Afghanistan, Pakistan Coordinate Counterterror Campaigns
To limit freedom of movement for Taliban fighters, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to more closely coordinate counterterrorism efforts. In July 2017 discussions, the two nations agreed to partner more closely than they have in years, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The countries aim to harmonize operations in their respective territories and limit terrorists’ movement across their mutual 2,400-kilometer border. Ideally, the countries will establish forts, border posts and border coordination centers that include officers from both countries. In mid-2017, Pakistan said it would soon begin building a fence along the border, focusing first on the Bajur, Mohmand and Kyber tribal regions — those most prone to infiltration by violent extremists.
“Under Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, we will strengthen our border,” Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor told Dawn. “We will be able to check cross-border movement of terrorists.”
In addition to border fencing, Pakistan and Afghanistan will maintain an open-door policy for cooperation and discussion to remove what Ghafoor called a “trust deficit” on the Afghan side, according to Dawn.
At least 43 border posts had been built by summer 2017, with 63 others under construction, the official said. Pakistan plans to build hundreds of border posts and forts along the border.
Pakistan in 2016 began building a barrier crossing in the northwestern town of Torkham. In a statement, the Pakistan Army said a secure border was “in the common interest of both countries.”
“U.S. achievements in Afghanistan have a lot to do with support from and through Pakistan,” Ghafoor told The Wall Street Journal. “Pakistan is part of the solution.”
Dawa Khan Minapal, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, added that there will be coordinated operations on both sides of the border.
The border has always been politically complicated: Thousands of cargo trucks traverse its two major crossings each week, according to The Washington Post, and ethnic Pashtun communities live on both sides. Afghan officials have argued that new measures will disrupt cross-border traffic, but Pakistan argues that the fence is the only way to control a border that has been “permeable for far too long.”