Implications Of The Durand Line Dispute On Disagreements Between Afghanistan And Pakistan

Abdul Waheed Hakimi
Legal Advisor

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Abstract

The objective of the present work is to provide an analysis of the status and implications of the Durand Line dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan for the relations between the two countries, particularly in the post-2001 period. This paper argues, based on existing and original research, that an important element of the Afghanistan-Pakistan relations is the disagreement over their mutual border; and this disagreement has the capacity to lead to variety of further problems and complications, some of which are very obvious already – such as insurgency safe havens and smuggling. The findings of the present work suggest that the basis of the dispute over the Durand Line is the fact that the line has separated people of same ethnic groups of Pashtuns on both sides of the border. Therefore, the issue is of high sensitivity among Pashtuns in Afghanistan. Moreover, the research reveals that the issue is perceived differently by the Pashtun and non-Pashtun Afghans, in a way that Pashtuns are supporting the claims by Afghanistan over the Durand Line while the non-Pashtuns are against any dispute over the issue and suggest the recognition of Durand Line by Afghanistan. However, due to sensitivity of issue, no one can openly and officially suggest recognition of the line. Furthermore, findings of the present work suggest that considering the position of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, no settlement of the dispute in the short run is probable and if there is solution, it will take a long time. Overall, the findings of the present work suggest that recognition of the Durand Line by Afghanistan is the only possible eventual solution for the dispute, however, it should be noted that the recognition process should be based on a practical mechanism and involvement of the people of the border region is imperative in order to reach a permanent solution.

 

Introduction

Cooperative and trustful relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as good coordination of efforts against terror on both sides of their shared border has always been considered imperative for stability in both countries and for effectiveness of the international war against terror. The relations between these two neighboring countries have been wide in scope and very complicated in nature. Often, disagreements between the countries have led them to very serious tensions, although they never reached the stage of having an open conflict/war.

A broad range of reasons can be listed for the existence of tensions and disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but among them it is arguable that their long-held border dispute is the most significant and challenging issue. The neighbors share a long border where the border-area populations on both sides belong to the same ethnic, cultural, traditional, historical and religious backgrounds. The roots of the dispute go back to so called 'imposed border line – more famously known as the Durand Line - that was created by the British in 1893 in order to separate Afghanistan and the British colony of India. This ‘agreement’, now debated as to how much of an agreement it was between the British Empire and Kabul governors of the time, quietly accepted for half a century, became a point of principal disagreement and unease right after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, when Afghanistan rejected to recognize the Durand Line as an international boundary. Ever since then the dispute has been a major subject of disagreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, contributing to further complication of the overall relations between the countries.

One such complication is a range of negative consequences arising due to the indeterminacy of the boundary status. The border goes through a highly insecure area where both sides are dominated by insurgents, terrorist activities and illegal trade. Tribal communities across this border are believed to have become safe havens for many terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from where they lead their activities.

Therefore, the post 2001 Afghanistan government frequently claims that the root of insurgents and terrorist groups is to be found and eradicated in areas under Pakistani control. Thus, they blame Pakistan for dishonesty in 'global war against terror' began after 9/11 event by the US. The Afghan government claims that due to some strategic reasons Pakistan does not want Afghanistan to be stabilized and, therefore, supports Taliban and other insurgent groups to destabilize Afghanistan. Conversely, Pakistan rejects the claims made by the Afghan government arguing that Pakistan itself suffers from the phenomenon of terrorism.

To be specific, the border dispute not only negatively affects the relations between the two countries but also has paved the way for the terrorist and insurgent groups to take advantage of the dispute and use the border area as a safe haven as far as there is lack of control and authority by both countries. The border areas on both sides are ruled under the tribal network system by tribal leaders and movement across the border has not been a challenge for both terrorists and smugglers. Additionally, unhindered and free border crossing has been also due to the fact that the people on two sides of the line belong to the same ethnic community and significant numbers of people have relatives living on the other side.

It should be taken into account that the border area between the two countries is the most challenging region in terms of insecurity for both countries and in a broader context for the region and the world. The role of the border dispute on Afghanistan - Pakistan disagreements requires comprehensive analysis. In addition, the withdrawal of the US and international security forces from Afghanistan makes the situation more fragile in terms of security threats. Therefore, the present study attempts to examine the following research question: What does the Durand Line dispute represents in Afghanistan - Pakistan disagreements? Or, what is the politics of Durand Line in Afghanistan domestically and in Afghanistan - Pakistan relations? It should be clarified that this is a study of the Afghan side: an analysis of the range of opinions and arguments on the Afghan side and Pakistani side or arguments are mentioned only when they become available and relevant in the text.

The main hypothesis of the present study is that an important element of the Afghanistan - Pakistan relations is the disagreement over their mutual border; and this disagreement has the capacity to lead to variety of further problems and complications, some of which are very obvious already – such as insurgency safe havens and smuggling. Therefore, it is an important subject to study.

The fact that makes the dispute over Durand Line more challenging is the separation of Pashtuns on both sides of the border line and this has been the main argument by the Afghan government ever since 1947 when the Durand Line first became a reason of disagreement. Given the ethnic justification of the claim by Afghanistan the issue has gained high sensitivity among Pashtuns who are comprising the majority of Afghan population. The ethnic root of the dispute has made it controversial even in internal politics of Afghanistan, where the issue is perceived differently by Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns. For Pashtuns it is matter of historical importance that has separated a big portion of Pashtuns from Afghanistan. Conversely, for non-Pashtuns the dispute is considered an empty claim with no legal basis, no advantage for Afghanistan but a reason for insecurity and instability. However, taken into account the sensitivity of issue no one including non-Pashtuns accept the risk of standing against the Afghan stand on the Durand Line.

In addition, the line has never been accepted as an international boundary by the people of the areas across the line rather it has remained on paper. In practice the border is not tangible as the residents of both sides of the border who have shared ethnic and cultural background can freely move back and forth across the border. This can be one of the crucial obstacles for any settlement without involvement of the people of border region.

The arguments of the present study unfold in the following sections to support the hypothesis provided above: The first chapter of the research starts with a description regarding the existed theoretical approaches on interstate border and border disputes. It presents different theories regarding the role of borders in international relations as well as types of borders according to their nature. The chapter also presents the main causes for border disputes and discusses factors that could make border dispute more problematic, it presents indicators that could cause violent border disputes. The chapter concludes with examining the Durand Line dispute in the discussed approaches and elaborates on the applicable theoretical approaches on the Durand Line dispute.

Furthermore, the second chapter of the research provides a brief history of the Durand Line starting from the background and context of the Durand Agreement in 1893. The research provides a historical background of the Durand Line in three phases, first ratification of the agreement followed by a brief history from 1893 to 1947 which is corresponded with the creation of Pakistan. Second, the chapter presents the Durand Line in phase of dispute from 1947 to 2001. The chapter also provides the arguments and position of both sides on the dispute as well as the main causes of dispute which is believed to be the separation of people of same ethnicity on both sides of the border.

Having the background of the problem the research focuses on its main point of interest which is role of the Durand Line dispute in Pak-Afghan disagreements and relations in current period beginning with 2001. Thus, the third chapter examines whether the border dispute is the fundamental reason for unease and disagreements between the two countries or not. To have a clear understanding of what the Durand Line represents on disagreements between the two countries based on empirical data, the chapter analyzes different points of view coming from different sources with different backgrounds. Third chapter mainly focuses on qualitative interviews with experts and governmental official as well as the content analysis of existed literature.

