Implications of a Complete Sealing of the India-Pakistan Border

Home Minister Rajnath Singh has recently declared that the entire India-Pakistan border is to be completely sealed by December 2018. The announcement may be viewed in the context of India-Pakistan relations reaching a particular low and uncertain threshold post the Uri incident and cross-Line of Control (LoC) operations by India on 28-29 September 2016. The above-referred decision of the Union Government is reported to have been taken after a review of gaps in border management by a high-level Committee on Security and Border Protection (CSBP) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) (popularly known as the Madhukar Gupta Committee) set up in March 2016 to overcome the lacunae observed consequent on the Gurdaspur and Pathankot infiltration occurrences. The outcome of the review is likely to have influenced the decision on setting 2018 as the target for a total sealing of the border. As of now, Pakistan Government sources have indicated that they have no comments on this development given the absence of details. Some Chinese think-tank commentators have, however, observed that such a venture would be irrational, indicative of Cold War mentality and likely to complicate relations among China, India and Pakistan, without elucidating as to how this decision would impinge on Chinese interests.

Government sources have indicated that a border security grid with a provision for real-time monitoring of the entire length of the border and capability for intervention as necessary is to be put in place. This will obviously involve networked coordination among the states’ home departments and their police authorities, their Central counterparts, MHA and the agencies responsible for technical and electronic surveillance. Furthermore, the works authorities at the central and state levels will have to be involved in the logistics of the forces assigned to protect the border, border fencing, sensors being installed, and providing access road network to the border outposts. It is, however, not clear whether a physical infrastructure in the form of a wall or obstacles on the pattern of the Israeli West Bank defences (in Israeli-occupied Palestine territory) is to be eventually erected.

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