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Pak-Afghan Relations: The Durand Line Issue

Written by Ahmad Shayeq Qaseem

Policy Perspectives , Special Issue Afghanistan, 2008
[The Durand Line remains a contentious issue in Pak-Afghan relations, since the birth of Pakistan in
1947. The people and various governments of Afghanistan have raised, from time to time, a number
of questions on the acceptability of the Durand Line agreement, signed between British India and
Afghanistan in 1893. The roots of the issue, besides other factors, however, lie in lack of proper
information and misunderstanding of related documents. Historical documents signed, ratified and
endorsed by successive Afghan regimes negate the claim that validity of agreement has expired.
Research also proves the view of the Line being an imposed border as dubious. International law
does not support the stand that the agreement is not enforceable in post-British period. Promoting
better understanding of the issue among Afghan government, civil society and people may lay the
foundation of warm relations between the two countries that both need. Pakistan government should
also try to address the genuine apprehensions of Afghan brethren. Editors]
Afghanistans stability is, to a considerable extent, correlated with the nature of its relations with
neighboring Pakistan. Afghanistan and its foreign allies are fully conscious of the fact that, without
sincere and multidimensional cooperation from Pakistan, eradicating the Taliban and al-Qaeda from
the region would be unimaginable. On many occasions, the Afghan leadership has accused its
neighbor of harboring the Taliban resistance; and encouraged the international community to
participate wholeheartedly in eliminating the roots of terror in Pakistan. Each time Pakistan has
responded by rejecting the Afghan accusations. Khurshid Ahmad Kasuri, Pakistans minister of
foreign affairs, has pointedly asked his Afghani counterpart, Dr. Spanta, about the reasons for the
accusations, saying: Could you please figure out Pakistans interest in deliberately destabilizing your
country? Since this meeting with Dr. Spanta, Mr. Kasuri has referred to the exchange at numerous
international forums, as if his asking the question simply ended the argument. In fact, the question
whether Pakistan has any motive in destabilizing Afghanistan, in the current scenario or otherwise, is
a serious and important point that could be discussed in depth in terms of the advantages and
disadvantages for Pakistan of continued instability in Afghanistan.
What is very clear is that relations between the two states have been tinged with hostility ever since
Pakistan became an independent state in 1947. There are mainly two interrelated, historical reasons
for this: the problem of the Durand Line the shared but disputed border of the two countries; and
Afghan support for the Pakhtoonistan movement in Pakistans North West Frontier Province
During the initial decades after Pakistans creation, the Pakhtoonistan issue was the mainframe of
Afghan foreign policy. Indeed, many scholars hold that its fanatic support for the Pakhtoonistan

movement in Pakistan caused Afghanistans economic and political dependence on the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in the 1950s-1980s, resulting in its invasion in 1979.
In recent years, whenever the Durand issue has been raised, the administration of Afghan President
Karzai has avoided comment, favoring a resolution of the issue through parliament. President Hamid
Karzai, in an interview to Radio Liberty, has said that The Afghan nation, and not Hamid Karzai,
would have to decide the issue of Durand Line. In this manner, Afghanistan successfully avoids
reigniting a historical conflict with Pakistan, while withholding acceptance of the Durand Line as a
valid international border. Notably, referring the Durand Line issue to the Afghan parliament does not
guarantee a peaceful solution to the conflict. In 1949, the Afghan parliament issued a resolution
condemning the covenants signed by Afghanistan and British India and declaring the Durand Line a
bogus and fictitious border. Although the countrys conditions have changed considerably since then,
it remains uncertain how the parliament would view the issue today. It does seem, however, that,
notwithstanding the 1949 resolution by its parliament, the Afghan government regards the Durand
Line conflict as unsolved: why else would Mr. Karzai refer it to the parliament a second time?
According to some experts, continuing misapprehensions about the Durand Line count amongst the
issues that could complicate dealings further in the already unfriendly and mistrustful environment
that characterizing the war on terror.
A major reason for the continuation of this conflict is the ignorance and unawareness of some
leaders as well as the masses of both countries about the general aspects of the original Durand
Line agreement. Since this border conflict is a very sensitive issue, it has not been discussed in full
detail. Although various governmental archives exist in Pakistan that might shed light on it, including
with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, many are classified; thus, much of the existing information is
inaccessible, even to researchers. The Afghan constitution safeguards the right of access to
information for all its citizens. It, however, puts the condition that national security and citizens rights
are protected.
Another factor protracting the confusion regarding the Durand line is the biased attitude of Afghan
and Pakistani writers on the subject, who tend to defend the stands of their respective governments.
These defensive stances, and the aims of proving predetermined results and conclusions, have
compelled writers to use secondary or tertiary documents and resources in their research. It is rare
to find any research paper based on primary resources. In some cases, writers even resort to
presenting false information to prove their point of view.
This article aims to facilitate understanding of the Durand Line conflict in the light of primary sources
related to the issue. It focuses on the four key objections that Afghanistan has historically raised
against the Durand Line, i.e. that its validity period has expired; that the agreements pertaining to it
collapsed when the British transferred powers to Pakistan; that the agreements were forcibly

