ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is seriously considering to ‘fence and mine’ some important parts of the Pak-Afghan border, in the wake of increasing incursions by militants from the Afghan side into Bajaur, Upper Dir and Mohmand tribal regions, knowledgeable sources told Dawn.
The plan has been there for some time and specific details were also worked out by the security establishment, but it was put on hold because of opposition from Kabul. However, recent incursions from across the Durand Line have made the authorities to consider reviving the project.
Heavily armed militants have crossed into Pakistan’s border more than four times in less than 25 days and clashed with Pakistan’s border forces.
In a recent attack by militants in Mohmand this month, the Pakistan Air Force had to be called in to recapture a post.
The clash led to the death of 25 militants while several Frontier Corps soldiers were injured.The military is concerned over the increasing infiltration.
“The insurgency from across the border is growing and we have already taken up the matter with Afghan officials but there appears to be no end to the incursions. A plan to fence the border is being discussed and a final decision will be taken by senior military officials,” an official told this correspondent.
The fencing and mining, he said, would be carried out at areas of strategic military importance. This, however, will not be the first time that such an exercise will be carried out. After 9/11, Pakistan did fence and mine parts of the 2,500km border after it was accused of failing to stop the Taliban and Al Qaeda militants from crossing over and taking refuge inside Pakistan. The official said the Afghanistan government had always been against fencing the border.
“Pashtuns living on the both sides still can easily cross the border after clearing a few security checks,” the official said.
Maj-Gen Athar Abbas, the spokesman for the army, told Dawn: “We did fence around 35km of the border area as it faced continuous militant incursions. It was a joint project of Isaf and Afghanistan. But then they backed out. It was a very costly project.”
When asked if fencing and mining of four strips along the border was being considered, he said: “Not to my knowledge.”