PESHAWAR -- The Pakistani government has completed more than a quarter of the security fence along the country's 2,611km-long border with Afghanistan.
Work on 233 of 843 forts has been completed, army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor tweeted Saturday (December 15).
The Pakistani army has fenced off 802km of top priority border areas, he said, adding that it expects to fence off 1,200km of priority border areas by the end of next year.
The border fence is meant to "benefit peaceful people of Pak & Afg while restricting terrorists", he tweeted.
The government allocated Rs. 20 billion ($143 million) for the fence on November 28, the second tranche of funds covering the total cost of Rs. 66 billion ($470 million).
The government allocated Rs. 19.4 billion ($140 million) during the last financial year and expects to pay out the remaining Rs. 26.8 billion ($190 million) in 2019-2020.
The funding came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan made his first visit to North Waziristan, where, alongside Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, he oversaw construction.
Bajwa on May 9 inaugurated the construction of 1,268km of fencing in the Panjpai area of Balochistan, which comprises that province's portion of the fence.
For the Balochistan portion, the army plans to build 250 forts every 3km and backup communication systems every 1km to ensure strict monitoring.
'A strong line of defence'
The fencing of the Pakistani-Afghan border is aimed at halting movement by unwanted individuals, said a Peshawar-based senior security official on the condition of anonymity.
"We are working to fast-track the complete process within the next 18 months," he told Pakistan Forward.
By 2019, a total of 830km of fence is expected to be completed, sealing off the border of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Chitral District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the official said.
"It will serve as a strong line of defence," he said.
"The present government is serious about tightening security along the border to put the brakes on the movement of militants who have been hiding near border areas and creating unrest in both countries," Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah, a Peshawar-based senior security analyst, told Pakistan Forward.
"We need the political commitment not only to lay fences but also to initiate efforts with Afghanistan to cope with extremism," he said, adding that the fence shows complete co-ordination between the army and the civilian government.
In addition to the border fence, the army's work on rehabilitating temporary displaced persons and on launching socio-economic development programmes will lead to the end of terrorism, Shah said.
Residents of the areas along the border say they appreciate the construction of the fence.
"We have been facing terrorism for a long time, but the army has established peace as a result of its campaign against militants," Sadaqat Ali, a retired police officer in Chitral District, told Pakistan Forward.
"The fence will block the movement of terrorists who are sneaking into Pakistan through rugged terrain and inhospitable routes," he said.
"The fence will lead to a prevalence of peace even after the military leaves our area," said Usman Gul, a local journalist from North Waziristan.