India – Pak border

  • India-Pakistan border areas are spread across extreme climatic conditions given that boundary runs from hot Thar Desert in Rajasthan to cold Himalayas in J&K.
  • Unsettled and disputed border areas at LOC, Sir Creek, and maritime areas.
  • Diverse ecological & climatic conditions create hurdles for extending security & administrative reach in these border areas.
  • Man-made nature of the boundary throws up issues such as border disputes, porous borders, continuance of trans-border ethnic & social ties etc.
  • Together, they pose a serious challenge to effective management of borders particularly with Pakistan. 
  • Gujarat:Characterised by arid wasteland and large number of creeks. High salt content in the soil and hot temperatures make the area unsuitable for agriculture. Resultant poverty & abundance of creeks lends the area to nefarious trans-border activities. 
  • Rajasthan: Major portion of this land comprises of Thar Desert on both sides. Area opposite this region comprises Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. Here border has been largely fenced; however, instances of illegal movements come to light often.
  • Punjab: Characterised by highly fertile land & most prosperous amongst border areas. Population centres straddle border and coupled with excellent road and rail communications. Region is ideally suited for subversion and trans-border immigration. Basins and alignment of three major rivers i.e., Ravi, Sutlej and Beas provide alternate routes for smugglers and other anti-national elements to reach areas in depth with relative ease.
  • J & K Border: Most complicated arrangements for border management. The 1,225 km border is divided into three sectors: IB sector, LC sector and AGPL.

IB Sector (240 KM)

The area is also referred to as the plains sector of J&K but has large tracts of broken country and large number of water bodies flowing across. Terrain and the large number of ‘enclaves‘ in the region make the area conducive for infiltration and smuggling of arms in support of the militant groups operating in the valley and more particularly those operating in Doda district.

LOC Sector

  • This sector corresponds to border districts of Chamb – Jaurian, Akhnoor, Rajouri, Poonch, Uri, Baramulla, Kargil & some part of Leh rising to almost 20,000 feet.
  • The region lacks international recognition implying that any territory usurped by a side goes to that side or simply put your sovereign control extends to the line of your control. LoC by its nature runs through villages and has no geographical basis – thus splitting villages through and through. This region is marked by largest terrorist infiltration.

Challenges in Border Management

  • High mountain ridges & forests on Western Himalayan slopes are ideal sites for hideouts/camps being extremely remote & difficult to patrol regularly.
  • Direct link between drug trafficking & terrorism.
  • Golden Crescent is a major source of heroin and hashish for West, smuggled through Indo-Pak border.ISI has been using these established channels for smuggling of arms & explosives, provided terrorism greater teeth.
  • CIA report confirms use of drug money by Pak intelligence agencies to finance militancy in Punjab and Kashmir.
  • Pakistan, particularly ISI, has realized vast damaging potential of money laundering, hawala and counterfeit currency to sustain subversive activities.
  • Pakistan has aided and promoted narcotic trade to fund terrorist outfits and underworld to destabilize our financial system and economy.
  • Villagers adjacent to border are alleged to be involved in smuggling. In addition, border population has also been subjected to hostile propaganda by Pakistan designed to mislead and sway their loyalties.
  • Sir Creek area, due to its peculiar terrain, makes movement of border guarding forces difficult and thus, provides scope for illegal fishing in the creeks.

Government efforts

  • Border Posts: There are more than 600 BOPs by BSF along Indo-Pakistan Border. Proposal for construction of 93 Composite BOPs along Indo-Pakistan Border has been approved which will provide necessary infrastructure for accommodation, logistic support and combat functions of BSF troops deployed on Indo-Pakistan border.
  • Floodlighting: To curb the attempt of infiltration and cross-border crimes along the Indo-Pakistan Border, the Government of India has sanctioned 2043.76 km of floodlights along the international border in the States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Fencing: To curb infiltration, smuggling and other illegal activities from across Indo-Pakistan Border, GoI has sanctioned 2069.046 km fence, out of which 2021.886 km fence work has been completed.
  • Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS):Areas where physical fence is not feasible, will be covered through non-physical barriers in Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS).

Way Forward

  • Responsibilities of guarding border should be clearly earmarked between various agencies. 
  • Use of technology as force multipliers: Greater use of technology such as UAVs, Unmanned Ground Sensors, drones, automatic facial recognition, Radars & monitoring using Thermal Imaging cameras will make border management more effective.
  • Need to engage DRDO and private industry to ensure that equipment is available indigenously.
  • Security & checking arrangements at Wagah, Poonch, Attari and other crossing points need to be strengthened.
  • Need to ensure strengthened security measures, as in Punjab, along Rajasthan and Gujarat borders and to check infiltration, gunrunning, and drug trade.
  • Monitoring religious schools:Areas close to borders have seen a sudden upsurge in number of Madrasas, some funded by foreign countries and may be detrimental to the security.

Local Level Management

  • Need to establish a formal system of flag meetings and hotlines between Pakistan Rangers & BSF commanders at battalion level to ensure that local incidents do not flare up. 
  • Sensitising the population living in the border areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab would make the job of the border guarding forces easier.
  • Need to improve working conditions.
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