ANGOOR ADDA: Pakistan is betting that a pair of nine-foot chicken wire fences topped with barbed wire will stop incursions by militants from Afghanistan.
Islamabad plans to fence up most of the 2,500km frontier despite Kabul’s protests that the barrier would divide families and friends along the Pashtun tribal belt straddling the colonial-era Durand line drawn up by the British in 1893.
The military estimates that it will need about Rs56 billion ($532 million) for the project, while there are also plans to build 750 border forts and employ high-tech surveillance systems to prevent militants crossing.
In the rolling hills of the Angoor Adda village in South Waziristan, three rolls of barbed wire are sandwiched in the six-foot gap between the chicken wire fences. “(The fence) is a paradigm change. It is an epoch shift in the border control management,” said an army officer in command of South Waziristan during a presentation to foreign media on Wednesday.
“There will not be an inch of international border (in South Waziristan) which shall not remain under our observation.”
The military has so far fenced off about 43km of the frontier, starting with the most violence-prone areas in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and is expected to recruit tens of thousands of new troops to man the border.
It is not clear how long it will take to fence the entire boundary. Pakistan has blamed the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants it says are based on Afghan soil for a spate of attacks at home over the past year, urging Kabul to eradicate ‘sanctuaries’ for militants.
Pakistan’s previous attempts to build a fence failed about a decade ago and many doubt whether it is possible to secure such a lengthy border.
But the army officials are undeterred by the scepticism and insist they will finish the job as the country’s security rests on this fence.
“By the time we are done, Insha’Allah, we will be very sure of one thing: that nobody can cross this place,” said the officer in charge of South Waziristan.