pak/afghan border fence yoyos lives

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For generations, families on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border worked together to till the fields of wheat, corn and rice that spread across the rugged plains.

With no physical boundary between the countries, the families joined forces every year to desilt the canal that irrigated the lands. They shared not only ethnic and blood bonds, but also the harvests from the fertile soil.

But a year and a half ago, the cross-border farming came to a stop. The Pakistani army began erecting a chain-link fence topped with coils of razor wire.

Syed Gul, a Pakistani farmer who owns 20 acres that straddle both sides near the Pakistani town of Kharlachi, cannot access the Afghan side, and Pakistani soldiers have told him not even to approach the land that lies inside Pakistan because getting too close to the fence would constitute a security breach.

“The land has been made barren since the government fenced the border,” said Gul, 55.

The barrier is part of the Pakistani government’s response to long-standing criticisms that it has failed to control the movement of militants across the porous border.

Its border management plan, launched in 2017, calls for a divider along all 1,600 miles of the frontier, with backing by closed-circuit television cameras and drone footage, along with hundreds of checkpoints. The army said in January that about 560 miles of fence had been completed at a cost of about $460 million.

The region, which consists of 10,400 square miles of tribal land, was once considered a haven for Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant outfits. Some 3 million civilians have been displaced there over the past decade.

The area has been relatively calm since the army launched an offensive beginning in 2014 that it said cleared out the insurgents.

Islamabad says the fencing will disrupt militants plotting terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But in an impoverished and undeveloped region, where farming and illicit cross-border trade were among the only sources of income, the fence has upended lives.

Gul’s Pashtun ethnic group has seen both sides of the border as its homeland for centuries. Pashtuns moved freely across it during the British colonial era, even after the 1893 Durand Line agreement formally demarcated the boundary.

“We never considered it a border between two countries,” Gul said. “People did not seek verbal permission from the officials patrolling the border when they needed to work in their fields on the Afghanistan side.”

Pakistanis from certain tribes living along the border once needed only a “red pass” issued by the Pakistani tribal affairs department in the city of Peshawar that allowed unlimited movement back and forth across the border. The pass was gradually withdrawn in the 1970s and 1980s, but since then most Pakistanis crossed into Afghanistan without visas.

“I got on the bus with my friends in Peshawar and went to Kabul by bus to watch Indian movies in the cinema,” recalled Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, a 65-year-old trader in Peshawar.

The fence has cut off thousands of families who share the same culture, traditions, language, religion and land. Many people in Pakistan’s tribal region sold their lands inside Afghanistan when the border management plan was introduced.

“We sold 100 acres of land in Paktika” — a border province in eastern Afghanistan — “at a throwaway price,” said Dilawar Wazir, a resident of Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal district.

Official trade between the two countries has also fallen, harming Afghanistan’s landlocked and war-battered economy. Pakistani exports to Afghanistan, which amounted to $2.6 billion in 2010-11, fell to $1.4 billion last year, according to government statistics.

Ibrahim Shinwari, a small businessman living in the Khyber tribal district, said Pakistan’s border plan has left 2,500 people jobless in the border town of Torkham, formerly a major transit terminal for goods between the two countries that was also used by U.S.-led international forces to bring supplies into Afghanistan.

Six out of nine restaurants in Torkham have closed, he said, and the daily flow of vehicles crossing in and out of Afghanistan has slowed from the thousands to the hundreds.

“No more is the place buzzing with economic activity as it once did,” Shinwari said. “All that hustle and bustle has died down into economic depression.”

Azmat Hayat, former director of the Area Study Center at the University of Peshawar, said that before the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the border was ignored.

“The Durand Line is a reality because of the changing geostrategic situation in the region,” Hayat said.

Traditions are also dying, with families on either side of the border unable to celebrate festivals together or visit the houses of sick or deceased relatives on the other side to offer condolences.

“It has brought an end to family relations,” said Nadir Manan, a Pakistani who said he couldn’t attend the recent wedding of his niece in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, Rustam Shah Mohmand, called the fencing “disastrous” and said it violated more than a century’s worth of agreements between the countries to allow free movement, particularly of families with historical ties to the land.

