Pakistan, Afghanistan reach consensus to resolve border fencing issue

Move comes after Taliban soldiers last week tried to disrupt fencing along the eastern province of Nangarhar

Kamran Yousaf December 24, 2021
A soldier stands guard along the border fence outside the Kitton outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Pakistan and the interim Taliban government have reached an understanding to resolve the issue of border fencing through talks after Taliban soldiers last week tried to disrupt the fencing along the eastern province of Nangarhar, a senior Pakistani official said on Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a local intelligence chief of the Taliban tried to remove the fence and it was not a decision approved by the Taliban leadership.

Soon after the incident Pakistan and the Taliban established contact at the highest level and agreed to resolve the issue through talks. “Both sides have reached an understanding not to escalate the situation,” the official said, adding that there were some issues of alignments about the border fencing and the two sides would resolve this mutually.

Read more: Afghan Taliban disrupt fencing of border with Pakistan

“Afghan side was requested to coordinate border alignment before fixing the fence,” the official said.

The official also disclosed that acting Afghan defence minister Mullah Yaqub, who is also a son of Taliban co-founder Mullah Muhammad Omar, visited the troubled region and directed local Taliban commanders not to take such measures in the future.

The incident took place a day before Pakistan was to host an extraordinary conference of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation. The Afghan acting foreign minister also attended the daylong meeting, which agreed to set up a trust fund to help Afghanistan prevent the humanitarian catastrophe.

A video circulated on social media showed Taliban soldiers had seized spools of barbed wire and one senior official warning Pakistani soldiers stationed in security posts in the distance not to try to fence the border again.

Also read: Afghanistan's young Taliban fighters face the challenge of peace

Afghan defence ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khwarazmi said Taliban forces stopped the Pakistani military from erecting an "illegal" border fence along the eastern province of Nangarhar on Sunday.

He played down the incident, saying everything was now normal. Pakistan did not officially react to the development.

The fencing of the 2,600-kilometre long and rugged border has remained one of the contentious issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The previous administration in Kabul also objected to the fencing of the border and even the Afghan side tried to stop Pakistan from erecting a fence.

Pakistan, however, went ahead with the fencing and as per officials, 90 per cent of the border with Pakistan is now fenced. The fencing is part of the border mechanism Pakistan has been working on for years in order to not just regulate the movement of people but also deny terrorists on both sides to shuttle between the two borders easily.


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