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Pakistan Builds Border Fence, Limiting Militants and Families Alike

Haris Ali2140

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Pakistan Builds Border Fence, Limiting Militants and Families Alike
A 1,600-mile barrier, set to be finished this year, has improved security in Pakistan. But Afghanistan is angry, and cross-border families are suffering.




Pakistani soldiers near a security fence at the border post in Torkham, Pakistan, in December.Credit...Salahuddin/Reuters
By Ben Farmer and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud

  • Published March 15, 2020Updated March 16, 2020, 2:35 a.m. ET
TORKHAM, Pakistan — Above the trucks and travelers lining up at the main eastern gateway between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a glinting new landmark scales the dun-colored mountains: Parallel mesh fences, a couple of feet apart and topped with coils of razor wire, climb from the border crossing up over the dizzying crags.

The section of fence overlooking Torkham is just a glimpse of a 1,600-mile barrier begun four years ago by Pakistan’s military and set to be completed this year.

Nearly 9,000 miles from President Trump’s border wall with Mexico, Pakistan has quietly been building its own version to try to control what has long been one of the world’s most porous and lawless frontiers.



TAJIKISTAN

AFGHANISTAN

KHYBER-

PAKHTUNKHWA

PROVINCE

Torkham

border crossing

Kabul

Peshawar

Islamabad

PAKISTAN

NORTH

WAZIRISTAN

100 MILES

By The New York Times

The Pakistani Army credits the fence with helping to transform security in the country, sharply cutting terrorist attacks after a sustained army offensive pushed many militants — and tens of thousands of civilian refugees — into Afghanistan.

Yet the barrier is also a projection of hard power in its own right, to the detriment of diplomacy with Afghanistan and the life of Pashtun tribes that had functionally ignored the border for generations.

Afghanistan disputes the border that the fence follows, drawn by British colonial officials in 1893 and known as the Durand Line. And as the wire unfurls over hundreds of miles, it is cutting off routes through the mountains used by smugglers, militants, traders and families alike, according to interviews with government officials, tribal leaders and diplomats.

Pakistan had long considered a border barrier. But construction began in earnest in 2016, after costly army offensives to push many militants out of the country’s tribal areas and into Afghanistan.

Some 800 miles of the $450 million fence are now complete and more than 1,000 border forts are being built, according to a statement from the Pakistani military’s information wing. The route takes it through forbidding mountains where rockfalls, avalanches and landslides cause constant damage.

The vast majority of the work has been out of view of the public or other governments. One senior Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the public, said, “It’s a herculean task because of the terrain up there.

merlin_168023766_c49b81ec-55ff-4e42-880e-560ddab73c73-mobileMasterAt3x.jpg


Despite that difficulty, senior officers say it has had an appreciable effect on security even though it has not been finished. They cite a sharp drop in attacks by militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban, after many were driven into Afghanistan.

Last year only 82 attacks in Pakistan were attributed to that network, down from 352 in 2014, when the military offensive began, according to the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies, which monitors extremist violence.


The difficulties of maintaining the fence and keeping watch to see that it is not being breached have led some diplomats to question how practical it will be without high-tech assistance like cameras or other surveillance.

Pakistan’s military said in a statement that the fence was strengthened with “surveillance and intrusion detection systems,” as well as border forts, but gave no further details.

“Security is much better,” one Pakistani security officer said. “But you can’t do everything with a fence. People will still come through. They look like the local population, and they live among them.”

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But in recent months, there have been increasing reports that some Pakistani Taliban fighters have managed to come back to some of the tribal areas in the northwest. Last Monday at least three people, including a Pakistani colonel, were killed in a shootout between soldiers and militants in Tank district, near South Waziristan.

Fence construction groups have also been attacked by militants, who have released videos of themselves tearing down sections and seizing building supplies.

Corruption and bribery are also likely to help people find ways through in a region where smuggling has been a way of life for many.

The fence may slow down illegal crossings, but it will not stop them entirely, said Elizabeth Threlkeld, an American diplomat in the border city of Peshawar until 2016 and now with the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank that focuses on foreign policy.

