Border Security and Dialogue
The Province of Kandahar is Afghanistan’s southern gateway to Pakistan for trade and travel, refugees and insurgents. Its future, like its past, will be shaped by cross-border relationships between the people and governments of both countries. A secure and effectively managed border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with greater economic opportunities for border-region residents, is necessary for the stability and security of both countries.
It is therefore a Canadian priority to help strengthen Afghanistan’s capacity to manage the border and promote stability and economic development in the border area. This can only be achieved by facilitating a regular and constructive dialogue, formal and informal, between Afghanistan and Pakistan at national and local levels.
Developing this dialogue will mean overcoming the uneasy relationships that have prevailed between the two countries. The uneasiness has several sources: Afghanistan’s non-recognition of the internationally accepted Durand Line as the border; the presence of Pashtun and Baluch populations straddling the border and continuously moving across it; the failure in Pakistan to control extremist groups using Pakistani bases for attacks into Afghanistan; and the presence of 2.15 million Afghan refugees still in Pakistan. Mitigating Afghan-Pakistani antagonisms by addressing these and other issues will demand sustained, coordinated diplomatic efforts.
Canada has been active in several initiatives with Afghans, Pakistanis and the international community to contribute to a better dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan and to improve border management. Canada has facilitated a series of Pakistan-Afghanistan Cooperation Workshops in Dubai, Islamabad and Kabul where senior border officials of both governments convened for the first time to discuss collaboration in customs, migration, security, narcotics and development. Canada has also given technical support to Afghan and Pakistani border agencies; funded the start-up of the Afghan Peace Jirga Secretariat (a shared Pakistani-Afghan undertaking); facilitated dialogue between Afghan and Pakistani military officers; and been working within the G8 to promote international support for border-region development. To support border-area economic development in Kandahar, Canada will conduct security operations and invest aid in the Spin Boldak district—an important centre of legitimate trade, and of trafficking by criminals and insurgents. We will also focus our efforts on building border management capability at key crossings between Kandahar and the Province of Baluchistan inPakistan.
Canadian Objective for 2011: