NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has said that the fence Pakistan is building along its largely porous 2,343- kilometer border with Afghanistan will help reduce terrorism and he sought U.S. assistance as Islamabad steps up efforts to complete the project.
“It won’t cost them much,” he said of the U.S. in an interview with Bloomberg, a New York-based international news agency, in Islamabad.
“The war is costing them much more,” the foreign minister was quoted as saying.
Khawaja Asif said the barrier should be finished by the end of 2019.
The border fence will stop the flow of militants crossing into both countries unchecked, FM Asif said, adding Pakistan also considers the return of more than 2 million Afghan refugees critical for peace.
He called on the U.S. to assist with the fencing and repatriation of the Afghan refugees.
“It’s a free for all,” Asif said, adding that as many as 70,000 people crossing the border a day. “These issues are facilitating terrorism.”
When asked about Trump’s allegations, Asif said that Pakistan wanted better ties with the U.S.
“Both sides are trying to decrease the stress,” he said.
The foreign minister said the roughly 600,000 Afghan refugees that went back to their home country last year have largely returned to Pakistan.
He said the camps are breeding grounds for insurgency, and the international community must do more to help with the burden and conditions in Afghanistan for returnees.
Meanwhile, Qaiser Khan Afridi, a spokesman for the UN Refugee Agency in Islamabad, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that there are funding shortages for Afghan refugees as resources have been diverted to other places like Syria and Iraq.
“Any free movement from their side to our side, or our side to their side, can breed mistrust and obviously some terrorist activity on our side or on their soil,” Asif said. “It’s in our mutual interest that the border is fenced.” – WEB DESK
Story first published: 9th February 2018