(Reuters) - Pakistan is betting that a pair of nine-foot chain-link fences topped with barbed wire will stop incursions by Islamist militants from Afghanistan, which opposes Islamabad’s plans for a barrier along the disputed frontier.
Pakistan plans to fence up most of the 2,500 km (1,500 mile) frontier despite Kabul’s protests that the barrier would divide families and friends along the Pashtun tribal belt straddling the colonial-era Durand Line drawn up by the British in 1893.
A soldier stands guard at the Angoor Adda outpost along the border fence on the border of Afghanistan in South Waziristan. Photo: Reuters
Pakistan’s military estimates that it will need about 56 billion rupees ($532 million) for the project, while there are also plans to build 750 border forts and employ high-tech surveillance systems to prevent militants crossing.
In the rolling hills of the Angoor Adda village in South Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), three rolls of barbed wire are sandwiched in the six-foot gap between the chain-link fences.
A soldier stands guard along the border fence at the Angoor Adda outpost on the border of Afghanistan in South Waziristan. Photo: Reuters
“(The fence) is a paradigm change. It is an epoch shift in the border control management,” said a Pakistani army officer in command of South Waziristan during a presentation to foreign media on Wednesday.
“There will not be an inch of international border (in South Waziristan) which shall not remain under our observation.”
Location and range information is seen on a wall in Kitton outpost along the border fence on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan. Photo: Reuters
Pakistan’s military has so far fenced off about 43 km of the frontier, starting with the most violence-prone areas in FATA, and is expected to recruit tens of thousands of new troops to man the border. It is not clear how long it will take to fence the entire boundary.
But Pakistan’s plans have also drawn criticism from across the border.