PESHAWAR: Around 200 heavily armed US and Afghan soldiers violated Pakistan’s border in the volatile North Waziristan near Khost province of Afghanistan on Thursday and tried to set up checkpoints and customs point on the Pakistani side of the border in Ghulam Khan, officials based in the border village said.
“We thought they had lost their way when they were approaching the Pakistani border. They crossed the official border and arrived at the zero point. Two gunship helicopters providing them air cover also violated Pakistan’s airspace,” a security official based in the region said.
Pleading anonymity, he said the Pakistani security officials were stunned by the development and asked the US officials if they had lost their way.The Pakistani officials were surprised and a bit angry when US military officials told them they were on the right track and had all the maps of the area. The Americans said they wanted to set up checkpoints and customs office on Afghan side of the border.
“The Pakistani officials tried to make them understand politely that they were standing at zero point almost on the Pakistan side of the border. Then we heard some Afghan military officials telling the Americans to insist on establishing checkpoints inside Pakistan’s side of the border as Pakistan has captured the Afghan territory,” recalled the official.
The official said it seemed Afghan military authorities had misled the US security officials about actual position of the border between the two countries and that is the reason why Americans were adamant to set up the checkpoints on Pakistani side of the border.
According to Pakistani officials, US and Afghan security officials stood for almost an hour at zero point and returned after an agreement with their Pakistani counterparts.“One of the US officials said, oh so we are almost in North Waziristan, dangerous place by the way,” the official quoted an American officer as telling his colleagues. The Pak-Afghan border in Ghulam Khan remained closed as long as the US troops were present on the border.
However, when reached by phone, an official of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said it was coordinated meeting between the US and Pakistani military officials for establishing customs post on the Afghan side of the border.
“The Pakistani military officials were aware of their movement as US military officials had already shared the information with our officers in the area. Since Pakistan Army has been constructing a 40-feet wide highway from Bannu to Ghulam Khan via Mir Ali and Miranshah, therefore, the US and Afghan officials wanted to set up custom post on their side of the border for the economic corridor,” the ISPR official explained. He said some US troops came by road and other by helicopters to select the site for the customs post on the border.