A wall may not have been built but a fence partly has been. On the lines of the Pak-Afghan Border, work on a 900-kilometre-long portion of fence has been completed. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said work on about 1,200 km chunk had commenced last year. According to the Maj Ghafoor, the fence was built to deter movement of terrorists from across the border and was necessary to improve the security situation in the area.

The building of this fence came about after Donald Trump made several public accusations against Pakistan for not doing enough to combat terrorism. Pakistan denied the allegations and bluntly and correctly stated that it had suffered massive security crisis and loss of lives during the course of aiding the USA in the war against terror. The building of the fence was an initiative of the army, perhaps partly as a response to US allegations, to mitigate the damages Pakistan has suffered due to the Afghan crisis and to prevent the spread of terrorist activities from across the border.

The timing of the completion of the fence is apt — right when a possible peace between the US and the Taliban is on the table. The increasing of security around the border at this time sends the message that although Pakistan has been instrumental in the process of brokering a peace between the US and the Taliban, and that Pakistan will always lend a helping hand to its Muslim neighbour, our country should not head unprotected into an international crisis again without strengthening the security around a highly problematic border. The stepped up fortifications, when talks of increased border security started two years back, angered the Afghan administration, but these steps were necessary due to frequent terrorist attacks, and because of the allegations from US towards Pakistan for turning a blind eye towards them.

However, while it is commendable of the military for plugging the porous border, let us be also adopt a sensitive approach. Along with the fence needs to come efficient management of Pashtun families who are spread on both sides of the border and have historically travelled freely between the two nations. The establishment needs to ensure that the heightened security does not lead to bad blood between Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns and that the process occurs with humanity and dignity.