Afghans call for joint counterterrorism unit

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Owen Faulkner

2008-10-17

KABUL, Oct. 10 —Afghani defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak has called for the creation of a joint military force that would have the authority to operate on both sides of the border with Pakistan, which is a stronghold of Islamic militants.

Wardak said in late September that he wanted Afghans, Pakistanis and foreign troops to form a joint counterterrorism unit that would have the authority to pursue terrorists across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"A terrorist recognises no boundaries, so, to fight them, I think we have to eventually come up with some arrangement, together with our neighbour Pakistan, for a joint task force consisting of a coalition of Afghan and Pakistani troops,” Wardak said. “This would allow us to operate on both sides of the border."

He said the idea was discussed about a month and a half ago at a tripartite commission meeting. The commission represents the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistani army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said Pakistan had not received a formal proposal for a multinational cross-border force, and that he was unaware of any discussion of the idea by the tripartite commission.

Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of failing to clamp down on militancy in tribal areas along the Afghan border from which militants have launched attacks into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army’s recent operations in the Bajaur tribal agency, however, have helped reduce violence on the Afghan side of the border Wardak said in early October.

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