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Pakistan to have better control over western border: Sartaj

30 December, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz has said Islamabad is trying to impose greater control over the country's porous western border with Afghanistan.

Kabul and Islamabad often accuse each other of sheltering insurgents here. For more than six decades, their bilateral relations have been overshadowed by their colonial-era border, the Durand Line.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Sartaj Aziz said that top Pakistani and Afghan security officials would soon meet to discuss regulating cross-border movements between their countries.

Aziz told RFE/RL that Islamabad would issue special passes to people from the border region to facilitate their cross-border movements and would expedite the visa process for Afghans.

"Even now we issue 1,000 or 2,000 visas to the Afghans everyday," he said. "This is a process and we will know the outline of the new border management once Afghanistan and Pakistan work out its details. We cannot let this border remain porous. We now have only two legal border crossings. We will increase them and will facilitate the [legal] movement of people with visas or [border] permits."

He added that Islamabad wanted to address Afghan concerns about cross-border attacks and had even approached its archrival India to agree on refraining from providing support for rival Afghan factions after the withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan next year.

"We have told India that supporting different factions in Afghanistan is not good," he said. "What Afghans decide among themselves is acceptable to everyone. [India] having one favourite, and [Pakistan] having another, as well as our interference, does not help the situation in Afghanistan."

It merits mentioning here that Afghanistan has never formally recognised the Durand Line as an international border. Pakistan, however, has frequently been accused of violating the border because it hosts Afghan guerillas and insurgents. A workable border management agreement between the two neighbours could boost the prospects of peace in the two nations.

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