Fence on Durand line still a discussion between Pak and Taliban

Islamabad, Pakistan: Second such incident in the recent past when Taliban’s local affiliates said that they stopped the Pakistani military from erecting barbed-wire fences and outposts in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military personnel reportedly wanted to build their outpost on Afghanistan soil in Chahar Burjak district of Nimroz province. The Pakistani military went up to 15 kilometres inside Afghanistan and wanted to build check posts, said eyewitnesses and residents of the bordering district, according to reports.

Similarly, on December 22, the Afghan Taliban had disrupted the fence constructed by Pakistan in the Nangahar Province on the Durand Line.

A Toronto-based think tank, International Forum For Rights And Security (IFFRAS) said that this is an illustration of one festering wound that continues to engage Afghanistan and Pakistan bilaterally.

The fencing of the 2,600-km long Durand Line has remained a contentious issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Ashraf Ghani government had objected to the fencing of the border and the Afghan side had even then tried to stop Pakistan from erecting a fence.

However, Pakistan went ahead with the fencing. Pakistan media reports say that 90 per cent of the border with Pakistan now stands fenced. “The fencing is part of the border mechanism Pakistan has been working on for years, not just to regulate the movement of people but also to deny terrorists the chance to move across the border freely,” IFFRAS said.

According to the think tank, the real reason for Pakistan to fence the border is to divide the Pashtuns.

The Pashtuns as an ethnic group straddle between the Pak-Afghan border. In Afghanistan, they constitute 42 per cent of the population. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the population of Pashtuns is 25 per cent.

Highlighting the irony of how Pashtuns live on both sides of the border, the think thank argued that Pakistan has chosen to divide these peoples by building a fence across the stretch of the border.

“Pakistan has chosen to recognise the Durand Line while Afghanistan, both in the past and currently refuses to recognise it as the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” IFFRAS said.

Earlier in September, the Taliban’s position on the Durand Line was expressed by its key spokesperson. While speaking with a Pashto channel in Pakistan, Zabiullah Mujahid had said Afghans opposed the fence erected by Pakistan along the Durand Line.

“The new Afghan government will announce its position on this issue. The fencing has separated people and divided families. We want to create a secure and peaceful environment on the border so there is no need to create barriers,” Mujahid had said.

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