ISLAMABAD, July 5: The government has deployed 75,000 troops along the Afghan border and it is not possible for terrorists to move across it, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said on Tuesday.

Talking to journalists during a surprise visit to the passport office at Abpara, the minister said the troops had been deployed in three layers, making it impossible for terrorists to move across the border.

Responding to a question, he said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s forthcoming visit to Afghanistan “is a part of the consultative process between the two governments to discuss the settlement of Afghan refugees and other issues.” Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan which is imperative for peace in states in the region. “Pakistan never wants its soil to be used for terrorist activities,” he said.

Answering a question about renewal of the passport of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the minister said the application would be processed in accordance with rules.

Clarifying his earlier statement on the issue, he said: “I never said that passport will be issued to Mr Sharif and I did not mention how long it would take to issue the passport.”

He also said that he had been wrongly quoted in the press about Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s presence in southern Afghanistan. “We do not have any evidence about Osama’s presence anywhere,” he said. “I had said that there could be the possibility of his presence in areas under Taliban’s influence,” he said. “It was just an assessment in the wake of Taliban’s activities in certain areas and the prevailing circumstances. I had not mentioned any specific area,” the minister said.

Mr Sherpao said he had sought a report on measures under way for maintaining law and order and steps needed for smooth local body elections.

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