“The government cannot stop cross-border movement of terrorists by erecting the fence,” Mohmand said. “It just cuts off families and will cause acrimony between the two countries.”

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https://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-pakistan-afghanistan-border-wall-20190527-story.html

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghanistan%E2%80%93Pakistan_barrier

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pakistan finishing border fence

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press trust of india – islamabad

business standard

january 28, 2019 (5 months ago)

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The Pakistan Army has said that the fencing of a substantial portion of the over 2,600-km-long Afghan border has been completed and the rest will be finished by next year to check the movement of terrorists.

Pakistan has spent billions of rupees for putting fence on the porous border.

Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the fencing of the entire border will be completed next year with the cost of about Rs 70 billion, Radio Pakistan reported.

Gafoor said that of the total 2,611 km, fencing of 900 km has been completed.

He said besides fencing, the project also includes gadgets and surveillance equipment to keep strict vigilance on illicit movement from across the border.

“The fence has amply helped to check the movement of terrorists from across the border and it would further assist after completion of the project,” Ghafoor said in an interaction with a group of media during a visit to border tribal district of North Waziristan

Media representatives visited Ghulam Khan, Miranshah and other parts of North Waziristan for the first time after the military operations.

He said the fence had helped check the movement of terrorists from across the border and the situation would further improve after the completion of the project.

Giving a break-up, Gafoor said that about 1,200km of the total 2,600km border with Afghanistan was in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the rest is in Balochistan province.

The work on the erection of about 1200 km chunk, the most sensitive portion out of the total 2,600km border with the war-torn country, had commenced last year.

The fence has made it difficult for terrorists to cross the border. It will stop

cross-border terrorism and uncontrolled movement of the people even if the law and order situation gets worst again in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops, The News International reported.

In December, President Donald Trump decided to pull a significant number of American troops from Afghanistan.

Earlier, briefing the media representatives at Corps Headquarters Peshawar, Commander 11 Corps Lt Gen Shaheen said after the end of war in the area, the troops are now in the process of consolidation.

He said ninety five per cent work of resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons has already been accomplished.

He said following the operation against militants, there is no “No Go Area” in the tribal region.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/pak-to-complete-fencing-of-2-600-km-long-afghan-border-by-next-year-119012800498_1.html

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India PM Inaugurates Parliament House

New Afghan Parliament House donated by the people of India…

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by Koushik Das

InSerbia Network News

Dec. 26, 2015

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On his way back to India from Russia, Prime Minister Modi arrived in the Afghan capital to inaugurate the new Parliament House. Upon his arrival in Kabul, the visiting premier received a warm welcome, as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was present at the airport. Before inaugurating the new House, Modi and Ghani held delegation-level talks at the Afghan Presidential Office, popularly known as Dilkosha Palace, to discuss different aspects of bilateral ties. Later, Prime Minister Modi addressed the Afghan Parliament.

The Indian premier said it was unfortunate that the construction work of the Parliament building, which was started in 2009, missed three completion deadlines since 2011 and went over-budget by double the original costing of USD 45 million. Meanwhile, he assured the Afghan parliamentarians that India would always back the war-ravaged country’s effort to ensure peace. At the same time, he said that Afghanistan “will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border”. The PM told the House: “We must support Afghanistan without timelines because a new cloud of extremism is rising, even as the old ones continue to darken our skies.”

Prime Minister Modi also sent a strong message to Pakistan that is often accused by Afghanistan of sponsoring the Taliban insurgency, saying: “There are some who did not want us to be here. There were those who saw sinister design in our presence here. But we are here because you had faith in us.”

Modi further assured Afghanistan that India, which has invested around USD 2 billion in aid and reconstruction in the country and trained scores of Afghan officers, would continue providing financial helps to Afghanistan in the coming years. Addressing the Parliament, he announced 500 scholarships for children of martyrs of Afghan armed forces. “Afghanistan with abiding faith in tradition of Jirga has chosen democracy against challenges that would have defeated lesser people,” he told the House.

For his part, President Ghani called the friendship between India and Afghanistan “antiquated and bound by a thousand ties”, stressing that Kabul would always be grateful to New Delhi for its “valuable assistance” as his country weathers “hard times”. “I am pleased to welcome Prime Minister Modi to Kabul. Though, India and Afghanistan need no introduction, we are bound by a thousand ties. We have stood by each other in the best and worst of times,” added the Afghan president.

