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Editorial: The burning line

The Durand Line, the 2,640 km borderline imposed on Afghanistan in 1893 by the British, has not only divided the nation, tribes and brothers but also become a bone of contention between Kabul and Islamabad. It has become a burning line as recently Afghan and Pakistani security forces clashed which left civilians and security personnel from both sides killed and injured. One Afghan border policeman was killed and five others were injured on Sunday. Another policeman and two children were killed and 12 border policemen were injured on Monday when clash resumed between security forces of the two countries at Torkham. Pakistani forces also suffered casualties. The clashes erupted on Sunday at 9:00pm when Pakistani forces tried to build a gate at Torkham, one of the two main crossing points on the Durand Line.

As per official reports the installation of the gate was a unilateral act which is against the agreement signed between the two countries. According to the agreement, both sides shall engage in dialogues to resolve problems related to military installations on the Durand Line in amicable way. The agreement was drafting according to international laws. The agreement was reached after thorough discussion and considerations while keeping the past experiences in view. Earlier, security forces of the two countries had clashed on issues of the same nature.

In 2013, Afghan border police clashed with Pakistan’s Frontier Corps and Khasadars in Goshta district of Nangarhar when the latter denied stopping construction of military installations. Such skirmishes will continue if civilian and military leaders of the two countries failed to realize the fact that the Durand Line is dividing the Pashtun nation. They cannot be separated by the line because they have blood bond. Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan can prevent Pashtuns from visiting relatives living on both sides of the Durand Line.

If the line is used as a dividing factor then it would be unprecedented injustice to a nation of around 60 million people in the human history. It will be a crime against over 400 Pashtun tribes and clans living on both sides of the Durand Line. Therefore, the two countries should resolve their differences through diplomacy, and take steps to facilitate the divided nation. Free movement of Pashtuns to the two countries would help in improvement of Afghan-Pak relations which are at the lowest point. Hatred on both sides is at its peak. It will have a negative impact on policies and relations of the two countries in the decades to come, if the situation was not brought under control.

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