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    Re-demarcation of borders with neighbours suggested

    KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan's borders with Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan should be redefined because a river separating the countries is changing its course with the passage of time, an official suggested on Wednesday.

    Afghan Geodesy and Cartography Head Office (AGCHO) chief Fazl Ahmad Hidayat said the exact demarcation of borders with the neighbouring countries needed a review every 20 years due to the shifting course of Amu River.

    He told a gathering marking the AGCHO creation in Kabul the issue be raised with the governments of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. A four-way commission be constituted to redefine the borders, he proposed.

    Under the relevant international law, when a river between neighbouring countries is shifting its course, their borders be redefined every 20 years, according to Hidayat, who claimed Iran had taken control of several Afghan areas. He said Iranians had strengthened banks of the Amu River on their side of the border.

    The official said Afghanistan's frontiers with Iran and Pakistan could not be redefined so far for political reasons and his department had been unable to launch a credible survey. He did not explain the political issues, but accused Iran and Pakistan of taking possession of some Afghan areas along the borders.

    With its origin in Tajikistan, the Amu River flows along the border between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

    The Cadastral Survey of Afghanistan (CSA) chief, Ghulam Aishan Sultani, told Pajhwok Afghan News they surveyed Afghanistan's territory from 1966 to 1978, but the process could not be completed due to decades of war.

    AGCHO General Director Abdul Rauf Yari said the office had launched work on renewing and digitalising the map of Afghan lands. He added the AGCHO had lost most of its technical equipment due to the conflict. He also said the US had promised providing a plane to the department for aerial surveys.

    ma/mud