imposed upon Afghanistan; and that it is morally unjustifiable. It is hoped that this effort will help, in
however a small way, in the building of understanding and friendship between the two neighboring,
and culturally tied, countries.
The Validity Period of the Durand Line has Expired

The majority of the Afghan population upholds the belief that the Durand Line agreement signed by
British Foreign Minister for India Sir Henry Mortimer Durand and Afghanistans King Abdur Rahman
Khan was meant to be valid only for 100 years from the date of endorsement. If this were true, it
would mean that the agreement ended in 1993. This presumption is so deeply engraved in the
political psyche of the Afghan masses that even some of the eminent figures in Afghan politics have
been unable to deny it. Nevertheless, neither the Afghan government, nor the most active
proponents of this view have ever presented any overt instrument proving their claim. Nor do we find,
upon examining the relevant documents, i.e. the Durand Line agreement and the rest of the
documents ratified until 1896 by the respective councils for determination and demarcation of the
British-Afghan border, any provision restricting the term of the agreement to 100 years. It is indeed a
mystery how this opinion could spread across the country without being questioned at all.
What is true, however, is that the validity of the Durand Line agreement was initially restricted to the
lifetimes of the Afghan rulers who ratified it. In this respect, the initial period of its validity was even
shorter than a hundred years. This restriction validity is not expressed in any provision of the
agreement. However, it is mentioned in some historical instruments related to the Afghan-British
relationship. These tell us that, after the death of King Abdur Rahman Khan, the British Viceroy Lord
Curzon invited his son and successor, King Habibullah Khan, to pay a visit to India and discuss
matters of bilateral interest with the British Indian authorities. At that time, bilateral interest revolved
around the existing agreements between Afghanistan and India, specifically, the issue of borders
King Habibullah Khan was unwilling to undertake such a visit. He said that his visit to British India is
not required because he was aware of the agreements ratified by his father [King Abdur Rahman
Khan] and would enforce these agreements. The British India considered his response as
unsatisfactory. The Viceroy stressed the necessity of Habibullah Khans visit to India, stating that the
first ratification of the agreement was restricted to the person of Abdur Rahman Khan, and the newly
enthroned king had to renew the agreement in order for it to be enforceable. Thus, the British Indian
authorities position was that the Durand Line agreement was enforceable only during Abdur
Rahman Khans life and that the document had lost its value after his death.
Subsequently, in order to compel the new Afghan king to pay the visit, British India refused to fulfill
the obligations created by the Durand Line agreement, i.e. pay a sum of 1.8 million rupees in Afghan

