Fencing the Afghan border
Ali Abbas Rizvi
The long and porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. The easy access through the unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and possibly in Afghanistan as well. For effective counter terrorism measures, a strong border control management is vital at the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan's desire to fence the border is reflective of Islamabad’s willingness to stand by the commitment for peace and not to allow her land to be used for terrorism in Afghanistan.
Recently, tensions heightened between Pakistan and Afghanistan when Kabul objected to the border fencing within the Pakistan territory and officially protested to Pakistan over the issue. Not only that, the Afghan troops started firing on the Pakistan posts and civilian population in Landikotal. Due to the hostile actions, Pakistan was forced to send more troops to the border.
Earlier, this year when terrorists from Afghanistan crossed into Pakistan and attacked the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, the defence minister told the upper house of parliament that management of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was an issue that required massive improvement. He said that thousands of people crossed the Pakistan-Afghanistan border every day. “The situation today is such that we do not have an effective control over our border with Afghanistan, which is why people who go from here have made sanctuaries over there,” the minister said. He said unlike the settled international borders that the country shares with Iran, India and China, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border requires more effective management and that infiltration should be stopped for all times to come.
The minister said this was one of the issues that should be negotiated with Afghanistan that there should be a mechanism whereby the border could be managed more effectively to stop the infiltration from either side.
Supporting the proposal that there should be a fence to seal the border, he said despite 183,000 troops manning the border, the government was already overstretched. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Institute of Legal Development & Transparency (Pildat) has hailed various measures being taken by Pakistan to better manage the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and has suggested stringent measures towards the border management.
In a statement, Pildat welcomed the latest developments indicating that Pakistan is enforcing stricter border management system on the western border. It said: “While the Durand Line constitutes the legal border between Pakistan and Afghanistan under the International Law, the legal rubric of ‘easement rights’ to the various Pashtun and other tribes along its sides has come to be misunderstood as facilitative of cross border movement at will.
It is important to understand that the easement rights are only exercisable by members of the tribes divided by the Durand Line and are not available to other ordinary nationals of Afghanistan or Pakistan.”