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Continue reading the main story


“Many of those determined to cross, including both militants and local residents whose livelihoods depend on smuggling, will find a way,” Ms. Threlkeld said. “The greater impact of the fence will instead be on Pashtun communities spanning the border, who will lose the ability to cross freely to visit family or do business.”

Cross-border trails and roads were once common in the mountains on either side of Torkham, many of them without checkpoints.

Zahid Shinwari, a former chairman of the chamber of commerce for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where the Torkham crossing is, said that traders bound for bazaars, or families visiting relatives, had thought little of the frontier and were used to passing without paperwork checks.

Those informal routes have now been closed, forcing all traffic through controlled border crossings. Eventually, Pakistan’s military plans 16 “notified routes” to cross along the length of the new fence, officials said.

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Continue reading the main story





Image

A Pakistani soldier at a post along the Afghanistan border. Border forts and surveillance systems are also part of the Pakistani military’s heightened effort to control the border.Credit...Salahuddin/Reuters
“All the crossings have been declared illegal; there were many, many. It’s a major change,” Mr. Shinwari said.

“We actually didn’t consider the Afghanistan side as some other country, like traveling to Europe or the Arab countries,” he added. “It was very common that a few friends used to plan a trip to Jalalabad in the morning and we would sit in a car, cross the border, have lunch in Jalalabad and come back. This tradition has been stopped.”

Each day, children in orange tunics line up at the Torkham crossing to get to the Pakistani side from Afghanistan to school, showing how close the links remain. But the fence has been accompanied by tightening immigration rules. Travelers now need passports and visas to cross, and lines at embassies in Kabul and Islamabad have sharply lengthened. Much to their anger, traders must pay customs fees.

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Continue reading the main story


The fence has also angered Afghanistan. It accuses Pakistan of rushing through the new barrier to cement its claim on the Durand Line border while Afghanistan is preoccupied with fighting the Afghan Taliban insurgency, which was nurtured on the Pakistani side.

Fence-building has become a flash point, with the appearance of construction crews sometimes inciting firefights and occasional shelling. Afghan troops have accused Pakistan of building on Afghan territory.

Both Afghan and Pakistani officials said clashes along the border had increased as the fencing progressed, without giving numbers. One Torkham official pointed out the spot where he said a Pakistani Army major was killed by Afghan shelling in June 2016.

The Pakistani military declined to say whether the fence was considered permanent. One Pakistani politician said he had been assured by a senior officer that it was not going to be “another Great Wall of China.”

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Continue reading the main story


Yet for the tribes and families with feet on either side, the new barrier is already having an effect on their social fabric. As travel has become more difficult, families have started to move, forced to make a choice about which side to consolidate households in.

“The question will be in the longer term, is it going to have a real social and cultural impact on this area,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, the director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies. “This is segregating the population, the tribes from both sides. This process is going on.”

From the Afghan Peace Deal, a Weak and Pliable Neighbor for Pakistan
If the U.S. military withdrawal does not lead to a further descent into chaos in Afghanistan, next-door Pakistan could be the real winner.
March 5, 2020

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/world/asia/pakistan-afghanistan-border-fence.html
 

Pakistan Ka Beta

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Cross border families suffering ??? Legal travelling before COVID-19 was allowed through border crossings and GOD Willing will be allowed after COVID-19 as well but illegal travelling was/is mostly done by terrorists . NYTimes report tells us about US mind . Thanks to ALLAH (GOD) for help during fencing work . What do you think y PTM is crying and abusing Army ????
Traders and locals coming and going with out Visa and passport >>> NYTIMES >>> so that they blame Pakistan of allowing them ( Osama Bin Ladin , Mullah Akhtar Mansoor) to give them safe refugee . Alhamdulillah for GOD ( ALLAH ) help in such a difficult task .
 
Last edited:

mudas777

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Oct 24, 2016
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No one is stopping them crossing through the controlled channels. When our people were killed by terrorists no one cared for us. Now all these so called experts are coming up with sob by stories from under the wood work, where were they when in cold blood our kids were butchered in APS and elsewhere and caused so much death and destruction in lives and livelihood.
 

