Border management

The management of western borders has never been the priority of successive governments even after start of Afghan war from the decade of 1980s. The influx and stay in Pakistan of Afghan Refugees was not regulated like the neighbouring country Iran and they were allowed free movement across the country, ignoring the security risks for the country. Now the presence of large number of illegal Afghan nationals poses a big security problem. Militants from Afghanistan easily sneak into Pakistan at unfrequented points, find their handlers from the Afghan nationals and carry out terrorist arracks.

While chairing a meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan directed form creation of special division on border management system under the supervision of an additional Secretary of Ministry of Interior. Currently, 10 different ministries and provincial governments do border management; however, no central department at the federal level existed to look after these issues. There was a dire need for the collection of information and keeping data at one place of all those people who enter Pakistan through land, sea and air.

Border fencing with Afghanistan will no doubt help check the illegal cross border movement. But still chances of entries of foreign nationals cannot be effectively controlled. The border in Baluchistan is not properly manned. Moreover, there are complaints that provincial government authorities always adopt a policy of masterly inactivity for illegal entry of Afghan nationals. There is political dimension of the illegal entry through Afghan border in Baluchistan. A nationalist party assisted the Afghan nationals to obtain CNICs. In the recent PDM meeting in Quetta they vowed to remove border fencing. They have openly expressed their trans-border agenda.

After the APS attack, previous PTI government in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa strongly agitated the issue of data collection of unregistered Afghan Refugees and starting work on a working out a plan for repatriation of Afghan refugees. The Ministry of SAFRON turned a deaf year to it.

The judicial commission report on the terrorists attack on civil hospital Quetta emphasied the need for a comprehensive national security policy and refinement of national action plan. Last PML-government was least bothered about it. But the present government is also not different from its predecessor. There are no indications that formulation of national security has been priortised.

After the incident of 9/11, the US led international military alliance toppled Taliban government in Afghanistan in 2001. The border was not properly manned and managed. It facilitates Afghan militants and the ones from Uzbekistan and Chechnya to take shelter in the border areas of the tribal belt. They almost established their evil empire there. Even though government took some belated measures to control its borders, Pak-Afghan border could not be saved from becoming safe haven for Afghan and Pakistani militant groups.

Despite mounting militancy along the border, government opted for defensive border policy and started border fencing. Left with few options in 2017, government has to switch to an offensive border strategy to check illegal border crossing. It is high time that a survey is started for collecting the data of unregistered Afghan nationals and that of other countries. The unregistered Afghan nationals do not fall within the category of genuine refugees. Their expulsion is inevitable from national security point of view. Mere border surveillance and making database of illegal migrants will be an exercise in futility. Let us hope strict border management will be put in place and bold policy be implemented for the deportation of illegally staying foreign nationals.

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