Later, the Indian PM also held separate talks with Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan Dr Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai. Incidentally, Modi arrived in Kabul just a couple of days after India delivered three of four Russian Mi-25 helicopter gunships to Afghanistan.

On Friday evening, the Indian PM also made a surprise visit to Pakistan. After landing in Kabul from Moscow, Modi called his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to wish him Happy Birthday. Sharif told Modi: “Why don’t you drop by since you will be flying over my country?” Modi readily agreed and reached Lahore at around 5pm (local time). At the airport, the Indian premier was received by Prime Minister Sharif with a warm hug. They took a helicopter to reach Sharif’s ancestral home “Raiwind Palace” in Jati Umra, where his granddaughter’s wedding was on. The two PMs discussed different bilateral issues and agreed to continue and enhance contacts, and work together to establish good neighbourly relations. After spending one hour at Sharif’s residence, Modi left for India and reached New Delhi at 7:30pm (local time). Prime Minister Sharif, too, accompanied Modi back to the Lahore airport to see him off.

Upon his arrival in New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi tweeted: “Spent a warm evening with Sharif family home. Nawaz Sahab’s birthday and his granddaughter’s marriage made it a double celebration”. Apart from Premier Sharif, two big leaders from both countries had their birthday on December 25. Tenth Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was born on December 25, 1924 in Gwalior, while Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born on December 25, 1876. Jinnah, the lawyer-turned-politician, died on September 11, 1948.

Different Pakistani political parties have welcomed Modi’s surprise visit, as he, in a dramatically spontaneous gesture, becomes the first Indian PM to visit Pakistan since Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2014. However, the Indian opposition parties have raised a serious question – Can Modi’s unorthodox brand of diplomacy lead to lasting peace? We have to wait to see how surprise plays its role in Prime Minister Modi’s Pakistan policy.

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http://inserbia.info/today/2015/12/indian-pm-inaugurates-new-afghan-parliament-visits-pakistan

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Terror Probe Points At Pakistan

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Hollie McKay

FoxNews.com

December 07, 2015

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The investigation into the jihadist couple who massacred 14 people in San Bernardino last week is pointing to Pakistan as the likely source of the pair’s radicalization, a development that threatens to expose once again the tenuous relations between the U.S. and the country accused of once harboring Al Qaeda founder and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Investigators are focusing on Tashfeen Malik, who married Syed Rizwan Farook after meeting him online and coming to the U.S. on a fiancee visa, and are particularly interested in a period from roughly 2007 to 2014 that she spent in her native Pakistan. It is during that time when she may have become radicalized, adopting the extremist ideology that she may have spread to her American-born husband. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that investigators have interviewed more than 300 people and are working with Pakistan and other foreign governments as part of the far-reaching probe. Pakistan’s interior minister also announced the country had launched its own investigation.

Despite being allies in the war on terror, the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan has been plagued by mistrust, and the current probe could expose further cracks in cooperation. Osama bin Laden is believed to have lived for years in his Abbottabad compound, possibly with the knowledge of government authorities, prior to the May 2011 Navy SEAL raid in which he was killed. Now, the U.S. is believed to be putting heavy pressure on Pakistan to cooperate on its end of the investigation into the deadliest terror attack on American soil since 9/11.

“It’s time that Pakistan matures up and accepts some responsibility,” a source with knowledge of discussions between U.S. and Pakistani officials told FoxNews.com. “At this stage, Tashfeen’s training is all leading back to Pakistan.”

Although Malik spent much of her youth in Saudi Arabia, where her father was an engineer, she lived after 2007 in her native Pakistan, where she also resided during the time she met Farook online. Authorities in the U.S. and Pakistan are probing her ties to an extremist and influential imam in Islamabad to try to understand the roots of her radicalization.

A newly surfaced photo, first obtained by ABC News and showing Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook going through customs at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, underscored the international  undertone of the probe into events proceeding Wednesday’s terrorist attack. The photo is believed to show the pair arriving from Saudi Arabia in 2014.

