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Current Affairs

Durand line

Date: 04 September 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Afghan Taliban leaders have expressed displeasure and opposition to the fence erected by Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.

 

Background

Taliban has always felt that the Durand line between Afghanistan and Pakistan had divided ancestral lands of Pashtuns.

 

Details

  • The Durand line has been the source of dispute between Pakistan and Taliban for a long time. It is potentially the biggest flash point.

  • The setting up of the Durand line was part of a strategy by the British who wanted to separate Afghanistan from its ruling areas.

  • The British used Afghanistan as a buffer state between their territory and Soviet Russia. British feared Soviets would expand towards South Asia.

  • British civil servant Sir Henry Mortimer Durand and the Afghan ruler Amir Abdur Rahman signed the agreement to mark the Durand line on November 12, 1893.

 

The history

  • Two years after the second Afghan war, Amir Abdur Rahman became the king. He was essentially a British puppet. He agreed to mark the territory to demarcate his and British area of influence.

  • The line was drawn unilaterally on a piece of map by Durand. He however had said that the official marking would be done after considering rights of the tribals and villagers.

  • In reality, the line cut through villages, dividing families and communities. Pashtuns considered it a trick to keep them in control.

 

Tensions

  • After the independence, the territory became part of Pakistan. Afghanistan was not ready to recognize the line. It also voted against Pakistan joining the UN in 1947.

  • Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan had demanded an independent Pashtunistan during independence. Pakistan still fears that India will support the cause of Pashtunistan.

 

Pashtun nationalism and Taliban

  • The Taliban was created to absolve Pashtun identity into a wider Islamic identity. It however did not work that way.

  • After capturing Kabul, Taliban joined Islamic identity with Pashtun nationalism and gave rise to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

 

The tensions

  • There were many attacks on border police and checkposts created by Pakistan to monitor cross-country movement.

  • Pakistan accused the Afghan government of sheltering militants while Afghanistan says that Pakistan is giving safe haven to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network.

 

The fencing project

  • The fence is made up of chain-link fences with a 6-ft gap, filled with concertina wire coils. Surveillance cameras and infrared detectors are set up in these fences.

  • Pakistan has marked 16 pre-designated points for cross-country movement. This indicates that a formal border will soon be set up permanently.