aid and allow transit of military equipment through Indian territory. Although King Habibullah Khan
still declined the invitation, he promised to welcome Sir Louis W. Dane, the British Minister for India,
on his visit to Kabul to discuss matters of bilateral interest.
Sir Louis Dane arrived in Kabul in late 1904 with the draft of a new agreement between the two
states. King Habibullah presented his own version of the agreement, which affirmed and extended
the previous agreements. Consequently, [lengthy discussion on contents of the agreement] an
agreement, popularly known as the Dane-Habibullah agreement, was signed between the two
states on March 21, 1905. In it, the British government agreed to resume the release of 1.8 million
rupees in aid, including the previous installments that had been withheld, and permitted the transit of
military equipment to Afghanistan through India. Afghanistans commitment was expressed in the
following manner:
His said Majesty [Habibullah Khan] does hereby agree to this that, in the principles and in the
matters of subsidiary importance of the treaty regarding internal and external affairs and of the
engagements which His Highness, my late father, concluded and acted upon with the Exalted
British Government, I also have acted, am acting and will act upon the same (Durand Line)
agreement and compact, and I will not contravene them in any dealings or in any promise.
Thus, the Durand Line agreement, after losing its validity at the death of King Abdur Rahman Khan,
retrieved it in 1905 and continued to be operative until the third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919.
Following the 1919 Anglo-Afghan war, a peace delegation headed by Interior Minister Ali Ahmad
Khan visited Rawalpindi and signed a peace agreement between Great Britain and Afghanistan on
August 8, 1919. Through this treaty, Great Britain recognized the independence of Afghanistan
nevertheless, they called him the encroacher and some of the existing agreements, including
payment of aid to Afghanistan and the right of transit for military equipments between the two states,
were declared null and void. The validity of the Durand Line, however, was protected through article
5 of the treaty, which stated:
The Afghan Government accepts the Indo-Afghan frontier accepted by the late Emir [Habibullah
Thus, for the first time, recognition of the Durand Line by the two states as an international border
between Afghanistan and British India was set free of any personal undertaking by the kings, and
both states agreed to it as a permanent border between them.
However, the Rawalpindi agreement, as its title suggests, was primarily intended for commencing
peaceful ties between the two states. Article 4 of the agreement provided that if Afghanistan acted in
good faith, then, after a probation period of six months, Britain would send another delegation to

Afghanistan to negotiate the establishment of friendly political relations on stronger foundations.

Negotiations commenced again and Sir Henry R. C. Dobbs visited Kabul in January 1921 as a
special British envoy to Afghanistan. Eventually, another agreement, titled Agreement for
establishment of friendly commercial relations between Afghanistan and Great Britain, also called
the Kabul Agreement, was concluded and signed by Sir Dobbs and by Mahmood Tarzai,
representing the Government of Afghanistan, on November 22, 1921. The ratified instruments were
exchanged in a meeting convened in Kabul on February 6, 1922 between representatives of both
The Kabul Agreement of 1921 superseded the Rawalpindi agreement of 1919, but recognized the
Durand Line as an international border of Afghanistan. It stated, in article 2:
Respective parties recognize Indian-Afghan border as was recognized by article 8 of Rawalpindi
agreement 1919.
Article 14 of the 1921 agreement rendered it liable to unilateral renunciation by either of the parties
anytime after the expiry of three years from the date of its ratification. However, the Government of
King Amanullah did not notify its annulment. Moreover, the successor government of King Nadir
Khan exchanged a diplomatic instrument with the British government on July 6, 1930. Paragraph II of
this instrument read as follows:
In response [to your notification], I am proud to officially confess that our position about both the
agreements [agreement of 1919 and trade agreement of June 1923] enjoy complete validity and are
enforceable with full force.
According to some scholars, recognition of the international border between Afghanistan and British
India was co-related with the independence of Afghanistan, which King Amanullah Khan intended to
secure by any means.
It is worth mentioning that a letter of Special Representative of Great Britain addressed to the Afghan
foreign minister is annexed to the original 1921 agreement which implies that Afghan interest in the
tribal situation across the Durand Line is natural. Some scholars believe that the letter, at the very
least, provided an excuse for King Amanullah Khan to interfere in across-border affairs.
It may be concluded that the period of the Durand Line agreement was initially much shorter than a
hundred years, and that it was, however, extended, at least once by King Habibullah Khan, twice by
King Amanullah Khan, and once by King Muhammad Nadir Khan. These extensions liberated the
agreement from any limitation to the life or throne of any king and thus granted it permanence.
The Durand Line is an Imposed Border

