Tuesday August 16, 2022

150 kms of Pak-Afghan border fenced, 150 of planned 443 forts built

December 25, 2017

PESHAWAR: The construction work on fencing Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan is continuing apace as 150 kilometres of the frontier has already been fenced.

Security officials told The News that the target for this year was to fence 120 kilometres of the border, but an extra 30 kilometres was also fenced due to the fast pace of the work.

“The major part of the fencing project would be completed by the end of 2018. It is a project of strategic significance and is being pursued with the utmost speed,” a security official said.

He said their target is to fence 832 kilometres of the border with Afghanistan in the next two years. “In the first phase, 432 kilometres of the border would be fenced at the most critical and crossable places. This fencing is much-needed and hence a priority. We refer to the second phase of the fencing project as ‘desirable’ and this would be completed next,” he added.

According to the security officials, fencing of the border in Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber tribal agencies was a priority, but work was also continuing in critical areas bordering Afghanistan in Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan also. They said concurrently fencing work was in progress on the entire Pak-Afghan border from Chitral district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to South Waziristan Agency in Fata.

All these areas fall under the command of the Pakistan Army’s 11th Corps.The fencing project would cost Rs10 billion. This doesn’t include the cost to be incurred on the intrusion and detection system to be installed on the border.

The project is so huge that 400 vehicles are committed round-the-clock for transportation of construction material needed for the fencing. A dedicated fabrication yard has been established for the purpose at Akora Khattak in Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The logistics and manpower needs for the construction work are enormous. For fencing one kilometre of the border, 47 tons of stores are required and the cost comes to Rs14 million. Also, 7,000 man-hours are required for installation and fabrication work. On a daily basis, 14 army units of 12,000 men are on a daily basis employed at about 14 sites to do the job. This figures doesn’t include the civilians hired to work on the project.

According to the security officials, more than a kilometre of the border is fenced every day. It sometimes comes to a quarter and one kilometres depending on the terrain, which is mostly mountainous and harsh.

The task of fencing the border is tough and challenging. Apart from the physical and logistics challenges, there are also security risks as militants based across the border in Afghanistan carry out fire raids and sniping to harm the soldiers and construction workers.

The Pak-Afghan border is about 2,500 kilometres long and porous. It has always been easy to cross and difficult to monitor. The fencing and the border management work is being done on the border linking Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with Afghanistan. No border management and fencing has been planned yet in Balochistan. A trench has been dug in parts of Balochistan’s border with Afghanistan.

The new border terminal at Torkham, which is the main official crossing-point between Afghanistan and Pakistan along with Chaman, is already functional. Officials said this has helped control illegal flow of people and goods and regular the movement across the international border. Two more terminals at Kharlachi in Kurram Agency and at Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan are under construction and would be inaugurated in January next year.

Another major measure for strengthening the border defence control is to build 443 big forts along the Pak-Afghan border. Security officials said 150 such forts have already been built. The target for constructing all the 443 border forts is one and a half to two years. These forts are in addition to the 1,100 border posts that have already been established.