Thursday, September 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak not to open border to refugees

Peshawar, September 26
For security reasons, Pakistan will not open its border to Afghan refugees fleeing a feared US attack, but it will shelter those who succeed in entering illegally, a provincial Governor said today.

“Pakistan will not be able to open its border for two reasons,” Mr Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah, Governor of the North-West Frontier Province, bordering Afghanistan, told a news conference.

“First, the Northern Alliance has openly criticised Pakistan. If people from those areas come, they could indulge in sabotage,” he said.

“Second, the Taliban have also threatened dire consequences if attacked,” he said, referring to Taliban threats to declare a holy war on anyone who supports a US attack.

Tens of thousands of Afghans are on the move in their landlocked and rugged land to try to escape possible US strikes against Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden and his Taliban protectors.

However, the Governor said that while refugees without valid visas would be turned away at the border, those who slipped across the porous 2,240-km frontier would be taken care of.

“We know that some Afghans will definitely manage to get in,” Mr Shah said. “The camps will be for those people who manage to get in, we have to take them somewhere,” he added.

QUETTA: Pakistan’s secular political parties today urged US President George W. Bush to exercise restraint in his “war on terrorism”, saying that strikes against Afghan targets would only strengthen Islamic militancy.

“Such military action could sow unrest throughout the region, they said.

While applauding the establishment of a global coalition to deal with those who masterminded the US suicide plane attacks, the leaders of liberal, leftist and nationalist groups said Washington’s talk of a crusade against evil was offensive to many Muslims and was turning extremists into freedom fighters. ReutersBack

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