Karzai Denounces Pakistan’s Mining of Border
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan voiced strong opposition to Pakistan’s announcement that it was going ahead with mining and fencing the border between their two countries, saying that it would only hurt the people living in the region, not stem the problem of cross-border terrorism.
”Thousands and thousands and thousands of people have been maimed and killed by mines, and we are strongly against this idea. We are politically against it, and in humanitarian terms we are against it,” he said.
”Mines will not prevent terrorism crossing the border into Afghanistan, or militants who come and kill our people,” Mr. Karzai said in comments to journalists at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. ”Laying mines or fencing the border will only separate people and families from each other. Rather than helping, it will cause people difficulty in movement in trade and meeting each other.”
Mr. Karzai has for months been blaming Pakistan for being a source of terrorism and providing a safe haven to insurgent groups who, he says, recruit, organize and train fighters and suicide bombers who are then sent into Afghanistan.
”If we want to prevent terrorism as a whole, forever eradicate them and defeat them, then you must remove their sanctuaries,” he said, ”then you must remove the places they are being trained, their sources of finance, equipment and training. That is the best way.”
Pakistan has denied the existence of training camps and the presence of Taliban or insurgent groups on its side of the border. The Pakistani government has deployed more than 80,000 soldiers in its border provinces to try to stem cross-border infiltration, and has now started to mine and fence the border in order to seal it more effectively, Riaz Mohammed Khan, the foreign secretary, said at a news briefing in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, on Tuesday.
The border, known as the Durand Line, after a British official who demarcated the boundary between Afghanistan and then British India, has never been recognized by Afghanistan and remains contested at many points along its 1,500-mile length. It cuts through mountainous regions and divides tribes and extended families of the region, many of them ethnic Pashtuns, like Mr. Karzai himself.
”The same families are living on this side and on that side. It is only going to prevent movement by civilian families and tribes,” the president said.