Afghans want military at Pakistan border

September 22, 2008 10:40:05 AM PDT
Afghanistan wants to set up a joint military force that would have the power to operate on both sides of the border with Pakistan, where militants have found safe haven.Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said Monday that he has proposed creating a joint force to include coalition forces operating on Afghan territory and Pakistanis operating on their side.

"A terrorist does not recognize any boundaries," Wardak said.

"So to fight them I think we have to eventually come up with some arrangement together with our neighbor, Pakistan - that we should have a combined and joint task force of coalition, Afghan and Pakistanis to be able to operate on both sides of the borders regardless of which side."

"It should be based on the type of intelligence which we receive," he told Pentagon reporters as he visited the memorial to victims of Sept. 11 attacks - launched on the U.S. when al-Qaida was operating from Afghanistan.

He said he recommended the joint force to the U.S. some time ago and that the idea was discussed about a month and a half ago at one of the regular meetings of a tripartite commission of U.S., Pakistan and Afghan officials.

"They said they are looking at it," Wardak said of Islamabad.

In Pakistan, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the army, said no formal proposal for a multinational cross-border force has been received by the army and that he was unaware of any discussion of the idea within the tripartite commission.

Coalition deaths this year are at a record for the seven-year-old conflict.

The U.S. sometimes launches missile strikes into Pakistan - and recently launched a highly publicized ground raid - something Islamabad says violates its sovereignty. There is growing anger in Pakistan over the wave of cross-border strikes on militant bases by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The U.S. says al-Qaida has re-established safe havens in Pakistan after being routed from Afghanistan by U.S.-led forces in late 2001.