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Pakistan to build fence along disputed Afghan border

Amid worsening ties with Afghanistan, Pakistan announced Saturday it had started building a fence along the volatile Afghan-Pakistani border. Islamabad said the move is aimed at restricting the movement of Islamist militants that cross over the porous border and launch attacks on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Bajwa, visited the northwestern tribal region on Saturday and announced the construction of fencing in "high threat zones." He said the new border measure would be in the interest of both countries.

The move, however, is extremely controversial in Afghanistan and among the  Pashtu-speaking people who live on both sides of the border.

Every day, thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis cross the Durand Line - the 2,430-kilometer (1,510 miles) boundary established by the British during their colonial rule. The Afghan government does not recognize the Durand Line as the official border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, nor do many Pashtuns who share historical, cultural and family ties.

The Pashtuns can easily travel back and forth across the border, but the deteriorating political ties between the two countries are now causing them problems.

Despite the sensitivity of the issue, Islamabad has already put in place a number of strict border restrictions . On March 7, it temporarily opened its border crossings with Afghanistan - Torkham and Chaman - which it had closed last month after a wave of militant attacks in the country killed dozens of civilians.

Pakistan to build fence along disputed Afghan border

Pakistani army chied, Qamar Bajwa, said the border fencing would be useful for both Afghanistan and Pakistan

Najib Danish, the deputy spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said Kabul was unaware of the construction of border fencing. Afghanistan would move to prevent any such project, he added.

"Building fences or any construction is not acceptable for us and we won't allow anyone to do it," he told The Associated Press.

Unbreakable ties

Experts say the relations between the Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns are so deep that any border control mechanism has a very limited chance of success. Also, thousands of people across the border are tied up with transportation, hotel business, logistics and different services that thrive on the cross-border movement.

"I don't know what to do now. I possessed Pakistan's identification card but the authorities have refused to renew it. Technically, I am a stateless person now," said Khaista Gul of the Momand tribe, who lives between Afghanistan and Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Gul runs a family business in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Terrorism and trade

Apart from the border control measures, cross-border shelling by Pakistani security forces has also restricted the tribal movement across the Durand line.

Juma Khan, a resident of Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province along the border, says the constant bombing by Pakistan's border forces must stop. "Things were different in the past; we could freely move from one side of the border to other. Now we have to be careful," Khan told DW.

Pakistan to build fence along disputed Afghan border

The Pashtuns on both sides of the border are also linked with cross-border trade

The movement

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Loyalist committee chooses Lam as Hong Kong's next leader

Hong Kong's election committee chose former government official Carrie Lam as the city's next leader on Sunday, local broadcaster Cable TV reported.

Lam, widely billed as Beijing's top pick, won with 777 votes. She will become the city's first female leader and the fourth leader since British colonial control ended in 1997.

On hearing her victory, Lam bowed to the crowd and shook hands with second-place finisher, former finance secretary John Tsang, who received 365 votes.

Pro-democracy protesters gathered near the polling site as results were counted. Many of them carried placards criticizing the electoral process as well as yellow umbrellas - the symbol of the 2014 protests. They were in turn surrounded by dozens of counter-demonstrators. Police cordoned off the area to separate the two groups.

Activists claim that the majority of the city's 7.3 million people have no say in their next leader.

Although Hong Kong's Basic Law stipulates the city should work towards universal suffrage, proposals to reform the election process have stalled since 2014, when pro-democracy protests swept across the city.

That year, Beijing  agreed to allow residents to vote for the next leader. However, under the deal, the candidates would be vetted by an election committee of alleged pro-China members.

The proposal prompted mass protests called the Umbrella Movement , led by a small group of students urging authorities to implement democratic reforms.

In 2015, pro-democracy lawmakers rejected the Beijing-backed reform plan , effectively stalling the debate.

China's foreign ministry said Sunday's vote was not only relevant for the city, but also to "the central government's exercise of sovereignty and governance over Hong Kong."

Hundreds of protesters had also taken to the streets on Saturday to protests their exclusion from the electoral process for the city's chief executive.

Lam said she hoped to soothe divisions in the city, which is split by political divisions and saddled with sluggish economic growth.

"Hong Kong, our home, is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness," Lam said in a victory speech.

"My priority will be to heal the divide and to ease the frustrations and to unite our society to move forward."

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Loyalist committee chooses Hong Kong's next leader Lam

Hong Kong's election committee chose former government official Carrie Lam as the city's next leader on Sunday, local broadcaster Cable TV reported.

Lam, widely billed as Beijing's top pick, won with 772 votes, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an unofficial count.

Pro-democracy protesters gathered near the polling site. Many of them carried placards criticizing the electoral process. They were in turn surrounded by dozens of counter-demonstrators. Police cordoned off the area to separate the two groups.

Activists claim that the majority of the city's 7.3 million people have no say in their next leader.

Although Hong Kong's Basic Law stipulates the city should work towards universal suffrage, proposals to reform the election process have stalled since 2014, when pro-democracy protests swept across the city.

That year, Beijing  agreed to allow residents to vote for the next leader. However, under the deal, the candidates would be vetted by an election committee of alleged pro-China members.

The proposal prompted mass protests called the Umbrella Movement , led by a small group of students urging authorities to implement democratic reforms.

In 2015, pro-democracy lawmakers rejected the Beijing-backed reform plan , effectively stalling the debate.

China's foreign ministry said Sunday's vote was not only relevant for the city, but also to "the central government's exercise of sovereignty and governance over Hong Kong."

Hundreds of protesters had also taken to the streets on Saturday to protests their exclusion from the electoral process for the city's chief executive.

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Loyalist committee chooses Hong Kong's next leader

Hong Kong's election committee, comprising 1,194 members who represent a slew of sectors, are set Sunday to choose a new leader for the city-state.

The committee's members are chosen by 246,440 voters from sectors ranging from arts and culture to real estate and agriculture. Hong Kong's 70 lawmakers automatically receive a place on the committee.

Pro-democracy activists claim that the majority of the city's 7.3 million people have no say in their next leader.

Although Hong Kong's Basic Law stipulates the city should work towards universal suffrage, proposals to reform the election process have stalled since 2014, when pro-democracy protests swept across the city.

That year, Beijing  agreed to allow residents tovote for the next leader. However, under the deal, the candidates would be vetted by an election committee of alleged pro-China members.

The proposal prompted mass protests called the Umbrella Movement , led by a small group of students urging authorities to implement democratic reforms.

In 2015, pro-democracy lawmakers rejected the Beijing-backed reform plan , effectively stalling the debate.

China's foreign ministry said Sunday's vote is not only relevant for the city, but also to "the central government's exercise of sovereignty and governance over Hong Kong."

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Duterte slams 'idiotic' EU proposal to treat drug addicts

The firebrand Filipino leader rejected the EU's proposal as "stupid" and "idiotic" in his Friday speech, while at the same time praising China for their no-strings-attached loans.

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