The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak fights its own cross-border battle

Islamabad, Sept. 1: Amid concern over growing attacks on allied forces in Afghanistan, senior Pakistan army officials said new check posts along a section of Pakistan’s porous border with Afghanistan has helped stem cross-border movement of al Qaida and Taliban militants.

They said that with as many as 32 check posts in the area, the entry of militants into Afghanistan has significantly been reduced.

Afghan authorities said the attacks on US forces inside the country were being carried out with Pakistan’s help. “No Taliban or al Qaida militants are either hiding out here or using the Pakistani border region for terrorist activities inside Afghanistan,” Brigadier Mohammad Iqbal said during his first trip to the Mohmand Agency — one of the seven border regions that are close to Afghanistan.

However, foreign office spokesman denied the Taliban was regrouping in Pakistani border areas and said the continuing campaign against the terror group had “already broken their back”.

“There are just few splinter groups left and the effort is not to let them re-group,” he added.

The area has been in the spotlight since June 20 when Pakistani troops moved in and established new security posts in areas which until then had been considered “inaccessible”.

Soon after the arrival of the troops, Afghan authorities claimed that Pakistan had violated its border and established new posts several hundred metres into Afghan territory.

“As per our maps, we are well within our territory and the small discrepancy is due to the fact that the maps used by the Afghans are different from those used by us for reference,” Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, the regional corps commander, said.

Following a few skirmishes between the Pakistani and Afghan border forces, the US had last month helped in the establishment of a tripartite commission to investigate Kabul’s objections.

Aurakzai looked confident as he spoke of ever-increasing cooperation between Pakistani and American troops which had resulted in the arrest of hundreds of suspected Muslim militants. Pakistan shares a 2,200-km border with Afghanistan, out of which 1,200 km is in the North West Frontier Province.

More than 25,000 soldiers are currently deployed to man the border in the province and to flush out al Qaida and Taliban fugitives in cooperation with 11,000 US troops based inside Afghanistan.

Osama denial

Masood Khan today dismissed US ambassador to Pakistan Nancy Powell’s statement that she did not rule out the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan’s tribal areas. “If someone has any information about Osama, he or she must get in touch with the FBI or other agencies,” he added.

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