A second major objection of the Afghan masses and some scholars to the Durand Line is that it was
imposed on the country. Being an imposed agreement, it has no value for present-day Afghanistan.
According to some Afghan historians, Great Britain coerced Abdur Rahman Khan into signing the
Durand Line agreement through threats of war and economic blockade, and therefore the king was
neither allowed to call a Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly), nor could he consult with or gain the
confidence of his state authorities. However, some foreign historians reject this contention, and hold
that the king consented to the agreement wholeheartedly; due to the fact that British India was in a
state of successive advance towards Qandahar and Kabul through construction of railway lines and
highways, yet demarcation of border hindered or stopped that advance. In addition, it is clear that
King Abdur Rahman Khan consented to the Durand Line agreement in consideration of increase in
British Afghan aid from 1.2 million to 1.8 million Indian rupees. The details of this fact are
enumerated in article 7 of the agreement itself.
Scholars who reject that the agreement was imposed also cite entries from the diaries of King Abdur
Rahman Khan in which he proudly appraises the Durand Line agreement. Moreover, according to
some documentary evidences, King Abdur Rahman Khan convened a gathering, apparently for his
state officials and the elders of Kabul, where he delivered a speech describing the Durand Line
agreement as one of the major achievements of his era. At the end of his speech, a memorandum
was read out on behalf of the audience approving the Durand Line agreement. However, Afghan
historians dismiss this gathering, the speech of the king and approval of the audience as mere
drama orchestrated by design. Some also believe that the memoirs of the king in respect of the
Durand Line agreement are forged.
Whether or not the Durand line agreement was imposed on Afghanistan is certainly an issue worth
further discussion and argument. However, while one may admit the contention to be just and true, it
remains insufficient to negate the status of the Durand Line as an international border between
Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is due to two factors. Firstly, contrary to popular opinion, the Durand
Line agreement of 1893 is not the sole point of reference in border evaluation. At least other four
agreements (of 1905, 1919, 1921 and 1930), which had the consent of both sides, must be
consulted. Clearly, Afghanistan cannot claim that all of the later four agreements were concluded in a
coercive environment, especially the Kabul 1921 agreement for establishment of friendly commercial
relations, which it not only signed but ratified in 1922, and under which instruments were exchanged
by the representatives of both states in Kabul.
Secondly, even a cursory look at the history of the political establishment of different states shows
that some external pressure has existed in the demarcation of the borders of each state. If we
choose to regard external pressure as a basis for declaring borders illegitimate, and thus give a
unilateral right to each party to oppose the status of its international border, the current international
regime for governing borders will collapse, especially given the fact that numerous states wish to
extend their borders to bring more territories under their control.
It is noteworthy that not a single state, including India and the former Soviet Union, supported
Afghanistans opposition to the status of the Durand Line. Moreover, the international community and

international organizations, including the USA, UK, United Nations (UN) and Islamic states recognize
the Durand Line as a permanent international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Durand Line Agreements Collapsed with British India
The collapse of British India in 1947 paved the way for Afghan revolt against the legitimacy of the
Durand Line. During a meeting with the British Secretary of Foreign Affairs on July 31, 1947, Afghan
Prime Minister Shah Mahmood Khan declared that all agreements in respect of the Indo-Afghan
border had been concluded with British Indian authorities, and therefore all of them would be null
and void after British India ceased to exist and power was handed over to the new state of Pakistan.
This official viewpoint of the Government of Afghanistan was announced before August 14, 1947, the
day Pakistan attained independence.
Consequently, Afghanistans relations with Pakistan were hostile since the latters birth as a Muslim
state. As mentioned earlier, Afghan foreign policy was based on denunciation of the Durand Line and
strict support of Pakhtoonistan. For decades, the local media, Afghan consulates and embassies all
over the world strived systematically to disseminate this official viewpoint.
However, international law does not support this stand of the Afghan government. At the international
level, issues pertaining to succession of states are dealt with by the Vienna Convention on
Succession of States in Respect of Treaties (VCSSRT). Article 11 of VCSSRT explicitly states that
succession of states cannot impact (a) international border agreed upon in result of an agreement,
and (b) rights and obligations concerning international border created through an agreement. Thus,
under this agreement, the cessation of British India and birth of Pakistan as its successor in the
northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent does not affect the legality of the border.
However, according to article 7 of VCSSRT, the treaty is not enforceable retrospectively. Now,
VCSSRT was drafted in 1978 and did not enter into force until 1996, when the required number of
states announced its ratification. Thus, it came into being several decades after Pakistans creation.
Moreover, Afghanistan is not a signatory to VCSSRT. These points raise the question whether the
international treaty applies to the Durand Line issue.
As far as Afghanistans not being a signatory to the treaty is concerned, it is immaterial whether the
country announces its succession or not. VCSSRT was ratified by a huge number of states
including Pakistan and achieved enforceability in 1996. Moreover, regarding issues that are
beyond its scope, the preamble to VCSSRT explicitly states that such issues will be dealt with in
accordance with customary international law. Since customary international law is in any case a
source of international treaty law, the argument that Durand Line issue predates the VCSSRT and is
therefore out of its scope would lead to the same results: international law does not support
Afghanistans stance that the Durand Line becomes invalid after the creation of Pakistan.
If Afghanistan and Pakistan agree to take the Durand Line dispute to the International Court of
Justice (ICJ), it seems impossible that the Afghan stand that the legitimacy of the Durand Line
lapsed after the succession of Pakistan could be proved at any level.
Moral Acceptability

