IN the changed environment, geo politics of the region has transformed dramatically. Advisable course for any real Afghan representative government would be to understand and accept the ground realities and collectively work with Pakistan for a peaceful region. While discussing the factors, influencing the bilateral relations of Pakistan and Afghanistan, there is apparently dormant but always a bad taste issue; generally known as Durand line.
it is the name given tothe Pakistan-Afghanistan International Border which stretches over 2500 Kms. The Durand Line was established in 1893, following an agreement between Sir Mortimer Durand, representative of British India and Abdul Rahman Khan, the Ameer of Afghanistan.
Treaty and the border status was ratified in one way or the other through new treaties during 1905, 1919, and1921. However, the occasional statements and objections kept pouring form various Afghan leaders. Such statements became more vocal, closer to the creation of Pakistan. In 1944, with the expectations of British departure from India, the Afghans became interested in regaining the control of the territories east of the Durand Line.
The British response in this regard was quite clear and unambiguous which narrated that the Durand Line was an International Boundary and as a result Afghans initiatives in this regard somehow stopped. However, after the creation of Pakistan, Afghanistan openly declared her opposition and non-acceptance of Durand Line as border. It passed resolutions against Durand line in Afghan National Assembly and Loyal (Grand) Jirga and its leadership continuously declined accepting international status of the border. Afghanistan was the only country which opposed Pakistan’s entry into UN by refusing to accept NWFP as part of Pakistan.
Some of the objections that emanate from the Afghan side regarding the validity of the Durand Line are, firstly the agreement was forced upon the Afghan King, AbdulRahman Khan, after negotiations with the British government in 1893, secondly it was signed only for a period of 100 years and hence expired in 1994 and thirdly that the agreement was made withthe British Government and not with Pakistan, and so in essence, it can be regarded as invalid. In response, Pakistan’s stand on the Durand Line has been that it is a valid international boundary, recognized and confirmed by Afghanistan on several occasions.
Pakistan has always upheld the norms of international law and has maintained the position of a successor State to the rights and duties inherited from the British government in India. Pakistan, as a successor State to British
India derived full sovereignty over areas and its people east of Durand line and had all the rights and obligations of a successor State. As the treaty was inked in Afghanistan and was further ratified in subsequent pacts of 1905, 1919, and 1921, this negates the assertion that it was forced treaty. At the same time, no-where in the treaty, there was any mentioning of 100 years validity of the treaty. Besides, the Durand Line was accepted as International Border by Abdul Ur Rahman Khan, the Ameer of Afghanistan in a pact signed with Sir Mortimer Durand, representative of British India in 1893.
Following the brief pact, the actual border on ground was demarcated by four different commissions from 1894 to 1896, by dividing the border in seven different sections through dozens of staff and lower officers. Agreement was also ratified bysuccessive Afghan governments in 1905, 1919, and 1921.
Afghan support for the Pakhtunistan and indifference towards Durand line, basically originated from the historical desire of all governments in Afghanistan, to get access to the Arabian Sea through Balochistan province. The basis of their territorial claim is based on the tenure of Durranirule from 1747-1818 and do not discuss previous or later Afghan history. Afghanistan has beenpursuing her case against Durand Line through other means as well.
It has time and againviolated the border and sent her Lashkars and troops across the border in Bajaur in 1960.Resultantly, diplomatic relations were severed in 1961 and both countries pulled back respective diplomats. Afghanistan has also been backing and supporting Pakhtunistan stunt through constantlyencouraging the ethnic cause under the leadership of Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Abdul Samad KhanAchakzai. Refreshing the history, its an astonishing fact that Afghanistan reacted sharply to Pakistan’s decision of integrating all four western provinces in One Unit during 1955, by declaringit against the interests of Pashtuns. That criticism also incited an attack on Pakistani mission inKabul. In recently concluded Raisina Dialogue in India, former Afghan President Hamid Karzaiwas time and again probed on the issue of Durand Line by the Indian Audience. However, President Karzai gave a cursory touch to Durand Line and stressed the need for best of relationswith Pakistan despite differences.
Its a recorded and undeniable fact of the history that on thebehest of India and US, Afghanistan has been supporting all the negative approaches againstPakistan, the most glaring is the support of Baloch insurgents by hosting their leadership andproviding them training, weapons and resources against Pakistan.
In general, the Pashtun population in Pakistan has never supported the idea of Pakhtunistan.From the option of joining Pakistan through referendum in 1947 to sacrificing for the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the Pashtuns have always been in forefront. Masses have better jobs and earning opportunities, better security and sense of belonging to Pakistan than any other country of the region/ world.
They understand the foreign sponsored security crisis and the real enemies of Pakistan. The Planktons of today also understand the reality of nationalist and ethnic leadership and the tricks their new generations are performing on same old tune. Even today, theoccasional voices are from the same chain of politicians, who were earlier hosted and supportedby the Afghan rulers of the past.
Today’s world is quite different. Those voicing against the Durand line or in favour of Pakhtunethnicity, need to realize the new realities. The reality is that there are more Pashtuns living on thisside of the Durand Line than in Afghanistan. The referendum of 1947 and the decision of tribalJirga of FATA are the strongest and undeniable facts to judge the affinity of Pashtuns. Today’sPashtun from KPK and FATA, and Pakhtuns from Balochistan have a strong participation in all the national and Federal institutions including Armed Forces, sports, education, politics and all other walks of life and stand with Pakistan. They have collectively rendered huge sacrifices in war against terror and entire nation respects their sacrifices.
Pakistan of the day is the only nuclearpower in Islamic world, with exemplary Armed forces and above all with most resolute populationof over 210 Million. Pakistan stands at a great moral and legal pedestal on the issue of Durand Line which cannot be challenged by any one. Afghan Governments over the years have used the issue of Durand Line to harm and isolate Pakistan at regional and international level. However, it has never been successful, merelybecause of the unity and patriotism of Pakistani people as well as the principal stance adopted byPakistan on the issue. Pakistan has already started fencing its side of the border line.
Pakistan plans to fence up most of the 2,500 km (1,500 mile) frontier. Pakistan’s military estimates that it will need about 56 billion rupees ($532 million) for the project, while there are also plans to build750 border forts and employ high-tech surveillance systems to prevent militants crossing. So far155 KMs of the border line has been fenced whereas over 443 Forts have been constructed tostop the movement of terrorists and illegal border crossings.
Hence, its mandatory for the Afghangovernment to reciprocate the positive steps of Pakistani government, so as to augment the collective peace efforts for the region and beyond.