The Durand Line is South Asia’s international boundary of 2.670 kilometres between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 1893 Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat of the Indian Civil Service and Abdur Rahman Khan, an Afghan emir created it as the international boundary. It was between British India and the Emir of Afghanistan to set the limits of their selected territories to enhance diplomatic ties and trade.
Complete History of Durand Line
The complete history of the Durand Line spans centuries. By the end of the 18th century, the “Jewel of the British Empire” may be threatened by a probable Russian invasion. British people have undertaken targeted strikes at their frontiers to protect the boundaries of India and have sought to consolidate additional territory in the empire. By 1850, British rule over Punjab and Sindh was complete. They have also sought authority over Afghanistan in several efforts, but have failed miserably. Instead of thinking about converting Afghanistan into a buffer area to stop the Russian menace, they gave up on the notion to annex Afghanistan.
Agreement Between British India and Afghanistan
The Amir of Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman Khan and the British Indians envoy Sir Henry Mortimer Duran, who was generally called the Durand Line Pact, signed a major agreement in 1893. This agreement gave British India sovereign power in the largely Pashtun-dominated regions of Swat, Bajaur, Chitral, Chageh, Buner, Dir, Kurram, Waziristan, Chagai and Khyber Passes. Thus, it divided into two distinct countries the Pashtuns of the subcontinent. Intentionally the Amir was permitted to maintain a Wakhan Corridor between the British and the Russians.
Intentionally the Amir was permitted to maintain a Wakhan Passage between the British and the Russians. In exchange, British India boosted Amir’s aid to the west side of the Durand Range and vowed to maintain his rule.
Impact of Agreement on the People of Region
The history of the Durand Line stated that the accord did not give the region and its inhabitants any benefit. In parts of the tribal provinces, the imprecise delineation of regions led to a series of uprisings against the British who had taken a heavy toll on the British Treasury.
The British were therefore swift to give the tribal province’s autonomy because their ultimate reason was not to make these provinces comply with their rules and regulations, but rather to guarantee a secure trade transition, and in the case of a foreign power strike easy access to the British military in the northern areas. He was named the Viceroy of British India in 1901.
He conceived the concept that British India had a triple-border system, with the first boundary created by directly controlled provinces like Hazara, Peshawar, Bannu, Kohat, and Dera Ismail Khan.
The second border was created by the independent tribal provinces of Khyber, Kurram, North, South Waziristan, and Malakand.
The third boundary was the Afghan buffer state. The region thereafter found calm generally, as the Britons were withdrawn in 1919 with growing popularity by the Afghan authorities of the Durand line.
The Assassination of Habibullah Khan – Ruler of Afghanistan
During the World War in opposition to the general feeling that they sympathized with their Muslim brothers in the Ottoman Empire, Habibullah Khan, ruler of Afghanistan, was murdered in 1919. After climbing into the throne, his son Amanullah fought the war against the British, known as the Third Anglo-Afghan War.
British men, largely emotionally drained after a world war, recognized Afghanistan’s freedom and negotiated in Rawalpindi the Treaty of Peace in 1919 which ultimately gave Afghans full freedom in foreign affairs. It surprised everyone, however, when Amanullah did not negotiate a new boundary with the British and embraced the Durand line immediately.
But the timeline of steps with Muslim League gathering power quickly came to a full turnaround in the area, exaggerated reports of Hindu crimes in other areas in India and popularizing the notion of ‘No Hindu Raj’ and ‘Muslim unity’ With the elections in 1946, voters had to choose whether to join India or Pakistan in a public vote in NWFP.
There have been doubts about the manner that the referendum was held, with just 7% of people going to vote in Peshawar valley, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan, not the states of Swat, Dir, Amb, Chitral and other tribal regions.
The NWFP people were also not allowed to remain independent at the referendum. In a boycott of the vote, Bacha Khan urged for the Pashtuns of British India to create their country. He initially realized that it was part of a British plot to create a base against the Soviets in neighbouring tribal regions that subsequently proved to be right in the Afghan jihad against the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Cultural Effect of the Durand Line
The history of the Durand Line had a cultural effect on the region. The British began to connect the Durand line territory on its side with the North Western State Railway shortly after the demarcation of the Durand Line.
Abdur Rahman Khan conquers and makes them Muslims, meanwhile. At the same time, tribes from Afridi began to take arms against the British and create an area of instability between Peshawar and the Durand Line.
