Monday, November 06, 2006

Pakistan, Under Pressure To Keep Militants Out, Offers To Fence Off Afghan Border

Pakistan, under international pressure to stop militants from crossing over its border with Afghanistan, said it was willing to fence off the frontier. Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri made the offer during talks with his Dutch counterpart, Bernard Bot. Bot arrived in the Pakistani capital after visiting Kabul, a ministry statement said. Kasuri also said both Pakistani and Afghan security forces should jointly monitor the border to prevent movement by militants, according to the statement. ``Bot welcomed Pakistan's readiness to seal the border ... and said that he would discuss this with other NATO partners,'' the statement said. Pakistan has repeatedly said it is willing seal its border with Afghanistan. But officials say Afghanistan has rejected proposals to build a fence or mine the frontier.Pakistan's government has come under increasing pressure from Afghanistan, the U.S. and NATO to crack down on militants operating along the Pakistan-Afghan frontier where al-Qaida and Taliban militants are thought to roam freely. Osama bin-Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere along the porous border. Afghan officials have repeatedly said remnants of the Taliban militia are hiding in Pakistan, but Islamabad denies the charge. In Afghanistan, where the Netherlands has assumed command over NATO-led troops in the country's troubled south, Bot said that Islamabad needed to be pressured to block Taliban fighters based in Pakistan from crossing into Afghanistan. Pakistan an ally in America's fight against militant Islamic radicals has deployed some 80,000 troops along its border with Afghanistan to hunt down militants.