Safriz

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Don't just fence it also mine it.
Since this fencing terrorism has drastically reduced in Pakistan. Good job Pakistan army.
The families who want to cross the border, follow procedure and obtain visa and use dedicated border crossings.
We are no more living in chengez khan era when anyone could go to Afghanistan or coma out of there.
Now there is a Pakistan and we have borders.
 

Jungibaaz

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There is no reasonable criticism of a border fence. All countries assert their borders, with drug trafficking and militancy rife, why can’t we assert ours?

Sure families are impacted but they should visit their relatives through proper established channels and get used to the new norm.
 

Samurai_assassin

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Oct 25, 2016
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To hell with them! The entire borders with Afghanistan and Iran should permenantly be sealed with only legal legitimate entry points.
Pakistan still has not been able to irradicate polio, now it's much more dangerous with the arrival of COVID 19.
 

peagle

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Pakistan Builds Border Fence, Limiting Militants and Families Alike
A 1,600-mile barrier, set to be finished this year, has improved security in Pakistan. But Afghanistan is angry, and cross-border families are suffering.




Pakistani soldiers near a security fence at the border post in Torkham, Pakistan, in December.Credit...Salahuddin/Reuters
By Ben Farmer and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud

  • Published March 15, 2020Updated March 16, 2020, 2:35 a.m. ET
TORKHAM, Pakistan — Above the trucks and travelers lining up at the main eastern gateway between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a glinting new landmark scales the dun-colored mountains: Parallel mesh fences, a couple of feet apart and topped with coils of razor wire, climb from the border crossing up over the dizzying crags.

The section of fence overlooking Torkham is just a glimpse of a 1,600-mile barrier begun four years ago by Pakistan’s military and set to be completed this year.

Nearly 9,000 miles from President Trump’s border wall with Mexico, Pakistan has quietly been building its own version to try to control what has long been one of the world’s most porous and lawless frontiers.



TAJIKISTAN

AFGHANISTAN

KHYBER-

PAKHTUNKHWA

PROVINCE

Torkham

border crossing

Kabul

Peshawar

Islamabad

PAKISTAN

NORTH

WAZIRISTAN

100 MILES

By The New York Times

The Pakistani Army credits the fence with helping to transform security in the country, sharply cutting terrorist attacks after a sustained army offensive pushed many militants — and tens of thousands of civilian refugees — into Afghanistan.

Yet the barrier is also a projection of hard power in its own right, to the detriment of diplomacy with Afghanistan and the life of Pashtun tribes that had functionally ignored the border for generations.

Afghanistan disputes the border that the fence follows, drawn by British colonial officials in 1893 and known as the Durand Line. And as the wire unfurls over hundreds of miles, it is cutting off routes through the mountains used by smugglers, militants, traders and families alike, according to interviews with government officials, tribal leaders and diplomats.

Pakistan had long considered a border barrier. But construction began in earnest in 2016, after costly army offensives to push many militants out of the country’s tribal areas and into Afghanistan.

Some 800 miles of the $450 million fence are now complete and more than 1,000 border forts are being built, according to a statement from the Pakistani military’s information wing. The route takes it through forbidding mountains where rockfalls, avalanches and landslides cause constant damage.

The vast majority of the work has been out of view of the public or other governments. One senior Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the public, said, “It’s a herculean task because of the terrain up there.

View attachment 614317

Despite that difficulty, senior officers say it has had an appreciable effect on security even though it has not been finished. They cite a sharp drop in attacks by militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban, after many were driven into Afghanistan.

Last year only 82 attacks in Pakistan were attributed to that network, down from 352 in 2014, when the military offensive began, according to the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies, which monitors extremist violence.


The difficulties of maintaining the fence and keeping watch to see that it is not being breached have led some diplomats to question how practical it will be without high-tech assistance like cameras or other surveillance.

Pakistan’s military said in a statement that the fence was strengthened with “surveillance and intrusion detection systems,” as well as border forts, but gave no further details.

“Security is much better,” one Pakistani security officer said. “But you can’t do everything with a fence. People will still come through. They look like the local population, and they live among them.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story


But in recent months, there have been increasing reports that some Pakistani Taliban fighters have managed to come back to some of the tribal areas in the northwest. Last Monday at least three people, including a Pakistani colonel, were killed in a shootout between soldiers and militants in Tank district, near South Waziristan.

