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Pakistan doubles down on fencing Durand Line

AT News

KABUL: Pakistan said Monday it is bent on fencing its porous Durand Line with Afghanistan and is engaging with the Taliban regarding a recent attempt by Pakistani soldiers to install a security fence in Nangarhar.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said his country is determined to protect its “interests” and continue unilateral fencing Pakistan’s nearly 2,600-kilometer border with Afghanistan.

This comes after several attempts by Taliban border forces aimed at preventing Pakistan from building the barrier. The latest such incident apparently happened over the weekend when the Afghan side dismantled a portion of the fence.

“We are not silent. We have installed the fence and, God willing, this effort will continue,” Qureshi stressed. “Afghanistan is our friendly neighbor. We are engaged with them, as some confusions have emerged, and we shall be able to resolve them through diplomatic channels.”

A Taliban Defense Ministry spokesman on Sunday criticized the fencing project, saying Pakistan had “no right to erect barbed wire along the Durand Line and separate the tribes on both sides of the line.”

Successive governments in Afghanistan have disputed the 1893 British colonial-era demarcation. The boundary was the outcome of an agreement between Sir Mortimer Durand, a secretary of the British Indian government, and then-Afghan ruler Abdur Rahman Khan.

The massive military-led construction effort started in 2017 to block illegal militant movement and smuggling. Pakistani officials say more than 90% of the work has been completed.

The fencing project occasionally triggered fatal clashes between Pakistani troops and Afghan security forces of the former government in Kabul that the Taliban ousted last August.

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