Fencing of border with Afghanistan begins

Updated 21 Jun 2017


PESHAWAR: Pakistan has begun fencing of its borders with Afghanistan.

The fencing, beginning along the border areas in Bajaur and Mohmand, is part of a multibillion rupee border management plan that involves building hundreds of small forts and installation of radars, sensors and other technical surveillance equipment to effectively check cross-border movement, officials familiar with the plan said.

The commencement of the fencing was announced by Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during a visit to border areas in Mohmand, the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement on Saturday.

Construction of over 400 small forts, radar installation, increased patrolling are part of plan, says COAS

Gen Bajwa described both Bajaur and Mohmand ‘high threat zones’ which was why, he said, they were being accorded priority in the plan.

Both Mohmand and the adjoining Bajaur which abut Afghanistan’s Nangarhar and Kunar provinces have seen a frequent spike in attacks, including the ones by the banned militants groups, including Jamaatul Ahrar and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

Pakistan’s security forces carried out targeted surgical strikes on Ahrar’s bases just across the border following successive bomb attacks in parts of the country and shut down its border with Afghanistan for little over a month.

The statement quoted Gen Bajwa as telling troops that additional technical surveillance means were also being deployed along the border besides regular air surveillance.

Officials familiar with the plan said that fencing would be done at selective places and it would be augmented by a robust border patrolling, radar and border surveillance equipment.

Officials told Dawn that Pakistan was building 423 small forts along the 2,430km-long border with Afghanistan, roughly at a distance of 6km from each other, for effectively border patrolling and monitoring.

More than 60 such forts had already been built while work on others was in progress, officials said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sanctioned Rs12 billion to the military to put in place an effective border management system and more resources could be provided if needed, the officials Dawn spoke to said.

They said that radars and sensors were being deployed that could detect movement across the borders. Some had been deployed while others were in the process of being installed, they added.

“These have been useful in detecting movement recently, enabling our security forces to effectively respond to the threat,” the officials said.

To further augment the plan, the military was planning to install sensors along the border, they said.

Pakistan has already tightened visa and travel regime for Afghans besides introducing a system for tribesmen, replacing the age-old rahdari system.

Besides, in order to better manage the borders with Afghanistan, the post of Inspector General Frontier Force, South, has been created, thus dividing the border region between the IGFC North, including Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, Orakzai and Kurram and the IGFC South to look after North and South Waziristan.

The ISPR statement quoted the army chief as saying the military would employ all resources required for the defence of the country and for the safety and security of peace-loving Pakistani tribes.

Bilateral security mechanism

He said efforts were being made to evolve a bilateral border security mechanism with Afghan authorities. A better managed, more secure and more peaceful border, he added, was in the mutual interest of both brotherly countries, who had given phenomenal sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

He said mainstreaming of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) was in the best national interest. Development works, he added, were also being carried out expeditiously to bring enduring peace and stability to the tribal areas.

Gen Bajwa was given a detailed briefing on border security arrangements, cross-border terrorist threat and recent terrorist attacks from across the border on Pakistani posts.

The COAS interacted with troops at Suran and Kalaya, and hailed their high morale, operational preparedness and effective response to recent cross-border terrorist attacks.

He appreciated the killing of five terrorists, including high-value terrorist Duran, in a recent intelligence based operation and greatly valued ‘Shahadat’ (martyrdom) of Major Mudassar and two soldiers during the operation, the statement said.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2017