- Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told a Pakistani Pashto channel earlier this week that Afghans are opposed to Pakistan’s Durand Line fence.
- The incoming Afghan administration to announce its position. People have been separated and families have been divided as a result of the barrier.
- We want to create a secure and calm border environment, thus we won’t be erecting any obstacles, said the spokesperson
The Durand line
- The Durand Line is a product of the Great Game between the Russian and British empires in the nineteenth century, when the British utilised Afghanistan as a buffer against feared Russian expansionism to the east.
- On November 12, 1893, Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, a British civil official, and Amir Abdur Rahman, the Afghan monarch, signed an agreement that became known as the Durand Line.
- Abdur Rahman ascended to the throne in 1880, two years after the end of the Second Afghan War, in which the British seized control of various provinces of the Afghan empire. He was basically a British stooge.
- The seven-clause agreement recognised a 2,670-kilometer line that Durand drew on a tiny map of Afghanistan during his negotiations with the Amir: A Line Across the Pathan Heart. The line runs from Afghanistan’s border with China to its border with Iran.
- The “frontier line” would be delineated in detail by British and Afghan commissioners “whose object will be to arrive by mutual understanding at a boundary which shall adhere with the greatest possible exactness to the line shown in the map attached to this agreement, taking into account the existing local rights of villages adjoining the frontier,” according to clause 4.
- The line actually went across Pashtun tribal territories, dividing villages, people, and territory between the two “spheres of influence.” It’s been called a “hate line,” arbitrary, illogical, harsh, and a ruse against the Pashtuns.
The Border Issues
- Pakistan inherited the Durand Line with its independence in 1947, as well as the Pashtun rejection of the line and Afghanistan’s unwillingness to recognise it.
- In 1947, Afghanistan was the sole country that voted against Pakistan’s admission to the United Nations.
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan demanded Pashtunistan – an autonomous entity for the Pashtuns at the time of Partition, though he later accepted the fact of Partition. The proximity of the ‘Frontier Gandhi’ to India sparked immediate hostility between the two countries. Pakistan’s dread of Indian support for Pashtun nationalism continues to worry it, and it is reflected in its Afghan policy.
The Barrier and fence issues
- Cross-border tensions reached an all-time high in 2017, with several attacks on Pakistani border posts by militants Pakistan accused Afghanistan of sheltering – the Afghan government accused Pakistan of providing safe haven to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network – Pakistan began erecting a fence along the Durand Line.
- While it may have slowed the flow of terrorists into Pakistan from Afghanistan, it did little to halt the flow of Afghan Taliban across the border and back.
- The fence, which is nearly complete, has heightened tensions since Afghans and Pashtuns on both sides of the border regard it as a ploy by Pakistan to formalise the border and make their divide permanent. This is the fence that Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the Taliban would not tolerate.
- The $500 million fencing consists of two sets of chain-link fences separated by a 6-foot gap and filled with concertina wire coils. On the Pakistani side, it stands 11.6 feet tall, while on the Afghan side, it stands 13 feet tall. It has 1,000 watchtowers and is equipped with security cameras and infrared detectors.
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 (International Relation)