ISLAMABAD  -    Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan, a paramilitary force, Friday informed the Senate panel that Iran was creating hurdles in Pakistan’s effort to fence the Pak-Iran border.

Lt Colonel Hussain of the FC (South) informed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior that Pakistan was “facing resistance from Iran, not overtly but covertly, in its efforts to fence the border” to block infiltration of terrorists as well as smuggling.

“When we start fencing work, Iran creates problems for us,” the official said adding that though Iran officially used to say that it was ready to help Pakistan in fencing the border.

The official was responding to the questions of lawmakers regarding the Ormara incident. JUI-F lawmaker Senator Talha Mahmood had inquired from the FC whether it was not a failure of the civil armed force that more than 15 terrorists allegedly came from Iran and killed 14 passengers near Ormara area of Balochistan.

The FC official told the committee that FC was after the terrorists who were behind the bloodshed and recently 15 miscreants including at least two involved in the incident had been killed. He also underscored the force should be empowered first as it lacked resources and then held accountable on such incidents.

Lt Colonel Hussain told the meeting which met under the chair of PPP Senator Rehman Malik that surveillance equipment would also be installed along the fence and there would be a real-time monitoring of the border.

Last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said after Ormara killings that Pakistan would fence its around 950 km border along Iran to ensure peace. He had also alleged that an Iran-based terrorist organization was behind this terrorism.

On April 18, around 15-20 masked men had shot dead 14 passengers of non-Baloch ethnicities at Makran Coastal Highway after intercepting six buses, and forcing them to disembark after checking their identity cards.

On the question of PTI Senator Dr Shahzad Waseem that smuggling especially of Iranian oil had become a norm in Balochistan, Hussain said that FC (South) during some recent months had confiscated 0.7 million liters smuggled diesel and handed over to Customs Department. He said that action could not be taken against all people because there were no sources of employment in the area and people used to turn towards insurgents if they were made unemployed. FC has also detained 6000 to 7000 individuals who were being smuggled to other countries via Balochistan, the official said adding that there was need to unearth rackets behind this smuggling. 

Frontier Corps (FC) which has now been divided into two separate wings, South and North, carries out border, alongside Iran and Afghan borders, and internal security duties in the restive province of Balochistan.

The committee had invited senior officers of FC, both south and north, for a briefing on the budget allocations and financial requirements of the paramilitary for the next financial year 2019-2020.

DIG FC (North) Brigadier Furqan told the panel that all terrorists, around 15, involved in Ormara incident had not come from Iran rather some of them were recruited locally by their masterminds based in Iran. He also claimed that only a network of 300 to 400 Balochistan nationalists was behind unrest in the province and most of them had taken a shelter in far off mountains. “They were in contact with their Baloch leaders based abroad and carry out terrorist activities on their dictation.” He said that 215 km of the border had been fenced as they were fencing 2 km of border on daily basis.

Replying to a question of chair, whether FC and other law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in Balochistan had formed their own fund generation resource, Furqan said that there was no such activity taking place. However, Balochistan-based Senator Shafique Tareen negated his stance and said that FC was taking “royalty” in some areas of province. On this, Brigadier said that “this money was meant for operational expenditures of force and not a source of income.”

Regarding the crackdown of the Federal Investigation Agency on Chinese nationals involved in human trafficking after marrying Pakistani girls with the help of local agents, Rehman Malik told the meeting that officials of the agency briefed him on Friday morning. According to FIA, 150 Pakistani girls went to China after marrying Chinese nationals and out of these, 90 percent were Christians and others were Muslims, he said. He said that FIA had arrested a female ring leader of the racket and three Christian priests for their alleged involvement in these marriages.

“The matter is still underway and FIA will brief the committee in next meeting,” Malik said adding that it was Chinese Embassy in Islamabad who itself brought this matter into notice of Ministry of Interior. He emphasized the need for establishment of a regulatory authority for marriage bureaus through enactment of law because some bureaus were also found involved in this business.

Commandant of the Frontier Constabulary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Moazzam Jah Ansari also briefed the committee on the budget allocations and financial requirements of the civil armed force for the financial year 2019-2020.