Cooperation between the two countries is a pre-condition for stability in both countries. But, cooperation needs mutual trust which can be built when neither side must fear the other. The Durand Line dispute is believed to be a matter of concern for territorial integrity of Pakistan. Therefore, it is argued that in order to improve relations between the two countries the border dispute should be settled. A settlement of the Durand Line dispute is believed to be a positive step toward trust-building and an opportunity for strengthening of further cooperation. Therefore, the last chapter of this research elaborates on the future of the Durand Line dispute and possible solutions to the problem focusing on existing studies and interviews conducted by the author himself.

 

Chapter One

Conceptual Framework

In the modern world determined and clear borders are a must; indeed having authority on a specific geographical area is a key element of state definition according to Max Weber. This specific geographical area can be created only by defined and demarcated borders. Thus, defining and demarcating borders is an important issue in relations of the states that are proximate to each other. It is worth remembering that the desire to expand authorities over more territories has been a peculiar interest of many states and that world history is full of wars and conflicts over territory. This chapter will shed light on the role of border in interstate relations and process of drawing border, how the borders can create risk and opportunities for the states, how the nature of border causes disputes and conflicts between states, what factors may cause border disputes, when and at which conditions border disputes can turn violent and how the level of state development is relevant to possible border conflicts. Finally, how are the existed theories applied on the border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan which is the objective of this study?

The clear geographic location of states and the existence of borders between states are important conditions of creating relations and interactions between states at least since the Westphalian order has been the norm. It is believed that, "humans interact most with those to whom they are closest" Thus, it can be said that borders have direct effects on international relations. “The spatial context of international politics highlights the importance of location or distance. How far or close - how proximate - actors or units or states are to one another is an important factor in analysis."4 Thus, the distance and closeness of borders of states to each other play an important role in relations between states, while such relations can be friendly or hostile. Robert Mandel argues that closeness creates both opportunity for interaction and cooperation as well as risk and threat for disputes. The result will be different based on the form of relations between two proximate states, if their relations are friendly it can result in cooperation and if hostile it can result in tension and conflict. Among others, borders can also be a reason of hostility and bring conflict, therefore, to avoid conflicts resulted from border disputes border lines should be drawn carefully.

As mentioned above, in order to maintain peace and avoid conflict between states, an important element is drawing borders to define the sphere of influence of each state. Drawing and defining borders between states requires agreement of both sides and needs to be done through a coherent process. The mentioned process is called "delimitation and demarcation" of borders. Delimitation is referred to the earlier stages of drawing a border, including signing a treaty and agreement between both sides as well as drawing of border lines on the paper, while demarcation is the process of drawing borders on the ground. Delimitation is more based on diplomatic negotiations between states while demarcation is more a technical process. This indicates that the process of delimitation is more important and the influence of states is more likely in the process of delimitation comparing to the process of demarcation.

Stephen B. Jones defines the process of drawing borders in four stages. According to him, the first stage is "political decisions on the allocation of territory", the second stage is "delimitation of the boundary in a treaty", the third stage is "demarcation of the boundary on the ground" and the fourth and last stage is "administration of the boundary." If the mentioned processes are undertaken carefully from different aspects then it will avoid future disagreements on borders.

To prevent future disputes and conflicts on borders, states should take into account different factors that should be considered at the time of delimitation and demarcation. These factors can be geographical, social, cultural and political. For instance, in terms of geography the best border line would be a line drawn by natural frontiers such as mountains, rivers or deserts. In such cases it is less likely to produce disputes and conflicts in the future. Henk Van Houtum describes "natural and non-natural" frontiers as "good and bad borders" He believes that those frontiers that are separated naturally are good because, they are less likely to cause disagreements and more safe in terms of military and those which are demarcated by humans are bad frontiers because can be reason for disagreement and more vulnerable in terms of military. However, he believes that most of current borders are made by humans.

The other issue which is important to be considered at the time of delimitation and demarcation is the social and cultural relations of the inhabitants of both sides. According to Houtum, borders are separating people which are belonged to different nations. Thus, he believes that in study of borders besides the geography; social, cultural and economic aspects should also be considered. He believes that geographical and political borders were existed even before the emergence of states and borders are made of "social practices". By this he means that it is the differences between the social behaviors of people that creates border, which can be a reason to argue that a border should not be drawn between the people of same social practices. Mandel also argues that if a boundary is not in compliance with “ethnic group boundaries” it is likely to produce disputes.

In order to have a better understanding of border dispute, the main causes that create such dispute should be explained. According to Mandel, the causes of border disputes and border claims can be better understand by considering the following issues:

  • Gaining control over resource rich areas can lead to border disputes and conflict, specifically in the time that lack of resources are tangible.
  • As mentioned above, the other issue that can lead to border disputes is ethnicity.

If the border is drawn without consideration of “ethnic group boundaries” it is more likely to lead to conflict.

  • The still significance role of territory in the third world countries where technology is not developed can also lead to territory claims, because, such states cannot overcome "distance and topography" by developed technology, thus, they will be more relied on territory to fulfill their national interests.
  • Last but not least in cases of countries where their territories were determined at the colonial time by colonial powers it is more likely to lead to border claims once the colonial rule is gone.

The above mentioned factors may not be the only causes for border claims but are the most important ones. However, it should be noted that any border having the above criteria are not inevitably disputed borders but the above criteria can increase the probability of dispute over borders. Among the four points explained above, the points regarding ethnicity and colonial borders are more convincing because, firstly, conflicts which has ethnic elements are more dangerous, sensitive and difficult to solve and secondly, such conflicts are more likely to last for long time. Regarding, colonial borders it should be noted that such borders are usually drawn based on interest of the colonial power and do not consider other factors and the possibility of future disputes, thus, more likely to create problems. The Afghanistan - Pakistan border, the point of interest in the current work, is a good example of these points.

A border dispute can be violent or nonviolent dispute between two countries. The question that arises here is, when and on which conditions a border dispute can turn violent and lead to war between the two countries?

According to Mandel to understand the potential of conflict between two states the following facts should be considered:

  • If two states are having equal power it is more likely to enter a border conflict because both sides believe that there is a chance of victory. On the contrast when two states are unequal based on power it is more likely to lead to prevention of conflict and to compromise, because in such cases the weaker state will realize that it is better to compromise based on the theory of "rational state performing" and an analysis of "cost-benefit".
  • Less developed states are more likely to enter a border conflict comparing with developed states. The reason behind this may be because of the importance of territory for less developed states due to economic factors and their inability to overcome distance and topography, on the other hand more territory will increase the importance and prestige of less developed countries which is a matter of concern for them.
  • When the cause of border dispute is ethnic issues it is more likely to lead to violent conflict, but when dispute is over resources the likelihood and severity of conflict might be lesser. It is because people react more harshly, emotionally and violently on ethnic issues but disputes on resources can be easier to settle and reach to an agreement.
  • When states are allied with two “opposing blocs” it is more likely to enter a border conflict comparing with the states which are in one bloc.

The above mentioned factors are variables that can change the nature of dispute from non-violent to violent, while it is not always the case. The two points which are more convincing are the points regarding the possibility of violent conflict between states having equal power and the point regarding the ethnic issues, because the two are supported with much obvious and stronger arguments by the source. While the last point regarding the issue of blocs is not the case anymore, since the article was written at the time when there were two different blocs of the US and the USSR, while currently there is no USSR what makes this point irrelevant. Having the above notion and theories regarding the border disputes and its impact on relations of states, next section will move to the actual topic of the current study and will examine how these theories are relevant with the border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan (the Durand Line) in some way contains the characteristics that are being discussed above. It is a good example of non-natural or bad borders presented in the research of Houtum because it is a human made border which in most parts not separated by natural frontiers such as sea or mountains, on the other hand it has separated the people of same social and ethnic background. Besides that the border lacks all the criteria of border delimitation and demarcation, as it was discussed by Stephen Jones, however, the border was agreed by the both sides at the time but the process of demarcation and administration of the boundary has not been completed even to the present day. These issues have made the settlement of this border more problematic.

