Integrated Border Management: Scope, Challenges and Framework for Pakistan



Integrated Border Management:Scope, Challenges and Framework for Pakistan

by Rashid Munir Siddiqui (2017)

 Table of Contents

Abstract. 3

Introduction: 4

Significance/Scope of Study. 5

Review of Literature: 5

Research Methodology. 7

Organization of the Paper:. 7

Section –I. 7

Concept, Objectives, and Ingredients of Integrated Border Management (IBM). 7

  1. Understanding Integrated Border Management:. 7

1.1 Main Pillars of Integrated Border Management:. 8     Intra-Service Cooperation. 8

1.1.2         Inter-Agency Cooperation. 8

1.1.3 International cooperation. 8

1.2        Elements to Successful Integration and Coordination of Border Functions. 10

1.3 Need for Integrated Border Management in Modern World. 11

1.4 Integrated Border Management from Theory to Practice. 12

Section-II. 14

Integrated Border Management in Pakistan’s Perspective. 14

Section-III. 20

Challenges and Framework for Developing and Implementing Border Control Strategy in Pakistan. 20

Conclusion. 24

Bibiliography:. 25


The purpose of this study is to analyse the status and scope of Integrated Border Management (IBM) with respect to Pakistan and the institutional and legal framework available or required for its implementation. IBM has been adopted worldwide as a holistic approach towards border protection activities. It is meant for bringing greater efficiency and effectiveness through coordinated policies, procedures and practices among the domestic and international border control agencies.  It aims at increasing synergies among the stakeholders involved in border protection by reducing redundancies and overlappings at institutional, infrastructural and human resource level. It provides a multidimensional solution to the border security mechanism of a country for facilitating trade and travel without compromising the legal and regulatory requirements. Although no universal model for IBM is available, yet there are certain success stories related to its adoption and implementation. However, on ground, every country needs to define its parameters, structure and implementation strategies according to its body politic as well as specific geographical, political and socio-economic realities. The study is relevant in context of Pakistan’s peculiar geographic location characterized by a long unmanned coastal belt and porous borders consisting of hilly terrains, deserts and rough trails, shared with India, Iran, China and Afghanistan, which make an integrated border security solution imperative. It is also important in the wake of on-going ‘war on terror’ as well as new dimension of trans-national crime like human trafficking, money-laundering, violation of intellectual property rights, biodiversity, illegal transport of arms & ammunition, smuggling of precursors and psychotropic substances, illicit transfer of technology and cybercrime. This paper provides a fair picture regarding the viability of IBM for Pakistan to control smuggling and cross-border crimes and the analysis of different challenges which may come in way of its development and implementation. The issues related to available infrastructure and legal framework have also been discussed.


In the present Cyber Age, the Internet or social media, modern international trends such as renunciation of war, disarmament, peaceful settlement of disputes and promotion of economic development have rapidly changed the pattern of the world which has, in fact, converted into the global village, as dreamed by us in the remote past. Taking cognizance of the fast interaction of the nations, countries and their people of various fields, it is generally said that ‘borders are in flight’. Despite it, a mechanism at the border to control criminal elements is need of the hour.

Notably, World Customs Organization (WCO) has dedicated 2017 to promote the use of data analysis under the slogan ‘Data Analysis for Effective Border Management’. In this respect, Integrated Border Management (IBM) or, in World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) terminology[1], Coordinated Border Management (CBM), which is nowadays a commonly understood and widely accepted concept among the border control agencies and provides the keyword for innumerable reform projects around the world, had little currency until the mid-1990s. There may be a difference of opinion on its interpretation and implementation according to geographical, economic and political realities of different states. But, there is a consensus on its basic principles which require that border procedures in every state should be governed by modern monitoring and surveillance strategies rather than slow bureaucratic structures.[2]

In simple words, IBM may be defined as national and international coordination and cooperation among all the relevant. Authorities and agencies involved in border security and trade facilitation to establish effective and efficient border management systems in order to reach the objective of open, but well controlled and secure borders.[3]

In this regard, IBM will provides a pro-active solution for addressing all these issues through establishing a closer coordination between all the departments and agencies working for border protection in the country and developing liaison with border control agencies across the border. This would result in effective and efficient use of financial as well as human resources and bring harmony and standardization of procedures and practices.

This approach is relevant in the context of emergence of regional trade blocks and economic cooperation platforms around the world. IBM effectively addresses the cross-border flows of illegal weapons, illicit drugs, narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors as well as violations related to money laundering, intellectual property rights, sanitary & phytosanitory considerations and biodiversity. The philosophy behind the emergence of concept of IBM is to develop synergies among the border controlling agencies, both domestic and international, at one end and bring the states closer for better trade and travelers’ flows, while maintaining a balance with international compliance requirements.

In practical terms, IBM involves a number of governmental and non-governmental actors joining hands for a common goal of safe and secure border through coherent application of laws and procedures.

