Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says it is internationally recognised
The Durand Line – the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan – is in the news again after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Afghanistan’s Tolo News in an interview that it is an “international border”.
“I think if we want to move ahead and sort of coexist as good neighbours that we desire then I think let’s accept the international border,” Qureshi said, when the Afghan journalist asked him whether the Durand Line was a “recognized border”.
The minister said he feels no need to discuss the border issue with the Afghan authorities, because whether they accept it or not but “that’s the international border”.
The Durand Line was drawn in 1893 as a result of an agreement between the then British Empire and Afghan ruler Abdur Rehman Khan.
It came into existence because the British authorities were afraid of the Russian Empire’s ambitions in the region. The British Empire wanted to keep Afghanistan an independent country that would keep other armies away from the British-controlled areas in the region.
The Durand Line was accepted by all Afghan rulers as an internationally recognized border but something changed after Pakistan and India came into being in 1947.
The present day Afghan leaders don’t accept it as an internationally recognized border either. But the world does.
Even the current Afghan Vice-President Amrullah Saleh said last year that “Peshawar used be the winter capital of Afghanistan”.
No one should expect us to “gift” it for free, he was quoted as saying. Similar views were expressed by former Afghan president Hamid Karzai in 2017, when he said Pakistan had “no legal authority to dictate terms on the Durand Line”.
The US, whose forces are leaving Afghanistan after fighting a 20-year war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, has always recognized and accepted the Durand Line as the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In 2015, US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby had told reporters that the Durand Line is a recognized border.
“We don’t have any new policies with respect to the borders of Afghanistan,” the Daily Dawn quoted him as saying. “It’s the recognized border, and we recognize the borders of Afghanistan.”
So Pakistan’s position on the Durand Line, as described by FM Qureshi, is not going to change.
The country has already fenced 90% of the 2,640km border and it won’t move away from its position.