Pakistan

Pak-Afghan Border: Sensitive Areas Being Fenced

Pakistan will have unilaterally fenced “sensitive areas” along the country’s largely porous border with Afghanistan by the end of the year, discouraging terrorist infiltration in either direction, officials told VOA on Friday. The massive army-led construction effort to fence the entire 2,611-kilometer western frontier and build new outposts, as well as forts, went into action more than a year ago.

Initially, the comprehensive border security plan focused on areas that Pakistani officials identified as highly vulnerable to terrorist infiltration and illegal crossings, and where they said Afghan forces on the other side have little or no presence due to capacity issues.

A pair of three-meter chain link fences, with a two-meter gap topped with barbed wire, has been installed along 310 kilometers. The military also has raised or is in the process of raising new units of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) force for deployment along the Afghan border once the construction of new installations is over.

Pakistan will also add as many as 60,000 troops to boost its patrols along its disputed border with Afghanistan in an effort to curb the flow of insurgents passing between the two nations. Forty percent of the troops have already been recruited in the exercise, which is expected to take two years.

The army says that almost 92 per cent of its 2,611-kilometer largely porous border with Afghanistan will be fenced by end of 2018, hoping the massive unilateral undertaking will effectively address mutual complaints of militant incursions. The military-led construction effort went into action earlier this year. It has already fenced off about a 150-kilometer portion of the border identified as “highly prone” to terrorist infiltration.

“Our target is to complete it [the fence] by end of 2018,” said Major General Asif Ghafoor. He explained the plan intends to cover up to 2,400 kilometers of the entire Afghan border because the rest cannot possibly be fenced. About 13 percent of a fence planned along the 1,456 mile-long disputed border has also been completed. Additional outposts and small forts are also being built and being equipped with high-tech surveillance systems to enable soldiers to monitor and detect intrusions around the clock.

Afghanistan historically disputes the 1893 British colonial era boundary with Pakistan and publicly opposes the fencing project. Islamabad rejects Kabul’s objections and says it inherited the international border after gaining independence from Britain in 1947. Pakistani leaders said sustained counter terrorism operations have uprooted all terrorists from their soil and enhancing the border security will help reduce militant violence in both countries. U.S. and Afghan officials, however, continue to blame sanctuaries in Pakistan for enabling the Taliban insurgency to sustain and expand attacks inside Afghanistan. The allegations remain at the center of Islamabad’s diplomatic tensions with both Kabul and Washington.

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