Significance/Scope of Study

This study is relevant in the context of changing environment in border control strategies all over the world. In view of the emerging roles of border controlling authorities related to a diversity of functions in the import/export of goods, clearance of baggage and passengers as well as new dimension of trans-national crimes like human trafficking, money-laundering, violation of intellectual property rights, biodiversity, illegal transport of arms & ammunition, smuggling of precursors and psychotropic substances, illicit transfer of  technology and cyber crime, it is imperative to analyse the existing set-up of border controlling agencies and the level of coordination and cooperation available among these agencies. Another significance of this study is the detailed discussion on legal, procedural and infrastructural framework for implementing IBM in Pakistan so that the future border controlling strategy adopted by Pakistan can achieve the targets of effectiveness, efficiency and trade facilitation.

Review of Literature:

A review of available literature on Integrated Border Management (IBM) was carried out encompassing library and on-line sources. In this connection, along with the reference books and journals on research techniques, annual reports, published by World Customs Organization (WCO), UNODC, INCB, Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Ministry of Narcotics Control, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Pakistan, and other relevant national and international agencies were consulted. Articles, research papers and various-related reports focusing on the concept of Integrated Border Management (IBM) were also reviewed.

As IBM is comparatively a new concept, it was necessary to review as to how the term originated and in what way the concept evolved from theory to practice. World Customs Organisation’s journals and annual reviews give much detail of the evolution of this concept. Similarly, the Resolutions passed in connection with the implementation of International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (commonly known as the revised Kyoto Convention), and the SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (the SAFE Framework) of 1974 also provide insight in the importance of this concept. These documents narrate the procedures and modalities to be adopted for better coordination and cooperation between border security authorities for better control and facilitation of trade and travel. Similarly, ‘Guidelines for Integrated Border Management in the Western Balkans’(2004) issued by European Commision[4], Strategic Deliberations on Integrated Border Management issued by the Council of European Union (2006)[5], Research Papers by Dr. Peter Hobbing[6], Mariya Polner[7] and Stephen Aniszweski[8] on theory and practice of coordinated border management as envisioned by World Customs Organisation (WCO) provide some practical details of IBM’s concept and give an insight into steps involved in practical implementation of IBM. According to these studies, IBM includes three major phases viz intra services coordination, inter-services coordination and international cooperation. In Pakistan’s particular context, no detailed study is available, however, there are articles and reports which highlight its importance for Pakistan and enlighten strategies for its implementation. Ehsan Mehmood Khan’s article on Integrated Border Management in relation to Pakistan and Afghanisan is a revealing study which provides an in-depth strategy for introducing IBM in Pakistan both at domestic and bilateral level. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan has taken some practical steps in implementing the concept of IBM at a limited level. The information available on Agency’s website is a good source to understand the mechanism of implementation of IBM in Pakistani perspective. Similarly, some information has also been obtained through the official documents of Directorate General of Reforms and Automation, Custom House, Karachi which mainly throws light on different modules, interfaces and software for data sharing and risk management system within Customs operational units as well as between Pakistan and Afghan Customs.

Research Methodology

During the course of research, both primary and secondary sources of data were employed. Structured interviews with individual stake-holders, office bearers of relevant public as well as private sector organisations and focus groups were conducted. Besides, secondary data has also been obtained from various sources viz research journals, articles, annual Reports of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), World Customs Organisation (WCO),  Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Center for European Policy Studies. In addition to that, research reports, published by the Directorate General of Training and Research (Customs), Karachi were also consulted. Policy papers by Pakistan Customs, Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) and Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), Pakistan were also perused. Data from the website of the United Nations, United States Customs and Border Protection (Department of Homeland Security), Canada Border Security Agency (CBSA), New Zealand Customs Service and other international agencies’ websites.

Organization of the Paper:

This research paper has been divided into three sections: Section-I deals with the main concept, objectives, and ingredients of Integrated Border Management. It also covers the need for IBM in modern world.  Section-II deals with Integrated Border Management in Pakistan’s Perspective. It discusses the existing set-up of different border control organisations in Pakistan and analyses the scope and need of IBM in Pakistan. Section-III discusses the challenges and framework for developing and implementing IBM in Pakistan.

Section –I

Concept, Objectives, and Ingredients of Integrated Border Management (IBM)

1.      Understanding Integrated Border Management:

In order to understand the practical and strategic importance of IBM, it is imperative to know its basic pillars, objectives and different models.

1.1 Main Pillars of Integrated Border Management:

There are three main ingredients of IBM namely Intra-Service Cooperation, Inter-Agency Cooperation and International Cooperation.

  • Intra-Service Cooperation:

It refers to the operational integration among the various units/departments working within one agency. This requires the introduction of well-defined and coherent procedures, controls and evaluation mechanisms applicable to all units working within the agency. It also includes the clearly-formulated legal and regulatory framework, decision-making competencies and data sharing channels. A legislative cover is normally required to ensure such coordination.

  • Inter-Agency Cooperation:

It refers to the coordination among all the domestic agencies, assigned with different tasks related to border control. This is central to IBM so at to ensure that there are no loopholes or operational over-lapping in these agencies. This synchronization can be brought through proper legal and legislative means and it involves cooperation among these agencies, without impacting their respective jurisdictions, to exchange relevant information and documents, to ensure joint use of available equipments, to coordinate their joint activities and to organise and co-finance common capacity building and training programs.

1.1.3 International cooperation:

It involves cooperation between the border security agencies of the neighboring countries. It can be secured through bilateral, regional and global initiatives in the fields of information exchange, joint operations and coordinated actions for institutional, infrastructural and human resource development. In Pakistan’s case, such cooperation can ideally be established with immediate neighbours India, Iran, Afghanistan and China or at regional levels through South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) (with India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan) or Economic Cooperation Organisatin (ECO) (With Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian Republics).

