Pakistan, Afghanistan to form tribal council against insurgency
May 4, 2007 - 10:00:06 PM

Kabul/Islamabad, May 4 - Pakistani and Afghan delegations agreed in Kabul Friday to form a Grand Jirga or tribal council, to help in resolving border disputes, curb terrorist infiltrations and improve strained bilateral relations, news reports said.

The first meeting of the newly formed body will take place in the Afghan capital in the first week of August, a joint declaration that was issued at the close of two days of talks said.

According to earlier remarks by the head of the Pakistani delegation, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, each side drew up lists of about 350 tribal elders, parliamentarians and intellectuals who will form the new body.

Tribal involvement is seen as essential in countering Taliban insurgents that operate across the border against international and Afghan government forces.

Many of the tribes that span the border region are ethnic Pashtun, like the majority of the Taliban, and co-opting them is hoped to reduce the militants' ability to mount attacks.

The Pakistani officials later called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who on Monday met with President Pervez Musharraf in Turkey, to address mounting tensions over the resurgence of the Taliban.

The presidents in recent months have traded accusations of half-heartedness or inaction in the fight against the Taliban. Most of the disagreements relate to the mountainous frontier region where the militants are believed to run training and logistics camps.

The leaders advocated further confidence-building measures and implementation of bodies like the Grand Jirga Commission to help coordinate efforts.

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