Javid Ahmad: Securing the Durand Line Could Bring Peace to Afghanistan





The writer is a co-ordinator with the Asia Programme of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The reason that Afghanistan and British India chose to demarcate their 1,500-mile frontier in 1893 was to define their respective spheres of influence and limit interference in one another’s affairs. However, the establishment of what came to be known as the Durand Line never truly stopped outside interference in Afghanistan, especially after Pakistan emerged from its partition with independent India in 1947. Ever since, the nature of that line drawn on a map has been a matter of great contention between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
 
The boundary traverses the main supply route for Nato forces in Afghanistan, which is also a trade route that connects Afghanistan with the Indian subcontinent and, just as importantly, is a conduit used by Pakistani security forces for infiltrating its proxies into the country to attack Afghan and international forces.
 
No government in Kabul – not even under the Taliban – has formally recognised the Durand Line as an international boundary. Some Pashtuns in Pakistan back this position out of ethnic loyalty and the prospect, however remote, of a united Pashtunistan. Pakistan holds that binding bilateral agreements, including those made by colonial era governments, are inherited by successor states, thus making the Durand Line the official boundary. To the rest of the world, including the US, that demarcation, however touchy, is official...



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