Pakistani troops sent to beef up border security
QUETTA, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan swelled its security forces along its border with Afghanistan Friday, dispatching troops to prevent fleeing Taliban and al Qaeda from entering the country.
Troops were sent to western Pakistan to supplement police officers there "to make sure the border is sealed and no one can move across the border into Pakistan without valid documents," said Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, speaking for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
The call coincides with what appears to be a rapid deterioration of Taliban military and political efforts. Opposition forces now hold most major Afghan cities except for Kandahar and Konduz, and scores of Northern Alliance and tribal leaders, including many Pashtuns, are discussing a post-Taliban government.
In addition to Taliban forces, there is fear that members of al Qaeda -- the group accused of masterminding the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States, and headed by Osama bin Laden -- will leave Afghanistan and head east to Pakistan, home to some of their staunchest supporters.
"We do not want any people or undesirable elements" crossing into Pakistan, said Pakistani Foreign Minister Aziz Ahmad Khan.
The Northern Alliance said bin Laden had been moving from "cave to cave" in southern Afghanistan in recent days, while U.S. defense officials admitted it was possible the exiled Saudi millionaire had already left Afghanistan.
The Pakistani army will send 2,000 troops and six tanks to the border, fearing the Afghan conflict could spill over into Pakistan fueled by Taliban forces and Pashtun tribal members angry at Islamabad for siding with the United States against the Taliban, said CNN's Carol Lin in Quetta.
Qureshi said no tanks were being dispatched.
At Chaman, the main border crossing, Pakistani soldiers joined heavily armed frontier police, who were digging trenches.
Pakistani troop levels reportedly were expected to reach their highest levels since the Afghan-Soviet war ended in 1989.
Analysis: Taliban in retreat -- or regrouping?
November 15, 2001
Sheila MacVicar: Pashtuns split on allegiances
November 15, 2001
'Don't take Kabul', Pakistan tells Alliance
November 14, 2001
Tom Mintier: Pakistani view on Afghanistan's future
November 13, 2001
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