On other hand, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has some characteristics of disputable borders that Mandel believes can cause violent conflicts, while it also lacks some of these characteristics. The border was defined at the colonial time by the British, it has separated people of same ethnic and social background, it is a dispute between less developed countries, thus, according to Mandel's criteria, it has the potential of violent conflict. While on the other hand it lacks one factor among those presented by Mandel, it is not the dispute between states of equal power because comparing to Afghanistan, Pakistan is far stronger state and not comparable with Afghanistan in terms of military power, this can be a reason for prevention of violent conflict between the two countries. Having these applicable theories discussed, this study will move to its actual topic which is the Durand Line dispute and its impact on Afghanistan - Pakistan relations. Thus, next chapter will be continued with a brief history of the dispute.

 

Chapter Two

The History of Durand Line

The Durand Line is 1640 miles (2640 km) long line, stretching from Iran to China, west to east that forms the line of separation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The line was created based on an agreement that was signed by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the British Empire's representative and the Foreign Secretary of British India, and the Amir of Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman Khan, on 12 November 1893. The line has separated people of same ethnicities (Pashtuns and in some parts Baluchis) between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The line has been a line of tension and dispute ever since the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

"Great Britain was the first European country with which Afghanistan came into contact, but relations between them were often hostile," writes Hassan Kakar.  The interest of Great Britain in Afghanistan was because of its geopolitical location which was used as a "buffer state" between the two empires, Russian and British."By the 1840s Russians had reached the Aral Sea and were slowly being drawn into Central Asia." The existence of Russia was considered a matter of concern for the Great Britain existence in India because they knew about the desire of Russians to access India. In 1870s, the Russian empire had added some important and big Central Asian cities, including Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva to their territories. This development increased the concern of Britain and motivated them to prevent further extension of Russia toward India. At that time Britain was following “forward policy” based on which their goal was to push their frontier to the Hindu Kush mountains and make Kabul, Ghazni and Kandahar the first line of defense.

On the other hand, Amir of Afghanistan Abdur Rahman Khan also wanted to have clear border with his neighbors. It was because of the internal problems he had, firstly he wanted to get rid of the external problems so later he could respond to the internal problems. In 1880s Abdur Rahman Khan was demanding determined borders with the British India.19Even though after the demarcation of Afghanistan’s northern borders in 1888 the threat of Russia was to some extent decreased, both Afghanistan and Britain were still interested to define their borders. Thus, in 1893 the Durand Agreement was signed.

 

The Durand Line

As mentioned above the Durand border line between Afghanistan and the British India (current Pakistan) was created in 1893. At that time Britain had realized that in order to prevent Russian expansion toward India, the border between India and Afghanistan should be drawn so everyone would know their sphere of influence. To define the borders between Afghanistan and India the British India government dispatched a delegation led by Durand. The Afghan Amir and Durand had different thoughts on the location of the border to be drawn but after long negotiations both sides agreed on the border line.

Thus, finally the agreement was signed and later on the demarcation process started. "In November 1893 an agreement was signed between the British and Afghan Governments defining on paper the boundary of the sphere of influence of the two governments wherever they touched each other."21 The actual process of demarcation of border was started immediately and a large part of the border line was demarcated without any potential problem but due to tensions and insecurity in the certain parts in the so-called “tribal areas” particularly in the eastern part of the line, it was not possible to carry out the process in those parts of the border.

The demarcation process of the agreed border started in 1894 and took three years. The process of demarcation was carried out by a joint commission that was assigned by British India and the Amir of Afghanistan. It took them two years to demarcate the border line with pillars. Some disagreements occurred during the demarcation process as well but were settled for the most part. But as it was mentioned above, certain parts of the border remained un-demarcated due to insecurity in the tribal areas and remains so to this day. It starts from the Persian frontier at its western end and goes up to the Wakhan valley at the eastern end. The fact that makes the dispute over Durand Line more challenging is the separation of Pashtuns on both sides of the border line. In order to explain the issue more clearly next section will elaborate on the ethic structures across the Durand Line.

 

Ethnic Make-up across the Durand Line

The areas on both sides of the Durand Line are dominated by Pashtun ethnicity while in some parts Baluchs are also living across the Durand Line. Pashtuns are also the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan which is estimated to be over 13 million making 42% of the Population of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan most of Pashtuns are resided in southern and eastern parts of the country while there are Pashtun living in other parts of the country as well. On the other hand in Pakistan Pashtuns are resided mostly in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as well as some Pashtun Minorities in Baluchistan and Karachi. In Pakistan the Pashtun population is more than 26 million making more than 15% of the overall population of Pakistan. Pashtun residents of both sides of the border are sharing same cultural and social values and speaking in Pashto. Furthermore, Pashtuns are also divided to several subdivisions among themselves. They are comprised of 60 different tribes and more than 400 sub-clans. The Durand line has not only divided the Pashtun inhabitants of the region but also separated some tribes within the Pashtun tribal divisions specifically “the Mohmands” and “the Waziris.” Thus in most parts of the Durand Line the residents of the two sides of the border are relatives and family groups who easily cross the border and interact with each other.

In addition to Pashtuns in some parts the majority of residents are Baluchs who are presented in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Baluchs in Pakistan are around 6 million people making more than 3% of the whole population of the country. The Baluchs in Afghanistan are about 0.7 million people making around 2% of overall population of the country. The majority of these people regardless of being Pashtun or Baluch are Sunni Muslims but there are also Shiite minorities in some parts of the border both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Shared ethnicity across the border has made the border less visible in practice, thus, it has remained only on the paper. Moving from one side to another side of the line is free and does not need any documentation specifically for the residents of the border area because no one in the area considers it as boundary. Moreover, it is not possible for both the government of Afghanistan and Pakistan to prevent such kind of movement or to control it because their authority in the area is either very weak or not existed. Even since the British era the areas were not directly controlled by Afghanistan or Britain rather they were indirectly controlled by local leaders. This policy of indirect authority in the area is still existed specifically on the Pakistan side of the Durand Line.

 

Durand Line after 1893

In Afghanistan the overall public opinion is against the Durand Line agreement and it is considered an unlawful agreement that was imposed on the Afghan side by force, but historical evidence shows it otherwise, based on the following reasons. The negotiation between Durand and the Amir of Afghanistan was with no armed support for the British side and took four weeks until both sides agreed. Besides that, Britain pledged to pay 600,000 Rs. annual help to the government of Afghanistan which was accepted by the Amir. The Amir of Afghanistan held a ceremony after the agreement and praised the British and called them good friends. Thus, had the agreement been imposed by force there was no need for long negotiations. Moreover, why would the British pledged to increase the annual amount of subsidy, if they had to use force. Finally, the ceremony held by the Amir indicates that there was no force used by the British in order to have the agreement signed by the Amir of Afghanistan.

