This is kind of a horrifying little story out of the BBC today. Pakistan, whose border with Afghanistan is quite porous, is planning on mining it. They shouldn't give the Minutemen any ideas.
Pakistan plans to fence and plant landmines along sections of its border with Afghanistan to stop militants, a foreign office official has said.
Speaking at a press conference, Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan said the move would stop "militant activity from Pakistan inside Afghanistan".
Afghanistan rejected the plan saying both countries need to tackle "terrorists in a real manner".
How this could possibly end in anything but tragedy is unthinkable.
There are tribal populations in this region who routinely cross the border to the extent that they probably don't even know where it is. It is glaringly obvious that the only result of this action will be hundreds of villagers getting their legs blown off while herding their goats.
You have to ask yourself why Pakistan would be mining the border. Supposedly Taliban fighters seeking refuge in Pakistan who cross into Afghanistan is the source of the problem. And yet Afghanistan hasn't resorted to these steps. The Foreign Secretary may claim the move would stop militant activity, but I think the real objective is to keep refugees out. The Taliban has essentially signed a peace treaty with Pakistan, and the idea that they would then wall them out of Afghanistan just doesn't make any sense. But in the event that the mullahs do return to power in Afghanistan, presumably there would be a stream of desperate Afghans trying to get over the mountains. This mining the border would seem to serve the Taliban's needs far more than the reverse.
Pakistan is one of only 40 countries that haven't signed the Global Ban on Landmines (including the United States!) Afghanistan is a signatory. This is a militaristic, impractical and completely dangerous provocation on the part of the Pakistani government. These are the consequences, completely out of proportion, to planting landmines over hundreds of miles in the name of giving Afghanistan "help" which they do not want.
Antipersonnel mines cannot be aimed: they do not distinguish between the footfall of a soldier or a child.
They lie dormant until a person or animal triggers their detonating mechanism.
Then, landmines kill or injure civilians, soldiers, peacekeepers and aid workers alike.
When triggered, a landmine unleashes unspeakable destruction.
A landmine blast causes injuries like blindness, burns, destroyed limbs and shrapnel wounds.
Sometimes the victim dies from the blast, due to loss of blood or because they don’t get to medical care in time.
Those who survive and receive medical treatment often require amputations, long hospital stays and extensive rehabilitation.
The injuries are no accident, since landmines are designed to maim rather than kill their victims.
Stolen lives, limbs and livelihoods
Mine deaths and injuries over the past decades now total in the hundreds of thousands.
It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance each year. That means there are some 1,500 new casualties each month, more than 40 new casualties a day, at least two new casualties per hour.
Most of the casualties are civilians and most live in countries that are now at peace.
The impact of this will be felt for decades. Afghanistan already has as many unexploded landmines as any country on the globe. This has been devastating to their reconstruction and development efforts. To place more of them on the perimeter is unconscionable. Pakistan is known to be resistant to providing full information about the existence or whereabouts of unexploded landmines. These deadly instruments will be lost, only to be found by accident, and by a civilian.
Pakistan is supposed to be our ally in the war on terror (I know, I just laughed writing that), but this is the worst possible solution that could be put to the problem of terrorism.