What is the Durand Line?

The Durand Line separates Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Durand Line separates Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Durand line refers to the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Durand line came into existence on November 12, 1896, when the border which was used to separate the British and the Afghanistan territories came to life. The main reason for establishing the Durand line was to improve diplomatic and trade relations within the two regions.

Before the signing of the agreement that led to the establishment of the Durand line, the British Empire and Afghanistan had engaged in two major wars. The first war was referred to as the First Anglo-Afghan war and took place in the year 1839. During the First Anglo-Afghan war, the British army which was made up of Britain-led Indian forces was defeated by the Afghan military. After the first war, the British troops left Afghanistan. The Second Anglo-Afghan War occurred in the year 1878 where the British forces conquered a portion of land that belonged to Afghanistan. The Treaty of Gandamak was signed during the second war which allowed the British to retain the control of the areas it had conquered.

The Treaty Of Gandamak And Its Impact

The signing of the Treaty of Gandamak resulted in some peace between the warring groups. To reduce conflict concerning the governance of the two distinct territories, the British Empire sent Mortimer Durand to Afghanistan to sign an agreement in 1893. The Durand Line agreement was established on November 12, 1893. Upon the establishment and recognition of the Durand line in 1896 the border geographically separated the Pashtuns, Baloch and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

Upon the signing and acknowledgment of the Durand line, the British empire began building railway lines in its territory to ease the movement of goods and services within its border. However, not everyone was happy with the drawing of the border, and it wasn't long before instability and violence broke out. The third Anglo-Afghan war which took place in 1919 further escalated the friction between the British Empire and Afghanistan.

The Current State Of The Durand Line

On July 26, 1949, the Afghanistan government explicitly stated that it did not recognize the Durand line. The area along the Durand line does not have any law and is therefore known as a kind of "no man's land" where numerous illegal activities take place. To date, the area is known for kidnapping, the trade of firearms, ammunition, the smuggling of narcotics, electronic products, and precious metals. Over the years numerous Muslim leaders have come together in an attempt to settle the feud concerning the Durand line.


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