Fence construction groups have also been attacked by militants, who have released videos of themselves tearing down sections and seizing building supplies.

Corruption and bribery are also likely to help people find ways through in a region where smuggling has been a way of life for many.

The fence may slow down illegal crossings, but it will not stop them entirely, said Elizabeth Threlkeld, an American diplomat in the border city of Peshawar until 2016 and now with the Stimson Center, a Washington-based think tank that focuses on foreign policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story


“Many of those determined to cross, including both militants and local residents whose livelihoods depend on smuggling, will find a way,” Ms. Threlkeld said. “The greater impact of the fence will instead be on Pashtun communities spanning the border, who will lose the ability to cross freely to visit family or do business.”

Cross-border trails and roads were once common in the mountains on either side of Torkham, many of them without checkpoints.

Zahid Shinwari, a former chairman of the chamber of commerce for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, where the Torkham crossing is, said that traders bound for bazaars, or families visiting relatives, had thought little of the frontier and were used to passing without paperwork checks.

Those informal routes have now been closed, forcing all traffic through controlled border crossings. Eventually, Pakistan’s military plans 16 “notified routes” to cross along the length of the new fence, officials said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story





Image

A Pakistani soldier at a post along the Afghanistan border. Border forts and surveillance systems are also part of the Pakistani military’s heightened effort to control the border.Credit...Salahuddin/Reuters
“All the crossings have been declared illegal; there were many, many. It’s a major change,” Mr. Shinwari said.

“We actually didn’t consider the Afghanistan side as some other country, like traveling to Europe or the Arab countries,” he added. “It was very common that a few friends used to plan a trip to Jalalabad in the morning and we would sit in a car, cross the border, have lunch in Jalalabad and come back. This tradition has been stopped.”

Each day, children in orange tunics line up at the Torkham crossing to get to the Pakistani side from Afghanistan to school, showing how close the links remain. But the fence has been accompanied by tightening immigration rules. Travelers now need passports and visas to cross, and lines at embassies in Kabul and Islamabad have sharply lengthened. Much to their anger, traders must pay customs fees.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story


The fence has also angered Afghanistan. It accuses Pakistan of rushing through the new barrier to cement its claim on the Durand Line border while Afghanistan is preoccupied with fighting the Afghan Taliban insurgency, which was nurtured on the Pakistani side.

Fence-building has become a flash point, with the appearance of construction crews sometimes inciting firefights and occasional shelling. Afghan troops have accused Pakistan of building on Afghan territory.

Both Afghan and Pakistani officials said clashes along the border had increased as the fencing progressed, without giving numbers. One Torkham official pointed out the spot where he said a Pakistani Army major was killed by Afghan shelling in June 2016.

The Pakistani military declined to say whether the fence was considered permanent. One Pakistani politician said he had been assured by a senior officer that it was not going to be “another Great Wall of China.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story


Yet for the tribes and families with feet on either side, the new barrier is already having an effect on their social fabric. As travel has become more difficult, families have started to move, forced to make a choice about which side to consolidate households in.

“The question will be in the longer term, is it going to have a real social and cultural impact on this area,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, the director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies. “This is segregating the population, the tribes from both sides. This process is going on.”

From the Afghan Peace Deal, a Weak and Pliable Neighbor for Pakistan
If the U.S. military withdrawal does not lead to a further descent into chaos in Afghanistan, next-door Pakistan could be the real winner.
March 5, 2020

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/15/world/asia/pakistan-afghanistan-border-fence.html
Please fence the Indian side as well, keep the cow dung and all the mess away from Pakistan.
 

Jungibaaz

RETIRED MOD
Jul 4, 2010
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Please fence the Indian side as well, keep the cow dung and all the mess away from Pakistan.
No need, it’s already done. It’s the Afghan border that has been allowing a steady flow of militancy, drugs and cross border agents like Kulbhushan Yadhav to operate. Actually, more permanent presence there and now on the Iran border should be considered.

This is a big achievement by Pak Army, some Afghans will try to undermine it, civilians and ‘government’ alike. And the US didn’t seem to support it like they should have given all the ‘do more’ rhetoric.
 

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