Malik, 29, was born to a wealthy family in Pakistan’s southern Punjab province, moved to Saudi Arabia as a child and returned to Pakistan to study pharmacology in 2007. Classmates of Malik at Bahauddin Zakariya University told the Los Angeles Times that while Malik was enrolled at the school, she also studied at Al Huda, a chain of religious institutes affiliated with ties to North America.

“She used to go to attend sessions in Al Huda almost every day,” one of Malik’s former classmates told the Times.

While Pakistan has pledged to work with the U.S., there are signs the government is clamping down on the media’s effort to get answers. On Monday, Pakistani police barred local and international media from entering the pharmacy department where Malik studied. Police inspector Muhammad Ali said the reporters did not have valid documents to work in the city. The university administration deployed extra private security guards outside the facility and after an argument with some reporters, university security officials called in the police. The police escorted the two journalists out of the campus.

There also have been reports Malik may have worshiped at Islamabad’s infamous “Red Mosque.”

The mosque’s controversial cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, who oversees a web of 27 seminaries in Malik’s native Punjab province, has been a lightning rod for years, and even stoked outrage in Pakistan last year when he refused to denounce the Peshawar school attack that left 148 people dead, including 100 children, referring to it as “an understandable response” to the government expedition against Taliban-aligned groups.

But in a message to FoxNews.com, a representative for the Red Mosque vehemently denied any link to Malik, calling implications otherwise “baseless” and “propaganda” to harm their reputation.

“Lal Masjid chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz has condemned the San Bernardino attack saying, ‘Islam does not permit attacks on innocent people,’” the representative stated.

A source with knowledge of discussions between U.S. and Pakistani officials said the U.S. is putting renewed pressure on Pakistan to expose and eradicate the radical elements that have operated largely unimpeded there. In addition to the questions surrounding Bin Laden’s post-9/11 movements in Pakistan, the nation is still imprisoning Dr. Shakeel Afridi, the physician who helped the CIA verify that Bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, living near a military facility.

“Pakistan is activating all its consulates trying to determine if other Tashfeens are out there,” the insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told FoxNews.com. “The Pakistan Army has been working to halt the terrorist money flow, but this is all much bigger than what we see on the surface.”

In the U.S., authorities are focused on who may have helped the couple — who lived on Farook’s $51,000-per-year salary as a county restaurant inspector — assemble an arsenal that included handguns, rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition and extensive bomb-making supplies and equipment. One man who reportedly legally purchased the two assault rifles the pair used to shoot Farook’s co-workers at the Inland Regional Center has been identified, but is not believed to have knowingly participated in the terror plot.

So far, federal investigators believe the plot was inspired, but not directed, by foreign terrorist organizations. President Obama said in a Sunday evening address that no evidence pointed to the two being part of a “broader conspiracy here at home.”

It is doubtful the couple could have financed their terror activity on Farook’s salary, said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas. He told Fox News authorities are interested in determining whether the couple had financial help from terrorists either in the U.S. or overseas. The limited salary of a county employee has aroused suspicion that the cache of weapons found in the couple’s Redlands apartment — including pipe bombs and ammunition — may have been purchased with funds from a foreign source, McCaul said.

“I believe on his salary, he was not able to buy this on his own,” McCaul said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Retired FBI Special Agent, Robert Chacon, said the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is complex, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism.

“The U.S.-Pakistan relationship has been a tale of mistrust and facades for a long time,” Chacon told FoxNews.com. “The outward, public relationship between the governments does not always match the covert working relationships between the U.S. intelligence community and the Pakistani intel agencies.”

Radical Islamist groups operate almost as autonomous mini-governments in Pakistan, said Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst at Clarion Project, a New York-based non-profit that monitors the worldwide terror threat.

“If the U.S. discovers that she and her social circle were involved with this radical infrastructure, Pakistan will try to absolve itself of responsibility by saying that the extremists it harbors condemn 9/11 and ISIS,” Mauro predicted. “We have to respond by telling Pakistan that that it isn’t good enough. You are not an ally if you condemn terrorism but promote the ideologies that causes terrorism.

