Pakistan begins building border fence over Afghan objections

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Pakistan said Tuesday that it has begun building a fence along its border with Afghanistan to improve security, a move that has angered authorities in Kabul.

The two nations are divided by the 2,400-kilometer Durand Line, drawn by British rulers in 1896. Kabul does not recognize it as an international border, causing friction between the two neighbors, with Pakistan suggesting Afghanistan has designs on part of its territory. The line runs through ethnic Pashtun territory, dividing families and tribes between the two countries.

A Pakistani army statement said the first phase of the project will focus on the Bajur, Mohmand and Khyber tribal regions — all regarded by authorities as areas prone to cross-border infiltration by militants. The military said it will also build new forts and border posts to improve surveillance and defensibility.

It said a secure border is in interest of both countries and a well-coordinated security mechanism is essential for peace and stability.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have long accused each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along their porous frontier, but Afghanistan is opposed to the building of the fence.

"Pakistan has no right to fence or construct any building along the border with Afghanistan," said Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry. He warned of retaliatory action, referring to previous firefights that erupted when Pakistan sought to build border fortifications.

"In the past also Pakistan made a mistake by constructing buildings along the border and faced strong reaction from us. We hope they don't repeat such mistakes once again," he said.


Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report