Pakistan Accelerates Border Fencing As US Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan Looms

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PKONWEB Report (New York) — A $550 million unilateral construction effort by the Pakistan Army will have fenced off almost half of the country’s western borders with neighboring Afghanistan within a few months, according to officials.

Pakistan military plans to complete the installation of a pair of nine-foot chicken wire fences, with a six-foot gap, and topped with barbed wire along the nearly 2,600-kilometer Afghan border.

Islamabad has constructed almost 900 kilometers of the wiring and will complete the fencing by mid-2019, according to army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor.

The move comes in anticipation of a “terrorism spillover” ahead of a looming U.S. troop withdrawal from the war-torn country, which prompted Pakistan to accelerate its efforts at securing the border.

“It is going to be a mess whether Afghanistan is exited by the U.S. in an announced and organized way or abruptly. We are doing this fencing with speed. We will not let that thing (terrorism) come to Pakistan,” vowed Gen. Ghafoor.

Trump said on Thursday he would bring U.S. troops home if a peace deal was reached to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan that has cost American taxpayers nearly $1 trillion and Pakistan more than $230 billion in economic losses.

He told CBS he would be open to keeping a small number of troops there as well as intelligence operations to monitor for “nests” of militant activity, according to the interview taped on Friday.

A day earlier on Thursday, the Senate delivered a rare rebuke to President Trump’s foreign policy, warning against a “precipitous withdrawal” of American forces from Afghanistan and Syria.

Forty-three Republicans and 25 Democrats voted in favor of the resolution.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky suggested a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to more attacks on U.S. soil. And Pakistan remains concerned of political vacuum in its war-ravaged western neighborhood and “terrorism spillover” from Afghanistan where the presence of SIS still poses regional threat.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share 18 crossing points — the most commonly used ones are Torkham and Chaman.

Pakistan hosts 1.5 million registered and over a million illegal Afghan refugees. The requirement of valid visas, mainly from Pakistan, was made compulsory since January this year.

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