Doing Enough to Battle Terrorism?
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Taliban head Mullah Omar are probably hiding in Afghanistan, according to Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president. The remark, made in an interview in the Spanish daily El Pais was the latest lob in a series between Musharraf and Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai over who is doing a worse job keeping violent chaos at bay.
The two countries share a long border, whose mountainous terrain is difficult to police, at best. The Tora Bora caves where bin Laden was last seen are near the border. The two countries also share a long history of lawless interactions across the border. Under the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, contraband from heroin to televisions (outlawed by the Taliban) made passage.
The growing violence in both countries has increased tension. The Taliban, although out of power, have resurfaced in Afghanistan as an insurgent force capable of carrying out lethally destructive suicide attacks. Pakistan, an US ally in its war on terror, cannot control the militant extremists, or their tribal sympathizers, in its outlying provinces. Both doctrinaire anti-Americanism among Islamist extremists and popular anti-Americanism, stemming from recent outrage over US policies and actions, are present.
Nevertheless, Pakistan claims that it is doing all that it can to quelch terrorism, and keep it from spreading into Afghanistan. This is includes a plan to build a fence across part of the shared border. Musharraf and Karzai will have the chance to air their differences in person on April 30, when they are scheduled to meet in Turkey.