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Afghanistan-Pakistan Durand Line dispute – Burning Issues – Free PDF Download

Durand Line

  • The Durand Line is the 2,670-kilometre international land border between the countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia.
  • It was established in 1893 as the international border between British India and the Emirate of Afghanistan by Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat of the Indian Civil Service.

  • The Durand Line is a legacy of the 19th century Great Game between the Russian and British empires in which Afghanistan was used as a buffer by the British against a feared Russian expansionism to its east.
  • The agreement demarcating what became known as the Durand Line was signed on November 12, 1893 between the British civil servant Sir Henry Mortimer Durand and Amir Abdur Rahman, then the Afghan ruler.

  • Abdur Rahman became king in 1880, two years after the end of the Second Afghan War in which the British took control of several areas that were part of the Afghan kingdom. He was essentially a British puppet.
  • His agreement with Durand demarcated the limits of his and British India’s “spheres of influence” on the Afghan “frontier” with India.

  • The  agreement recognised a 2,670-km line which, Durand drew on the spot on a small map of Afghanistan during his negotiations with the Amir.
  • The line stretches from the border with China to Afghanistan’s border with Iran.

  • the line cut through Pashtun tribal areas, leaving villages, families, and land divided between the two “spheres of influence”.
  • It has been described as a “line of hatred”, arbitrary, illogical, cruel and a trickery on the Pashtuns.
  • Some historians believe it was a ploy to divide the Pashtuns so that the British could keep control over them easily. It also put on the British side the strategic Khyber Pass.

  • With independence in 1947, Pakistan inherited the Durand Line, and with it also the Pashtun rejection of the line, and Afghanistan’s refusal to recognise it. Afghanistan was the only country to vote against Pakistan joining the United Nations in 1947.
  • The fear of Indian support to Pashtun nationalism haunts Pakistan to date, and is embedded in its Afghan policy.
  • Pakistan’s creation and support for the Taliban is seen by some as a move to obliterate ethnic Pashtun nationalism with an Islamic identity. But it did not work out the way Pakistan had planned. When the Taliban seized power in Kabul the first time, they rejected the Durand Line.
  • As cross-border tensions peaked in 2017 with several attacks on Pakistani border posts by militants that Pakistan accused Afghanistan of sheltering – while the Afghan government accused Pakistan of giving safe haven to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network – Pakistan began erecting a fence on the Durand Line.

  • Now mostly completed, the fence has been a source of more tensions as Afghans, and Pashtuns on both sides of the border, see it as a move by Pakistan to formalise the boundary, making their division permanent. This is the fence that spokesperson  said was not acceptable to the Taliban.
  • Cross-border movement will only be allowed through 16 formally designated points after the completion of the project.
  • Pakistan believes that in the new situation in Afghanistan, the fence will help control any spillover from unrest and chaos there.


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