The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak-Afghan border bristles

Islamabad, July 31: Pakistani and Afghan border security forces have been trading fire ever since Islamabad moved its army and paramilitary troops into the Mohmad Agency on June 20.

The tribal area near the Pakistan-Afghan border is divided into seven political agencies. Mohmad Agency is one of them.

Pakistani officials claim that Afghan border troops took the Yaqubi Kandao area yesterday when military attaches from 14 countries were getting an aerial view of the troubled region.

Earlier this week, the officials said, Afghan troops in the tribal region greeted members of a fact-finding team from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US with fire.

The team was trying to ascertain Afghan allegations that Pakistani troops had trespassed the Durand Line, the official border that separates the two countries through mountains, forests, deserts and craggy hills for almost 2,200 km.

Officials in Kabul claim Pakistani forces have seized land and established checkposts 500 metres inside Afghan territory.

Afghanistan has demanded that the seized territory must be relocated to the older positions while Pakistan maintains that “land measuring 400 to 500 metres on such a long border is a non-issue”.

Afghans had reportedly objected to four positions occupied by Pakistani troops. Two of the major positions were Yaqubi Kandao and Sirala Sar at Ziarat on the Durand Line. The Pakistan government had offered show these positions to the fact-finding team and even enabled them to use the global positioning system (GPS) to scientifically ascertain the border between the two countries.

Following weeks of bitter allegations that culminated in an attack on Pakistan’s Kabul embassy on July 8, the US brought the two sides together two weeks ago and set up the tripartite fact-finding committee.

The Americans have been forced to intervene as both Afghanistan and Pakistan are crucial to the US’ war against terrorism. In a bid to flush out al Qaida and Taliban militants from the border areas, the Pakistan army has for the first time since 1947 been sent into the tribal regions. Pakistan hopes that US’ involvement in the tripartite team might settle the border dispute and help it extend Islamabad’s law into the tribal areas.

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