All these steps would eliminate contradictions and redundancies between different operations and policies and would result in more effective service delivery, less duplication, cost-savings through economies of scale by enhancing risk management with fewer, but better targeted interventions, cheaper transport costs, less waiting times, lower infrastructure improvement costs, wider sharing of information and intelligence, and strengthened connectivity between all border stakeholders.[9] Service delivery and controls will also be more effective through IBM which can never be possible through effort of an individual agency, department or ministry.

Another perspective of IBM is also the involvement of private sector and the trade bodies across the border which may facilitate in development of infrastructure. Development of IRPs with shipping lines, freight and forwarding agencies and port authorities can greatly facilitate in information sharing and effective enforcement strategies. In addition to that, a holistic approach in fields of law-making, information sharing, human resource development and ICT developments will not only bring economy through efficient utilization of resources, but can also help in combating organized crimes and similar other threats. It is, therefore, necessary to develop coordination and cooperation at all these levels in the following areas as shown in Fig 1:

  • Legal and Regulatory Framework
  • Institutional Framework
  • Procedures
  • Human Resources and Training
  • Communication and Information Exchange
  • Infrastructure and Equipment
  • Elements to Successful Integration and Coordination of Border Functions:

 There are certain pre-requisites for introducing and implementing Integrated Border Management. As this is a new concept, it may incur some resistance in all organisations working on orthodox pattern and with a degree of working independence within their functional jurisdiction and authority. It is, however, necessary that this concept which is at its very onset, is introduced with proper political will at the top level.  As IBM engages a number of different departments as well as agencies which are to be brought into a net of coordinated activities, therefore, it is mandatory that the political leadership should back up such plan so that necessary legislation, if required, may also be introduced.

In this respect, an assertive political leadership and backing is also imperative in wake of the fact that international cooperation would also be required for obtaining true benefits of IBM through inter-services coordination among border security agencies across the border.

Second most important factor is the cooperation among different domestic border control agencies as well as private sector organisations. It is a fact that international trade is an activity largely conducted by private sector businesses. Hence, private sector concerns are a key feature in any border management reform initiative.

At the time of development of European Customs Union, private sector played a dynamic role. They provided technical input, lobbied to push the agenda of integration forward, and actively participated in the negotiations. Similarly, during the negotiation of NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement), the major input came from the trade association and industry organisations.

The private sector has two roles in border management, as a stakeholder and as a service supplier. As a stakeholder, it generates a demand for reform and can help border agencies ensure that control objectives are met. As a service supplier, it can help these agencies to concentrate on core activities, while providing access to new skills and capabilities. Both the roles put private companies at the heart of any integrated border management initiative. These private sector organisations include shipping lines, their agents, freight forwarders, courier services, bonded carriers, multi-model transporters, pre-shipment inspection authorities and terminal operators (Just to quote a few). Similarly, cooperation of different trade related bodies, fora and associations like chambers of commerce, trade associations of importers and exporters of various commodities and private-public enterprises is also inevitable.

Third most important factor in implementation of IBM is the use of technology and ICTs. Whether it is intra-services coordination or inter-services networking, the possibility of success for IBM is maximum through development of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems and other electronic models for data sharing. Besides to that, use of technology can help in interdiction and seizure of smuggled vehicles, scanning of passengers, baggage and cargo as well as detection of illegal arms and ammunition concealed in specialized containers. Similarly, advanced laboratory testing techniques may help considerably in seizures of drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors including tampered vehicles. Modern techniques like crime mapping, remote sensing and use of software can help in better coordination between among agencies for controlling as well as devising strategies for cross border crimes.

Another major step in this regard is the automation of procedures in all departments. But, in order to effectively use the modern technological tools in all organizations, a highly skillful and trained workforce is also a pre-requisite. Therefore, human resource training and capacity building in specialized areas of knowledge and skills is also mandatory.

1.3 Need for Integrated Border Management in Modern World:

While discussing the concept and modalities for an effective system of integrated border management, it is necessary to understand the reason de etat for this system. Some important factors which have made IBMas an emerging reality in the modern world may be summed up as follows:-

  • Change in the concept of physical border
  • Substantial change in trade and travel flows which demands selective risk-based monitoring systems
  • Security related issues and organized crimes
  • Trade facilitation considerations
  • New considerations in border control like protection of biodiversity, intellectual property rights, sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues, money laundering, cybercrimes, human trafficking[10]

It is in view of these realities that Integrated Border Management has also been considered a vital instrument and technique in internal conventions and protocols. It is a major theme in World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) Standards for ensuring security and facilitation in global trade. Similarly, International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures and the SAFE Framework of the revised Kyoto Convention which entered into force in 1974 (revised in 1999) also focus on coordinated border management. Currently, 164 countries have signed a letter of intent committing to implement the SAFE Framework. One of the major ingredients of the scheme introduced through this Convention is to simplify as well as standardise customs procedures through joint controls, enhancement of international cooperation with other customs administrations, sharing of information among the related authorities and encorporation of techniques like risk management. The significance of concept of IBM is evident from the fact that it was WCO’s theme for international customs day in 2015.

