Pakistan pushes for improved Afghan border management

Islamabad, Feb 6 (IANS) Pakistan is seeking Afghanistan’s cooperation to secure their nearly 2,600 km-long common border to consolidate achievements made in major military operations in tribal regions, the media reported on Monday.

Pakistan said it had long been insisting that loose border control benefits militants by allowing them to move freely across the border and carry out terrorist activities in both countries, which is a source of tension and mistrust between the two neighbouring countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

The military and other forces, after conducting major operations against the Pakistani and foreign militants in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan in recent years, have now shifted their focus to border security to stop the cross-border movement of the militants.

Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said on February 1 that the leadership of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been “living in Afghanistan for a long time”, which security officials describe as a serious challenge for anti-terrorism efforts.

Pakistan had deployed a total of 34,000 Frontier Corps personnel along the border after the US launched its military action against the Taliban in 2001.

Pakistani officials said more units of the paramilitary Frontier Corps are being trained for new check posts to be established along the Afghan border.

Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who assumed office on November 30, has spoken twice with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and suggested a “robust border management mechanism”.

Pakistani officials say that the Pakistani Taliban militants who had claimed responsibility for major terrorist attacks in the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, entered Pakistan from Afghanistan.

Besides border management, the Pakistani military and other law enforcing agencies are carrying out combing and intelligence-based operations in the suspected hideouts of the militants and their facilitators, mostly in urban areas.

This strategy has been adopted to ward off the possible threats by the remnants of the Taliban, who are believed to have taken shelter in cities.