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Afghanistan will never give up its irredentism on Durand Line: Karzai

“Pakistan presses Afghanistan to recognize the Durand Line as an officially recognized boundary, but Kabul wants it retaken via a peaceful struggle,” former president

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: Ex- president Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that Pakistan has been hell-bent on forcing Kabul to recognize the Durand Line as the officially accepted international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a thing which is not acceptable to Afghans at any situation.

Addressing a one day conference “Durand-Gandumak”, organized by Afghan Analytical Advisory Center (AAAC) and attended by academics, journalists and intellectuals from across Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karzai said that Afghanistan doesn’t want to engage in war with its eastern neighbor Pakistan, yet at the same time it will never give up its historical claim and standpoint on its territory. He furthered that Pakistan ostensibly tries to paint itself as a friend of Afghanistan but in behind this mask there is the face of an enemy because its security establishment and army officials have been pressing Kabul to recognize the Durand Line, which Kabul has never and will never recognize.

Hong Kong was once a British colony, taken from China. When the latter started recovering, Hong Kong was annexed back to China from the British, the ex-president said in a not-so-veiled reference to the Durand Line.

Hong Kong was taken from China on 99 years lease. After emerging as a powerful state, China retook it in July 1997, ending 156 years of British rule. The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China is known as “the Handover”.

“Afghans do not any acrimony with Pakistanis and do not want destabilization in Pakistan, but at the same time they never recognize the Durand Line as an internationally recognized border. We will retake the los territory but through a civilized struggle,” Karzai said.

He called on Islamabad to give rights to Pashtuns and Balochs and leave then in peace.

“The British Empire made last ditch efforts to keep people on both sides of the Durand Line divided, however Pakistan’s security establishment is more involved in this game of divide,” he said. The imperial British didn’t want the people living on both sides of the Durand Line to be educated. “The implications of Gandumak and Durand Line agreements are being felt even today as the game has not been changed,” he said. “The British kept the residents of our region in darkness. They also tried to sow the seeds of differences in order to reach their own nefarious and colonial designs,” he said. a renowned author, Hameed Mubarez said that Islamabad has designed its own strategic plans in Afghanistan. “Pakistan wants to reach Central Asian markets through Amu Darya (River Oxus). Islamabad also wants to have its control over Afghanistan’s foreign policy. For this purpose it always wants puppet governments in Afghanistan. By wanting its control over our foreign policy, Islamabad wants to scuttle Kabul’s ties with New Delhi,” he said. Mubarez said the key to peace lies in the hands of Kabul not Pakistan. Islamabad wants to play its strategic game and depth policy therefore it will never want peace in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan must equip its military forces with state-of-the-art weapons in order to tame insecurity and convince Pakistan on sitting on negotiation table with Afghanistan,” he said.

“Pakistan has been pursuing the legacy of the British as what they left incomplete in Afghanistan, Pakistan has continued. But those striding the Durand Line will never accept it,” said Jailani Swak, a political analyst. Nazeef Khan Ashnaghar, a nationalist and a poet from Khyber Pakhtunkwha also addressed the conference.

Delegations of the conference called on the two governments to organize talks on this key issue as it is a crucial matter for the people living on both sides of the Durand Line.

The Durand Line was demarcated by the British and signed into a treaty in 1893 with the Afghan ruler Amir Abdur Rehman Khan. The treaty was to stay in force for a 100-year period. The disputed area was legally to be handed over back to Afghanistan in 1993 after the expiry of the Durand Treaty. But this didn’t happen as at that time Afghanistan was mired in a deadliest war, being supported by Pakistan.

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