1.4 Integrated Border Management from Theory to Practice

World Customs Organization (WCO) has dedicated 2017 to promote the use of data analysis under the slogan “Data Analysis for Effective Border Management.” Data Analysis is defined as a process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of discovering useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision-making[11].

In these terms, the concept of Integrated Border Management (IBM) has fast received the recognition from a number of countries and regions due to the practical solution it provides for border security issues. United States of America, New Zealand, Australia, Macedonia[12], and countries included in European Union (EU) and Western Balkan have embarked upon the implementation of this concept with a reasonable degree of success.

The discussion and communication related to the concept of Integrated Border Management in Europe started during 1980s[13]. The first agreement between five European countries i.e. France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands to create a territory without internal borders was signed on 14 June 1985. This became known as the ‘Schengen Area’. it abolished checks at the internal borders of the signatory states and created a single external border where checks are carried out in accordance with identical procedures. This intergovernmental cooperation expanded to include nearly all 27, members of European Union including Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania are not yet fully-fledged members of the Schengen area. The Key rules adopted within the Schengen framework include an overall improvement in cooperation and coordination between the police and the judicial authorities of the member states through removal of checks on persons at the internal borders; a common set of rules applying to people crossing the external borders of the EU member states; harmonisation of the conditions of entry and of the rules on visas for short stays; enhanced police cooperation (Including rights of cross-border surveillance and hot pursuit); stronger judicial cooperation through a faster extradition system and transfer of enforcement of criminal judgments and above all establishment and development of the Schengen Information System (SIS) which is a sophisticated database used by authorities of the Schengen member countries to exchange data on certain categories of people and goods.[14]

Similarly, the UK merged its customs and inland operations in 2008 and crafted an executive agency, the UKBA, solely to handle border related-issues.

The experience of United States of America is also relevant in this regard. Before 2001, border functions were divided among various federal departments, however the 9/11 events called for consolidation of most of them under one roof. As a result, the 2002 Homeland Security Act envisaged the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which took over the majority of the border functions. As a result of this merger, the functions have been divided in various ways—the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) acts as a ‘front line responder’ dealing with immigration, customs and agricultural compliance and thus having an enforcement function, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) performs an investigative function, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) deals with security of the transportation system and the US Coast Guard ensures security in the US territorial waters within DHS.

After the terror attacks in Europe, setting aside the wringing of the EU, on February 13, 2017, the Austrian army has started building a fence of 2.2 meters high and 2.3 mile along its border with Slovenia,– the first such internal barrier erected within the passport-free travel zone. Austria insisted the move is merely to channel refugees, rather than halt them. It follows the erection of fences by Hungary on the border with Serbia and Bulgaria on its border with Turkey. Slovenia has erected a fence on its border with Croatia[15] ()

 Likewise, Australian initiatives in implementing integrated border management among domestic law enforcement and border control agencies are also illuminating. In December 2008, Australian Customs changed its name to Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (CBPS) and was given the leading role in border protection. CBPS manages the security of Australia’s borders. It works closely with other government and international agencies in particular with the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Department of Defence, to detect and deter unlawful movement of goods and people across the border.

Border Sector Governance Group established by New Zealand is also an example of practical implementation of IBM. This Group comprises the chief executives from the New Zealand Customs Service, Department of Labour, Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Food Safety Authority. The Border Sector Strategy which provides framework for collaboration of border sector agencies has attempted to ensure trade through single window, streamlined passenger facilitation with improved risk management, robust identity assurance for all of government regarding entry and exit of persons at the border, and better targeting capability using information across all border agencies. Having identified common objectives and deliverables, New Zealand undertook a whole of government approach to border management where agencies remain separate, however, work together to achieve common goals.


 Integrated Border Management in Pakistan’s Perspective

Pakistan shares 7,092 kilometres border with other countries; 2,611 kilometres with Afghanistan, 523 kilometres with China, 2,912 kilometres with India and 909 kilometres with Iran, besides 1,046 kilometres of coastline. Amongst these, the porous and volatile border with Afghanistan poses a great challenge[16]. The border with Afghanistan is unique from many angles. A total of 11 out of 34 Afghan provinces adjoin three federating units of Pakistan to include Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)[17].

There are four major sea ports in Pakistan, which actively deal with the clearance of imports, exports and transit cargo. These are located in Karachi East, Karachi West, Port Muhammad bin Qasim and Gawadar. Approximately 5,000 containers are processed through these ports per day.[18] At the same time, there are 12 dry ports in the country providing services including quick clearance, warehousing and bonded transportation.[19] The government intends to further expand this network of dry ports to cities such as Sargodha, Sukkur, Larkana and Noshera. There are 11 international airports in Pakistan. Jinnah International Airport in Karachi is the largest airport in the country and handles six million passengers annually. Other major airports for international and domestic traffic are at Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Quetta. In addition, there are smaller airports in Rahim Yar Khan, Zhob and Gawadar[20]. In addition to that there is one Land Freight Unit (LFU) at Wagha border between India and Pakistan, providing land and rail access between the two countries.

