The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan seems to have become more chaotic, of late. The failure to make it peaceable and prevent attacks from the Pakistan side has turned the Afghanistan parliament against two of the most high-profile men in the Hamid Karzai cabinet — the interior and the defence ministers. The Afghanistan president smells a power tussle, and is unwilling to let his trusted men go. Mr Karzai’s hunch may be correct, but the ease with which the unquiet borders have been turned into an issue that has brought together the ethnic mosaic in Afghanistan’s parliament is an indicator of how crucial they are in the Afghanistan endgame. No one understands this better than the United States of America, which has been trying to get Pakistan to act against the sanctuaries of terror on the border, particularly those in North Waziristan that provide a haven for the dreaded Haqqani group. Pakistan has tried its best to deflect attention by pointing to Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan, which, it insists, have become sanctuaries of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan that is wreaking havoc in Pakistan. But much enthused by its success in driving a hard bargain with the US over the re-opening of the land route for Nato forces, Pakistan is not averse to working out a deal over the borders either. That is believed to be the reason that took the Inter-Services Intelligence chief to Washington recently. If the US promised to limit its drone strikes, Pakistan would not be found unwilling to make its desired trip to North Waziristan. In any case, it always pays to discipline the errant. The Haqqanis, under the stewardship of the younger members of the clan, seem to have become over-reaching in their ambition, targeting foreign troops with as much glee as Afghanistan’s minerals for their clandestine trade.
While the powers work out their grand designs to keep the border under control, the region, peopled by innumerable tribes and ethnicities, seems to be following its own designs, much of that laid out by the ancient rhythm of life that has gone on unhindered by the grand politics that has made and unmade nations and boundaries. Pakistan has been flummoxed by the recent news of young men from its Chitral region joining the Afghan army in droves. Boundaries, however, have never stopped these populations from answering the call of religion or the more mundane issues of life and livelihood.