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Flare-up of Durand line disagreement may change Afghanistan, Pak equations

It is surprising that much before the Taliban-led regime in Kabul completes one year in office, Pakistan and its western neighbour Afghanistan are falling apart.

Afghanistan | Pakistan


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Photo: ANI

Flare-up of the Durand line disagreement has the potential to lead to a change of equations between and .

It is surprising that much before the Taliban-led regime in Kabul completes one year in office, and its western neighbour are falling apart.

In this context, Rajiv Dogra's examination of the border issue as the 'Durand's Curse' attains greater significance for analysts and policymakers, reported Asian Lite .

Former diplomat Rajiv Dogra's "Durand's Curse" is the first book written in the world on the Durand agreement which divided Pathans and has bedevilled the world ever since. Having served as Consul General of India in Karachi, Dogra possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Af-Pak region.

"Today his book 'Durand's Curse: A Line Across the Pathan Heart,' first published in 2017, is regarded as one of the most authoritative books on the Pashtun and Afghan history and continuing border tension between and Pakistan," said a review by Dr Sakariya Kareem.

That arbitrary line which Mortimer Durand drew in 1893 on a small piece of paper continues to bleed Afghanistan and hound the world.

'Durand's Curse' is the result of deep research. Fascinating details from long-buried archives of history reveal for the first time a tale of intrigue and deceit against Afghanistan. Bringing alive the wars, the tragedies and the Afghan anger against injustice in this heart-wrenching account of Afghanistan's misfortunes, Dogra has succeeded in presenting an absolutely riveting story of the Indian subcontinent's history.

The book is a saga of British contradictions and flawed strategies in the second half of the nineteenth century and the so-called 'Great Game' that they played out in Afghanistan. They wanted secure borders ending at the frontier which could be defended against an attack by Russia. But they also needed to defend Punjab against raids by Pashtuns from the frontier, reported Asian Lite .

Dogra has written on a topic no British historian has ever bothered to address, exposing the treachery of the British in tricking the Amir into signing the ambiguous agreement. First, the British and then had taken away territory that originally belonged to Afghanistan. But the divided Pathan families refuse to accept this division even now and for the last century and over, there has been a struggle to rub out the cursed line drawn across the sand.

The existence of Pakistan is, according to Dogra, a result of a deliberate British plan, not just a result of the British divide and rule policy. He thinks Nehru betrayed the Pathans. He has a whole chapter on how some states such as India and Afghanistan don't do enough to hold on to their land.

Pakistan was created as a strategic state for British access to Asia and the oil-rich Gulf States as they knew India would no longer act as a British pawn. This miscalculation has created a state which is the hub of all terror activities and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, reported Asian Lite .

The Durand Line passes through the present-day Pakistani provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. It also includes 10 provinces in Afghanistan.

The book addresses one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies that has endured for over a century now. The illogical division of land as well as the division of people of one ethnicity into two separate countries, reported Asian Lite International.

The resulting chaos is encapsulated in the line "Afghanistan today can be described as a strong nation but a weak state, while Pakistan is a strong state with no strong sense of nationhood".

Disputed in the context of the struggle for the Pashtun homeland, the Durand Line has of late become the cause of heightened border tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Despite Pakistani intelligence's assessment of likely hostility along the Pakistan-Afghanistan borders, there have been ceaseless attacks from the Afghanistan side, reported Asian Lite International.

The attacks were so fierce and rattling that on April 17, Pakistan had to formally urge Kabul to secure the Pak-Afghan border region ensuring strict action against those responsible for terror activities, in the interest of peace and progress of the two 'brotherly' countries'. Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) in Islamabad has categorically said that there has been a significant increase in border hostilities in the last few days.

It further said that of late, elements of banned terrorist groups in the border areas, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have continued to attack Pakistan's border security posts. The Taliban, however, deny harbouring Pakistani militants but are also infuriated by a fence Islamabad is erecting along their 2,700-kilometre (1,600-mile) border known as the Durand line.

On April 14, seven Pakistani Army soldiers were killed in the North Waziristan district by terrorists operating from Afghanistan. This is very unsettling for the Pakistan military establishment. The Taliban authorities warned Pakistan of serious consequences on April 16 after five children and a woman were killed in Afghanistan in rocket attacks launched by the Pakistani military in a pre-dawn assault along the border.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Tue, May 03 2022. 15:00 IST