Even if the agreement has been signed by force, it has been reaffirmed on other occasions by the successor governments of Afghanistan. For instance, Sardar Habibullah Khan, the son of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan who took office in 1901 after Amir’s death confirmed the Durand agreement on 21 March 1905 via an agreement with Loius W. Dane, Foreign Affairs Secretary of British India. Furthermore, after Afghanistan took its independence from the Britain in 1919, King Amanullah confirmed the Durand Line in the Peace Agreement of Rawalpindi on 8 August 1919. The second Treaty at the time of King Amanullah was signed by Mahmmod Tarzi the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan and Sir Henry R. C. Dobbs Britain representative on 22 November 1921. This treaty also confirmed the Durand Line as the official frontier between Afghanistan and the British India. Moreover, Nadir Shah, the successor of King Amanullah, confirmed the treaty of 1921 by an agreement on 6 May 1930. Thus, the above issues reveal that up to presence of Britain in the region Afghanistan had no claim over the border between Afghanistan and British – India; however, everything turned other way after the establishment of Pakistan in 1947.

 

Durand Line Dispute after Emergence of Pakistan

After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Afghanistan refused to recognize the Durand Line as an international boundary. The reasons behind the refusal to recognize the Durand Line by Afghanistan are the following:

  • The Line was imposed on the Afghan Amir and he did not understand the agreement well.
  • The line has separated Pashtun tribes in both sides of the line, and at the time of referendum after the independence of India the Pashtuns who are living beyond the Durand Line were not given the options to establish an independent state or join Afghanistan. They had only two options either joining India or Pakistan.
  • Pakistan is not a “successor state” to British – India, thus, all agreements that were signed between Afghanistan and Britain prior to independence of India cannot be transferred to Pakistan.

The above are the strongest claims by Afghanistan, in addition to some weaker claims such as the claim that the agreement was for a limited time of one hundred years. Besides that after 1947, Afghanistan has always supported the right of self-determination for the Pashtun residents on the Pakistani side of Durand Line. And claims that at the time of partition of India and Pakistan the Pashtuns beyond the Durand Line were given only two options, either joining India or Pakistan.But not the right to join Afghanistan or to create an independent state of Pashtunistan. According to KhurshidHasan, the main reason of the disagreements and hostility between the two countries are the demand for Pashtunistan. He states that the demand of Afghanistan is based on number of reasons among which the most important ones are: first, since Afghanistan is a landlocked country, its claim on the areas beyond the Durand Line can grant an "outlet to the Sea". Second, he believes that Afghanistan also use the issue for internal objectives in order to gain the support of Pashtun residents of Afghanistan as well as in case of annexation of the Pashtun beyond the Durand Line, it will strengthen the position of Pashtuns comparing to other ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan has always rejected the claims made by Afghanistan and considers the Durand Line as an internationally recognized border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan accuses the Afghan government of trying to disintegrate the west of Pakistan and of wishing to annex those areas to Afghanistan. Pakistan claims that there is no movement for independence in the areas beyond the Durand Line by the Pashtun residents. Pakistan also considers the claim that Pashtuns are part of Afghanistan to lack any legal basis. Thus, since the emergence of Pakistan in 1947, the issue has been a reason for tension, disagreement and distrust between the two countries.

Later in the September of 1947 Afghanistan did not recognize the admission of Pakistan to the UN. The issue caused hostility between the two countries which is still remained unsolved, "Afghanistan's support for the hostile Pathans (Pashtuns), both locally and in the international arena, has angered Pakistan, and relations between the two countries, which otherwise have much in common, have remained tense." In 1949, the National Assembly of Afghanistan ratified a “resolution” and abrogated all the previous treaties, agreement and conventions which were signed between Afghanistan and British India. However, it is legally arguable because according to international law, no agreement related to borders could be abrogated unilaterally. The Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties 1978, admit the legality of transformation of any enforced treaty between colonial powers to the successor states and declares that any changes to the border should be based on bilateral agreement.

The tension between the two countries rose especially high in the period from 1953 to 1963: when Mohammad Daoud Khan was the prime minister of Afghanistan, the relations of two countries became so tense that an armed conflict was easily possible. During this period Afghanistan became more serious about the issue of Pashtunistan and continued to support Pashtun leaders beyond the Durand Line which resulted in tense relations that could have been turned into an armed conflict. Both sides dispatched armed forces to the boundary.Later in 1973, when the monarchy in Afghanistan was overthrown and former premier Mohammad Daoud became the first President of Afghanistan, his demand for a greater Afghanistan which included parts of Iran and Pakistan was considered as a potential threat by Pakistan. "On November 5, 1973, deputy foreign minister Waheed Abdullah declared that Afghanistan did not recognise the Durand Line as the official border between the two countries on the ground that it separated almost 2.5 million Pushtuns from Afghanistan."

The successor communist government of Afghanistan which took the power in 1979 also refused to recognize the Durand Line as an international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. After the collapse of the communist regime, when the Islamist Jihadist militant groups took power in Afghanistan, Pakistan was hopeful that they would recognize the border as an international border because during the Jihad era most of these groups were supported by Pakistan. But they, too, refused to accept the line. After that Pakistan supported Taliban but the Taliban also refused to accept the Durand Line. Finally, the post-Taliban government which took office with support of the US and the international community after the collapse of Taliban has also refused to recognize the Durand Line and the issue has remained a reason for disagreement and a matter of concern for Pakistan. The next chapter will elaborate on the Afghanistan - Pakistan relations and the Durand Line notion in the post 2001 era in more details.

Chapter Three

Durand Line Impacts on Afghanistan – Pakistan Relations post 2001 Afghanistan - Pakistan relations have never been cooperative, friendly and based on trust. The two countries have occasionally criticized each other for intervening in the internal affairs of the other side. Most importantly, Afghanistan accuses Pakistan for being involved in insecurity, violence and terrorist activities in Afghanistan. The Afghan government claims that the Taliban and other insurgent groups active in Afghanistan are financed, trained and based in areas under the control of Pakistan. The questions that rise here are: what are the main reasons for tensions between the two countries? Why would Pakistan support – if it does – terrorist groups who are involved in insurgency in Afghanistan? And finally, how does the Durand Line – the point of interest in the present work – affect relations between the two countries?

In contemporary political rhetoric, the question of the Durand Line is viewed differently by different people, depending on their backgrounds, their affiliation with the government, and their overall expertise of the complex relations between the two countries. For some, the Durand Line is an important, if not the most important, factor, for others it is a peripheral factor that Pakistan is not very concerned about, and for still others, it is a key part of the complex relationship between the two countries: for them, without settlement of the Durand Line disagreements, other important disagreements can never be overcome. This chapter analyzes the range of views and arguments being sounded in recent times, and tries to come up with a well-reasoned argument on the Durand Line issue based on these sources.

 

Causes of Disagreements between Afghanistan - Pakistan

Ahmad Shakib Mustaghni the spokesman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (hereafter - MFA), believes that the main causes of tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan are Pakistan's interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and its support of Taliban and other anti-government groups in Afghanistan. In a personal interview with the author, he stated that despite the commitment to fight terrorists, Pakistan has not been honest enough in the international war against terrorism. He added that Pakistan wants Afghanistan to remain a weak country by using insurgency as an instrument to make Afghanistan insecure and, thus, secure its national interests. Asked whether the Afghan government considers the Durand Line dispute a factor for Pakistan's concerns regarding Afghanistan, he stated that it was a factor of tension between the two countries, however, currently there was no evidence of Pakistan being concerned of the Durand Line dispute. While asked about the reasons behind Pakistan's interference, he stated that there could be different reasons, yet the government of Afghanistan is not fully confident about the actual reasons of Pakistan's interference, therefore, as official position of the government of Afghanistan he would not give any remark only based on assumptions but what is clear for the Afghan government is the fact that Pakistan is involved in insecurity and insurgency in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Akram Andishmand in his book, "The Durand Dispute: Political Rationality" asserts that it is clearly understandable that Pakistan can do more to fight terrorism because the operational bases of Taliban are situated in Pakistan. He believes that the main reason that Pakistan does not want to expunge the Taliban is because of its long term national interests. He adds that the fact that Afghanistan has not recognized the border between the two countries is a matter of concern for Pakistan. According to Elham Gharji, it is not possible to overcome disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan unless the border dispute between the two countries is resolved. Frederic Grare believes that the border dispute is not the only cause of Pakistan intervening in Afghanistan. However, according to him Pakistan wants to put pressure on the Afghan side to recognize the Durand Line, but besides that Pakistan has concern about Afghanistan - India close relationship as well as the growing relations of India with US. Therefore, Pakistan has concern of losing its importance internationally and, as a result, wants to show to the international community and the US that the problems in Afghanistan will not be settled without Pakistan.

