- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan — A dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan over intelligence in the war on terror worsened yesterday, with Kabul saying it has provided “very strong and accurate” information on Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives, which Islamabad has dismissed as outdated.

The war of words reflects increasing bitterness between these two key U.S. allies as militant violence escalates on both sides and Islamabad proposed fencing or mining the rugged frontier.

A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, Karim Rahimi, said that Kabul will present Islamabad with further intelligence about the militants’ suspected whereabouts inside Pakistan and that it was “hopeful that measures will be taken.”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said, “We will definitely investigate,” but he reiterated Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s assertion that the intelligence has been “out of date.”

During a visit to Islamabad last month, Mr. Karzai gave a list to Gen. Musharraf of Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives who he said were hiding in Pakistan.

Afghan and Pakistani officials said that the list included Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and top associates, and that Afghanistan also shared the locations of suspected terrorist training camps.

“Afghanistan provided very strong and accurate intelligence,” Mr. Rahimi told reporters in response to Gen. Musharraf’s assertion in an interview Sunday on CNN that the information was old.

Pakistan has accused Afghanistan of leaking the list to the press because Kabul did not trust Islamabad to act on it.

“I’ll make a suggestion to our Afghan brothers: ‘Don’t talk to us through the media. It doesn’t help,’” Mr. Kasuri said in Islamabad.

He said the two nations instead should use diplomatic and intelligence channels.

“When President Karzai was here, he said, ‘Pakistan and Afghanistan are like twins,’” Mr. Kasuri said. “The twins should not kick each other.”

Pakistan, which used to support Afghanistan’s former Taliban government, switched sides in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and has backed Mr. Karzai since then.

But a spike in violence in Afghanistan has fueled suspicions in Kabul that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies still may be supporting the Taliban, which Islamabad strongly denies.

One of the key disputes between the neighbors involves the flow of militants across the nations’ 1,470-mile-long border.

Afghanistan has long demanded that Pakistan do more to crack down on militants based on its side. Islamabad repeatedly has said it’s doing all it can, pointing to the 80,000 Pakistani troops in the region.

Mr. Kasuri reiterated a Pakistani proposal that the entire border be fenced or mined to stop the infiltration of militants into either country.

But Afghanistan says that it is not feasible to fence the frontier, which cuts its way through rugged mountains and across a desert, and that mining the area would split families that live on both sides of the unmarked border.

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