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THE DURAND LINE: A HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY OVERVIEW



  Apr 11, 2024

THE DURAND LINE: A HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY OVERVIEW



The Durand Line is a significant geopolitical demarcation that delineates the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, extending approximately 2,640 kilometers (1,640 miles). This boundary originated from an agreement concluded on November 12, 1893, by Sir Mortimer Durand, a representative of the British Indian government, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the then-emir of Afghanistan. Established during a period when Pakistan was part of British India, the Durand Line has since been a source of contention and has played a pivotal role in shaping the region’s socio-political landscape.

Historically, the creation of this border was aimed at securing British interests in the region by defining the limits of their influence and that of the Afghan emirate. The demarcation, however, did not take into account the complex ethnic compositions and tribal distributions in the area, particularly affecting the Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and a significant community in Pakistan. As a consequence, the Durand Line has bisected the Pashtun territories, dividing them between two nation-states and fueling longstanding grievances and calls for a unified Pashtun homeland, known as Pashtunistan.

In contemporary times, the Durand Line continues to be a focal point of geopolitical tension and conflict. It serves as a contentious border, with frequent skirmishes and disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The region is characterized by its rugged terrain and tribal areas, which have historically served as sanctuaries for various militant groups. These dynamics have further complicated the relations between the two countries, with Afghanistan often challenging the legitimacy of the Durand Line as an international border.

Moreover, the presence of Pashtuns on both sides of the border has been a source of political and social tension, particularly in Pakistan, where Pashtuns have expressed feelings of marginalization and discrimination. This has been exacerbated by recent Pakistani policies, including the deportation of undocumented Afghan migrants, which has raised human rights concerns and contributed to the already strained Afghanistan-Pakistan relations.

The Durand Line and its implications extend beyond the immediate border region, influencing broader international relations, regional security, and the lives of millions of people. It epitomizes the challenges of colonial legacies, ethnic divisions, and national sovereignty in a strategically significant yet volatile part of the world.




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