What is common among all the above cited authors is that three of them consider the Durand Line dispute as a reason for disagreement between the two countries, however with slight differences. Mr. Andishmand and Elham Gharji believe that Durand Line is main reason for unease between Afghanistan and Pakistan and any settlement is depended on the border dispute. While Grare considers the border dispute as a part of broader regional and international concerns of Pakistan. The argument by Grare regarding regional and international concerns of Pakistan is also supported by some other authors, such as Ian Talbot who believes that uncertainties of Pakistan in relations with Afghanistan after 2001 is a part of India - Pakistan competition for close relations with the US.Andishmnd also pointed out that close relations between Afghanistan and India is a concern for Pakistan while he also believes that India is also against settlement between Afghanistan and Pakistan48which can be part of regional concerns of Pakistan. Besides that the interviewees of the present work also provided with more or less similar remarks that are analyzed in the following paragraphs.

Dr. Ahmad Ratib Muzaffari, International Relations Lecturer at Kabul University believes that Pakistan have various incentives for intervening in Afghanistan. He stated that the main reason for Pakistan to remain active in Afghanistan is to install a Pro-Pakistan government in Kabul through which it could fulfill its other national interests. He added that supporting the Taliban was part of this goal. He then described that by installing a Pro-Pakistan government Pakistan can end the territorial claims by Afghanistan, such a government will no longer have friendly and close relations with India and Afghanistan will continue to remain a market for Pakistani goods. To the question about the position of Durand Line Dispute in the tensions between the two countries his view was that certainly Pakistan has concerns about the dispute. He believes that Pakistan is not concerned of losing its territory to Afghanistan – because Afghanistan has never issued any territorial claim against Pakistan - but Pakistan has concern of Afghanistan’s interference through ethnic networks beyond the Durand Line to motivate Pashtun residents of border area to stand against Pakistan and demand a new independence state of Pashtunistan.49 While Mr. Muzaffari considers the Durand Line dispute part of disagreements between the two countries there are some remarks by other experts which believes the Durand Line dispute is the main factor of disagreements between the two countries.

 Mr. Matiullah Safi, an expert of Afghanistan – Pakistan relations believes that Durand Line dispute has been the main reason of tension between the two countries since the emergence of Pakistan. He pointed that hostility between Afghanistan and Pakistan was first ignited when in 1947 Afghanistan voted against Pakistan's membership in United Nations due to claims on territories beyond the Durand Line. He added that following the emergence of Pakistan, Kabul was always supporting Pashtun leaders on the Pakistani side of Durand Line to fight against Pakistan and it was not tolerable for Pakistan. He added that in 1979 after the military intervention of USSR in Afghanistan and emergence of anti-government Islamic parties (Mujahidin) most of whom were based in Pakistan, the government of Islamabad got the opportunity to counteract against Afghanistan by supporting these Islamist fighters to fight against Afghan government. He stated that since then Pakistan has always been a key player of conflict in Afghanistan and still supports the anti-government militant groups in order to make Afghanistan insecure. He added that Pakistan will remain dishonest as far as it has the concern of border dispute which is a threat to its territorial integrity.50 However, all above sources indicate that Pakistan is interfering in Afghanistan although each source presents different factors behind Pakistan's interference, but the issue is argued other way by the Pakistani government.

On the other hand Pakistan has always denied any types of support to the insurgency in Afghanistan. Pakistan government at times declared that insecurity in Afghanistan will also have negative effects on stability of Pakistan. Pakistan accepts its failure to control border areas and prevent terrorist activities in its territory, therefore, on 9 March 2006, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Interior Minister of Pakistan proposed to "fence the border with Afghanistan and plant mines to stop the infiltration of foreigners." This suggestion cannot prove the honesty of Pakistan on fighting insurgency. Firstly, the proposal is not practically taking into account the length of the border. Secondly, mining the border area will negatively affect the life of civilians living on both sides of the border because the border line has in parts crossed through villages where both sides are residential.

Research reveals various factors for disagreements and tense relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan among which the Durand Line dispute is one of the frequently mentioned points. It cannot be argued that the border dispute is the only factor of tension but one can certainly argue, based on most of the available evidence and reasoning, that no settlement for the problem is possible without overcoming the Durand Line dispute since due to the border dispute and lack of control the area has become a safe haven for terrorists and a safe route for smugglers. It should not be misunderstood that solving the border dispute will solve all problems between the two countries but it can certainly pave the way for further cooperation and will create a level of trust between the neighbors. The next section will elaborate on the notion of Durand Line dispute after 2001 as one of the causes of disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

Durand Line post - 2001

The Durand Line dispute still remains a very sensitive notion in public opinion in Afghanistan. Nobody can take the risk of recognizing the border or compromising on the issue, therefore, the current government of Afghanistan, established with support of US and the international community after fall of Taliban in 2001, has either remained silent in this regard or has referred the issue to the people of both side of the Durand Line by stating that any decision in this regard should be taken by the people.

In 2006 when Pakistan proposed to fence the border for preventing terrorist movement across the border, Afghanistan refused it. Hamid Karzai, strongly opposed this suggestion and stated that would only affect the civilian and would not prevent insurgency. He added that in order to prevent insurgency, their places of training should be destroyed. The President of Afghanistan in a meeting with Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State on 13 Sep 2006 also raised his concern about the proposal of Pakistan and emphasized that any solution to the Durand dispute is belonged to the people of Afghanistan and fencing the border will separate the people of two sides of the border. Later in October 2006, Karim Rahimi, Karzai's spokesperson described the Durand Agreement as an imposed agreement.

The second occasion that the Afghan government immediately reacted against was in 2012 when the special representative of US for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman considered the Durand Line as an internationally recognized border. His remark was in respond to question of a journalist whom he was interviewed by. His statement was then confirmed by the US ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham. "On Monday, Kabul took strong exception to US Special Envoy Marc Grossman’s statement on the Durand Line. On his arrival in Kabul, he told Channel One the United States considered the Durand Line an international border. Soon after his remarks were aired, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the status of the line was a matter of historic importance for the Afghan people. The Afghan government, therefore, rejects and considers irrelevant any statement by anyone about the legal status of this line," the ministry spokesman, Janan Musazai said."

Subsequently, the president's office also reacted on the issue and spokesperson of President Karzai, Aimal Faizi, considered the issue related to Afghanistan and stated that, "every country staked out its position on an issue in accordance with its interest, but the statements of American diplomats would not bring any change to Afghanistan’s principled stance on the Durand Line." The president's spokesperson added, "The Afghan people, not the government, can take a final decision on it." Mustaghni,

Spokesman of MFA also stated that the Durand Line is not recognized by the Afghan government and any further decision in this regard should be made by the people.

