Abid H Bhatti
THE Chief of the Army General announced commencement of border fencing with Afghanistan in Mar 2017 after a new wave of terrorism and suicide attacks hit Pakistan for which Afghan based ISIS and Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility. In response, Pakistan conducted major strikes along international border and destroyed 4 terrorist camps under the very nose of Afghan National Army (ANA). After successful strikes, Pakistan ceased its border at Torkham, which was re-opened after authentic assurance on strict border control measures from the Office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan on mainly three points that have long been a problem. First; No more free movement will be allowed across the international border. Second; a well-coordinated and better surveillance / monitoring of international border will be carried out on both sides and lastly; in case of any hostiles threat from either side, a way forward will be worked out with mutual coordination to eliminate the same.
Rewinding the terror incidents from Afghan lands almost clears the truth with regard to creation of hostile situation in and around Pakistan. We can only guess, but it is clear that has nothing to do with Taliban in Afghanistan or terror in India; it’s just who controls the energy and economic routes. The US in Afghanistan burning millions of dollars daily is not there with the declared objective to liberate Afghans from the Taliban. The road-map was drawn long before the 9/11 incident for Indo-US nexus started working on denial of Chinese access to energy and economic routes. The fall of Kabul and occupation of Afghanistan followed by shifting of Indian war machines along Pakistani eastern borders in December 2001 and giving Indian RAW free hand on Pak-Afghan borders by opening up of over two dozen terror centers under the garb of Consulates were just a start.
The malicious campaign of maligning and undermining the State and Armed Forces of Pakistan on various fronts; followed by the sudden emergance and terrorist operations by TTP, JUA and ISIS likes through Afghanistan started providing a necessary bridgehead to destabilise this region and prolong US control over the world financial and trade system through occupation of “Afghanistan. Pakistan became the world’s worst sufferer of terrorism sponsored by India using Afghan Intelligence and territory since 2001.
Pakistan and Afghanistan both suffered from the worst of terrorism, The elimination of India sponsored internal threats, terrorism and suicide attacks could only be stopped if foreign funded insurgencies from Afghan land were controlled and solution to this problem was found in “fencing”. Caution was in order and here was the idea to erect fence along Pak-Afghan border to confront the deadly and evolving threat of terror, gun running and drug smugglers slipping from Afghanistan- 60 % of its land still occupied by insurgents/terrorist.
The COAS, Pakistan Army has apparition of implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) in its true letter and spirit across the country, for which fencing was also included as its part. To complement their (Afghan’s) capacity issues, Pakistan’s military started installing along its largely porous 2,600-kilometer border having a pair of nine-foot chain-linked fence topped with barbed wire and is also planning to build 750 border forts at a total estimate of $932 million, after strict border control measures had already been introduced at the two main border crossings of Torkham and Chaman.
The Project is a paradigm shift in the border control management and high-tech surveillance systems to prevent militants crossing, which will be unacceptable to India – watching a decade long investment in terror through Afghanistan being drowned in broad day light. Nations do not have a single tactical track to pursue their strategic interests; they may have different plans for different contingencies. With present scenario of dubious US role in the region; India will intensify its smear campaign against Pakistan in yet another attempt through Afghan Govt to portray the project against Afghan interests; Secondly- will use terrorism as weapon (another shocking revelation by Ajit Doval – National Security Adviser of India- through their proxies ie TTP, BLA, JUA and ISIS against Pakistani LEA guarding the project; Third- further heat up the Line of Control (LoC) to detract attention from Pakistan’s western borders and its atrocities in the Kashmir valley followed by aggressive rhetoric and threats even from Afghanistan to gain hostile narratives and resonance from Washington- had already given free hand to RAW on Pak-Afghan borders. Before the saber rattling Indians look bent upon a misadventure; Pakistan must warn India being fully responsible for her multiple nefarious designs and be alert to the situation. Pakistan must expect the worse and be ready with its ability and capability to respond to with full might and force either its western or eastern border; as it’s the sovereignty of Pakistan being challenged on many fronts lad by India.
Not to forget- Intelligence is vital effort to such a proxy war, that means Pakistan must focus not solely on killing TTP, JUI and ISIS terrorists but also on capturing their leadership and masterminds, which needs to be prioritized. The capture and interrogation of masterminds provide an insight into their operations and sponsors for further precautions by the State. Moreover, the ultimate protection against terrorism depends not on the thickness of concrete barriers or the severity of penal code. It depends on the individual and collective courage of the entire nation; thus creation of a well orchestrated volunteer service for the youth at the national level is need of the hour for multiple advantages to include disaster management and village/city level defence.
Afghan security—and therefore stability—remains vital to Islamabad’s interests. Both are currently imperilled by the sustained threat from foreign funded terrorism. There is much that Islamabad could and should do to assist, as Pakistan and Afghanistan share not just religious, historic, geographic, cultural, linguistic and ethnic key values, but also foreign funded key enemies. Together, Pakistan and Afghanistan have so much to gain and so much to offer. Stability in each others backyard is the strength of each, but they must look out for eachother’s back yard by not allowing any foreign hand to destabilise either side. The fence will address mutual concerns and help Pakistan maintain a stable relationship with Afghanistan. We may have to live with terrorism, but we do not have to live in terror.
–The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.
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Abid H Bhatti