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Waziristan Elders Drop Out of Pakistani-Afghan Assembly

Pakistani troops at the Afghan border in restive North Waziristan (file photo) (epa) August 6, 2007 -- Tribal elders in Pakistan's North Waziristan region today said they will not go to Kabul on August 9 for a grand assembly, or jirga, aimed at building confidence between Pakistan and Afghanistan and dampening support for the Taliban.

Mamur Khan, chief of North Waziristan's Wazir Turikhel tribe, said the absence of Taliban representatives would make the assembly pointless.

Some tribal leaders also want Pakistan to withdraw troops from checkpoints in North Waziristan as a precondition for participation in the assembly.

At the four-day assembly, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf are due to address clerics, politicians, writers, and tribal chiefs from ethnic Pashtun regions on both sides of the border.

The border region has been destabilized by the presence of Taliban-linked militants, accused of crossing the border to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.


Afghanistan And Pakistan

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)


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