A dramatic change regarding the Durand Line in post-2001 era is the fact that now Afghan analysts, academics and politicians who are not in the government are more openly criticizing the Afghanistan stance on Durand Line and consider it as a legal border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Such critical opinions sound more and more frequently, but it should be noted that most of such thoughts are coming from non-Pashtun Afghans. In his book, Munazihai Durand: Aqlanyat-e-Syasi (Durand Dispute: Political Rationality), Mohammad Akram Andishmand, who belongs to Tajik ethnic group repeatedly criticizes the claims of Afghanistan on Durand Agreement and states that in order to overcome security problems and conflict Afghanistan should recognize the Durand Line as an international border between the two countries. Aziz Hakimi, an Afghan journalist, the representative of the same ethnic group, in an interview with BBC in 2012 states that the time has come to get rid of the dispute because it has no benefit for Afghanistan but paves the way for further intervention of Pakistan to Afghanistan. He adds that the claim that the line has separated people of same ethnic group on both sides of the border is not something unique and there are many examples of such separation that can be seen in the world. Dr. Ahmad Ratib Muzaffari, another representative of Tajik ethnic but of the Shiite minority, states that the Durand dispute has no legal base and it is used as a political tool in domestic politics. He adds that since the emergence of Pakistan, the issue has been used by Afghan governments, most of which were Pashtun-dominated, in order to gain the support of Pashtun population specifically residents in those border areas.

The above mentioned people who have argued against the Afghan government stance on Durand dispute are all non-Pashtun Afghans while most of Pashtuns are presenting a different point of view in regards to Durand Line. In an interview, Ghafoor Liwal, head of Afghanistan's Strategic Studies Center who is a Pashtun told BBC that the Durand Agreement was imposed on Afghanistan and has cut some of Afghan territory which was added to Pakistan after 1947. He believes that the line has never been recognized by Afghanistan and residents of both sides of the line. Thus, it is not a legal boundary. Moreover, Mr. Matiullah Safi who is also a Pashtun believes that the Durand Agreement is legally invalid and Afghanistan has the right not to recognize it. He stated that is why Pakistan has concern of a strong Afghanistan and attempts to destabilize the country. He added that it is the legal right of Afghanistan but the country should wait until achieving internal stability so could deal with the dispute from a stronger position.

Another important characteristic of post-2001 era in regards to Durand Line dispute is involvement of US and the international community in Afghanistan and the international war against terrorist because the areas beyond the Durand Line are home to local and international terrorist groups. Thus, this gives the dispute an international image. US and other states recognize the Durand Line as an international border: as it was mentioned before, the special envoy of US to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2012 considered the Durand Line as an international border which resulted in reaction of Afghan government. This indicates that Afghanistan's claim over territories beyond the Durand Line will not be supported by the international community. Furthermore, the dispute has paved the way for terrorists to freely operate in the areas beyond the Durand Line due to the lack of control by both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The areas have also become a good route for smuggling illegal goods. The last two points will be further explained in next section.

 

Terrorist Activities and Smuggling in Border Areas

As it was mentioned above, the ongoing dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan over the Durand Line has made the areas on both sides of the border, a "safe haven" for terrorists and smugglers. A large number of terrorist groups and smugglers are freely operating on both sides of the border more obviously on Pakistan side. Most part of the border area on Pakistan side are not under the control of the government of Pakistan and are controlled by Tribal Agencies. To avoid riots and demand for self - determination by the Pashtun residents of the area, Pakistan has granted unlimited freedom to these tribes. Thus, such freedoms paved the way for terrorists and smuggler to freely move on both sides of the border.64 According to Paul Smyth in May 2008, the Pakistani Taliban65 after signing an agreement with the government of Pakistan publicly stated that the Pakistani Taliban will conduct operations in Afghanistan.66 By signing such agreements with insurgents and giving them unlimited freedom, the government of Pakistan has intentionally or unintentionally supported terrorist activities in the border area. Besides, there are other important factors that assist free movement and illegal acts in the border areas.

Tribal networks and connections on both sides of the border are another excuse for free movement across the border. This in turn has become a good opportunity for terrorists and smugglers to use such connections for illegal movement from Pakistan to Afghanistan and vice-versa. Moreover, the border is extremely wide that cannot be controlled and the people on both sides are mostly relative and connected to each other. Despite the fact that Pakistan has given unlimited freedom to these areas, after 9/11 and starting of international war on terror and in respond to occasional attacks in Pakistan territories by insurgents in tribal areas and the pressure by US and international community the government of Pakistan from time to time conduct military operations against the insurgents, but still they failed to collapse the insurgents networks. According to Grare, "[a]pproximately 450 Pakistani soldiers have already been killed there, fighting the local Taliban and members of Al Qaeda." Furthermore, the area is not only home to large number of terrorists, but smuggling of drug, weapon and other illegal goods is another issue of concern in these areas.

Lack of control and absence of rule of law in tribal areas have paved the way for smuggler to use it as a safe route for smuggling. The largest amount of the income in border areas are from illegal trade and smuggling. Absence of law and wide border with shared language, ethnicity and culture on both sides of the border has made the area a bridge for smugglers. Smuggling has also become a source of funding for the militant groups across the border. According to United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), more than 40% of drug produced in Afghanistan are smuggled through Pakistan. These drugs are being processed in small villages in border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.70 Thus, one can argue that much of the existed problems in the area such as insecurity, insurgency, illegal trade and smuggling are due to absence of authority of any government which is in turn because of lack of a clear and demarcated border.

To conclude this chapter, findings of the current work indicates that the Durand Line dispute is one of the main causes - if not the only main cause - for disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan since the creation of Pakistan in 1947 up to date. Thus, if the dispute is not settled and continues to remain unsolved, the relations between the two countries would also continue to be tense. The findings also reveal that continuation of border dispute besides the disagreements between the two countries cause other challenges and problems such as lack of control or absence of authority in the area as well as illegal trade and smuggling which in turns can pave the way for increase of terrorist activities in the border area that can harm the security of both states. Therefore, in order to settle the disagreements between the two countries, solving the border dispute is imperative and a major step toward further improvement of relations and trust building between the two countries. However, it should be clarified that settlement of border dispute will not be an end to all problems between the two countries but a positive step toward trust building and further settlement of disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, the next chapter of the current work will elaborate on the future of the dispute as well as possible solutions to the problems
 

Chapter Four

Looking forward and Possible Solutions of Durand Line Dispute

Possible Future Scenarios for Durand Line Dispute

Different scenarios can be drawn depended on the way the issue would be dealt with by the two countries. The Durand Line can remain a reason of tension and uncertainty in relations of the two countries and it can even worsen the relationships considering the growth of insurgency in Afghanistan as far as Pakistan is considered the main supporter of insurgents by the Afghan government. It is also possible that realizing the importance of settling their common border both countries would take practical moves to address the issue, however, it would be extremely optimistic to predict a settlement in short period of time considering the complexity of the issue and especially the factor of the ethnic make-up on the border area. It should be added that it is not a dispute that would be simply ended by a settlement between two governments; any settlement should be in coordination with the people living on both sides of the border or it will not last long.

Taking into account the history of dispute, one can argue that the issue would continue to be a reason for disagreements between the two countries and would remain unsolved for a long period due to the following facts. First, since 1947, all Afghan governments, including the Taliban who were clearly supported by Pakistan, have refused to recognize the Durand Line and it is likely to be remaining the same as long as Pashtuns are dominating the power in the country. Second, Pakistan has always refused even to negotiate the issue, this is another evidence that support the continuation of dispute. Thus, if both sides keep their stances along the same line as usual and refuse to open up for negotiations and possible compromises, the problem is unlikely to reach a settlement.

