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60,000 Pakistani Troops Headed To The Durand Line With Afghanistan

To improve border security along the Durand Line with Afghanistan, Pakistan will add 60,000 troops to expand patrols on the heavily disputed border region to curb the flow of terrorists operating between both nations, as per Bloomberg citing military officials.

The military officials requested for anonymity informed Bloomberg that about forty percent of the troops needed to secure the border have already been recruited, which the total process could take up to two years. About 13 percent of the security fence along the 1,456 mile-long border has been erected, officials said.

“The move will consolidate Pakistan’s border operations, which have been beefed-up in recent years after widespread insecurity wracked the country following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Domestic terror-related violence is now at its lowest in more than a decade. The army, which has 661,000 regular and paramilitary troops, have previously been more focused on the country’s eastern border with arch-rival neighbor India, with which it’s fought three wars against since British India’s partition in 1947. The two continue to contest the disputed region of Kashmir,” said Bloomberg.

Pakistan’s terrorist violence has dropped to lowest in more than a decade

In his very first tweet of 2018, President Trump threatened to cut off financial aid payments to Pakistan saying that its leaders have given the U.S. nothing but “lies & deceit” while providing “safe haven to terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” tweeted President Trump.

Since then, Pakistan has come under increasing pressure to take preventive measures to neutralize the Afghan Taliban and the affiliated Haqqani network that shift between both countries.

“I don’t think this will satisfy the U.S.,” Rashid Ahmed Khan, the head of international relations at the University of Central Punjab in Lahore, who spoke with Bloomberg. “It’s one of the most porous borders in the world — if one side continues to oppose it, then this can’t be that effective,” he said, referring to repeated Afghan objections.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have both accused the other of harboring and training terrorists. Relations between the two have been in a downward spiral in the last several years. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani warned Pakistan that it is pursuing an “undeclared war of aggression” and threatens military conflict over the security fence.

Pakistan officials told Bloomberg some fences in mountainous regions have made it more difficult for militants to cross between both countries.

Islamabad has often accused Afghan nationals and refugees of bombings and attacks in Pakistan. Officials said more than 2 million refugees live in Pakistan refugee camps, as these areas have become a significant breeding ground for terrorist.

According to the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) research group in October, the Durand Line has roughly 235 crossing points, some frequently used by militants and drug traffickers.

“It may not stop every terrorist, but it will deter them,” said Ikram Sehgal, a former military officer and chairman of Pathfinder Group, Pakistan’s largest private security company. “If you are serious about no encroachment, this is necessary.”

The AAN report also suggested that Taliban can operationally move with ease between the two countries in the often lawless border regions and are usually waved through by Pakistan forces.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had expressed concerns about the alleged U.S. financial assistance to Pakistan for fencing the Durand Line.

The Office of the Former President in a statement said Hamid Karzai is deeply concerned over the matter and calls it a “violation of our rights and sovereignty.”

He said: “The US funding to Pakistan for fencing the Durand line is helping Pakistan’s policy of separating Afghans on both sides of the Durand Line.”

Incoming Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan recently made statements about the need for peace with Afghanistan and told Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, that he would travel to Kabul at an unspecified time.

“If there is peace in Afghanistan, there will be peace in Pakistan,” said Khanin in a televised victory speech from Islamabad last month.

With the war in Afghanistan mostly finished — it seems as Pakistan and Afghanistan are making strides towards peace. In doing so, Pakistan is erecting a massive fence with 60,000 troops to ensure a new era of peace.

If so, the one question we ask: The U.S. has spent almost two decades bombing the Middle East, could peaceful times bring a wave of new investments into the region via China’s One Belt and Road Initiative?