July 2, 2017
Pakistan’s military has begun erecting fencing along the country’s porous border with Afghanistan in order to stop cross-border infiltration and improve security in the region.
According to a high-ranking Pakistani security official, in the first phase, at least 43 border posts have been constructed in the northwestern tribal region along the border. Sixty-three others are under construction in Dir Lower, Bajaur, Mohmand Agency, and Khyber Agency border areas.
The plan includes building 338 border posts and army forts along the border.
“There are several legal routes to cross into Afghanistan in Chitral, Dir, Bajaur, Mohmand Agency, Tor Kham Khyber Agency, Kurram Agency, North and South Waziristan, and the Chaman area of Baluchistan, but despite these legal routes, there are over 300 [illegal] crossing points, and terrorists always enter via those hard mountainous routes to carry out attacks in Pakistan and now the army will close them,” media outlets quoted the official as saying.
Speaking to local TV media on Friday, Pakistani military spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, said the move to fence the border was aimed at curtailing the movement of militants and stopping them from entering the country.
“The Daesh terrorist group has been gaining strength in Afghanistan along the Pakistan border, as we heard media reports that the group has also captured Afghanistan’s Tora Bora area. Pakistan will never tolerate any terrorist group setting foot on our soil and these are all efforts underway to eliminate terrorist groups,” Ghafoor said.
Both countries have long pledged to improve security in the region and go after militant groups based in the rugged and mountainous border areas. But the exact location of the border has long been disputed by Kabul.
Last year, Pakistan started building a barrier at the main border crossing in the northwestern town of Torkham. The move irked the Afghan government.
The Pakistani military has dismissed Afghanistan’s criticism of the fencing plan, saying the activity is being performed well inside the Pakistani territory.
The two countries are in a dispute over the demarcation of the border, which is a key battleground in the fight against the Taliban and other militant groups.
Islamabad recognizes the Durand Line, the 1896 British-mandated border between the two neighbors, but Kabul says activity by either side along the line must be approved by both countries.
Successive governments in Afghanistan have never recognized the British-drawn colonial era border line.
Pakistan and Afghanistan regularly accuse each other of sheltering their enemy insurgents. Both sides, however, deny such an allegation.
Kabul blames elements inside the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for supporting the Taliban militants, while Islamabad blames the Afghan government for giving refuge to militants on its side of the border. The two sides also accuse each other of not doing enough to stop militants engaging in cross-border raids.