Pak-Afghan border to shed ‘porous’ tag soon

Published: May 31, 2016
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Torkham border. PHOTO: AFP

Torkham border. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: The adjective ‘porous’ will soon disappear from descriptions of the 2,450-kilometre-long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as the first border management system at Torkham, in Khyber Agency, will become functional from June 1, a senior security official said on Monday. People without a valid passport will no longer be allowed to cross into Pakistan.

The move is part of a comprehensive project to secure the Durand Line that has been a bone of contention between the two neighbours. After Torkham, the rest of the seven entry points into Pakistan from Afghanistan – right from Arandu in Chitral to Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan – will be built in the same manner, subject to funding and other modalities involved, said the official.

Installation of barbed wires at Torkham causes dispute

An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people cross the border daily on either side at Torkham without proper travel documentation. Authorities have long believed that most terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s soil originated from Afghanistan. However, the installation of the border management system has not been an easy task.

The Torkham border was shut down on May 10 for four days after Afghan forces blocked a Pakistani authorities’ move to fence their side of the border, even though the hedge was 30 metres inside Pakistani territory. The Angoor Ada border post that was handed over to the Afghan defence ministry on May 21 as a trust building measure was closed for nine days by Afghan authorities.

The apparatus for the border management system has been set up at the Shaheed Mor check-post which is some 3.2 kilometres away from the Torkham crossing. “There are specific laws of the FIA that have been extended to the area to fill in the legal gaps,” explained the official. “Nobody will be allowed beyond this point.”

However, the Easement Rights of Divided Tribes along the Durand Line, an understanding reached between the British Raj and Afghanistan that allows tribes straddling the border to move freely, will only be extended to the Shinwari tribe settled on both sides of the border – but that too within 20 kilometres of the border.

Asked if Afghan refugees possessing Proof of Registration Cards (PoR) would be allowed to enter Pakistan once they crossed over, the official said according to the law, the refugee status of an individual ceases if he/she crosses into his/her own country. “However, this is still a proposal.”

There are more than 40 points on the Pak-Afghan border that have been exceeded by Pakistan or Afghanistan, said the official. However, security-related issues remain a determinant factor in resolving the problem. Pakistan has 535 border posts on the Durand Line against just 145 of Afghanistan. By this ratio there is one Pakistani border post at every two kilometres and an Afghan post at every 7.8 kilometres.

Torkham border reopens after four days

“Stationing troops at the zero-point is not a problem, but securing the post against attacks from the other side is,” he said, adding that there were huge gaps in the border that had to be plugged because of militant groups use safe havens in Afghanistan as a spring board for mounting attacks in Pakistan whenever they find an opportunity. “These posts have been created by mutual understanding and will be vacated once a proper security mechanism is put in place that guarantees the space will not be taken by terrorists,” he added.

The border posts on the Pakistani side will be handed over to the Frontier Corps within a span of three years, depending on the overall regional developments and the future of the status of Fata in the shape of Fata reforms.

Another official explained that there were two areas in Fata where militants from across the border were still attacking, Alwara in North Waziristan and Rajgal in Khyber Agency. However; forward line troops have secured the areas surrounding these two zones to effectively check infiltration.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2016.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Unknown
    May 31, 2016 - 9:40AM

    Excellent step. This will ensure reduction in the influx of Afghan and Indian terrorists into Pakistan Recommend

  • Last Man Alive
    May 31, 2016 - 10:24AM

    Pak-Afghan border has been one of the many avenues of making easy money for

    the corrupt elements Pakistani security forces officers and personnel

    hence it is almost impossible that all the illegal activities like smuggling, human

    smuggling etc. will be controlled.Recommend

  • Syed Ahmed
    May 31, 2016 - 11:53AM

    This is a step in the right direction and Pakistan needs to take firm steps in making this happen.

    What is missing from this process?

    Pakistan Foreign office and Public relations machine (if they have, which I doubt) has failed to gather support from International community. PR needs highlights the issues which we face from this problem at the highest forum, involve UN, UN backed NGO to see the plight of people in Pakistan because of this border issue. It will surely create the influence on Afg, and others to pay attention to it.
    And now we need to make interprovincial crossings safer and put tighter controls so that even if some miscreants manage to come in from border, but then can be checked and arrested at the crosssings.
    Third is make the KPK intelligence much stronger so that we can get them before they make any move
    Start dismantling Afg refugees business so that they cannot prosper under Pak ID or Passport.

    List is big so does the problem.Recommend

  • Alter Ego
    May 31, 2016 - 3:04PM

    Shoukd have been done years and years ago.Recommend

  • Mehreen
    May 31, 2016 - 5:31PM

    Best news i have heard in awhile.
    We need to fence this border at whatever cost it takes, this is a matter of survival now.
    However it will only be possible if the Army is serious about the task and has realised that the double game will get us nowhere.Recommend

  • Hasan ali
    May 31, 2016 - 5:31PM

    Why was it still Porous? Can we please copy Israel on border security. Stop the half hearted approach.Recommend

  • Asif Maalik
    May 31, 2016 - 9:36PM

    Had it been done 36 year ago Pakistan would have become a safe, peaceful, prosperous and drugs and arms free country. Recommend

  • Raisani
    May 31, 2016 - 10:26PM

    @Asif Maalik:
    You’ve spoken by heart. Recommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi
    Jun 1, 2016 - 10:26AM

    It is nice to learn that even though belatedly, the security forces have started securing the 2,450 kilometre long, porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    In fact, General Parvaiz Musharraf had also proposed fencing/securing the long porous border with controlled cross-over points at convenient locations. However, our Afghan brothers shot down the proposal because they consider our frontier region to be their territory, and refuse to accept the Durand line which the rest of the world accepts as an international border between the two countries.

    Surprisingly, the Americans and their allies who often accuse Pakistan-based militants of staging cross-border raids on Afghanistan also did not support the proposal of fencing the border, which clearly proves their mala fide inetntions. In fact, some years back when Pakistani forces launched attacks in the border regions, and asked the US and its allies to increase pressure from Afghan side of the border, they rather vacated the checkposts on Afghan side to let the militants escape, and even airlifted some some important militant commanders.

    They even launched full-scale attack on our clearly marked Salala checkpost using gunships and fighter jets, even though the location of the checkpost had been communicated to the US and its allies. It is just as well that General Parvaiz Musharraf and General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani clearly saw the mischief and refused to launch an all-out attack even against those Taliban who posed no threat to Pakistan, and thus thwarted the plan of US and its allies to turn Pakistan into another Iraq, Syria or Libya. However, they have still not given up their map-change plans for Pakistan, more so because Pakistan happens to be a nuclear power, and additionally, is an ally of China which the US and India are trying to encircle.

    I am sure our gallant forces will not let the American plans to disintegrate Pakistan.

    KarachiRecommend

  • Jun 1, 2016 - 3:12PM

    do not let them enter without passport and visaRecommend

  • Saleemullah
    Aug 23, 2016 - 12:16PM

    Pakistan Afghan border issues need such a stern step as we see it now. Pakistan stood by the Afghan side in every thick and thin since the Soviet Afghan War but due to some well-known reasons Afghan soil is being used against Pakistan. Pakistan F.O failed to forestall the problem because F.O is has slipped over to the hands who have no constitutional jurisdiction but to suggest to civil institute for any improvement!
    Pakistan Zindabad
    SaleemullahRecommend

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