Dr. Ratib Muzaffari believes that it is not possible to expect a solution for the issue in short period of time because he thinks that Pashtuns of Afghanistan are yet not ready to accept the fact that Afghanistan neither has the right nor the strength to put any territorial claims on Pakistan and the non-Pashtuns do not have the power to recognize the border and settle the problem. In contrast, Mr. Matiullah Safi argues that it is not the correct time for Afghanistan to raise the border problem with Pakistan. He believes that in order to get a fair settlement that could fulfill national interest of the country, Afghanistan should leave it for the time when its internal problems are settled and the country is powerful enough to negotiate the issue from a strong position. Statements of Mr. Safi, although in a different way, imply the continuation of problem in the future, however, he believes it is imperative for Afghanistan not to take any step for the time while Dr. Muzaffari argues the other way and believes that continuation of the dispute will negatively impact the situation in Afghanistan.

The official position of the government of Afghanistan regarding the Durand Line also supports this scenario. While asking the Spokesman of MFA in this regard, he responded, "the only thing I can say is that the government of Afghanistan does not recognize Durand Line as an international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan." He added that no decision has been made by the Afghan government regarding the dispute because the government believes that any decision should be made by the people of both sides of the Durand line and in line with the national interest of the country. He stated that the issue is not in the agenda of the government for now because currently there is no official negotiations in progress. These official statements clearly indicate that the dispute will remain unsolved for a long time and there is no immediate intention on the part of the government of Afghanistan to solve the problem.

Factor that can even worsen the situation is the pullout of US-led international troops from Afghanistan. This can result in increase of insurgency in Afghanistan which can negatively affect the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and would make any settlement still more challenging. Another argument made by Grare is that considering the ongoing instability in Afghanistan, Pakistan leaves the options open to fill the gap after the US pullout in order to avoid influence of other regional powers in Afghanistan. He believes that Pakistan can affect and change the range of Taliban operations while continue to show commitment to war on terror, through which Afghanistan can be under pressure and the consequence would be a proof for significance of Pakistan's role in the region.

On the other hand, there have been clashes between the Afghan and Pakistani security forces at recent times which have had causalities for both sides. Thus, considering all these factors it is not unlikely to increase disagreements between the two countries, unless both countries with support of US and international community work together in order to enhance their relations but honesty and trust on each other would always be a pre-condition for any solution. However, the Spokesman of MFA believes that US pullout will not affect Afghanistan - Pakistan relations nor it would increase flow of insurgency from the other side of the Durand Line. He states that Afghanistan now has the power to maintain its security and borders, therefore, pullout of international security forces will not challenge the security situation.

While, in contrast the other two interviewees of this research believe other way, Mr. Muzaffari stated that Afghanistan should have taken benefit of presence of the international forces and tried to solve the problems with Pakistan including the Durand Line dispute, he added that it is the best time for Afghanistan to raise the issue. On the other hand, Mr. Safi also stated that US pullout will result in more actions and insurgency which he believes Pakistan would have a major role in. He added that Pakistan would certainly attempt to use the gap of international forces pullout to insecure Afghanistan because Pakistan always fears a stable and strong Afghanistan.

In addition to what have been discussed above, it is important to understand the way Durand Line is perceived by the residents of border areas, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As it was mentioned before, the people of border area have never accepted it as a border and they freely move on both sides. Therefore, people who reside in the border areas are concerned of a settled and managed border because they fear losing their connections and free movement with their families who are divided in both sides of the border. Thus, any settlement without involvement of people won’t work because some of the tribal leaders and representatives are getting benefit of the status quo and not ready for any changes, therefore, any settlement without considering their concerns will only remain on the paper.

The other issue that should be taken into account is close relationship between Afghanistan and India, given the hostile relationship between India and Pakistan it certainly affect any settlement of the Durand Line dispute and in a broader context the relationship of Afghanistan with Pakistan. Since the dispute arose in 1947 India has supported the Afghan position and claims in order to put pressure on Pakistan. Both Afghanistan and India see each other as an ally against Pakistan, this in turn can severe the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and increase the level of distrust which can be a challenge for any settlement.

Overall, the findings of this research indicate that the dispute will continue to be a reason for disagreements and tension between the two countries due to the following reasons. First, currently there is no initiative to resolve the issue neither by Afghanistan nor by Pakistan. Second, none of the countries are ready for compromise and negotiation, thus, both sides are stalked on their positions. Third, the issue is of high sensitivities in public opinion in Afghanistan and no one including the government could take the risk of compromise. Fourth, residents of the area have never accepted it as an international border and throughout the history they have always been connected to both sides and have moved freely. Fifth, insecurity, insurgency and tribal system of governance due to lack of control by the governments of both countries is another obstacle for any solution in short run. Thus, any settlement for the problem should consider a long period settlement for the problem and move on step by step. In the next section it is attempted to present a set of possible solutions for the dispute based on the conducted interviews and previous studies.

Possible Solutions for the Durand Line Dispute

In the following paragraphs a set of suggested solutions given by different sources will be analyzed. In July 2007, an unofficial conference regarding the Durand Line dispute was arranged in Istanbul Turkey. The conference was held by the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies in cooperation with the Hollings Center. The participants of the conference were scholars, policy analysts and former government officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Europe and the US. The report of the conference presented some recommendations to solve the dispute. According to the achieved results of the conference, in order to achieve and maintain a permanent solution to be acceptable for both sides plus the population of border areas the following measures should be taken:

  • Regardless of the history of dispute the line has been internationally recognized as border between the two countries for long period of time, thus, no changes should be brought in a way that would harm the sovereignty of both sides.
  • Since the people located on both sides are highly connected to each other and has ethnic and family ties, whatever the solution is, it should give the population the right to freely move on both side of the border as it is practicing now. However, in order to maintain control over such "soft border" both countries should improve their authorities in the area. The current lack of authority should be filled by both countries.
  • International community (Europe and US) should work with both sides in order to build trust between them and to enhance "trade, transit right, and security measures" which decrease the tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The process should not be started by the direct recognition of the border but prior to that other issues related to the border should be addressed.
  • US and European countries should take the responsibility to convince both sides to start the process. Pakistan should be ensured that Afghanistan will not be added to its security problem specifically in case of close relationship of Afghanistan with India. On the other hand Afghanistan should be given free access to sea in particular in Karachi for economic reasons. Besides that Pakistan should prevent intervention in internal politics of Afghanistan.
  • To achieve these goals long term security assurance plus a considerable amount of international aid should be part of the process.

On the other hand, Brad L. Brasseur suggests the recognition of the Durand Line as international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan without any pre-condition. He argues that recognizing the border by Afghanistan will build trust between the two countries and the consequences would be improvements in security, economic development of border areas, social growth of tribal life as well as trade between the two countries. According to him, once the recognition process is done international community should increase investment and aid in both sides of the border areas. And in order to respond to the concern of people about their ethnic connections and free movement both governments should establish measures and procedures to ease the needs of movement and connections on both sides. In addition, the people of border area should also be involved in the recognition process in order to avoid further problems.

Dr. Muzaffari also believes that the time has come to recognize the border but he raises his concern about sensitivity of issue among the Afghan population. He states that throughout the history of Durand Line dispute the Afghan governments at different times have used this notion for their internal political objectives in order to maintain the support of Pashtuns, thus, they have spread incorrect information regarding the issue which now have been accepted by people and created high sensitivity that no one can take the risk of discuss the issue other way. Therefore, in order to avoid such unrests the Afghan government should prior to recognition call the Grand Assembly (Loya Jirga)85 to make a final decision regarding the dispute and then based on the decision of the assembly the government should recognize the border. He argues that in this case it will be acceptable for everyone. He emphasizes that in order to pass the decision for recognition the members of assembly should understand that Afghanistan gets nothing but insecurity, insurgency and instability from continuation of the dispute.

