Pakistan has started building a barrier along parts of one of the most rugged and dangerous border regions in the world: the 1,510-mile border with Afghanistan, which cuts the heartland of the Pashtun ethnic group in two. Pakistan says Taliban militants have been launching attacks across the border, a colonial-era boundary that Afghanistan has never officially recognized, the AP reports. Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa visited tribal areas along the border Saturday and said construction of a fence is underway in some high-risk areas. A secure border is "in the "mutual interest of both brotherly countries who have given phenomenal sacrifices in war against terrorism," the general said.
Afghanistan, in turn, accuses Pakistan of sheltering militants from the Pashtun-dominated Taliban, but says building a fence is not the answer, the Wall Street Journal reports. "Pakistan needs to deny sanctuaries to terrorist groups, stop financing, training and helping them … that's something that would help stop terrorist attacks," said Afghan defense ministry spokesman Gen. Dawlat Waziri. Pakistan, which is building the fence in a tribal area where the country's laws don't fully apply, has already dug a trench hundreds of miles long along another section of the border with Afghanistan. The Financial Times notes that the number of border walls worldwide has surged to more than 70 in the years since 9/11.