ISLAMABAD: The year 2018 has been a complete success story of Pakistan’s security forces as through the ongoing countrywide Operation Raddul Fasaad they have not only been able to cleanse the society of the menace of terrorism to a great extent but have also broken the myth that fencing at the 2,611-kilometer long and zigzag Pak-Afghan border is unmanageable.
A delegation of journalists visited the Torkham Border the other day to get a firsthand knowledge as to how successful the RUF had been in wiping out terrorists, their sympathizers and abettors since its launch in February 2017.
The visit was also aimed at viewing the arduous undertaking to fence 1,403-kilometer perilous Pak-Afghan border in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), since its installation began on April 27, 2017–as a $550 million unilateral undertaking even at nighttime and at times facing unfriendly fires.
Running on some of the most inhospitable rugged terrains, the fencing has been divided into three phases on the basis of urgency – priority one, priority two and priority three.
“The fencing of the first phase (priority one area), that covers 539 kilometers, has been completed as per schedule (at the end of December 2018),” an official associated with the project told the journalists.
He said that around 233 forts had also been built on the 1,403 kilometer-long border, while work on 140 more forts was underway. “Fencing of the Pak-Afghan border is a reality now. The first phase has been completed, while the next two phases – priority two (379km) and priority three (485km) will be completed in two years.
“The Torkham Border is no longer a free-for-all crossing-point. The illegal border crossing has come to an end as only individuals with authentic documents are able to cross it now,” he added.
The fence is a dual wire trellis, 11 feet high from Pakistan side and 13 feet high from Afghanistan side, with a six feet gap between them, which is filled with razor wire. It is tech-meshed with a state-of-the-art surveillance system, closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, drone cameras and other gadgets for effective day and night monitoring of the border.
Sharing the details of the impact of fencing and close computerized monitoring system, the official revealed that since its start, around 1,900 Afghans had been arrested and deported, while 600 Pakistanis were also stopped from entering Afghanistan.
However, as a goodwill gesture, he said that emergency patients were allowed to enter Pakistan for treatment without documents. “Similarly, as there is a water shortage on the other side of the border we allow them to take water to their check posts from our side,” he said.
“Moreover, special cards have been issued to around 200 Afghan students, who come to Pakistan in a school near the Torkham Border in the morning and then move back to their homes at afternoon on daily basis,” he added.
He said that cross-border infiltration, illegal trade and smuggling were becoming impossible now. “The figure of individuals crossing the Torkham Border on valid traveling documents has increased. Around 12,000 people cross the border legally, besides 1,200 trucks, carrying goods cross it on daily basis. This has turned Torkham one of the world’s busiest crossing points,” the official claimed.
The total length of the fenced border is 2,611 kilometer, including that of rugged regions in Balochistan. It is hoped that after its completion, the project will benefit the peace loving people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.