Mr. Safi on the other hand believes that any decision regarding the recognition of border will not be sustainable and will be remained on the paper. He highlights that it is not possible to separate the people of same ethnicity, tribes and in some parts same families. Recognition will result in more insurgency on both sides and people will riot against it. His claim is that any decision regarding the territories across the Durand Line should be taken by the people of these areas in order to be permanent. Moreover, Safi points out the right to self-determination as an internationally recognized right which cannot be taken away from the residents of these areas.87 Similar points were presented by the Spokesman of MFA by simply referring the issue to the people and considering it the right of people to make the final decision, however, he emphasized that any decision made by people should be in line with national interest of Afghanistan but did not clarified the national interest of Afghanistan regarding the Durand Line dispute. He stated that currently the official position of the government of Afghanistan is not to recognize the border but no further decision in this regard has been made by the government.

Putting all the above points together it is demonstrated that there can be two different approaches to the dispute. The first approach supports recognition of the border with clear procedures while the second approach is against the recognition of border but lacks clear solution to the problem. The first approach can be justified based on the following arguments: first, the Durand Line has been acted as official border between Afghanistan and Pakistan for more than a century. Second, the border is recognized as the international border between the two countries by the international community and Afghanistan has never issued any official claim in this regard. Third, the dispute will pave the way for terrorist groups to freely operate in the area due to lack of control and the area will remain a safe haven for them which is neither in interest of Afghanistan nor Pakistan. Fourth, recognition will improve level of cooperation between the two countries and it will result in enhancement of security at the same time it will pave the way for economic development.

On the contrary, the second approach is justified by the following arguments: First, the border line separated people of same ethnicity on both sides of the line. Second, Afghanistan is not strong enough to settle the problem based on its national interest. Third, it is the people who possess the right to make any decision. Fourth, people of the border area should have the right to self-determination. Analyzing the above arguments for both approaches, the present study comes to the conclusion that the first approach is more practical and logical and the only possible solution for the problem. The justifications made by the second approach can be simply responded by the following arguments. The argument that the border has separated people of same ethnicity is not unique and several examples of such can be found in the world. For instance, Kurds, Baluchs, Germans and Tajiks are ethnic groups who are living in two or more than two countries. In respond to the second argument, there is no time table for strengthening Afghanistan, thus, it is an ambiguous stance. The arguments regarding the right of people for making decision and self-determination, it should be stated that for involvement of people in decision making a practical mechanism is required which is not presented by the supporters of second approach and regarding self-determination it is an issue of internal business of the people who are demanding it.

However, the findings of this research shows that the recognition process should be based on a practical mechanism that would ensure a permanent solution and acceptable for the people. Therefore, besides the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the people of border areas should also be involved and should be assured that recognition will not harm their relations and it would bring social, political and economic development in their areas. The point stated by Muzaffari regarding the need for holding Loya Jirga seems efficient and practical. Given the credibility of Loya Jirga in Afghanistan any decision made by it will be acceptable for everyone and will give legitimacy to the recognition process once it is agreed and decided by Loya Jirag.

 

Conclusion

The present research studied the role of the Durand Line dispute in tension and disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The main focus of the research was a study of Afghan side. A range of opinion and arguments from the Afghan side is being analyzed while Pakistani side has also been taken into account when available or relevant in the text. It seemed important to engage with some of the existing literature in the field of border studies. The theories shed light on the role of borders in international relations as well as how borders become issue of dispute and conflict. Having the theories discussed, the classification of borders into "natural" and "non-natural" or good and bad border well describe the border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan which is a good example of "non-natural" borders and is thus, considered problematic. In addition, the indicators discussed in theory part regarding the causes of border disputes also meet the characteristics of the Durand Line. Among which the points that the Durand Line has divided ethnic groups and the point regarding the demarcation of border at colonial time are more obvious.

Another issue that was studied in the second chapter of the present work is the history of the Durand Line. The history studied the Durand Line mainly in two phases: Durand Line in phase of agreement from 1893 to 1947 and then from 1947 to present day can be considered as the phase of dispute over Durand Line. It was just in 1947 after emergence of Pakistan that Afghanistan claim over the territories beyond the Durand Line which is the starting point of dispute over the issue. The study revealed that the main point behind the Durand Line dispute is not legal but the fact that the line has separated Pashtuns on both sides. However, the arguments made by Afghanistan are that the border line is created based on an imposed agreement by the British imperialism but evidence in the existing studies indicates it other way. The Durand Line agreement is not the only treaty which has confirmed the border but the border has been confirmed by subsequent agreements on various occasions by the Afghan governments. On the other hand, the Durand Line is recognized as an international boundary by the international community and based on international law Afghanistan cannot issue any claim.

Moving forward, the research enters to its main objective and analysis of 'the role of the Durand Line in disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan', particularly, in the post 2001 era. Analyzing different sources including the existing studies and conducted interviews by the author, the research revealed that the Durand Line is one of the most important causes for disagreements between the two countries. The point is confirmed by almost all of the studied sources except the spokesman of MFA who did not clearly confirmed, however, he also stated that it can be one of the causes. Analyzing different sources the study also revealed that the Durand Line dispute is viewed differently by the Pashtun and non-Pashtun Afghans. Majority of Pashtuns believe that the issue is a matter of historical importance and Afghanistan has the right to support Pashtuns beyond the Durand Line and its claim is legal. On the contrary, non-Pashtuns consider the Durand Line dispute a reason for insecurity and stability of the country. Overall, Pashtuns are pro Durand Line dispute while non-Pashtuns are against the dispute and believes that Afghanistan should recognize the Durand Line as its international boundary.

In addition, the findings of the present study suggest that besides being a matter of disagreements between the two governments the Durand Line dispute has also paved the way for terrorist activities and insurgency in the border region due to lack of authority and ease of movement on both sides of the border. Besides that the research revealed that illegal trade and smuggling is another characteristic of the region and has become a good source of funding insurgents. The overall cause of such illegal activities in the region is due to lack of authority and disputed border.

Furthermore, the research attempted to draw the most probable scenario for the future of the Durand Line dispute. The findings support the status quo as the most probable future of the dispute due to certain reasons. First, given the sensitivity of issue in Afghanistan no one can accept the risk of compromise while on the other side, Pakistan considers the issue settled and not ready to negotiate. Thus, it is unlikely to reach to a settlement in short run and it will continue to be a reason for souring the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. On the other hand, possible solutions to the dispute were also studied at the very end of the research. The findings suggest that the only practical solution to the problem is recognition of border as an international boundary by Afghanistan. However, it should be taken into account that the recognition process should be based on a practical mechanism that would result in a permanent settlement acceptable for both sides of the dispute as well as for the people of the region.

To conclude, this paper overall suggests that the Durand Line dispute plays a significant role in disagreements between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Solving the Durand Line dispute is a pre-condition for solving other problems between the two countries including insurgency, insecurity and other illegal activities a broad range of which are led and planned across the border region. In addition to disagreements between the two countries, the Durand Line dispute also caused other tangible problems for both countries the most obvious ones are safe havens for terrorists, illegal trade and smuggling which are all due to lack of proper authority in the region. Thus, a safe and sound border area with authorized governance would result in improvement of overall situation, particularly security situation in both countries

 

 

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