The government of Pakistan has decided to man the normally unmanned border that Pakistan shares with Afghanistan. Known as the Durand Line, the border is 1500-miles long. And almost every day, thousands of Afghans and Pakistani cross the Durand Line when the security situation is normal.

The recent proposal by the foreign ministry to create a new force to patrol the border is an extension of the fencing project that Islamabad has undertaken in recent past to check militant infiltration. Both initiatives in themselves are part of the National Action Plan that intends to counter terrorism. It is an excellent proposal to create a separate force that is solely dedicated to the purpose of checking the border, as just fencing the border is not a practical solution to restrict the undesired movements.

It is worth mentioning to recall that Islamabad has long been calling for border management and has made several attempts to explore workable options and address it through formal negotiations. However, Kabul has been less forthcoming and has opposed any initiative proposed by Pakistan. Thus, Islamabad had to take the steps required in this regard. However, it is encouraging to know that Kabul is now considering discussing border management.

The report published in The Nation also reveals that Afghan citizens will need visas for traveling purposes. Furthermore, biometric controls find mention in the proposal to keep a track record. Such measure will surely help the government in maintaining the history of individuals who enter and exit the country. Though the government should have taken such initiatives long ago, still the government deserves praise for taking steps to ensure better law and order situation in the country.

However, the state should keep this fact in mind, that there are tribes who are settled on both sides of the Duran Line. Also, these tribes share ethnic and cultural ties with people who populate the Afghan soil. No measure should be taken which sever their centuries-old relations with people across the frontier. The people who live near the border frequently cross the border to earn their livelihood as well, special care should be taken while this initiative materialises. The fears of Afghan Pashtuns and tribes that reside on the Pakistani side of the border should be addressed that the steps the government intends to take are not to isolate them. Instead, better law and order situation and an attempt to stop this blame game of infiltrating terrorists in the other country is the desired outcome of this exercise.