PART-4/5 : Unsettled territoiral dispues ( Durand line dispute after 1947)
………………..After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the process of diplomatic exchanges for the settlement of the yet pending territorial disputes along the Durand Line was completely discontinued. There has been no formal agreement or ratification of the agreement or treaties pertaining to the Durand Line between Islamabad and Kabul. And thus, when Afghanistan Government reaffirmed the nonrecognition of the Durand Line and denounced all the treaties and agreements corresponding to its border with Pakistan, it had the full legal right to do so.
The international community, including the US, the UK, China and other international organizations have backed the legal position of Pakistan, even without bothering to study the original agreements and treaties concerning the Durand Line, which explain why Afghanistan and its Government had all the legal rights to not recognize the Durand Line and cancel all the previously made agreements and arrangements concerning the frontier. Their lack of will to face the problem head on today will only complicate the situation further in the future.
Today, having never received legal support from the international community, the government of Afghanistan justifies its decision to not recognize the Durand Line based on the argument that it is not a matter of the Government but that of the people of Afghanistan specially those living near the frontiers.
Pakistan had tried to get Afghan Warlords and Taliban to sign a renewal contract of the Treaty, but thankfully they didn’t fall for the treachery of Pakistan.
Although London and Washington have long supported Pakistan’s claims on the Durand Line but some Western scholars say the decision was motivated by the logic of mobilizing Pakistan’s support in the Cold War.
A report of the House of Commons Library published in June 2010 argues, “The legal status of the Durand Line has never been definitively settled.” It suggests, there is much credibility to the Afghan claim that the Durand Line was never meant to mark the separation of the territorial sovereignties of the British Raj and Afghanistan.
The main reason Pakistan faced problems with the Kabul rulers right from its inception was Kabul’s claim over the territories of Pakistan from the Durand line to the Indus river. Pakistan is holding Pashtun lands illegally.
On 21st October, 2012 US special envoy Marc Grossman claimed that the Durand Line has been recognized as the formal border line between Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US government.
Hafiz Abdul Qayyum, a senator from eastern Nuristan province, remarked: “The US is neither a judge nor a prosecutor to settle the problem between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Deputy Chairman Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, who chaired the session, said: “If the US has any viable strategy for resolving the dispute, we welcome it. But we vehemently denounce Grossman’s statement as meddling in our political affairs.”
Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, the head of Kabul’s Center for Regional Studies of Afghanistan, says “I think, talking about such [controversial] issues will have negative consequences for relations between America and the people of Afghanistan,”
Aryan Yoon, a member of the foreign-relations committee of the Afghan parliament, said “I think, it will benefit both countries if we desist from talking about such issues.”
The issue of Durand Line is considered to be the main controversial issue between Kabul and Islamabad. Pakistani establishment views Pashtun nationalism a great national security threat to the existence of Pakistan that’s why Pakistan establishment both civil and military never allows Pashtun movement to flourish in Pakistan.
In order to sideline the Durand Line issue, Islamabad brings all available resources into use to either suppress the issue directly, or if not, then religious groups like Taliban’s cooperation is sought to counter Pashtun nationalist parties in and outside of Pakistan.
But Pashtun nationalists have always noted that Pashtun identity is rooted in traditions older than Islam. Due to their lack of national integration in Pakistan , the Pukhtuns and Baloch have been long arguing that Baluchistan and the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa are colonies of Pakistan rather than equal partners in a federal union.
Pakistan’s main concern about the Durand Line is to marginalize Pashtuns’ influence in the political affairs of the country. And by giving a few senior military and bureaucratic jobs to a few Pashtuns from prominent families to make the pakistani pukhtuns hostage.
And in case of Afghanistan, Punjab dominated Pakistan army, ISI and establishment would never stop terrorizing Kabul Government with the horror of Taliban and Haqqani network.
India’s closeness to Afghanistan is also doubling the fear of Pakistan, which needs to be carefully analysed by Kabul government. The Afghan provinces of Badakhshan, Nurestan, Konar, Nangarhar, Paktiya, Khost, Paktika, Zabul, Kandahar, Helmand, and Nimruz are all adjacent to the so called Pakistani border.Ethnic Pashtuns populate the area along the border.
Major border crossings between the two countries are in Torkham, between Peshawar and Jalalabad and in Spinboldak between Kandahar and Quetta. When Pakistan tried to establish a single unified administrative area called one Unit of West Pakistan to balance East Pakistan now Bangladesh, Afghanistan saw it as the tribal areas being taken away from their potential influence. There were riots at the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul and in Pakistani consulates in other cities. There were military calls ups and mobilisations. There was no war, but diplomatic relations became frosty in the extreme.
At that time, the British Ambassador in Kabul, Sir Daniel Lascelles, was having anguished correspondence with London. He was concerned that the legal status of the Durand Line was not particularly watertight and thus Britain might not be able to support Pakistan if the matter came to an international tribunal.
The British has always been calling the Durand line as a frontier. That’s why they also named the adjecent province to it Norht WEST FORNTIER PROVINCE. There is a difference between an international boundary and a frontier. An international boundary marks a separation between two contiguous states. A frontier is the portion of a territory that faces the border of another country.The historic Afghan position is that the formal boundary to this frontier has yet to be set which is Indus river.
A strong, stable Afghanistan, bolstered by American military and diplomatic support, and further strengthened by an alliance with India, could make Pakistan very uncomfortable indeed. But now the time has come that India should take advantage of this historic opportunity to free both Baluchistan and Pukhtunkhwa from Pakistan by giving total support to the Pukhtun freedom fighters , Baluch freedom fighters and to the Afghan government, as Mrs. Indira Gandhi has changed the map of Pakistan in 1971.
By the way India owes the Pukhtuns in Pakistan to help them to get rid of Pakistan and annex their motherland Afghanistan, because the Pakistani Pukhtuns had helped the Indian freedom fighters when they were fighting for their freedom from the Britsh colony before 1947. Now it is the moral obligation and responsibility of the Indian Government to help them in their freedom struggle to get rid of Pakistan and annex their motherland Afghanistan.
The American Institute of Afghanistan introduced a lengthy report after its conference on Durand Line in July 2007 .titled: “No Afghan government ever accepted the Durand Line as an international border”. This refusal has continued for more than a century under regimes of all political stripes, some of which called for the reincorporation of the territory into Afghanistan.
The Pukhutns in Pakistan never identify themselves as Pakistanis, rather they introduce themselves as Afghans and their homeland as part of Afghanistan. Historically, the Durand Line was disputed from the very day it was established.
The Durand Line is a sensitive issue both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan nobody is ready to speak in favour of it. In Pakistan, anyone who speaks against the Durand Line is labeled as traitor. Pakistani Pukhtun never recognized the line of hatred and evil , Durand line as a ligitimate border .
Pakistan has mainly used Islam and jihadists to destabilize Afghanistan and suppress the Durand Line issue. Interestingly, the decades long war and chaos in Afghanistan has never discouraged the Pashtun nationalists in Pakistan to stop their campaign for reunification with Afghanistan. Most Afghans still dream of a return of the much bigger and united Afghanistan that existed before the advent of European colonialism in South Asia. So to understand the current conflict in the AfPak region, it is necessary to understand the root cause of the problem which is the Durand Line…………………. to be continued ……………………..
Mashal Khan Takkar
Editor in Chief
THE VOICE TIME