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At the UN, Aghan-Pakistan Dispute Lacks Answers and Preventive Diplomacy

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, May 16 -- There is much talk at the UN about preventative diplomacy. Perhaps some takes place behind the scenes. But as fighting has slowly come to a boil along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and even as the latter has written to Ban Ki-moon, the UN has had nothing to say. Wednesday Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban's spokesperson:

Inner City Press: This fighting on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Afghanistan says 13 people were killed and they've written to Ban Ki-moon asking for some action.  Has he received such a letter and what is the Secretary-General's position on this?  This is where this wall is being built by Pakistan, as well.

Spokesperson:  We donít have anything other than what I gave you yesterday on the violence.  I have nothing new on Pakistan.

            In fact, the Spokesperson's Office had said nothing at the previous day's briefing about either Pakistan or Afghanistan, click here for the transcript.

   Inner City Press had previously asked about the wall that Pakistan is building. First it included landmines, about which Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson on January 4. Then, Pakistan began the wall's construction. Inner City Press asked, and the following came back:

Subject: Your question on Afghanistan

From: [Office of the Spokesperson at] un.org

To: Inner City Press

Sent: Thu, 10 May 2007 2:33 PM

The SG has not received a letter from the Afghan Government concerning the wall with Pakistan.

            Inner City Press then asked:

Thanks. I was referring to this article that "Kabul does not recognize the border drawn up by colonial Britain in 1893 and wrote to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon earlier this year to express 'deep concern' over the fencing plans."

  How far back does your response run?  I just interviewed the ED of the Counter-Terrorism Secretariat, Javier Ruperez, including about Pakistan and this issue, and in connection with that I'd like to nail this down. Just, how far back does your response run? and separately, if possible, does the Secretariat have any comment or position on the fencing, or the previously included plan, since dropped, to use landmines?

 Finally (sorry), I want to check if the Counter-Terrorism Secretariat sunsets at the end of 2007, if so, if Mr. Ban would intend to nominate a new Exec. Dir. given the sunset; the relation between the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force headed  by Robert Orr and the C-T Secretariat.  Thanks.

  The response to these questions was "what a lot of questions," and the provision of a telephone number in Afghanistan. Would that be for the Secretariat / Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force questions? It's worth noting that Inner City Press' previously May 7 question about the abrupt resignation of UN Counter-Terrorism's Javier Ruperez went unanswered, despite there being a staffer in the Spokesperson's Office who is formally assigned the terrorism issue.  But must these UN counter-terrorism questions be asked elsewhere?  To be continued.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540