Posted on February 5, 2019

As Trump Wall Stalls, Pakistan Builds 2,600-km Border Fence

Joseph Hammond, America Media Institute, February 1, 2019

While President Trump is having trouble adding a few miles of fence to America’s incomplete border with Mexico, Pakistan is busy building one of the world’s longest border fences.

Climbing over some of the world’s toughest terrain, Pakistan’s border fence will stretch more 1,800-miles and ascend more than 12,000-feet above sea level. It will march over mountains, span gorges, and descend into desert plains — halting, at last, on the Chinese border. The fence will seek to protect valleys and mountains that invading armies have crossed for centuries from Alexander the Great to Mongol hordes.

Built to divide Pakistan from Afghanistan, the logistical difficulties of the wall are enormous. Construction workers require constant armed protection from terrorists and bandits, who often blend in among the 60,000 people, many of whom are Pashtun tribesmen, that Islamabad estimates illegally cross the Pakistan frontier every single day.


At high altitudes, in winter, the Pakistan Armed Forces are also fighting sub-freezing temperatures, strong winds and a lack of drinkable water. All food and supplies must be carried in by truck, over treacherous and snaking unpaved roads, hewn into mountain contours.

Despite the perils and pains of construction, a frozen few are working through the winter months to complete the border fence. Pakistan’s fence is projected to be completed in the coming year.

The border fence is supposed to stop terrorists from carrying attacks in one country and fleeing to safety in the other. In the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the terror attacks flow both ways.

In 2003, following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan began work on the fence, in earnest, just a few years ago. Pakistan projects completion of the long-delayed project, which has cost an estimated $550 million, by the end of 2019. {snip}

Nations as diverse as Estonia, Greece, Israel, Morocco, Mexico, and Spain (around its small African enclaves) have thrown up border walls to slow illicit migration. Though none are as long as Pakistan’s or involve conquering such inhospitable terrain.


That border is known, on both military and civilian maps, as the Durrand Line.


Modern Afghanistan has never accepted the border and it continues to be a source of tension between both countries. Opposition to the Durand Line has been nearly the one constant in Afghan foreign policy. Afghanistan cast the lone vote against Pakistan’s admission to the U.N. and tried to raise the issue again with the United Kingdom before Pakistan’s independence in 1947. Flummoxed with the creation of Pakistan, Kabul simply announced it would not recognize the Durand Line – creating a de facto Cold War and sparking numerous clashes over the decades.

“Afghanistan claims the land beyond the almost imaginary line up to the Indus [river],” said Pashtun expert and journalist Daud Khattak. “Many Afghans, mostly Pashtun nationalists, believe that Amu Darya (river) and Indus River are the natural borders of Afghanistan.”

The Indus River essentially bisects modern-day Pakistan.

Members of the Afghan Millat, a party with a strong Pashtun nationalist base, have long opposed the Durand Line as a final border. (The Pashtun are a vast ethnic group that have traditionally lived in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and certain parts of India ). The Pashtun nationalist dream vary from simply annexing the historically Pashtun city of Peshawar to the grandiose winning access to the sea by annexing the intervening lands known as Baluchistan where Pashtun are a minority.


With Pakistan rushing to complete its border fence, violence remains a threatening complication. Fighting between Afghanistan and Pakistan over a disputed village on the border left several dead in 2017.