PR Editorials

Pakistan’s Unstable Borders: Four Questions

Photo: The Express Tribune

The Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan has remained volatile during the recent months/years. On 15 January, Indian Army had claimed to spoil an infiltration bid and in the process killing seven Pakistani soldiers in Rajouri-Poonch sector. This sector has always been one of the primary launching pads of militants into J&K.

Besides the border with India, Pakistan has two more borders in the west with Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan is not settled yet; Successive governments in Kabul, including the Taliban, refused to politically recognise the Durand Line as a final border between the two countries. Political recognition apart, the Durand Line remains more violent for Pakistan than the LoC with India. Kabul has been complaining of Pakistan calibrating the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network to keep Afghanistan unstable. The presence of militants on the Pakistani side has also led to regular drone attacks in the Tribal Agencies and occasional military attacks. 

Pakistan’s Iran border is not as violent as the Durand Line, but remains unstable, thanks to the widespread illegal movement of goods and people. Smuggling is rampant in the Baloch sectors of the Iran-Pakistan border, especially around Gwadar. There have been attempts to fence the border as well.

Why are the three borders of Pakistan unstable and occasionally violent? Many countries, including China and India, have an unsettled border with their neighbours; but, none of them is as volatile and as intense as Pakistan’s three borders. From Mongolia to India, China does have border problems with the neighbours. From Nepal to Sri Lanka, India also has border problems with its neighbours. But none of them has been as violent as Pakistan’s. Even the recent India-China border skirmish in Doklam – did not turn violent. 

Four questions need further exploration on the subject. First, is the problem with the neighbours, or with Pakistan? Second, are the border problems of Pakistan a legacy of British rule, or post 1947 creation? Third, at the bilateral level, is the issue political or military? Finally, within Pakistan, is the problem with the political leadership, or the military?


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