The Ministry of Defense has worked out a security plan to enhance border monitoring and control. The plan was discussed at this week's meeting of the National Security Council chaired by President Karzai. After ten years, finally there is some attention to this issue. However, the plan is not a national security strategy, but a counterinsurgency one mainly focused on Durand Line and cross-border militant infiltration.
Literally, the AfPak border is nonexistent. Over 50,000 people cross the legal check points of Torkham and Chaman daily without any legal travel documents. Locals have shops and businesses in Chaman of Pakistan and Boldak of Afghanistan, residing on both sides and crossing the border like going into another street daily.
Besides that, thousands cross from other points on the 2,640 kilometer border without any strict control and checking. Status of many villages is unknown whether they are on Afghan or Pakistani side of the border. There are confusions and disputes about many villages. Armed clashes have erupted often in such areas. The cross-border shelling by Pakistani security forces last year and the killing of their soldiers by an ISAF raid are recent examples related to the issue.
Yesterday Pakistan lodged a protest with NATO and Afghanistan, accusing inaction against militant safe havens in Nuristan and Kunar, who, Pakistan claims, crossed the border on Sunday killing several Pakistani troops. Though Afghan officials have denied that militants went from Afghanistan, the Malakand faction of Tehreek-Taliban-Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Militants and weapon smugglers cross into both countries without any bother. Taliban fighters go to their homes in Balochistan or FATA for rest after summer 'Jihad' in parts of Afghanistan. They have a free flow of weapons supply.
In Kabul, the political sensitivity of the Durand Line has made it a taboo to discuss the issues related. But it is a matter of fact that unless the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is strictly controlled, issues of cross-border infiltration would bring the two countries into serious conflict. On our part, we cannot bear more troubles. But some elements in Kabul play politics with empty emotions on this issue.
Some people have claimed our border is the Indus River in Pakistan. Recently the Army Chief had made such claims. Strangely, President Karzai and his National Security Council had not stopped the Army Chief from making such claims. They should either stop making such claims, and take realistic steps to resolve the conflict at its root, or take their claims to international forums and put an end to the unspoken root cause of trouble with Pakistan.
Both Islamabad and Kabul started proxy campaigns when President Dawood allowed the mass migration of Baloch separatists in Kabul who were fighting in the mountains of Balochistan against Pakistan Army. In response, Islamabad for brief period raised the slogan of independent Hazarajat through some circles in central Afghanistan. A media war through Radio Kabul and Radio Pakistan became the channel of that proxy campaign. The Islamic fundamentalists who were fighting against President Dawood were supported by the then Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. President Dawood made new claims extending the supposed Pashtunistan territory in parts of Balochistan province.
Most successive Afghan Governments have been taking up the issue of legitimacy of Durand Line not accepting it as international border. But strange is that, the state never officially condemns the brutal dictator of the time Abdul Rahman Khan who signed the Durand Line Agreement in 1893.
Previous Afghan Governments have questioned the legitimacy of Durand Line. In 1949, the Afghan parliament cancelled all previous treaties with Britain, including the Durand Line Agreement. But strangely, following governments kept requesting the British Government to intervene in the cold war between Afghanistan and Pakistan in that era.
The Afghan governments in the period from 1949 to 1973 have all failed to persuade the international community and forums to intervene on the issue of Pashtunistan. The international community considers the Durand Line as the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even if the current government which cannot maintain security in our present territory and extend the writ of government, succeeds in bringing the issue of Durand Line on international level, it will be almost impossible to prove the stance our previous governments have been taking.
Last year, Pakistan made attempts to make Afghanistan recognize the border officially. But our empty-headed elements claimed our border across the Sindh River. It's good they didn't go too far across Indus inside India and claim the territory invaded by Ahmad Shah Abdali or even back in the era of Mehmood Ghaznavi.
Afghanistan has always rejected Pakistani proposals of fencing the Durand Lind. Former Pakistani President Gen. Musharraf once suggested fencing the entire border. He had assured the world that fencing would cover the entire border within 5 years. Though it will need a big force, surveillance equipment, and huge amount of money, but to avoid militant cross-border movements, it is inevitable. There are examples of controlling long borders. The long Indo-Pak border and the Kashmir LOC, the Iranian Sestan-Balochistan border are examples of our region.
If the weapons' supply and manpower of insurgents are stopped from moving freely between borders, the insurgency would get weaker and can be defeated easily. Extremists living on both sides of the Durand Line border are connected not only ideologically but operationally also. Unless the Durand Line is controlled strictly, terrorists would move easily on both sides making bloodshed.