Pakistan beefs up border security ahead of Afghanistan elections

ISLAMABAD: With the Afghan presidential elections just around the corner, Islamabad has decided to enhance security measures along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, all passageways and cargo terminals, except for emergency patients, will be closed on September 27 and 28.

Security will also be beefed up along the border area and both pedestrians and vehicles crossing the border will have to undergo strict checks from September 26-29.

The announcement comes a week after Prime Minister Imran Khan assured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that Pakistan will do all it can “within its capacity” to curb violence during and in the build-up to the elections in Afghanistan.

Imran promises Ghani help ‘within capacity’ to curb Afghan election violence

At least 18 candidates are in the fray for Afghanistan’s presidential election on September 28, but only two are seen having a shot at winning in a country fractured by ethnic faultlines, unstable alliances and decades of war.

President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are pitted against each other once again, five years after the last election ended without a clear result. Ghani took the presidency and Abdullah became chief executive, effectively prime minister, after forming a National Unity government.

Other contenders include former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmad Wali Massoud, the younger brother of former anti-Soviet and anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Roughly 9.6 million people, about a third of them women, have registered to vote in 5,373 polling centres.

Whoever wins this year will be at centre-stage of efforts to forge peace with the Taliban and the possible resumption of talks between the insurgents and the United States, which were called off earlier this month.

But the Taliban control more of Afghanistan than at any time since its regime was toppled in 2001 and the US-backed government’s security forces are struggling to contain the militants, leaving the election victor with a weakened hand.

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