WHILE reviving the biometric system on the border with Afghanistan may be a welcome move, one hopes that the interior minister, who has said the screening process will start on Nov 30, is aware of the difficulties involved. Introduced in January 2007 at Chaman, the system was not welcomed by Afghan nationals, who attacked the border gates in protest. The arrangement had to be called off because the Kabul government, too, did not cooperate. Whether or not the scheme works this time will depend on the level of Pakistan`s determination to go ahead with it despite the odds. The issue involves crossings at both regulated and unregulated points. There are relatively few of the former, and a more organised effort by Pakistani authorities to enforce the system could restrain smugglers and illegal immigrants from crossing over. However, the real problem concerns the unmanned crossings along the 2,700km-long border. These are used not only by local tribesmen but also by suspected militants living and operating on both sides of the border. Unless there are stringent checks and screening procedures at these points, militant traffic, which for obvious reasons does not take the regulated routes, will continue.
The Pakistan Army complains that Pakistan alone is supposed to check this phenomenon and that neither the Afghan authorities nor Isaf forces have bothered to pay attention to this part of the tripartite relationship. For the security of Pakistan and Afghanistan, greater cooperation on this front is essential. Pakistan has 1,000 check posts along the Durand Line; Isaf forces have less than 100, and those too are not close to the border. Consequently, they have played little part in checking the terrorists` cross-border movement. In fact, of late terrorists who had fled Pakistan following the Swat operation have turned some border areas in Afghanistan into virtual safe havens from where they launch attacks on Pakistani border posts without being challenged by Afghan or Isaf troops.
Politically, religious fundamentalism, sectarian violence, ethnic differences, terrorism and regional economic disparities have made country unstable which contributed toward the unsatisfactory economic condition. It is usually believed that economy grows in presence of political solidity but in the case of Pakistan it rejects the conventional wisdom. Much of countries economic growth has been ...
Pakistan has the world`s largest biometric citizen database. For that reason, too, it has to keep tabs on aliens who attempt to settle down illegally to benefit from economic opportunities in the country. The biometric system will help check terrorism suspects and illegal settlers. Afghan refugees protesting against its reinforcement and the Kabul government must be made to understand that the reactivation of the system is in the long-term interest of the two countries. While it should not interfere too much with the movement of ordinary tribesmen, the system will help prevent terrorists from killing and destroying on both sides of the border.