Apart from that, there are about 100 frequented and unfrequented routes between Afghanistan and Pakistan.[21]

Pakistan Customs, working under FBR, is mainly responsible for import permissions, clearance and regulation of all imports, exports and transit effected through seaports, dry ports and airports all around the country. Besides collection of revenue, Pakistan Customs is the premier agency to perform anti-smuggling and border management activities through its field offices, border check posts and an extensive set-up of Intelligence and Investigation Directorates. Pakistan Customs has established checkposts at points shown in Table 1 for controlling cross-border as well as inland flow of smuggled goods. Nevertheless, there are other agencies which work in their respective jurisdiction, though overlapping in certain cases for border security and prevention of smuggling. These agencies include Rangers, Coast Guards, Frontier Constabulary (FC), Anti Narcotic Force (ANF), Provincial Police, Levies and Excise Department.

Table 1: Border and Inland Check Points:  

Province City Check Post Location
Punjab Lahore Gujranwala (Customs Intelligence)
Sialkot Gujranwala (MCC, Sialkot)
Faisalabad Jhang City



Sara-i-Muhajir (Jhang)


Multan  Sadiqabad


Islamabad   Attock
Khyber Pakhtunkhaw


Peshawar and Tribal Agencies Torkham (Pak-Afghan Border)

Kohat Tunnel (Kohat)

Rahim Khan Khushal Garh (Kohat)

Darra Tang (Laki Marwat)

Rammaq (Dera Ismail Khan)

Chashma (Dera Ismail Khan)

Dera Ismail Khan-Darya Khan Bridge

Ghulam Khan(North Waziristan)

Tank (South Waziristan)


Sher Garh (Mardan)

Arandu (Chitral)

Shab Qadar (Charsaddah)

Terimangal (Khyber Agency)

Kharlachi (Khyber Agency)

Barki (Khyber Agency)

Shaheedano Dand(Kurram Agency)

Balochistan Quetta Galangur






Shela Bagh

Gawadar Gawadar







Chowk Bela

Chowk Sunstar

Sind Karachi Karachi  Fish Harbor

Korangi Fish Harbor

Ibrahim Haidery (Near Korangi Creek)

Chowk Mochko(Near Hub on Karachi-Baluchistan Road)

Chowk Ghaggar Phatak (at National Highway Near Thatta)

Superhighway near Malir

CP Guardian (Floating Checkpost inside Sea at 20 Nautical Miles near Karachi Port)

Sukkar Sukkar City outskirts
Jacobabad Jacobabad City

Pakistan is committed to tackle the problem of terrorism. Hence, the effective border management between the Pak-Afghan border becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures strong border, control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. Taking note of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border, and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed this year. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan[22]. Balochistan Blasts and the Issue of Pak-Afghan Border, Dated: November 15, 2016). Pakistan’s desire to fence the border is reflective of Pakistan’s willingness to stand by the commitment for peace and not to allow its territory to be used for terrorism in Afghanistan[23].

Nonetheless, in addition to legitimate entry and exit of huge quantum of legitimate trade and travelling through all these notified ‘official’ sea, land and air routes, there is an enormous quantum of illegal trade and smuggling though border crossing points in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan along borders of Iran and Afghanistan which are inaccessible for Pakistan Customs and other border control agencies due to rough terrain and inaccessible location and are the most likely points for smuggling of goods (Table 2). One of the gravest threats along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is from the movement of drug traffickers. Whereas Pakistan is a poppy-free country since long, narcotics virtually make up for 50 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP according to international sources. About 2.5 million Afghans depend directly on the narcotics production and trafficking. Approximately 94 percent of world opium production transits the region, Afghanistan being the main source[24].

Table2: Smuggling Routes:

Province City/Location


Crossing Points
Khyber Pakhtunkhaw


Peshawar (Warsak) Charsada
Peshawar  (Abbotabad) Barian,Jhari Khas


 Peshawar (Noshera) Noshera
Peshawar (Chitral) Boroghal



(Khyber Agency)

Barsa (Kaka sahib Road),Shilmen

Tinha,Bara,Tirah valley,Mala Gauri,


(Kurram Agency)



Peshawar (Hangu) Hangu



(South Waziristan Agency)

Angor Adda,Gomal
Balochistan Chaghai Kachao, Maskhail, Taalab, Ghani Laudi,Yekmach,Koh-i-Sultan
Quetta Kanale


Noshki Shekhwasil

Noshki Gaon

Turbat/Kech Mand, Buleda
Ziarat Katchi
Gawadar (Pasni) Shadikur
Gawadar Liari Coastal High Way

Kalmat, Bella



Sakaran, Bundawari

Bandmurad,Somani Bay

Although Pakistan Customs is the premier border control agency due to its official presence and established set up at all sea, land and air routes, yet there are a number of border control agencies working in different areas of functional jurisdiction (Table 3).[25]

Table 3: Border Control Agencies of Pakistan at different international and inland Exit and Entry Points

Type of Exit/Entry Point Agencies
Airports Pakistan Customs, ANF, ASF, IB, FIA
Wharfs Pakistan Customs, ANF, Provincial Excise
Check posts Pakistan Customs, FC, Police, Levies
Dry ports  Pakistan Customs,      ANF
Coastal area units Pakistan Customs, ANF, Coast Guards, PMSA
Border customs units Pakistan Customs, ANF, FC, Political Administration


However, all these security agencies, organizations and departments such as Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), Frontier Constabulary (FC), Pakistan Coast Guard (PCG), Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Airport Security Force (ASF), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Sanitary and Phytosanitry (SPS) Agriculture, Veterinary, Health, Quarantine, Environmental Protection, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) etc., including international organization are playing a key role in relation to the IBM. Although these agencies and departments work in their domains, yet they cooperate with one other on lesser scale or the greater scale.

