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Pakistani and Afghan Forces Exchange Fire over Flour Smuggling Across the Borders

April 14, 2008 (EIRNS)--What happened in the early morning hours of April 14, along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border post near Chaman in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, is a sign of things to come. For the first time in recent memory Pakistani paramiltary and Afghan forces, assembled there to fight war on terror, instead exchanged fire over the smuggling of wheat flour from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

The details of the incident revealed that at about 06:30 hours, three vehicles smuggling wheat flour were stopped by security personnel from Fontier Corps Balochistan along Chaman border. The vehicles did not stop and opened fire on security forces. Frontier Corps responded the fire.

Skyrocketing food prices, particularly for wheat flour, and a shortfall in domestic agricultural production have pushed millions of vulnerable Afghans into the "high risk" category of food insecurity, UN and Afghan officials say. Average wheat prices in Afghanistan have increased by 67% over the past 12 months, and Afghans who are not involved in agriculture now spend on average 75% of their income on food, World Food Program (WFP) reported on April 11. To meet the growing needs of some 2.5 million vulnerable Afghans affected by soaring food prices, on Jan. 24 the Afghan government and WFP appealed for $77 million to deliver 88,000 tons of food aid.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, once a wheat surplus nation, has been ravaged by falling cereal production, due to its full engagement since 2001 with the British-led neo-cons of the United States in the "war on terror." It is now wheat short. Reports indicate about 77 million Pakistanis—out of the total population of 160 million—are now labeled food short.