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Pakistan: Islamabad Says UN Calls for More Border Security 'Unfair'

The UN's chief envoy in Afghanistan has called for greater security to safeguard Afghanistan's upcoming elections. But Jean Arnault's appeal prompted a strong reaction from Pakistan, which said it is already making considerable efforts to secure its border. Pakistan's UN ambassador told a UN Security Council briefing yesterday that most of Afghanistan's security problems are internal and that the international community needs to provide greater assistance to protect against interference in the October presidential polls.

United Nations, 25 August 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Pakistan's UN ambassador has expressed frustration and resentment at UN calls for greater efforts to secure its border to stop armed infiltrations into Afghanistan.

Pakistani envoy Munir Akram told the UN Security Council yesterday that his country has taken extraordinary efforts to safeguard its border, including the deployment of 75,000 troops.

"What more is expected from Pakistan in this context that we are not doing? That is a question. We feel very strongly that we are doing everything that we can. We are taking lots, lots of political risks, lots of military casualties, and to call upon Pakistan to do more -- even more -- is unfair," Akram said.
"I assure the council, in conclusion, that there is no alienation of any ethnic group in Afghanistan, including in the south and east border areas." -- Afghanistan's UN ambassador Ravan Farhadi

Akram called on the international community to increase its commitment to forces inside Afghanistan as part of the effort to protect the upcoming presidential elections.

His comments came in response to an appeal by the chief UN representative to Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, who called for greater efforts to protect the 9 October elections.

Arnault told the Security Council that one of the ways to improve security is by reducing cross-border infiltrations from Pakistan. He said the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has found that extremists are coming across the border to disrupt the Afghan electoral process.

"We would be irresponsible as UNAMA if we did not appeal to the international community, to the government of Pakistan, of Afghanistan and to international forces to put an end to this situation, and in particular in the southern border," Arnault said.

Arnault said Afghanistan has just concluded a successful registration process for the elections. The UN-guided process registered 10.5 million Afghans -- 40 percent of whom are women.

But he said southern areas of Afghanistan, particularly the province of Zabul, have had much lower rates of registration due to threats and attacks by extremists.

The U.S.-led coalition now has about 18,000 troops in Afghanistan, and the International Security Assistance Force is expected to have about 8,300 troops by the end of September. Arnault expressed concern that these forces will not be enough to provide widespread security on election day.

"We are concerned that violence could cause part of the populations to stay away from polling sites in the south and elsewhere. This threat is compounded by the fact that security forces -- both domestic and international -- will be stretched thin to protect all 5,000 [voting] sites across the country," Arnault said.

Akram, the Pakistani ambassador, sought to emphasize the role of factional militias in destabilizing the country, including in southern areas.

"The primary mistake, in our view, has been to rely on warlords and factional forces to provide stability in Afghanistan. The result of this mistake is the creation of security vacuums in large parts of Afghanistan, where the writ of the central government does not run and where lawlessness, corruption and drug trafficking thrive," Akram said.

Akram said another reason for insecurity in the south is the exclusion of majority Pashtuns from the political process.

But Afghanistan's UN ambassador, Ravan Farhadi, told the Security Council that no such exclusion is taking place.

"I assure the council, in conclusion, that there is no alienation of any ethnic group in Afghanistan, including in the south and east border areas," Farhadi said.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan Transitional Administration Hamid Karzai met on 23 August in Islamabad. Musharraf promised to stop extremists from using Pakistani territory to disrupt the Afghan presidential elections.