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Pakistan Closes Border to Boost Security for Afghan Vote

  • Ayaz Gul

FILE - A Pakistani Army soldier with the 20th Lancers Armored Regiment stands atop the 8000-foot mountain during a patrol near his outpost, Kalpani Base, in Pakistan's Dir province on the Pakistan-Afghan border.
Pakistan says it has closed all border crossings and deployed additional troops to help Afghanistan conduct Saturday’s presidential polls peacefully.

The Pakistani military said late Friday that all crossing points into Afghanistan will remain closed until conclusion of polling there on Saturday.

It added that border security arrangements have been stepped up in close coordination with Afghan security forces.

The military says patrols in Pakistani border areas have been increased, while immigration checks have been enhanced.

The army says that all routes leading toward the border with Afghanistan are being strictly monitored and aerial surveillance will be carried out to prevent "any untoward cross-border movement."

The increased security comes after Afghan allegations that the Pakistani spy agency is behind recent deadly attacks on election officials and facilities to disrupt the historic vote. Pakistani officials rejected the allegations as unfounded.

Pakistan’s foreign policy and national security advisor, Sartaj Aziz, says in a VOA interview that peace in his country is linked to stability in Afghanistan.

“So, I think this perception that somehow Pakistan wants to disrupt the election may be a part of electioneering for some parties but I don’t think it is based on either facts or any clear-cut motives that we could have for such an action," said Aziz.

Aziz reiterated that Islamabad wants to maintain friendly ties with Kabul, and hopes Afghanistan will emerge stronger and more unified after the election.

“We will of course respect the wishes of the voters and deal with any government that they elect and we don’t have any favorites. We don’t want to interfere in any way," he said.

The Taliban has vowed to use all possible force to disrupt the vote. Aziz says he hopes that despite the threat, a record number of Afghans will vote to ensure a peaceful democratic transition.

Pakistan has a highly porous border with Afghanistan that stretches 2,500 kilometers. Afghan and U.S. military commanders have long alleged the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan use sanctuaries in Pakistani border areas to stage attacks against local and coalition forces.