ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top commander has asked Tehran to tighten its borders in a bid to curb terrorist attacks on Pakistani security forces by militants allegedly operating from Iran.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa called his Iranian counterpart, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bagheri, and discussed an array of issues including border fencing, improvement of border terminals and the killing of Pakistani security personnel near the Pakistan-Iranian border, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Monday.
“The COAS said that Pakistan has started fencing the border but will require mutual bilateral cooperation to ensure border security and stem smuggling activity which is also used by terrorists and Narco traffickers for covering their movement,” the ISPR added.
Bajwa contacted Bagheri in the wake of an attack on a Frontier Corps patrol team in the Buleda area of Kech district last Friday in which six Pakistani security personnel lost their lives.
The attack, which took place about 14 km from the Iranian border, was claimed by the banned Baloch Liberation Army.
“The recent terrorist attack on Pak security forces resulting in shahadat of six security personnel near the Pak-Iran border also came under discussion. Both commanders resolved to enhance security measures on either side of the border,” the ISPR said.
The Pakistani army chief reiterated the “country’s desire for regional peace and stability based on mutual respect, non-interference and equality,” the military’s media wing added in its statement.
Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on April 29 approved 3 billion rupees ($18.6 million) in additional funds for the fencing of its border with Iran. The Senate of Pakistan was informed by the Frontier Constabulary of Balochistan on May 10 last year that the country had started fencing certain areas of the border which were hotspots for smuggling and militant movement.
The 900-km border begins at the Koh-i-Malik Salih mountain and ends at Gwadar Bay in the Gulf of Oman.
“The work on the Pak-Iran border fencing has been underway for the last few months for effective border management and to curb smuggling and militant activities,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, told Arab News on Tuesday.
She added that there was no need for a No Objection Certificate from the foreign office for this as it was primarily the decision of the institutions responsible for border management and security.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday also linked the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Pakistan with the forced sending of pilgrims back from Iran.
During a National Assembly session, he said that Iran had pushed around 5,000 Pakistani nationals through the border in Balochistan despite Islamabad’s request to wait until COVID-19 quarantine facilities were ready for them.
“Fencing the Pak-Iran border is very important as it is very difficult to patrol such a long stretch. It can only prove successful in curbing smuggling, narcotics and terrorists’ infiltration if Iran also reciprocates the efforts,” senior defense analyst, Lt. Gen. (retired) Amjad Shoaib, told Arab News.
He added that insurgent and militant activities had increased due to a heavy Indian presence in Chabahar.
“The need for border fencing was increased after the heavy presence of Indians in Chabahar, which resulted in an increase in insurgent activities as they have training camps there.
“Iran used to accuse Pakistan for infiltration of Jandullah from its side which was effectively eliminated by Pakistan, but Iran has not controlled insurgents and militants from using its soil for terrorist activities inside Pakistan,” Shoaib said.