Fencing The Durand Line; Propitious To Both Sides
Pakistan has a long porous 2640 km border line with Afghanistan, the handling of which is an extremely difficult matter while facing the menace of terrorism. The absence of a well defined border is the root cause of many problems between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kabul government still does not recognize the legality of the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and has territorial claims on almost 60 percent land (from FATA to Indus River) of Pakistan. And it’s quite visible that Afghanistan is by no means in a position either politically, economically or militarily to start a fight with its counterpart for accomplishing any such cause.
We have witnessed in the recent past that whenever any terrorist activity took place in Pakistan or Afghanistan, both countries put the allegations on each other for supporting the militant groups and letting their lands being used against each other. Islamabad blamed the militant groups based in Afghanistan for perpetrating most of the terrorist activities in Pakistan including the deadliest Peshawar school attack of 2014 and the recent Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine attack. Time and again Pakistan gave the lists of most wanted terrorists, to Afghan government, hiding on the Afghan soil but Afghanistan showed an insensitive behavior towards Pakistan’s security concerns which tempted Pakistan to instigate targeted military actions in Afghanistan and cross border shelling.
Moreover, the militants flee towards Afghanistan in order to escape the counter terrorism launched by Pakistan Army in tribal areas from where they control the terrorist activities in Pakistan and also there always is a chance of their comeback.
In order to get the desired results of the military operations against the terrorists launched by Pakistan military and the solution to all of the above mentioned problems is the complete fencing of Pak-Afghan border. But the issue is whenever Pakistan tried to start fencing the border line or even increased the number of check posts, Afghanistan started objecting and protesting. e.g. tensions between the two countries escalated resulting in a number of causalities on both sides, when Pakistan started fencing certain vulnerable points of border area in May 2016. Obviously, India is also backing Afghanistan for that as the fenced border will hinder India from supporting sabotage and insurgency in Balochistan and tribal areas and creating unrest inside Pakistan.
Fencing the border line is not only beneficial to Pakistan but is in the greater interest of Afghanistan as well. Smuggling of goods across the border is causing damage to Afghanistan’s economy; this will be plugged once the border is fenced. As an added benefit for Afghanistan, Pakistan military would then have no reason to commence any sort of military activity or cross border shelling. The fenced border will not only prevent Taliban incursions but also decrease the illegal and secret maneuvers across the border. So, it is strategically advantageous to both countries.
Border closure for certain time period is not the solution to the contemporary problems between the two countries. Islamabad and Kabul has to admit that it is their fate to live with each other; they have no other option, as neighbors cannot be changed! So, instead of giving warnings, accusing each other and jeopardizing the relations, they should acknowledge the fact that the safety and security of both countries depend on one another. Peace in one state cannot be achieved if either of the countries is countering instability. Thus, the governments of both countries should take serious measures to resolve mutual differences in order to ensure the stability of whole region.