Protection of Western border: A challenge
July 22, 2011
Incidents of terrorism and Extremism although have become a routine in the country however the manner in which attacks by miscreants along the Pak-Afghan borders have gained momentum in the past three months has created a sense of insecurity and concern amongst the people residing along the border.
On June 16 least hundred militants crossed over into Bajaur Agency from Afghanistan and attacked two villages late night.
The two villages in tehsil Mamoond came under attack at midnight. One security personnel was killed and one injured as a result of the attack, sources at tehsil headquarters in Khar confirmed.
Officials in the area said the militants had fired rockets at a tribal lashkar check-post located on a hilltop but no casualties were reported.
The militants fled the area and crossed back into Afghanistan after the attack.
On June 2 Some 200 militants streamed over the border from Afghanistan and attacked a nearby Pakistani checkpoint killing at least five security troops.
The incident in Upper Dir district underscores the dangers posed by the porous nature of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which both countries have struggled to control as a means of stopping al-Qaida and Taliban-led insurgent movements who have ties on both sides of the boundary.
It was not clear whether the militants were Afghans or Pakistanis. The border area is a global hub for militants, including al-Qaida and allies such as the Pakistani Taliban, who seek to topple the U.S.-backed Islamabad government.
The continuous attacks on border with neighbouring Afghanistan have given rise to new debate. It is clear that ever since the end of Taliban govt in Afghanistan the 2200 KM long border of Pakistan with Afghanistan has become insecure which inevitably has led to deteriorating lawlessness situation in Pakistan
Military officials believe there are around 1,500 Pakistani militants based in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces bordering Pakistan and ready to launch cross-border attacks in Mohmand and Bajaur tribal agencies and the districts of Lower Dir, Upper Dir and possibly Chitral.
The Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps (FC) officials said they have taken steps to repulse any new attack by the militants from across the Pak-Afghan border. Requesting anonymity, they said there were reports that the militants wanted to open a new front by launching an attack in Chitral from their bases in Afghanistan
The security forces in Upper and Lower Dir had also been augmented. They would primarily serve as a back-up force to the Dir Police and Dir Levies that are still manning some of the joint posts near the border with Afghanistan even though they suffered heavy losses in the two cross-border assaults by the Pakistani militants. The FC personnel have now been deployed at these joint security posts to add to their muscle-power.
The Afghanistan-based militants, affiliated to the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and hailing mostly from Malakand division and Mohmand and Bajaur tribal regions, attacked the Kharki border post manned by Dir Levies and Police in Lower Dir district on April 21 and according to the official sources killed 16 cops and Levies personnel. In the second cross-border attack on a joint post of Dir Police and Levies on June 1 in Shaltalo village in Upper Dir, 45 policemen and Levies personnel were killed. Video footage that subsequently emerged showed the militants ruthlessly executing the captured men from point-blank range.
FC officials estimated that 600-700 Pakistani militants had set up bases in Afghanistan facing Mohmand Agency, another 400-500 were based across the border from Bajaur Agency and 300 were on the Afghan side threatening the two Dir districts. The total is around 1,500 and all of them were based in Kunar and Nuristan, where the US-led coalition forces abandoned remote outposts after suffering heavy casualties and where the Afghan government has little physical presence.
Intelligence sources reported a recent meeting of Pakistani militants presided over by the Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. The sources said TTP Bajaur commander Maulana Faqir Mohammad, the organisation’s Mohmand Agency head Abdul Wali alias Omar Khalid, and others attended the meeting and decided to make forays into Chitral and attempt more attacks in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies and Upper and Lower Dir. The TTP hasn’t said anything about any such meeting, though the Swat Taliban spokesman Omar Hasan Ahrabi had in the past claimed responsibility for the cross-border attacks by their militants in Lower Dir and Upper Dir. He had also conceded that some “Afghan friends” had joined the TTP fighters in organising these attacks from bases in Afghanistan.
The alleged border incursions and the large number of killing of Pakistani forces has given rise to many questions. The first and most important of which is whether the responsibility of securing the Pak-Afghan border lies on police or levies forces or the army. If the army had placed additional check posts than it could have been possible to avert such incidents. The concerned authorities also need to address these issues.
It has been learnt that the large number of deceased policemen belonged to untrained Community Police Force. This is the force which the government a few months back had created without any training in Malakand Division for strengthening the govt writ and elimination of unemployment. In circumstances under which Pakistan is passing through days deployment of such a force on the border speaks volume of negligence of the concerned authorities.
Not only border incursions by Afghan militants have become a continuous concern but NATO forces incursions have also given rise to sense of insecurity amongst the public.
On April 27 Two Pakistani personnel were wounded when Afghan and Nato forces attacked the Pakistani border check post in South Waziristan’s Angoor Adda area.
Pakistani security forces retaliated the attack on the Pak-Afghan border and three Afghan soldiers were killed as a result.
This was the fifth incident of border incursion by NATO forces.
The violations started a never ending series of protest in the country. According to NATO forces spokesman the helicopter had come into Pakistani territory in search of militants and they had fired in order to warn the Pakistani FC forces after which the incident happened . Pakistan senior military leadership sought an explanation from MNATO force commander and US General Patreaus and also stopped the oil supply to NATO tankers.
The border incursions by the western forces are nothing new for Pakistani people. Every day drones attack on tribal people. According to western media the US drones are successfully targeting their targets. However due to non access to local journalists to these areas and destroyed Telecommunication system unfortunately Pakistani media also has to make western media outlets as basis of their reporting. Its ironic that western media doesn’t bother to report that with one militants many innocent lives are also lost due to the drone attacks.
No one knows under which written or verbal agreement the drone attacks are taking place.
A large number of militants have started shifting to Nooristan a border area along the Pak-Afghan border and there are reports that Maulvi FAzlullah is staying in this area and sends his people into Pakistan for terrorist activities. Under such circumstances it is the responsibility of government and security forces to tackle the nefarious designs of militants and raise its voice at the international forums including the UN.