The Durand Line restricts the movement of local people who have lived in the area for centuries, and
who did not previously face any obstacles in traveling to and from the areas now separated by the
Durand Line. Successive governments in Afghanistan and some intellectuals denounce the Line
because it bars tribes of the same race, language and culture from intermingling, and because, in
their opinion, it has given rise to disunity among tribes and families. In this sense, one might say,
they object to the Durand Line on moral grounds.
Contrary to the opinion of critics of the Durand Line, it cannot be regarded as the sole factor
responsible for disunity among the local people. Indeed, tribes and families on both sides of the
Durand Line have engaged in rivalries for a long time. Historically, the people of western Afghanistan
have been politically inclined towards Iran, while eastern races and tribes have leaned towards India.
(Events of the second half of the eighteenth century comprise an exception and are beyond the
scope of this discussion.)
From an economic point of view, scholars are of the opinion that the passage of the Durand Line
through populated areas of the same race and culture is no coincidence. In fact, it reflects that the
geoeconomic situation of the region was taken into account and essential diligence and care
adopted. In simple words, the Line was drawn so as to split up major economic markets and ensure
that both sides had their share. Thus, Peshawar, Quetta, Kohat and Bannu were carved out for the
Indian side from Jalalabad, Qandahar, Ghazni and Kabul.
The credibility and accuracy of arguments delivered by scholars for and against the Durand Line may
be judged by the reader himself.
If the decision is referred to international law, there seems little chance that the Afghan government
would receive support for its moral wrong theory. According to customary international law, two
factors would have to be considered in deciding whether the moral criticism of the Durand Line is
valid: firstly, Afghanistans historical and current approach towards its borders with other states; and
secondly, the existence or otherwise of other international borders that are similar to the Pak-Afghan
border in that they pass through populations of the same culture, language and race.
One may ask how these two factors are linked with Afghanistans moral stand regarding the Durand
Line. The answer may be explored in the nature of the principles of customary international law. This
law is extracted from the continuous, persistent and uniform behaviors of states in respect of issues
of the same kind over a period of time. Thus, how Afghanistan views its borders with other states,
and how the majority of states with borders similar to Durand Line behave would be considered legal
norms or principles in the light of which the credibility of Afghanistans moral criticism of the Durand
Line may be measured.
Almost all Afghan borders were demarked in the second half of the nineteenth century. Among them,
the Durand Line is the only border in respect of which the king of Afghanistan was taken into
confidence. The borders with Tsarist Russia and China were determined through dialogue between
Britain and Russia; Afghanistan was not even allowed to take part in these consultations. Similarly,
the Afghan-Iran border was fixed through dialogue between Iran and Britain.
Thus, when Afghanistan questions its border with Pakistan on moral grounds, international

