May 13, 2019
The fencing of certain areas along the 950km shared Pakistan-Iran border is now underway, according to Pakistani senator Rehman Malik, Chairman of the senate’s interior committee.
The border which begins at the Koh-i-Malik Salih mountain and ends at Gwadar Bay in the Gulf of Oman, includes a diverse landscape of mountain ridges, seasonal streams and rivers, and is notorious for human trafficking and smuggling as well as cross-border militancy. On Friday, the senate was informed by Moazzam Jah Ansarithat, commandant of Frontier Constabulary Balochistan, a paramilitary force in the southwestern province, that Iran was resisting the fencing.
“There are difficulties in fencing but the entire border will be fenced ultimately,” Malik told Arab News on Sunday, and said fencing the entire stretch would take three to four years to complete.
A senior security official told Arab News on condition of anonymity, that the border areas have been categorized for fencing according to different priority levels, numbered priority one, two and three by order of importance and security threat.
“The work on areas in priority-one list is currently underway in full swing,” he said and added that the aim of the fencing was to stop illicit cross-border movements.
“We have selected the areas from where terrorists may cross the border from one to another country,” he said.
Relations between Pakistan and Iran have been strained in recent months and in April, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the two countries would form a joint quick reaction force to combat militant activity on their shared border, following a deadly attack on Pakistani security personnel on the coastal highway in southwestern Balochistan, where fourteen soldiers lost their lives.
After the incident, Pakistan lodged a strong protest with Iranian authorities, saying the attackers had crossed over from Iran, and Pakistan’s foreign minister had said Pakistan would fence the shared border with Iran to ensure peace.
Earlier in February, Pakistan Army spokesperson General Asif Gafoor said Pakistan and Iran were considering fencing the common border so that “no third party could sabotage relations” between the two countries.
Pakistan has been battling an armed ethnic Baloch separatist movement for more than a decade, with armed groups carrying out frequent attacks against security forces and government targets in the Balochistan province, amid frequent accusations of safe havens for insurgents in Iran.