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Pakistan Announces Plans to Fence and Mine Border with Afghanistan


Pakistan has announced plans to fence and mine sections of its frontier with Afghanistan to help prevent cross-border raids by pro-Taleban militants. The controversial proposal follows repeated criticism from both U.S. and Afghan officials who have accused Pakistan of failing to secure the lawless border area. VOA's Benjamin Sand has more from Islamabad.

The border has been at the center of a growing dispute between the two south Asian neighbors.

Afghanistan insists pro-Taleban militants have established a series of bases inside Pakistan and are staging deadly cross border raids.

Islamabad says it has already doing everything it can to help improve regional security including deploying some 80,000 soldiers to patrol the ill-defined border area.

Tuesday, Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan told reporters the government is now planning to mine and fence select areas along the border.

"In keeping with our policy to prevent any militant activity from Pakistan inside Afghanistan, the Pakistan army has been tasked to work out modalities for selectively fencing and mining the Pakistan-Afghanistan border," Riaz says.

No details were provided on where the fence would be erected or how much of the nearly 2,500 kilometer long border would be effected.

Afghanistan has rejected similar plans in the past and quickly distanced itself from the latest proposal as soon as it was announced on Tuesday.

Thousands of tribal Pashtun families live on either side of the border and Afghan officials say fencing the area off would unfairly divide the tight knit and fiercely independent communities.

Khan dismissed those concerns saying Pakistan reserves the right to act unilaterally to secure the border and control its own territory.

"We do not need any agreement from any country for that matter, to fence or do whatever measures we may need to take on our side of the border," Riaz says.

He also urged the international community to help Islamabad repatriate more than two million Afghan refugees still living in camps inside Pakistan.

Khan said this would also help address concerns that the refugee population is harboring pro-Taleban militants destabilizing both countries.