KUNDIGAR, Pakistan — Ten thousand feet up on the border, Pakistani army positions dot the peaks and slopes of a steep mountain ridge to prevent al-Qaida and Taliban militants from sneaking into Afghanistan to stage attacks on Sunday's elections.
Stung by criticism that it is not doing enough to guard the rugged frontier, Pakistan said Thursday it has stepped up security and accused the U.S.-led coalition of deploying too few troops to protect eastern and southern Afghanistan.
"You see the amount of effort we are making compared to them?" asked Brig. Imitiaz Wyne at Kundigar, the highest border post in the North Waziristan tribal region, opposite the volatile Afghan province of Paktika. He pointed to several of his troop positions, marked by smoke flares, on the heights about a mile away.
The Pakistanis have 15 posts along this 16-mile-stretch of the border while the U.S. troops and Afghan army have only two posts, he told reporters at an army camp, where stone bunkers housed machine gunners in the pine forest. Green-and-white Pakistani national flags fluttered from treetops.
Days before Afghans go to the polls, the Pakistan army whisked journalists from the capital, Islamabad, by helicopter to show off its border security efforts and what it describes as its biggest military operation yet in North Waziristan to rout an al-Qaida base.
Soldiers this week raided a madrassa complex, or Islamic school, near the main town of Miran Shah. The school has been linked to a fugitive Taliban leader who is allegedly associated with al-Qaida.
The army said it made 28 arrests and seized tons of weaponry — including rockets and anti-aircraft guns — communications equipment, military training manuals in Arabic and a suicide bomber's jacket.
The regional army chief, Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, described the madrassa complex as a "logistics base for all kinds of terrorist activities."