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May 19, 5:03 AM EDT

Pakistan, Afghanistan sign accord to share intelligence


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ISLAMABAD (AP) -- The spy agencies of Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to share intelligence and carry out "coordinated intelligence operations" against militants operating along their porous border, in the latest sign of improved relations following years of mistrust that undermined the fight against the Taliban.

Pakistan's army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa announced the signing of the Memoranda of Understanding between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security in a Twitter post late Monday. Bajwa did not say when the accord was signed.

The announcement came days after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with the country's army chief and the head of the ISI, visited Kabul to step up cooperation in the fight against militants.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have long accused each other of sheltering militants, but relations have improved since Afghan President Ashraf Ghani assumed power last September. An attack on a military-run school in Pakistan in December in which Taliban gunmen killed scores of people, mainly children, seems to have hastened the movement toward greater cooperation.

Both sides have toned down their rhetoric in recent months, and Ghani has sought to reassure Pakistan that Kabul is not working with its archrival India to undermine its interests.

Considerable mistrust remains, and several Afghan lawmakers have criticized the intelligence agreement.

Ahmad Shah Ramazan, a lawmaker from northern Balkh province, called the deal "anti-Afghan."

"Pakistan is the enemy of Afghanistan, and such an agreement with Pakistan will never be for the benefit of Afghanistan," he said. "When it is put before the parliament for approval, it will be strongly rejected," he said.

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Associated Press writer Lynne O'Donnell in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

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