Let’s not dispute Pak-Afghan border

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Dr Muhammad Khan

ON April 15, 2018 two soldiers of Frontier Corps (FC) KP embraced Shahdat in Kurram Agency, once they were fired upon by Afghan security forces from across the Pak-Afghan border. These soldiers were carrying out routine “surveillance along the Pak-Afghan border for plugging of gaps and making necessary preparations for starting fencing in that area”. This is not an isolated incident, rather, Afghan security forces fire across the Pak-Afghan border at will, inflicting casualties on Pakistani soldiers and masses too. Tracing the track record of Afghan firing across the border, it is generally observed that, ever since Pak Army started fencing the Pak-Afghan border, there has been frequent firing, mostly causing casualties. Despite many good will gestures from Pakistani side, such incidents speak of negative mind-set of Kabul regime towards Pakistan.
Pakistan Army started fencing the 2611 kilometres long Pak Afghan border in 2017. It is expected to be completed by end of 2018. As per DG ISPR, “Our target is to complete it [the fence] by end of 2018.” This fencing is aimed at stopping the infiltration of terrorists from either side of the border. Since, Afghan side has been more critical on this issue of infiltration, therefore, this fencing will address their issues. As per DG ISPR, on the issue of fencing, “We have shared through [our] Foreign Office a comprehensive action plan document with Afghanistan and subsequent action on this plan will lead to further improvement.” However, this is beyond perception that, why Kabul regime and its security forces frequently interrupt this fencing through firing and at time through its statements.
It is worth mentioning that, the former Duran Line, the Pak-Afghan border is a reality and both countries have been adhering to the border norms since 1947. On this issues, a well-known Indian author and historian, A. G. Noorani said, that, there are neither, political nor the legal basis of Afghan claiming the Pakistani territories, which considering the Durand Line as null and void. The document of the demarcation of border between British India and Afghanistan stand valid even today and in the time to come. It was neither a 100 years lease nor the Amir of Afghanistan, Amir Abdur Rehman, at that time was so unwise and juvenile to sign it in ignorance. Then, it was not sign in duress as most of the Indian and some of the Afghan writers describe in their phoney narratives. The agreement was well thought out and deliberated by Afghan Amir, who consulted his advisor. A.G. Noorani declares this claim of Afghanistan as immoral too.
It would be hard to find a territorial claim more spurious than Afghanistan’s territorial claim on Pakistan. It is supported neither by history nor the law and is as devoid of morality as it is of logic. In 1947 it picked up speed and assumed proportions unheard of before; but time also ripped apart one pretext after another. What exposes its moral bankruptcy is the fact that Afghanistan was willing to let matters be if only the British had continued to rule India. It was India’s independence and with it, the establishment of two new States in the subcontinent, Pakistan and India, which moved it to register its claim but only in the vaguest of terms. If the Durand Line Boarder Agreement was signed at Kabul on 12 November 1893, it was later re-affirmed by the “Treaty of Peace signed at Rawalpindi on 8 August 1919. The Treaty of 1921 further re-affirmed the Rawalpindi Treaty.” “Besides, the XII Volumes of The Transfer of Power 1942-47 published by the British Government (H.MSO. London) provide startling evidence of the initial moves gingerly made by Afghanistan.” Once it was decided By Great Britain that, India will be given independence, Afghan Government did try to create a situation. It is worth mentioning that, as per British Government record, “On 3 April 1947 Sir Giles Squire I.C.S., British Minister at Kabul, reported to the Foreign Secretary of the Government of India, Hugh Weightman, I.C.S. that Afghanistan is anxious about the NWFP and tribal areas.
Afghan officials indeed, desired to directly talk to Tribal people. However, this was rejected by ‘Officiating Foreign Secretary, Major General Crichton in categorical terms right at the outset on 24 April in a letter to Squire. He said that, “We cannot possibly accept the Afghan view that the tribesmen in tribal territory (if by this they mean tribal territory on the Indian side of the Durand Line) are more closely connected with the Afghan Government than with the Government of India.” It was further clarified, “since the Durand Agreement of 1899 (page 256 of Aitchison’ Treaties volume XIII) it has been recognized that all territory including the tribal areas on the Indian side of the Durand Line forms part of India. Therefore, there are no valid reasons for any claim of Afghanistan on Pakistani territories or undoing the Durand Line Agreement. The Way forward for Afghan Government is to stop taking dictation from New Delhi and try to re-establish a good neighbourly and brotherly relationship with the state and society of Pakistan. Ultimately at the end of the day, it is Pak-Afghan relationship which will pay to the people of both countries, rather a dictation from Washington or India. The sooner Afghan Administration realizes its responsibilities towards this aspect and for the betterment of its people, the better would it be. Durand Line is Pak-Afghan Border since 1947. Therefore, let us accept the ground realities, rather believing on illusions, foreign dictation and provocations and misleading narratives of others, who never want a stable Afghanistan and a prosperous Pakistan.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.

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