As the first border management system at Torkham, Khyber Agency becomes functional from Wednesday, people without a valid passport will no longer be allowed to cross into Pakistan. It is hoped that the infiltration of terrorism from this porous border will be clogged and the security situation in the country will improve drastically. It has not been an easy task to enforce this comprehensive border control plan and securing the Durand Line has been a bone of contention between the two neighbours. If this security measure at Torkham bears fruit the way it is hoped, the rest of the seven entry points into Pakistan from Afghanistan, right from Arandu in Chitral to Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan, will be built in the same manner, securing the 2,450-kilometre-long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The problem lies in the fact that the Afghan government has never accepted the border, and neither have the many tribal communities that overlap it. There has been strong resistance to the idea of stricter border control even in the process of establishing boundaries. The people are accustomed to moving back and forth freely and in some cases own land on both sides. Afghans have business links, relatives in Pakistan and visit health facilities in Peshawar and hence cross over regularly. It is a way of life and business as usual for these people and it is bound to be a challenge for law enforcement authorities to enforce stricter control. Having said that, this is not a good enough excuse to let this chaotic state of affairs to continue as it poses significant security risks to Pakistan.

The Government of Afghanistan has an important role to play to make sure that rules are followed and respected for the betterment of both nations, not just Pakistan. But the other party is not accepting this role with solemnity as they have recently closed the consulate in Peshawar after the Afghan consul general’s vehicle was checked at a security checkpost. Such behaviour will not prove to be conducive for dialogue and peace between the two countries as was displayed last month when the Torkham Border was closed altogether for four days and disarray ensued. Tensions had heightened between Pakistan and Afghanistan as the two countries deployed tanks and armoured personnel after their negotiating teams failed to resolve the border-fencing dispute. It is essential that this border control system is enforced and respected so that routine cross-border traffic on the Torkham border is resumed and the commitment to fight terror and long-lasting peace in the region is agreed upon by both countries.