In addition, numerous conflicts and warfare between the state of Afghanistan and the British Raj began in the 1870s and made it virtually difficult to travel between Jalalabad and Peshawar. This nearly completely stopped the journey across the border.
In addition to this, the British enlisted the British Indian Army and deployed the Pashtuns in tens of thousands in British India and southeast Asia. In combination with the ease of travelling to Punjab eastward and the difficulties in travelling to Afghanistan. India exposure drove many Pashtuns to the core of British India and the centre far from Kabul.
During Indian independence, political views were divided among those who favoured a homeland of Pakistani Muslim Indians, advocated the reunion of Afghanistan, and felt that unified India would be a preferable alternative.
Durand Line After the British Withdrawal from South Asia
The state of Afghanistan has always called into question the validity of the Durand line since the British were withdrawn from India. Indeed, the only country in Afghanistan opposed Pakistan’s membership of the United Nations because it did not provide the NWFP population with the option of either remaining independent or joining Pakistan. The Afghan Parliament announced explicitly in 1949 that the Durand Line was not recognised.
The Afghan media began after this encouraging the Tribal Pashtuns to rise and take a stand against the Pakistani government. This inspired the Afridis in Tirah to produce a statement of independence, which the people of Afghanistan applauded and which was vehemently opposed by the Liaqat Ali administration in Pakistan. Pakistan was worse off when Soviet Russia expressed its unreserved backing for the demand of Afghanistan for Pakhtoonistan as a reaction to Pakistan’s desire to follow CENTO.
Pakistan Condemnation against Afghanistan Government
President Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s military ruler, in 1960, strongly condemned the government of Afghanistan for being aggressive right from the start. He criticised the government of Afghanistan for being expansionist in desire and denied its claim to the Pashtun regions in Pakistan as unfounded. Although many Pakistani presidents succeeded
Ayub Khan in continued efforts to strengthen ties with Afghanistan never left Pakhtoonistan as a self-reliant country. Some may claim that an Afghan endeavour to obtain access to the sea is a desire for Pakistani Pashtuns for a separate country.
Afghan Jihad Resisting the Occupation of Soviet Afghanistan
The Afghan Jihad against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was supported by Pakistan. Apart from US influence, Pakistan viewed this as an ideal chance to establish its administration to assist resolve the Durand Dispute. Pakistan wanted to train Afghanistan’s Mojahideens using the controlled Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and to utilise its weak borders in infiltration with Afghanistan. But it was also a shock when Durand Line was rejected as the international borders by Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud, who were aided by Pakistan in establishing an Islamic state in Kabul.
Pakistan transferred Taliban assistance. By 1996, most parts of Afghanistan was governed by the Taliban. Once again, Pakistan was struck back when the Taliban refused to discuss Durand Line issues.
9/11 attacks and Pak Afghan Relationship
Pakistan cautiously joined up with the US in its war on terror in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attacks. Pakistan has been involved in a severe fight with terrorists having safe havens in FATA, under pressure from the United States. The Pashtun in the FATA region suffered the heaviest part of the anti-terrorist activities.
Over the years Pashtuns with some Pakistan security forces have been captured, detained, tortured and murdered by the Afghan terrorists on suspicion that the local people have been helped formerly. Hundreds of Pashtuns including the Pakistani Army have been murdered in tribal regions by land mines and remaining Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Trench Along the Durand Line
Pakistan claimed in June 2016 that 1,100 kilometres of border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Durand Line) had already been built in Balochistan to monitor the flow of terrorists and traffickers from Afghanistan to Pakistan across borders.
Proposals were planned in March 2017 to extend this barn construction. The plans included envisioned the construction by 2021 of 338 control posts and forts.
Pakistan-Afghan Border Barrier
Pakistan is building a border barrier to limit illicit immigration and infiltration throughout the Durand Line from Afghanistan. The Afghan-Pak border barrier is also required to prevent activists from infiltrating across the border according to Pakistan. 1000 kilometres were finished by January 2021. There are 235 crossing locations in the Durand Line, many of which are lying to illegal immigration. The project will cost 532 million dollars or less.
Afghanistan does not accept Durand Line as the international boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan until now. The history of the Durand Line is full of controversy and is still unsolved. It is disappointing that a dynamic group like Pashtuns had to suffer so greatly due to the colonial forces of the past and the governments of two countries after the 9/11 attacks.