In this connection, purpose of introducing IBM is to develop an operational set up where all these departments and agencies work in coherence and coordination without overlapping of resources and procedures.

In addition to that, linkages with the main data base authority of the country i.e. National Database and Registeration Authority (NADRA) is also required, while Pakistan Customs can take the lead role in this regard and all the other agencies work in coordination and collaboration with it for a unified border control mechanism. At the same time, arrangement for developing coordination, data sharing and joint operations can be initiated with border security agencies across the border. Currently, Pakistan Customs has developed Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) with Afghanistan for Transit trade.[26]Although there is no such arrangement with India, Iran or China, the negotiation process with India by formulating Customs Border Liaison Committee (CBLC) has been started. This Committee meets every three months alternately in India and Pakistan to resolve disputes and improve working relationship between border control agencies of both countries.[27]


Challenges and Framework for Developing and Implementing Border Control Strategy in Pakistan

First and foremost requirement of IBM is the Intra-service Coordination and Cooperation. For this purpose, Pakistan Customs needs to harmonise its operational units working for controlling smuggling and illicit trade. These include the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation (DG I&I), Model Customs Collectorates (MCCs) and Directorate General of IPR. Currently, there is a single system for assessment and examination under the title WeBOC which is running at all MCCs, but there is no operational unity among the field units working for control of smuggling. It would be a great challenge to develop a system of unified information sharing and generating alerts through System Based Risk Management System and a unified command and control system for operational movement of the staff and contingency plans.

Second pillar of IBM is the Inter-Services Coordination and Cooperation among all the border control agencies. This requires a unified legal and regulatory framework, integration of procedures, common channels of communication and information exchange, coordinated use of infrastructure and equipments and above all human resource training and capacity building. A big challenge for this step of implementation is the political will so as to formulate procedures and processes for a coordinated activity and introduction of a centeralised command and control system, and proper legal framework. This integration would also need uniform systems for data sharing as well as the automation of procedures in all departments. But, in order to effectively use the modern technological tools in all organization, a highly skillful and trained workforce is also a pre-requisite which is a big challenge.

It is also a ground reality that in Pakistan certain border control agencies like FC, Coast Guards, ASF, Rangers, PMSA and ANF are under the military control and they work in their exclusive jurisdictions under their respective specialized commands. Therefore, it would be a challenge to bring such agencies under the control of Pakistan Customs. A certain amount of mistrust also prevails among these agencies. A workable operational solution for this dichotomy is another challenge in the way of IBM in Pakistan. It is notable that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on May 23, 2016 signed a three-way transit agreement on Iran’s southern port of Chabahar[28]. India said it will invest up to $500 million in a deal to develop a strategic port in Iran and both countries planned a number of projects they say are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In response to the $46-billion Pak-China project of CPEC, Washington broadly supported New Delhi and Kabul in signing a deal with Iran for a transport corridor, opening up a new route to Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar. In this context, during his visit to Tehran, on May 23, 2016, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed 12 agreements with Tehran, including a deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar port. India will spend $500 million on the project, with a plan to invest an additional $ 16 billion in the Chabahar free trade zone. Chabahar—located about 1,800 kilometres south of Tehran—is more than just a port with an adjoining free trade zone. But, CPEC is much bigger and viable project than Chahbahar, if Pakistan develops the project with speed, efficiency and transparency, it needs not be worried about Chabahar.

Regarding the two projects—CPEC and Chahbahar, on June 7, 2016, a Chinese newspaper, Global Times has blamed India for damaging the prospects of Gwadar by investing in Chahbahar to isolate Pakistan; however, it will not succeed in its designs. The paper elaborated, “Pakistan’s Sindh Province saw a bomb attack against Chinese engineers and small-scale protests against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) recently. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government claimed that anti-CPEC activities by foreign forces have been busted in Baluch Province. At the Beijing Forum held in Islamabad in late May, countries including the US and Japan have shown concerns over CPEC construction and even bluntly criticized the China-Pakistan friendship. CPEC is a significant part of the Belt and Road initiative, which is not only a domestic strategy of China to open up its central and western regions, but also Pakistan’s domestic development plan as well as regional integration[29].

India entrapped Iran by making its contribution in the development of Chahbahar Port has relieved Tehran of its stress to get Central Asian Republics (CARs) ready for transit of their trade goods only through Chahbahar. Therefore, Iran is not only constructing railway track and metal roads for its trade with CARs via Turkmenistan, but also taking away roads and railways track from Afghanistan.

However, the recent India-Iran-Afghanistan agreement to develop a trade route from Chabahar to Central Asia has been portrayed by Indian commentators as having changed the historical Great Game for control of the connection between South and Central Asia through Afghanistan. But, the project will remain a dream after the collapse of the inter-Afghan negotiations and acceleration of the attacks by Taliban on the US-led NATO forces and installations, including those of the Afghan soldiers. Afghanistan is moving to further lawlessness.

