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Editorial: 125 years of controversial Durand Line

Whatever might be stances of both the stake holders Afghanistan and Pakistan on Durand Line but one thing is very clear that all treaties signed by the previous British India with the Afghan rulers at the time when Afghanistan was lacking its independence and was dependent on former British India. On such grounds, the Afghans are very right in their demand for re-visiting the treaty which is called Durand Line, signed between British India’s representative Sir Mortimer Durand and Amir Abdul Rahman Khan of Afghanistan. Despite signing of the Durand Line, the British colonial rulers for making secure its more and more its interests based on its forward or expansion policies in the region, forced other Afghan leaders to go for its rectification through 1905 and 1919 Rawalpindi treaties. Right from 1809, first ever treaty signed between Shah Shuja and British rulers in Peshawar, enabled England to force on Afghanistan. However, on end of first Anglo Afghan war, suffering a lot the colonials, British rulers surrendered to recognize the sovereign and independent status of Afghanistan for a while through 1855 Treaty. “It contains mutual obligations not to encroach upon the possessions of either and to be, “friend of friends,” and “enemy of enemies” of either party. But the British rulers remain firm on their decision of getting revenge of shameful defeat of first Anglo-Afghan War. Through one or the other ways, they made attempts to get occupation of Afghanistan and monopolise its internal and external policies. On such ground, it again went for re-visiting of 1855 Treaty through 1856-58 treaty and also 1879 Gandamak treaty. However, due to tremendous pressure and opposition from Afghanistan and abroad as well, Afghanistan renounced the 1879 Gandamak agreement in 1880-81, by calling back its troops from Kandahar. During this period 1855-1880, British colonial rulers had experienced Independence War in Sub Continent and also Anglo-Iran War 1856-58. Whereas it’s growing influence in Sub Continent also made alert the former Czars of Russia, thus forcing the British colonial rulers to remain in close contacts with Afghans. However, all these agreements have been signed when almost kings and rulers of Kabul were not independent in their policies. In August 1919, when Afghanistan was made liberated by the British Colonial powers, King Aman Ullah Khan was the first who had denounced the Durand Line agreement and had hoped to acquire Peshawar and areas in the Derajat up to the Indus. Even the British high ups have time and again confessed that the Durand Line was not drawn arbitrarily. Till 1978 almost Afghan rulers have time and again rejected the Durand Line and the Pakhtoon Afghan leaders from Pakistan, mostly divided, disintegrated and suppressed first by British colonial rulers and later by its inherited military establishment in Pakistan remain helpless and silent on this issue. However majority of Pakhtoons from Pakistan side still having stock of reservations over Durand Line but they are not allowed to talk about. Unfortunately imposed wars, hostilities and invasions from abroad made crippled the Afghans. The previous Hamid Karzai government from time to time raised the issue on internal forums but unfortunately in present Ashraf Ghani’s government its’ rare. Even, Pakistan is engaged in one sided fencing and construction of walls on Durand Line, thus further disintegrating the Pakhtoons families living on both sides of Durand Line.

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