and with such success this struggle for freedom and human rights would have spread to other parts of the world.This was a big alarm bell for the civilised West whose history is full with looting and killing of weaker nations.This is all the more necessary because the western nations with the exception of USA and AUstralia neither have good weather to grow something above ground to sell it and make money nor anything under it meaning no natural resources.They also want to keep themselves on the top of pyramid controlling every nation for their survival.So 9-11 was manufactured which not only opened market for arms ammuniton industry,also for spying survellance technology and created a ground for American intelligence agencies to enter in Pakistan and all muslim countries with full powers.Because twisting the arms of military dictator is easy for US one wonders if the Kargill drama was staged with foreign help and its blessings and thus appointing General on Pakistani stage.Pakistan offered to put fence on Durand line but NATO and Afghan Govt refuses because actually with the fights being done and getting the tribal belt pictched against Pakistan Govt and nation this is the first step.Next step will be when Pushtoons on the border with this killing will be convinced that their survival is better with Pushtoons so they will demand separation thus fulfilling the remapping as was written by Maj.Ralph Peters of US armed forces journal.Unfortunately military has its psyche developed over a century of British rule and it wouldn't change.These were the people who kept Few thousand British control whole India and these are the people who are more than willing to do anything for the pleasure of Americans now.Never mind Pakistani interest or what needs be done for them.

Dr.Khan, United Kingdom - 19 January, 2007

Absorb tribal areas in NWFP

Future of Afghanistan is in a bit of trouble as the invaders are there to divide. In one way the Pushtoons will have the area they have been after a long time and left over will go to those who are with Karzai.Gen. Musharraf with his government is too smart as a general and politician and is aware of the future changes where he has an eye to make the best out of it. There is young generation of Pakistan coming up and will take over from the odies but Imran Khan is not the one who can handle the sitution or follow the footsteps of great leaders and depending on him would be just not right. There are many more brains in Pakistan and they can handle and do better job than a man who only achieve something being a Cricket Captain of Pakistani team. When you listen to him on question time he got no agenda or plans or anything public is interested. Pakistan is in the hands of very right and shrewed people and that is military General who are very keen to make sure that they make no mistake similar to what General Zia did while fighting with USSR. President Gen. Musharraf is intelligent and very good listener and does not talk rubbish. He means business and loves his country and would not budge when it concerns Pakistan. Lot smaller country than India the future of Pakistan is too bright and economically will be an economic tiger of 21st Century as long as PM Mr. Aziz is their PM. A man of high calibre.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 08 March, 2007

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