Fencing, mining of border from next month: Sherpao

Fencing, mining of border from next month: Sherpao

Pakistan will start mining and fencing of its border with Afghanistan next month after addressing all reservations of the United Nations, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao told reporters here.

The proposal has evoked a strong reaction from opposition parties, the NWFP government and others within and outside the country.

Sherpao acknowledged that the Geneva Convention prohibited the laying of landmines, but it was not prohibited if an area was ”˜marked properly’.

”We will not violate UN resolutions and mark the area where landmines will be planted. We will educate tribal people on both sides of the border about the presence of landmines.”

The UN has criticised Pakistan’s plans to erect fence and lay landmines along some portions of its border to stop militants from crossing into Afghanistan.

The world body has expressed fears that such a step would add to civilian casualties.

Over 3,500 people have been killed in Afghanistan this year ”” the bloodiest year since US-led troops ousted the Taleban regime five years ago. Afghanistan has already rejected Pakistan’s plan and instead called for ”˜serious efforts to tackle terrorists’.

However, Sherpao said: ”We are doing our best to stop the cross-border movement of terrorists as we have deployed 80,000 troops, established over 800 check posts and now fencing and mining are being put in place. This is the best we can do, but the Afghan government is still indulging in a blame game instead of appreciating Pakistan’s efforts to stop infiltration of terrorists into Afghanistan.”

The interior ministry and the foreign office have announced that mining and fencing would help prevent militants from Pakistan crossing into Afghanistan to fight Nato troops.

Officials of the two departments said as the fence and mines would be on the Pakistani side of the 2,430km border, an agreement with the Afghan government was not required.

Afghanistan had rejected Pakistan’s previous offers to fence the border, saying it would divide the tribal population. However, Sherpao brushed aside this apprehension.

”Pakistan will create exit and entry points along the fence to facilitate legal cross-border movement of tribal people.” An exit point has been created in Chaman, Balochistan and three more points have been identified, the minister said.
Sherpao said the process of establishing exit and entry points would be completed next month.

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