customary law requires it to implement the same criterion with respect to all of its other borders as
well. However, despite the fact that Afghanistan was not even present when the destiny of its borders
was determined, it accepts these borders as legitimate. This inconsistency weakens Afghanistans
moral claim.
It is also important to note that Afghanistans northern borders also divide and disunite a population
of the same language, culture and race. If the reasoning of former Afghan governments is accepted,
then the downfall of the Soviet Union should have the same impact on these borders as the downfall
of British India had on the Durand Line. Is Afghanistan ready to adopt the same policy in respect of
its borders with the republics of Central Asia?
As far as the second factor, i.e. other states practice, is concerned, there are numerous borders
between states that divide people of the same race, culture and language. If each state started
opposing its border based on the above claim and demanded independence, or concatenation with
the territory of its neighbor, or the contemporary international order would collapse.
However, the fact is that Afghanistan has neither posed a question regarding its northern borders,
nor would those states agree with the Afghan position and point of view. Consequently, international
customary law, derived from states practice including Afghanistans own practice in respect of its
northern borders contradicts Afghanistans stand on the Durand Line. The states general opinion
favors Pakistan over Afghanistan in this matter.
The Durand Line is the only Afghan border demarked through bilateral understanding with its exneighbor, and yet the only border that Afghanistan is not willing to recognize. Under international law
and the international legal regime, Afghanistans objections to the Durand Line are unlikely to find
any significant support.
Among the factors responsible for expansion of the dispute on the Durand Line is the lack of
information available to the common Afghan. Afghan intellectuals and scholars have tended to blindly
support the policy of former governments, unaware of whether or not it is rational. According to some
scholars, Afghan governments have adopted this policy deliberately, to indulge the masses with an
imaginary enemy and divert their attention from internal issues. Consequently, due to trust and
confidence of people in their leaders, intellectuals and media besides the extension of the Durand
Line issue; they have inferred that the Agreement is free from any legal and moral justification. Thus,
even if it desires friendly relations with Pakistan, the Afghan leadership is unable to take any steps in
this direction owing to public opposition.
In fact, this hesitation to diverge from the traditional acrimonious stance against Pakistan is
discernable in all spheres of leadership in Afghanistan, whether the leaders represent the Afghan
government, civil society or the public. It seems as if each of these elements of Afghan society has
immured itself within a tight circle of thought, afraid of condemnation from the other two elements if
they violate the circle by demanding a peaceful and realistic solution of the issue. What is certain,
meanwhile, are the negative implications of the unstable relationship with Pakistan, which may be
observed in different spheres of life in Afghanistan.