“Last night, President Obama said that the Muslim world’s obligation doesn’t stop with condemning ISIS-type violence; that Muslims must go further and reject the interpretations that conflict with modern values,” Mauro added. “He’s right, and that’s why we should make no distinction between those who sponsor organized terrorist groups and those who sponsor the ideology these groups are founded upon.”

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http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/12/07/socal-terror-probe-points-to-pakistan-raises-trust-issue-in-terror-war

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Pakistan Seeks Good Karma

https://www.youtube.com/user/BurkaAvenger

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by Muhammad Tahir

Xinhua News

Sept 30, 2014

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ISLAMABAD, Sept. 30 — Pakistani leaders are hopeful to develop good neighborly relations with the new Afghan government as the years of tensions have proved unhelpful to effectively counter serious security challenges.

In his farewell speech last week, former President Hamid Karzai blamed both the United States and Pakistan for the continuing war with the Taliban insurgents. This blame game continued for a long time over the cross-border shelling, lack of cooperation to jointly fight terrorism and alleged hideouts of the Taliban militants in both countries. The lack of trust harmed all efforts for reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban and Karzai admitted his failure to carry forward the reconcilary process.

Karzai also pointed out that peace with the Taliban is not possible without the help of the U.S. and Pakistan. Cross-border attacks have caused a serious blow to bilateral relations and Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani raised the issue of the alleged Pakistani “rocketing into Afghanistan” at his U.N. General Assembly’s address last week. This shows a deterioration in bilateral relations, as Kabul preferred an international forum rather than using bilateral diplomatic channels.

Kabul claims Pakistani rockets affect “civilians” in eastern Kunar province. Pakistan, however, denies it fired rockets into civilian areas and says its forces only target positions of the militants who attack Pakistani border posts. Karzai seemed to be upset at what he described as, “Pakistan’ s lack of cooperation” to encourage the Taliban to enter into peace talks with his government.

Islamabad, for its part, added that they do not have control over the Taliban and that it can only play the role of a facilitator. Pakistani officials insist they have freed over 50 Taliban detainees, including some senior leaders and former ministers, at the request of Karzai and his peace council to accelerate the reconciliation process, however, all the freed Taliban refused to join the intra-Afghan dialogue.

For its part, Pakistan says it is disappointed at “Afghanistan’ s failure to stop the Pakistani Taliban from entering the Afghan side of the border.” Security officials insist that many Pakistani Taliban fighters who have fled to Afghanistan following military operations in the tribal regions and Swat valley, now operate from the Afghan border region. Afghanistan-based Pakistan Taliban insurgents are being blamed for cross-border attacks on check post and villages. Pakistan military spokespeople have claimed that the Afghan gov’ t has not helped to stop fleeing militants from crossing the border from North Waziristan tribal region, where the security forces are battling local and foreign militants.

Pakistani forces launched the biggest offensive in the region in June to flush out the militants from their last major sanctuary. Afghanistan itself and the U.S. had also been calling for the operation, as they claimed al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network also had hideouts in North Waziristan.

As political tensions had a negative impact on bilateral relations over the past 13 years, the two countries now have a good opportunity to bury the hatchet and deal with the post-NATO situation. Any instability in Afghanistan will directly affect Pakistan’s fragile security situation.

Pakistan made the wise decision to represent itself at the highest level in attending the swearing-in ceremony for President Ashraf Ghani on Monday. President Mamnoon Hussain was the only head of the state among the nearly 200 foreign guests who attended Afghanistan’s historic first ever democratic transition. President Mamnoon Hussain held separate meetings with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and ” conveyed Pakistan’s commitment to working closely with the new government for the promotion of common goals,” the Foreign Ministry said late Monday at the conclusion of his day-long visit to Kabul.

“Underlining the importance Afghanistan attached to its relations with Pakistan, President Ashraf Ghani reiterated his perspective that both countries should have a ‘special relationship,'” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Dr. Abdullah also expressed his desire for the new government to forge a cooperative and forward-looking relationship with Pakistan. Statements from the leadership of the two countries have raised hopes for a new tension-free beginning, as their cooperation could enable them to meet the ongoing serious security challenges they would be facing after the foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan in less than three months.

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http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2014-09/30/c_133685329.htm

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