Afghan and Pakistani troops guarding the border last month (epa)
March 12, 2007 -- Afghan and Pakistani officials start talks today on holding traditional councils.
The two sides agreed last year to hold jirgas -- traditional meetings -- in tribal areas of Pakistan that are believed to be militant strongholds.
Afghan officials say Taliban militants plot attacks on Afghanistan from such tribal areas.
The twodays of talks in Islamabad are expected to focus on who should take part in such jirgas and their agendas.
The meeting comes after U.S. President George W. Bush asked Congress on March 9 for additional funds to send 3,500 new U.S. troops to expand training of local police and army units in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan And Pakistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad in October 2005 (epa)
ACROSS A DIFFICULT BORDER. The contested border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is some 2,500 kilometers long and runs through some of the most rugged, inhospitable territory on Earth. Controlling that border and preventing Taliban militants from using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks in Afghanistan is an essential part of the U.S.-led international coalition's strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan. Officials in Kabul have been pointing their fingers at Pakistan for some time, accusing Islamabad or intelligence services of turning a blind eye to cross-border terrorism targeting the Afghan central government. Many observers remain convinced that much of the former Taliban regime's leadership -- along with leaders of Al-Qaeda -- are operating in the lawless Afghan-Pakistani border region.... (more)