Fencing – Securing The Insecure Border
The state of Pakistan has the 7th largest army in the world and is a nuclear power but is riddled with security issues. Many reported cases are connected with religious extremism. It seems very contradictory that such a powerful state could have problems with respect to defence and security. Even after 90 thousand casualties, people remain unprotected within the border of the country. Citizens have constantly been told that “Pakistan will not stand too long”, instilling fear! As a result we have invested our economy in nuclear defence, yet we are unable to provide for the basic needs of the majority of our population. We have shifted our focus from primary to secondary problems. We have spent billions on “war” and the “war on terror”. All the patriots of Pakistan have been emphasizing on freedom no matter what the cost. Such a sense of patriotism was also reiterated by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who said,
“We (Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (atom bomb)…. We have no other choice!”
Pakistan is a nuclear power and has a powerful army but the news continues to report 5 to 10 deaths during different incidents. The population is becoming more and more desensitized to the loss. A few years earlier, the army of Pakistan took serious measures to eradicate terrorism – the roots of which have been laid since the USSR conflict – and also started operation Zarb-e-Azb in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The action was taken due to pressure from China because of her economic involvement in Pakistan, because naturally, economic activity only prevails during peace.
The tribal areas of Pakistan soon became no-go areas. Everyone seemed familiar with the notion that Afghans and Pashtuns of Pakistan were homogenized in the name of Islam and jihad against USSR rather than USA. There was no clear difference between Afghans and Pashtuns. The influx of extremists was from Afghanistan, where they retreated into a state with far worse security. Incidents such as kidnappings, like the former Prime Minister’s son, are very much connected to the above-mentioned issues. The government needs to implement stricter policies to prevent the entry of unidentified persons who are unable to be tracked.
Throughout history, Pakistan has consistently participated in wars and matters which may or may not have directly affected its citizens. The country has become a part of proxy wars simply because of its strategic and geographical position and for that, the citizens of Pakistan have paid the price. It is time that we put our national interests first. Stakeholder institutions in Pakistan are observing this issue seriously with international support. The Durand Line crisis is at the forefront of policy discussion. According to media reports, people have not been allowed to cross the Afghan border. Both countries have been deploying extra troops and tanks to prevent trespassers from doing so. The Afghan government has openly been protesting against Pakistan for officially fencing a few areas in order to plug out illegal and secret border crossing.
There is a legitimate argument against border control between the two countries. Many Afghans seek medical treatment and employment opportunities in Pakistan. Both governments need to strike a balance between securing national interests and allowing safe passage to their neighbour.
The people of Pakistan do not have basic security. We need to secure our borders in order to prevent external threats from penetrating our space. We have already borne the expenses of the war on terror, we should continue on the path and bear the expenses of fencing the border. Not only would this secure peace but also lead to a stronger and prosperous Pakistan.
Pakistan has many reasons to uphold diplomatic relations with its neighbours. The government should take an independent stance without letting old agreements and policies act as hindrances. Checks on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan should be dealt with analytically. If Afghanistan feels that its economic interests could be better protected by India, then Pakistan also has such a right to decide this.
We do have a choice. We can work towards diplomacy and against damaging policies. We can work for our people by way of border control, enhanced security and an improved economic status of the country. There is a dire need for a systematic change in Pakistan. We need to restore power to the people in general rather than to a small percentage of the population.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which he might be associated.