In 2014, Pakistan and Iran reiterated their commitment to maintaining peace along their border and agreed on new measures to strengthen border coordination and control. The agreement was reached at the eighth round of Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Political Consultations. The flare-up on the border was a major agenda item at the meeting which discussed different aspects of the relationship. The two sides reviewed the border incidents and reiterated their firm resolves to maintain a tranquil Pakistan-Iran border… the outcome of the talks said.

Pakistan and Iran have on several occasions witnessed tense moments at their border, primarily due to activities of militants and smugglers. But it was rare for Pakistani troops to have traded fire with Iranian troops. This, according to analysts, marked escalation in the situation on the border. The agreed measures include enhanced communication and coordination between the relevant focal authorities on both sides and frequent exchanges and meetings of the established mechanisms, including the Joint Border Commission—tightening border control. It is rooted in mistrust between the two neighbours[30].

Pakistan and Iran on July 27, 2016 cited the need to establish institutional mechanisms to oversee border security in addition to fighting against the common threat posed by Da’ish.This was stated in a joint statement by National Security Advisor Lt Gen Nasser Janjua and Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani as the former concluded his three-day trip to Tehran. They noted the need for establishing institutional mechanism to oversee the border security, including Joint Commission, and agreed to continue further discussions,” the joint statement read about border security issues discussed between the two countries[31].

Take cognizance of the blame game of cross-border terrorism among these neighbouring countries, as far as the third pillar of IBM i.e. international coordination among the cross-border security agencies is concerned, the major challenge is the history of animosity and adversity between Pakistan and two of its neighbours i.e. and Afghanistan. Iran also has a its own reservations regarding trade relations with Pakistan due to current political changes in the region and Pakistan’s tilt towards Saudi Arabia. Although Pakistan has a good deal of trade with these neighbours and some EDIs have been developed for Pak-Afghan Transit trade, but in order to implement IBM in true letter and spirit, an enormous amount of diplomatic initiative, activity and strong political will is required across the borders, which is also a big challenge.

For this purpose following step-by-step strategy needs to be adopted:-

  • Introductin of harmonisation of rules and product classification system and information technology (IT) protocols: Being members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), all countries follow the same classification system up to six-digit level. Nevertheles, there is a dire need to harmonise the product classification at eight or ten digit levels in order to accord similar treatment to the goods across borders. In the same way, uniform customs clearance systems, by developing intermediating IT modules is necessary. Once these basic changes necessary are made, to create enabling environment, the next steps can be as follows:
  1. Initiating joint examinations
  2. Installing automated weighbridges and scanners at the borders crossing
  • Devising a system of Risk Management compatible with the requirements of all countries Joint examination of cargos can be conducted in designated joint examination zones at the national crossing points, where customs official of both the countries can perform their respective checks on the suspected cargos at the same time. For the other cargos, not marked for examination through Risk Management System, there can be a system of scanners to capture the images, and an arrangement for weighing containers/trucks at the crossing points for subsequent analysis and tracking.

All this would happen through consistent and sincere efforts at following levels:-

Political Level: This may also be called the decision level. Success is contingent upon the political will, exhibited by all countries. Mutual trust and belief in each other’s sincerity is imperative to bring all the politicians to the table of consensus to take and retake important decisions. Narrowing the communication gap through frequent interactions can be of great value in this regard. When trust at political level would be able to survive the heat of practical situations, it would turn into people’s belief in each other’s sincerity and seriousness. This can happen only if the notion of bilateralism works with trust at the political level.

Planning level: The decisions taken at the political level should be evolved into a functional border management strategy at this level through legislation and legal framework. Ministry of Commerce, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Law Division (Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights) can prepare draft rules and procedures for presenting before the legislature so that Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for unified working of different border control authorities can be developed.

Operational Level:  This would require that the formations and forces, deployed on the border ensure implementation of the border management strategy steer the under command units. It requires integration at three main levels i.e., processes, human resources and data sharing. Developing of common data sharing modules/interfaces through automation can lead to a quick start at operational level.

Execution level: This is the basic tier where staff deputed at border crossing points and patrolling units work under the guidelines from the operational level and resolve the disputes of ordinary level, if any, without causing delay or disruption in normal functioning. This level would keep working appropriately if the data/information sharing mechanism is intact and the SOPs and EDIs are in place. This level will ensure facilitation without compromising on security issues in light of the Risk Management System.


Concluding, it may be stated that in Pakistan’s perspective, IBM is not only advantageous for bringing synergies and efficiency among its internal border security agencies and the related- departments, but also a strategic requirement for minimising threats of cross-border crimes. The modalities related to its development at domestic and international level (Starting with cross-border neighbours) need to be worked out, because it can provide a workable solution for all border security related issues on one hand and will enhance trade facilitation on the other. A basic frame work for this purpose is already available in the form of automated clearance System of Pakistan Customs (WeBOC), integrated database of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as well as well-equipped operational units of FC, ANF, PMSA, Coast Guards and Rangers. The missing link is the development of SOPs to remove redundancies in their functioning and improving their efficiency by defining their jurisdictions, removing mistrust and integrating human resource for achieving a common and exalted goal of Integrated Border Management.


