Pakistan’s military says it will have fenced off the country’s roughly 2,600-kilometer historically porous border with Afghanistan within the next two months.
The army’s media wing Friday shared the latest assessment with VOA on the massive unilateral construction effort that was launched in early 2017 to block militant infiltration, smuggling and other illegal crossings on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Inter Services Public Relations, or ISPR, said the barrier has already been installed along “about 83 percent” of the western Pakistani frontier. Additionally, hundreds of new outposts and forts have been built under the roughly $500 million program.
The pair of three-meter-high mesh fences, a couple of meters apart, are filled and topped with coils of razor wire, running through rugged terrain and snow-covered, treacherous mountains at elevations as high as 4,000 meters.
The ISPR attributed a "massive decrease" in the number of terrorism-related incidents in Pakistan to the border security project. Pakistani troops involved in building the fence have also come under deadly militant attacks from the Afghan side and in some cases clashes with Afghan security forces.
Afghanistan has historically disputed the 1893 British colonial era demarcation and Afghan officials still refer to the border as the Durand Line. Pakistan rejects the objections and maintains it inherited the international frontier after gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
Under the military-led border management project, Islamabad has also upgraded several formal crossings with Afghanistan to further facilitate bilateral and transit trade activities with the war-ravaged landlocked country.
The Pakistani army is also working on enhancing the security of the country’s more than 900-kilometer southwestern border with Iran. It has already fenced off about 30% of the frontier and the project is expected to be finished by the end of 2021, according to the ISPR.
The largely porous border separates Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan provinces, both experiencing militant attacks blamed on fugitive separatists hiding on Pakistani and Iranian soils.