If Afghanistan sincerely intends to improve its relations with Pakistan, it will have to break these
circles. The least it could do is make the thus-far confidential instruments relating to the Durand Line
public to help people to understand the real situation. Later on, Afghanistan could open a chapter of
understanding with Pakistan in a relatively friendly environment that is free of irresponsible
statements and lack of information leading to public pressure and finally reach a permanent solution
to the Durand Line issue.
Obviously, continuation of tense relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan will not favor either
country. Besides, both of them wish to enjoy peaceful and friendly relations. As far as, Afghanistans
national interests are concerned, provisions exist in each agreement relating to the Pak-Afghan
border that favor Afghanistan. For example, each agreement obligated British India to allow transit of
goods from its ports through its territory to Afghanistan. It is imperative that Afghanistan understand
that such a permission for transit through another state is not, as it seems to believe, a right but an
incentive: according to international law, under the principle of sovereignty, every state exercises
complete authority over its resources, natural or otherwise, and every act challenging the sovereignty
of a state is illegal and condemnable. The present strategy of Afghanistan to secure more
concessions from Pakistan such as transit trade, considering the same as its rights, seems to be
less effective. It would be better for the country to improve its relations with Pakistan to a level where
Pakistans national interests, particularly economic, converge with those of Afghanistan.
Notably, it is not just the Durand Line issue that needs to be solved to normalize relations between
Pakistan and Afghanistan. In the decades since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the interests of
Pakistans foreign policy in that country have expanded further than the former Pakistani leadership
could even have imagined. On the other hand, solution of the issue never means that an iron wall
has been established between both the countries as to divide the alike-cultured masses. To create
such an iron wall would neither be possible in the current age, nor in accordance with Afghanistans
regional economic programs of Afghanistan.
Even though it is not the sole source of contention, however, efforts for the resolution of the Durand
Line issue could lay the foundation for establishing a peaceful and brotherly environment between
the two states leading to more stable relations between them.
In the required efforts to resolve the Durand Line issue, it is obvious that the parliament of
Afghanistan would be the proper forum for discussing and deciding, as for all other matters of
national importance. What is even more important in this context, however, is that the peoples
representatives know the complete facts of the issue before it is taken to the parliaments floor.
Failure to apprise the Afghan leaders and people of the facts would once again mean irresponsible
statements from all quarters, including the Afghan parliament, and a bleak future for relations with
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Durand Line Agreement
November 12, 1893
Agreement between Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, G. C. S. I., and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, K. C. I.
E., C. S. I.
Whereas certain questions have arisen regarding the frontier of Afghanistan on the side of India, and
whereas both His Highness the Amir and the Government of India are desirous of settling these
questions by friendly understanding, and of fixing the limit of their respective spheres of influence, so
that for the future there may be no difference of opinion on the subject between the allied
Governments, it is hereby agreed as follows:
The British Government thus agrees to His Highness the Amir retaining Asmar and the valley above
it, as far as Chanak. His Highness agrees, on the other hand, that he will at no time exercise
interference in Swat, Bajaur, or Chitral, including the Arnawai or Bashgal valley. The British
Government also agrees to leave to His Highness the Birmal tract as shown in the detailed map
already given to his Highness, who relinquishes his claim to the rest of the Waziri country and Dawar.
His Highness also relinquishes his claim to Chageh.
The frontier line will hereafter be laid down in detail and demarcated, wherever this may be
practicable and desirable, by joint British and Afghan commissioners, whose object will be to arrive
by mutual understanding at a boundary which shall adhere with the greatest possible exactness to
the line shown in the map attached to this agreement, having due regard to the existing local rights
of villages adjoining the frontier.
With reference to the question of Chaman, the Amir withdraws his objection to the new British
cantonment and concedes to the British Governmeni the rights purchased by him in the Sirkai Tilerai
water. At this part of the frontier the line will be drawn as follows:
From the crest of the Khwaja Amran range near the Psha Kotal, which remains in British territory, the
line will run in such a direction as to leave Murgha Chaman and the Sharobo spring to Afghanistan,
and to pass half-way between the New Chaman Fort and the Afghan outpost known locally as
Lashkar Dand. The line will then pass half-way between the railway station and the hill known as the
Mian Baldak, and, turning south-wards, will rejoin the Khwaja Amran range, leaving the Gwasha Post
in British territory, and the road to Shorawak to the west and south of Gwasha in Afghanistan. The
British Government will not exercise any interference within half a mile of the road.
The above articles of' agreement are regarded by the Government of India and His Highness the
Amir of Afghanistan as a full and satisfactory settlement of all the principal differences of opinion
which have arisen between them in regard to the frontier; and both the Government of India and His
Highness the Amir undertake that any differences of detail, such as those which will have to be
considered hereafter by the officers appointed to demarcate the boundary line, shall be settled in a

friendly spirit, so as to remove for the future as far as possible all causes of doubt and
misunderstanding between the two Governments.
Being fully satisfied of His Highness?s goodwill to the British Government, and wishing to see
Afghanistan independent and strong, the Government of India will raise no objection to the purchase
and import by His Highness of munitions of war, and they will themselves grant him some help in this
respect. Further, in order to mark their sense of the friendly spirit in which His Highness the Amir has
entered into these negotiations, the Government of India undertake to increase by the sum of six
lakhs of rupees a year the subsidy of twelve lakhs now granted to His Highness.
Kabul, November 12, 1893. H. M. Durand,
Amir Abdur Rahman Khan.
US Department of State, 2006.
Cullather 2002 and Bradsher 1983, 17.
Yusufzai 2007.
Wolpert 1982, 120-121. See also Ghubar 1999, 234.
Tarzai 2006.
The writer visited Afghanistan from November 2005 to February 2006 and met numerous leaders
and government representatives. Very few of these people could have seen or read the Durand Line
agreement. Similarly, some Pakistani leaders are also ignorant of the agreement and its provisions;
for instance, they have the impression that the agreement was valid only for 100 years and needs to
be renewed. See Dawn, September 2, 2005, Governor Urges Federal Govt. to Renew Durand Line
Article 50, Constitution of Afghanistan.
This was borne out by an interview the author conducted with a high-ranking Afg-han government
official on February 16, 2006; the officials name