Durand Line - India Afghanistan Border

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 7, 2022, 12:23

If we wish to understand the significance of the Durand Line, we should look at the historical circumstances that led to its construction. The British and the Afghans fought two Anglo-Afghan wars before the 1900s. The Afghans triumphed in the first fight, which took place in 1839. The British placed Abdur Rahman Khan in command of Afghanistan in accordance with the Landmark Treaty following the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878 - 80).

Durand Line History

In exchange, Afghanistan was forced to hand over certain border districts to the British in 1880. Later, in 1893, the Durand Line agreement was signed to establish the border between British India and Afghanistan to legally designate the two countries' territories. The Durrand Line passed through a tribal province, and Pashtuns made up the majority of the population of this tribal province in the Hindu Kush region.

However, the independence war of Afghanistan against British India took place in 1919, and it is also known as the Third Anglo-Afghan war. In the end, the war came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Rawalpindi, which specified British India's recognition of Afghan independence, and in return, Afghanistan had to recognise the Durrand Line internationally. After India and Pakistan were separated, the Durrand Line was recognised globally as the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Durand Line was created in 1893 by British government servant Sir Henry Mortimer Durand and the Afghan Emir, Abdur Rahman Khan, to delineate their respective territories. It is a 2670 km long border that presently exists between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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Facts of Durand Line

As discussed before, the Durand Line being present between Pakistan and Afghanistan still creates tension between the two countries. Pakistan claims to have acquired the Afghan frontier delineated by the Durand Line as a descendant state of British India. On the contrary, Afghanistan rejects the border that specifies the fact that the Pushtans' lands, which were originally Afghan, were captured by British India via the Durand Line.

The 105 km of the easter most section of the Durand Line that passes through Pakistan-controlled Kashmir also originally belongs to the Indian territory. Afghanistan urged that the Pashtuns living in Pakistan be given the opportunity to self-determine their choice of place to live. It happened during the time when India and Pakistan were founded. However, this proposal was turned down by Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

Durand Line Agreement

Afghanistan also alleged that since the Durand Line Agreement was prevalent for about a hundred years, the assets should have returned to it in 1999. Pakistan, on the other hand, refused to accept the 100-year timeline as well as the demand from Afghanistan. So, despite the fact that the Durand Line is globally recognised and approved, the current Afghan government refuses to acknowledge it. They claim that the Durand Line was imposed on the Afghans by the United Kingdom, taking into account that the Afghan authorities had previously acknowledged it.

Despite the passage of over 128 years, it is apparent that political tensions over the Durand Line remain still the same. Furthermore, in current times, the dangerous region has become a hub of drug trafficking, kidnapping, crime, and violence.

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FAQs on Durand Line

Q.1. What is the Durand Line?

As British India and Afghanistan wanted to delineate their respective spheres of influence, the initiative of the Durand Line was taken back in 1893. This boundary was extended across the tribal province in the Hindu Kush region. Presently, the Durand Line embodies the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Q.2. When was the Durand Line established?

The British civil servant Sir Henry Mortimer Durand and the Afghan Emir, Abdur Rahman Khan, agreed to establish the Durand Line in the year 1893.

Q.3. Why does Afghanistan not accept the Durand Line presently?

The Durand Line passes through a tribal region that is known to be predominantly Pashtun-inhabited. Afghanistan claims that the Durand Line was enforced on the country by British India, separating thousands of Pashtun families in the border region. As the region wants to continue to maintain its legitimacy through the unanimous living of Pashtun families, Afghanistan does not accept the Durand Line presently.

Q.4. Why was the Durand Line established?

The Durand Line was drawn between British India and Afghanistan to officially mark the respective territories on the world map, along with enhancing their international relations with each other.