ISLAMABAD: Security officials in Pakistan have announced that the border fence with Afghanistan will be extended to southwestern Balochistan in a bid to check illegal cross-border movement.
The army is already fencing the porous border in the country’s tribal areas with Afghanistan, as part of the border-management system.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have a border of nearly 2,600 km and illegal cross-border movement has caused tensions between the two nations.
This week senior army officer Brig. Nadeem Sohail told tribal elders in the border town of Chaman, Balochistan, that fencing will start soon to stop the “illegal influx of visitors” from the Afghan side of the border. While he did not give a date for the formal start of the fence, he did say all arrangements were in place.
Officials say Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 650 km border in Balochistan, fringing the southern parts of Afghanistan, including Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.
After Torkham in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Chaman is the second biggest and busiest notified crossing with thousands crossing each day. Both crossings have biometric identification systems.
The military started fencing last year after the government introduced passport and visa system for all Afghans entering Pakistan in June 2016. Security officials say border management was necessary to check movement of militants who have been blamed for violence in both countries.
Pakistani officials say that members of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant groups have fled to Afghanistan and are operating now from the Afghan side.
There are 16 notified exit routes along the border as well as hundreds of unnotified ones.
Afghanistan opposed the installation of a border fence, arguing that it would divide people, particularly ethnic Pashtuns, who live on both sides of the border. Pashtun nationalist parties in Pakistan fear that the fencing will divide families.
Pakistani Sen. Usman Kakar, senior leader of the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMPA), said the fencing cannot be implemented as families and villages are divided and many people cross the border each day.
“There are many people who have a house on this side of the Durand Line and a guest house on the Afghan side. Similarly, people have houses on the Afghan side, but they have graveyards on Pakistani side,” Kakar told Arab News.
Security officials, however, strongly favor the removal of unregulated borders.
Two military commanders in Waziristan tribal region told foreign media, during a visit to the border region in October, that the aim is to implement a border control system that is managed in accordance with international best practice.
They say currently there is a big gap with regard to forts and check posts — there are seven posts on the Pakistani side and only one on the Afghan side, according to Pakistani officials.
The military said that Pakistan planned to build 750 forts, with between 1.5 km to 3 km along the border to cover frequented and unfrequented routes.