Secured borders mean secured countries


National Consultative Forum promotes improved border management for Pak-Afghan internal security

Improved border management is important for the national security of Pakistan and Afghanistan, said experts and participants at a PILDAT National Consultative Forum on Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Management: Challenges and Way Forward.

The National Consultative Forum was organised to understand the mechanisms by which the border can be effectively regulated and the unauthorised movement can be controlled.

Former Interior secretary and Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Rustum Shah Mohmand, former interior minister Lt Gen (r) Moinuddin Haider, former federal caretaker law minister Ahmer Bilal Soofi and PILDAT President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob spoke at the National Consultative Forum. Also present at the occasion was National Party President Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.

Senator Bizenjo said that the border was never a very crucial issue before the 1980s but it became so especially when the non-state actors occupied Afghanistan after the 1980s. Its effective management has since become an issue of grave concern. He added that after 9/11, a new political situation emerged in Afghanistan. He stressed that there is a dire need to establish peace between both the countries and it is high time to put an end to internal and external conflicts. He further added that the issue of the border cannot be resolved until peace is established between both the countries.

Ahmer Bilal Soofi, who authored for PILDAT the paper on Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Management: A Legal Perspective, said that in order to establish an effective system of checks and balances along the Durand Line, a legislative framework should define easement right users and issue special ‘easement right user IDs’ to individuals falling under this category. He recommended that there should be a separate category of persons crossing the Durand Line into the territories of Pakistan as the Afghan refugees.

He further said that the proposed law might provide that a refugee shall remain confined to a designated premise, his/her particulars shall be documented by issuing a document specifying his/her refugee status and his/her movements shall be monitored. The law should spell out that those conferred with refugee status should not be automatically granted Pakistani citizenship.

The proposed law should also provide the federal government or the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the power to repatriate the Afghan refugees for settlement in relatively stable provinces of Afghanistan.

The proposed legislation should also provide for the legal and objective basis of resettlement of Afghan refugees in other States such as Canada and Australia. Importantly, the suggested law must include appropriate sanctions if an Afghan refugee abuses this refugee status and indulges in drug trafficking across the Durand Line or supports militants and terrorists targeting state structures in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He also contended that the internal laws of Pakistan need to be adhered to when dealing with refugees.

Rustam Shah Mohmand stated that the issue of border should be taken care of at a policy level. He highlighted the major historical events that took place regarding the border management of Afghanistan in the 19th century.

He stated that there have been certain issues on the border due to the existence of divided tribes in that particular area. He added that there should be better coordination mechanisms between both the countries in order to resolve the issue in an effective and peaceful manner. He also opined that there is a dire need of improvement on the said issue and both the countries should focus on resolving it on priority basis.

Lt Gen (r) Moinuddin Haider stated that the issue of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border holds great significance and currently is very crucial between both the neighbouring countries. He said that it is the responsibility of the State to secure the border. Having said that, he opined that the government machineries of both the countries should focus on improving the situation at border in order to establish peace and prosperity in the region. He appreciated certain steps taken by both the governments to enhance the security and defence on the border.

In his welcome remarks, Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said that the aim and objectives of the forum were to understand the crucial and sensitive issue of the border known as the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said that the border management between both the countries is of utmost importance. He mentioned that there has been some unauthorised movement across the border, which is a potential threat for both the countries.