Monday, Apr 07, 2003
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
Headed by Tasneem Noorani, Interior Secretary, the delegation would have discussions on a variety of subjects. The JWG meeting would focus on the subjects of Pakistan's support to the U.S. in fight against terrorism and review the progress of the Border Security Programme and other law enforcement reforms.
The latest meeting assumes significance on two specific counts. First, to assess the extent to which Al-Qaeda and Taliban fugitives have managed to sneak into Pakistan and their ability to operate with any degree of success. Capture of Sheikh Khalid Mohammed a few weeks ago from a house in Rawalpindi brought to the fore the penetration of some of the fugitives into Pakistan.
Second, since the commencement of Iraq war on March 20, there has been a dramatic rise in incidents targeting the U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. There have been reports in the press about possible regrouping of the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to take on the allied forces taking advantage of the focus on Iraq.
Both these issues are expected to figure prominently in the course of the meeting of JWG. The U.S. and its allies are greatly dependent on Pakistan in containing Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives. Nature of the problem could be gauged from the simple fact that the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan runs over 3,800 km.
An official statement by Pakistan said that during this visit, the U.S. would be requested to assist Pakistan in establishing Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), National Crime Database and strengthening of CIDs to counter the global threat of terrorism.
The delegation would also take up the issue of provision of further assistance for Phase-II of the Border Security Project to monitor effectively all the official entry/exit on our border to thwart illegal migrants/activists.
Besides these, the subjects of narcotics control, extradition requests initiated by both sides and police reforms are likely to come under discussion.
The Pakistan side will raise the issues of release of Pakistani prisoners detained in Guantanamo Bay arrested by the U.S.- led coalition forces during Afghan war and liberalising the INS registration policy of Pakistanis living in the U.S.
The U.S.-Pak. JWG was established during the visit of the former Interior Minister, Moin-ud-Din Haider, to the U.S. in May, 2002. The last meeting of JWG was held in Islamabad on September 25 last year.
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