US should pay for Pak-Afghan border fencing: Asif

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

The United States should assist Pakistan in fencing along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Asif told the news outlet that as many as 70,000 people are crossing the border a day, terming it a “free for all”.
“These issues are facilitating terrorism,” he said, adding that the border fence will stop the flow of militants crossing into both countries unchecked.
Asif said Pakistan expects the fence to be completed by the end of 2019. “It won’t cost them (US) much,” Asif said. “The war is costing them much more.”
The foreign minister said fencing the border is in the mutual interest of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Any free movement from their side to our side, or our side to their side, can breed mistrust and obviously some terrorist activity on our side or on their soil,” he said.
Asif also called upon the US to extend its help for repatriation of Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, which he said is paramount to establishing peace.
Terming the camps breeding grounds for insurgency, the foreign minister said the global fraternity must do more to assist Pakistan with shouldering the burden of repatriation. When asked to comment on Trump’s tweets, Asif reiterated that “both sides are trying to decrease the stress”.
Asif said the roughly 600,000 Afghan refugees that went back to their home country last year have largely returned to Pakistan. He said the camps are breeding grounds for insurgency, and the international community must do more to help with the burden and conditions in Afghanistan for returnees.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have 235 crossing points, some frequently used by militants and drug traffickers, of which 18 can be accessed by vehicles, according to a report by the Afghanistan Analysts Network research group in October. The Taliban can move with ease between the two countries in the often lawless border lands and are usually waved through by Pakistan security forces, according to the AAN, citing conversations with multiple current and former Taliban fighters, doctors and Afghans living in the region.
“Any free movement from their side to our side, or our side to their side, can breed mistrust and obviously some terrorist activity on our side or on their soil,” Asif said. “It’s in our mutual interest that the border is fenced.”

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