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Top Pakistani Official Stresses Improved Border Management With Afghanistan

Sartaj Aziz national security and foreign affairs advisor to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
The Pakistani government's top national security advisor says Islamabad is trying to impose greater control over the country’s porous western borders with Afghanistan.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan late on December 26, Sartaj Aziz said that top Pakistani and Afghan security officials will soon meet to discuss regulating cross-border movements between their countries.

Aziz, the national security and foreign affairs advisor to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told RFE/RL that Islamabad will issue special passes to people from the border region to facilitate their cross-border movements and will expedite the visa process for Afghans.

"Even now we issue 1,000 or 2,000 visas to the Afghans everyday," he said. "This is a process and we will know the outline of the new border management once Afghanistan and Pakistan work out its details. We cannot let this border remain porous. We now have only two legal border crossings. We will increase them and will facilitate the [legal] movement of people with visas or [border] permits."

He added that Islamabad wants to address Afghan concerns about cross-border attacks and has even approached its archrival India to agree on refraining from providing support for rival Afghan factions after the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan next year.

"We have told India that supporting different factions in Afghanistan is not good," he said. "What Afghans decide among themselves is acceptable to everyone. [India] having one favorite, and [Pakistan] having another, as well as our interference, does not help the situation in Afghanistan."

Kabul and Islamabad often accuse each other of sheltering insurgents. For more than six decades, their bilateral relations have been overshadowed by their colonial-era border, the Durand Line.

Afghanistan has never formally recognized the Durand Line as an international border.

Pakistan, however, has frequently been accused of violating the border because it hosts Afghan guerillas and insurgents.

A workable border management agreement between the two neighbors could boost the prospects of peace in the two nations.