  1. Aniszweski, Stephen (2009), ‘Coordinated Border Management: A Concept Paper’, Directorate of Compliance and Facilitation, World Customs Organisation, Brusels, Belgium.
  2. Drugs and Precursors’ Controlling Techniques: Gap Analysis and Need Assessment for Pakistan Customs’ (2014), Directorate General of Training and Research, Karachi.
  3. Ehsan Mehmood Khan (2014), ‘Border Management The Case of Pakistan and Afghanistan Border’ Monthly Hilal (July 2014)
  4. Final Evaluation Report on Global Container Control Report (2013), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna
  5. ‘Guidelines for Integrated Border Management in Western Balkans’ (2007), OSCE Secretariat, Brussels, Belgium
  6. Hobbing, Peter.(2005) Integrated Border Management at the EU Level. CEPS Working Documents No. 227, 1 August 2005.

 Information Sheet: IOM and Integrated Border Management (2016), Official Website Internal Organisation for Migration, Geneva, Switzerland

 Integrated Border Management: Strategic Delibeations (2006), Council of European Union, Brussels

 Kieck, Eric. “Coordinated border management: unlocking trade opportunities through one stop border posts.”World Customs Journal 1 (2010): 3-13.

 Polner, Mariya (2008), ‘Coordinated Border Management: From Theory to Practice’, WCO Journal Vol 5: Number 2, World Customs Organisation, Brusels, Belgium.

  1. World Customs Organization dedicates 2015 to Coordinated Border Management’ Press release by WCO Secretariat, 26 January 2015

[1] Aniszweski, Stephen (2009), ‘Coordinated Border Management: A Concept Paper’, Directorate of Compliance and Facilitation, World Customs Organisation, Brusels, Belgium.

[2]Hobbing, Peter. (2005) Integrated Border Management at the EU Level. CEPS Working Documents No. 227, 1 August 2005.

[3]‘Guidelines for Integrated Border Management in Western Balkans’ (2007), OSCE Secretariat,

[4]Guidelines for Integrated Border Management in the Western Balkans’(2004), European Commision, Brussels

[5]Integrated Border Management: Strategic Delibeations (2006), Council of European Union, Brussels

[6]Hobbing, Peter Dr. (2005), ‘Integrated Border Management at the EU level’ CPEC Working Document, Center for European Policy Studies (2005), Brussels, Belgium.

[7]Polner, Mariya (2008), ‘Coordinated Border Management: From Theory to Practice’, WCO Journal Vol 5: Number 2, World Customs Organisation, Brusels, Belgium

[8] Aniszweski, Stephen (2009) ‘Coordinated Border Management-A Concept Paper’, World Customs Organisation, Brussels, Belgium

[9]‘World Customs Organization dedicates 2015 to Coordinated Border Management’ Press release by WCO Secretariat, 26 January 2015.

[10]  Final Evaluation Report on Global Container Control Report (2013), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna

[11] Bihani ,P. and S. T. PatiInternational  (2014) in ‘A Comparative Study of Data Analysis Techniques’,  Journal of Emerging Trends & Technology in Computer Science (IJETTCS) Volume 3, Issue 2, March – April 2014; Web Site: Email:

[12] ‘National Integrated Border ManagementDevelopment Strategy 2015 – 2019’ (September 2014), SKOPJE, Macedonian National Integrated Border Management and Coordination Centre, Macedonia.

[13] Polner, Mariya (2008), ‘Coordinate Border Management- from theory to practice’WCO Journal Vol 5: Number 2, World Customs Organisation, Brusels, Belgium

[14]‘Integrated Border Management Strategic deliberations’ Council of the European Union (November 2006), Brussels.

[15] Daily Telegraph February 15, 2017

[16]Annual Report United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2014), Vienna, Austria.

[17]Ehsan Mehmood Khan (2014), Border Management The Case of Pakistan and Afghanistan Border’ Monthly Hilal (July 2014)


[19]Drugs and Precursors’ Controlling Techniques: Gap Analysis and Need Assessment for Pakistan Customs’ (2014), Directorate General of Training and Research, Karachi.

[20]Civil Aviation Authority(CAA) of Pakistan, 2015.

[21]Ehsan Mehmood Khan (2014), Border Management The Case of Pakistan and Afghanistan Border’ Monthly Hilal (July 2014)

[22] Shaukat,S. in ‘ Need for Effective Management Mechanism at Pak-Afghan Border’,, January 26, 2016.

[23] Sultan,S.M, and M Hali(2016), Great Game in the Region; Pakistan Observer, June 10, 2016.

[24]   Ehsan Mehmood Khan (2014), ‘Border Management The Case of Pakistan and Afghanistan Border’ Monthly Hilal (July 2014)

[25]Drugs and Precursors’ Controlling Techniques: Gap Analysis and Need Assessment for Pakistan Customs’ (2014), Directorate General of Training and Research, Karachi.

[26] Interview with Deputy Director(HQ), Transit Trade, Custom House, Karachi

[27] Personal Interview with Additional Collector (customs), Land Border Station, Wahga, Lahore

[28] Daily Dawn Online, Dated: May 23, 2016

[29] Global Times Online, Dated: June 7, 2016

[30] Daily Dawn,October 28, 2014

[31] The Express Tribune Dated: July 2016

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