LAMIYA SHABBIR WRITES- Good fences, it’s said, make for good neighbors. But what about walls?
After a recent spate of terrorist attacks across Pakistan, the country’s army said it believes building a wall along the Afghan border could be good for both nations’ security.
On March 31, at least 22 people were killed and more than 70 injured when a bomb exploded outside a mosque in Parachinar, a Shia area on the Afghan border. The bomb was thought to have been planted in a vehicle.
It was the third in a string of terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent months. In February, more than 70 people were killed and a dozen wounded in an attack at a Sufi shrine in the south, while at least 25 people were killed and 87 wounded when a bomb went off in a Parachinar vegetable market in January.
Pakistan has been accused of harboring terrorists such as radical Afghan Taliban, allied Haqqani networks, and an Afghan guerilla insurgent group, leading Pakistan to close its border for more than a month starting in February. Building a wall seems like a natural extension of this hunker-down mentality, and isn’t without precedent.
U.S. President Donald Trump has made the promise to build a border wall with Mexico a hallmark of both his candidacy and first months in office. He sees it as a way to keep out undocumented migrants and, in the process, reduce crime.
Trump claims that the wall would help keep out gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten U.S. communities and prey on citizens. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimated the wall will cost about $17 billion to construct.
But as Trump has seen, with border-securing decisions comes controversy. Afghanistan already does not recognize the existing border with Pakistan. And Afghan Interior Ministry Spokesman Najib Danish said that building a wall would not solve the terrorism problem, but rather divide the people.
While polls show most Pakistanis support building the wall, feelings ran just the opposite in Afghanistan. As a result, Pakistan has seen an upsurge in violence on different occasions this year from attacks led by the Islamic State militant group. Pakistan defense analyst Maria Sultan says that the wall will reduce drug trafficking with cooperation from the border management team and this will also serve the interests of Afghanistan and Kabul.
While the motive of both countries is to keep the bad guys out, the same question still stands: Is a wall going to be effective or will it create more tension between countries?