By Victoria Ojeme
A resurging Durand line dispute could result in a shift in Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.
This is even as Pakistan and its western neighbor Afghanistan are disintegrating much before the Taliban-led regime Kabul has completed one year in power.
According to Asian Lite International, “Durand’s Curse” by former diplomat Rajiv Dogra, is the first book published in the world about the Durand accord, which split Pathans and has plagued the world ever since. Dogra has extensive knowledge and experience in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, having served as India’s Consul General in Karachi.
Recall that Mortimer Durand drew an arbitrary line on a scrap of paper in 1893, and it still bleeds Afghanistan and hounds the rest of the world.
Asian Lite International notes that Rajiv Dogra’s analysis of the border issue as the ‘Durand’s Curse’ gains increased significance for scholars and policymakers in this context. ‘Durand’s Curse’ is the culmination of extensive research. For the first time, fascinating details from long-buried historical archives reveal a tale of intrigue and deception against Afghanistan. Dogra has succeeded in portraying an immensely gripping chronicle of the Indian subcontinent’s history by bringing to life the battles, tragedies, and Afghan indignation against injustice in this heart-wrenching account of Afghanistan’s misfortunes.
The Durand Line, however, runs through the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, NWFP, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, FATA, and Balochistan in modern-day Pakistan. In Afghanistan, it also covers ten provinces.
Dogra’s book succinctly encapsulates the entire chaos by a statement that reads “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.”
The Durand Line, which was contested in the context of the Pashtun homeland movement, has recently become the source of increased border tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Despite Pakistani intelligence’s estimate of expected hostility along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Asian Lite International claimed that the Afghan side has been relentless in its attacks.
In the interest of peace and progress between the two ‘brotherly’ countries, Pakistan had to formally request Kabul to protect the Pakistan-Afghan border region, ensuring stern action against those involved for terror operations, on April 17. Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) in Islamabad has explicitly said that border hostilities have increased significantly in recent days.
The Taliban are enraged at a fence being built by Islamabad along their Durand line, a 2,700-kilometer (1,600-mile) frontier.
Terrorists operating out of Afghanistan killed seven Pakistani Army soldiers in North Waziristan on April 14. For Pakistan’s military establishment, this is deeply concerning. Five children and a woman were killed in Afghanistan in rocket attacks conducted by the Pakistani military in a pre-dawn assault along the border on April 16, prompting the Taliban to threaten Pakistan with dire consequences.