Cross-border movement: Ditch along Pak-Afghan border to cost Rs14 billion

Published: January 3, 2015
SHARES
Email
Two men from an ally in Balochistan govt given contract to supply manpower. STOCK IMAGE

Two men from an ally in Balochistan govt given contract to supply manpower. STOCK IMAGE

ISLAMABAD: A deep, long ditch Pakistan has been digging along its porous border with Afghanistan in Balochistan to check cross-border movement of militants will cost the national kitty around Rs14 billion, The Express Tribune has learnt. The lucrative contract to supply manpower for the strategic project has partly been given to men from an erstwhile key opponent of the Durand Line.

“In the first phase, this strategic project – 1,100-kilometre-long trench – has been initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan. In the next phase, it will be extended to the entire 2,400-plus kilometres’ long border. Three construction companies from Balochistan have been awarded the contract for supply of manpower and other arrangements,” a senior provincial official said on condition of anonymity.

After the completion of the project, travel between the two countries would be allowed only through officially-designated crossing points.

Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said the project was initiated more than four months ago. “The 11-foot deep and 14-foot wide ditch will be dug along the entire stretch of the border,” he said. “This strategic project was necessary to ensure strong border controls past 2014 when US-led foreign forces pull out from Afghanistan.

Balochistan government’s spokesman Jan Buledi said the FC was also digging a similar trench along Pakistan’s border with Iran. “The ditch is being excavated about 20 kilometres inside Pakistani territory up to Washuk district,” he told The Express Tribune. “The ditch should have been dug right on the Pak-Iran border,” he said and voiced fears that Iran might capture the land beyond the ditch.

Contractors’ issue

Durrani refused to disclose the names of the contractors hired by the federal government. However, a senior official said some prominent politicians were among the beneficiaries. “The contract has been given to the nephew of a top Pashtun nationalist leader from Balochistan,” he claimed.

The Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) has been opposed to recognising the Durand Line as an international border. It has been learnt that one contractor is a close relative of a prominent PkMAP leader, while another contractor also belongs to the party.

Due to these close ties, the federal government has also sanctioned a Sui gas supply project worth Rs1 billion for Gulistan Tehsil – the hometown of PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai.

PkMAP central secretary general Akram Shah sought to dispel the impression that men from his party had been awarded the contract to supply manpower for the project. “I’ve heard that the Pakistan Army is digging a ditch along the border,” he said. “We maintained silence on the project because we believe it is a useless exercise. The Afghans are one nation which could not be divided with such ditches,” he added.

Former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand said the project might have the blessings of the US. In November 2012, a senior US diplomat had said that the US  recognised the Durand Line as an international border. “If the government in Kabul has other interpretation, that’s certainly their business ‘’ Richard E Hoagland, US deputy chief of mission in Pakistan, had said at a media roundtable.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2015.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (16)

  • abreez
    Jan 3, 2015 - 11:37AM

    “The 11-foot deep and 14-foot wide ditch will be dug along the entire stretch of the border,” he said. “This strategic project was necessary to ensure strong border controls past 2014 when US-led foreign forces pull out from Afghanistan.
    Everything fare in love and war of $300,000,000,000 trade, though I doubt that Pakistan control this trade but if succeeded then American will compel to offer Pakistan more than $1 billion.

    Recommend

  • abreez
    Jan 3, 2015 - 11:45AM

    “The 11-foot deep and 14-foot wide ditch will be dug along the entire stretch of the border,” he said. “This strategic project was necessary to ensure strong border controls past 2014 when US-led foreign forces pull out from Afghanistan.
    Everything fair in love and war of $300,000,000,000 trade, though I doubt that Pakistan control this trade but if succeeded then American will compel to offer Pakistan more than $1 billion.

    Recommend

  • Kamran
    Jan 3, 2015 - 11:56AM

    Once completed they should fill with alligators and snakes to make it more effective.

    Recommend

  • Rinse
    Jan 3, 2015 - 2:43PM

    This will be just as successful as the streets they have developed! We just have to dig it up a little bit, pretend we are doing something, and then forget about it. Works every time! Oh, while we’re at it, let’s just (pretend to) dig trenches all around Pakistan–wait, we might as well just move to another island!

    Recommend

  • Jan 3, 2015 - 3:44PM

    The initiative appears to be fruitful. However, the question arises as to what extent will the project prove viable at times when geo-distances are being replaced with intellectual, diplomatic and technological scores and the international technological giants are pondering over solutions to bridge the ‘digital divide’ and accelerate globalization….
    Thanks for the write-up!

    Recommend

  • TUNG
    Jan 3, 2015 - 4:19PM

    trenches do work! the kurdistan region in iraq built a much smaller trench on its border with iraq during the height of iraqi civilian war when bombs were going off every now and then! and it was a success! i think this trench would be able to control the movement of heavy vehicles which coudl carry anything from drugs to weapons.

    Recommend

  • Waseem
    Jan 3, 2015 - 4:32PM

    Worth investing in our national interest and defence. Do it!

    Recommend

  • goldconsumer
    Jan 3, 2015 - 7:07PM

    Spend 28billion on it and use the rest to plant land mines in it!
    Also fence the area. Use another 14 billion for it
    Cost per person of Pakistan for this would be even less than 2 rupees!

    Recommend

  • Rao
    Jan 4, 2015 - 12:44AM

    @Kamran:

    Alligators and snakes will die of thirst. It is expensive to feed them too. It is easier to protect the border by planting anti- personnel mines and barbed wire fence. At regular intervals , one should guardosts and constant patrols. Then in order to reinforceb security, one can deploy drones and helicopters.

    This is perhaps the cheapest security system to protect Pakistan from evil invaders.

    Recommend

  • karachhite
    Jan 4, 2015 - 1:03AM

    totally support this trench idea. an electric metal fence/ concrete fence (since we dont have electricity) should also be erected alongside it. could be very effective.

    Recommend

  • Allah Buksh
    Jan 4, 2015 - 7:52AM

    It should have be build right at the border zero point, should be converted into a canal, will bring prosperity for the villages alongside border

    Recommend

  • hello!
    Jan 4, 2015 - 8:00AM

    @Rao:
    Alligators will be poached and skinned. Expect ‘Made in Emirate of Afghanistan’ tags on trendy handbags soon.

    Recommend

  • jawed khan
    Jan 4, 2015 - 9:28AM

    Dewrand never was and never will be a real border the real border is Indus river !

    Recommend

  • observer
    Jan 5, 2015 - 2:24AM

    The Indians can take a lesson from Pakistan’s effort on constructing the ditch. India needs to construct a “great wall of India” on its whole western border along with a 15 foot deep ditch.

    Recommend

  • mohammad hamid
    Jan 6, 2015 - 8:25AM

    Those who infiltrate the border will find a way…..if you really want stop cross border infiltration deal with terrorist groups internally so they never get to cross the border

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Aryubi
    Feb 16, 2015 - 10:18AM

    Apparently, the principal reason for this totally futile exercise is to deny the Bloch freedoms fighters’ access to Afghanistan, where their brethren in arms, fully support their heroic struggle for national liberation. Recommend

More in Pakistan