LANDI KOTAL: The federal government has undertaken an initiative to fence selected parts of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to stop militant intrusion inside Pakistani territory.

The official informed the local media that the border fencing would begin in ‘a couple of months’ in line with a recent decision made in a high-level meeting. In the past, such bids had attracted scathing criticism of the country’s ‘nationalist’ political parties.

During last year in the month of April, an attempt to fence some portions of the border was made. It however caused a diplomatic row resulting in amassing tanks on both sides. The heightened tensions led to the closure of Torkham border for five days. In current scenario, border’s closure has entering 12th consecutive day where by business and travel activities remained completely suspended.

The security official particularly insisted that the border fencing was an integral part of the newly-implemented border management plan, describing the mechanism to have yielded ‘positive and effective’ results due to improved process where complete data of foreign visitors via Torkham border is accounted for, since the period of June 2016, when the border management policy was implemented. Furthermoe, the official said, a cross-check is made whenver a terror incident takes place in Pakistan.

Terming the experiment to be successful, the official remarked that “Not a single suspected militant or suicide bomber has crossed Torkham border into Pakistan.'' The border security officials allowed around 250 Afghans to return late on Friday but they later issued a ‘clear-cut’ notification regarding the complete closure of the border and directed Afghan nationals not to approach the border until its reopening is formally announced. The notification however said the permission would be granted to the seriously-ill Afghans along with one of his or her attendant to go back to Afghanistan purely on humanitarian grounds.

‘We understand that the closure of border was not an ideal decision as both the neighbouring countries have mutual interests and heavily depend on each other in the field of trade and necessary items of daily use,” he said.

The official said though militancy couldn’t be completely eliminated but  such measures can help minimise terrorist incidents in the country. The offficial explained the stance that explosives and foreign currencies were recovered from handcarts operated by young daily wagers and empty vehicles at Torkham border.

“We will be very strict once the border is reopened. The idea of a ‘soft border’ will also be abandoned as no more relaxation will be granted to daily wagers and schoolchildren of Afghan origin as such facilities too were misused in the recent past,” he claimed.

The security officials said the cross-border movement should not be made hostage to terrorist incidents and that early resumption of border-crossing was important for both sides but unfortunately it wasn’t possible to continue with the ‘routine border affairs’ after the terrorist attacks in the country.