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Bad Fences, Bad Neighbors

2 minute read

Hours after a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a convoy carrying Afghan Senate leader Sibghatullah Mujaddedi in Kabul last week, killing four other people, the politician appeared on television to lay blame—not on al-Qaeda or a resurgent Taliban, but on the President of neighboring Pakistan. “Pervez Musharraf, a dishonorable person, ordered the attack,” Mujaddedi thundered, an accusation that Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry called “baseless.”

Afghanistan is suffering a growing number of suicide bombings. Leaders, including President Hamid Karzai, say the Musharraf government is not doing enough to stop militants from its side of the border from carrying out the attacks. “Much of the leadership and training for the ongoing insurgency is based in Pakistan,” says Joanna Nathan, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group in Afghanistan.

Islamabad says it already has some 80,000 soldiers patrolling the mountainous frontier, where Osama bin Laden is also believed to be hiding. To boost border security further, some Pakistani officials propose building a fence, complete with guard towers and land mines. But that’s an impractical suggestion—the fence would have to traverse 2,200 km of rugged terrain, bisecting villages and homes. The better solution, says Rustam Shah Mohmand, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, is “cooperation and coordination. We are dependent on each other. If this conflict continues, [we] will both suffer.”

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