By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today
From time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous border, situated between both the countries. The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016 when Afghan security forces started unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing.
Ignoring the Durand Line, Afghanistan government tries to create ambiguity and fuss regarding the issue, as various governments of Afghanistan remained desirous to get access to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan’s province of Balochistan, where they are supporting insurgency.
The agreement of the Durand Line was signed by the Afghan King, Abdul Rahman Khan, after negotiations with the British government in 1893—the agreement was made with the British government and not with Pakistan, and so in essence, it can be regarded as invalid.
Islamabad’s stand on the Durand Line has been that it is a valid international boundary, recognized and ratified by several Afghan governments in the past.
Pakistan has always upheld the norms of international law and has maintained position of a successor state to the rights and duties inherited from the British government in India. As a successor state to British India, Pakistan derived full sovereignty over areas and its people east of Durand Line and had all the rights and obligations. The treaty of Durand Line was inked in Afghanistan and was further endorsed in subsequent pacts of 1905, 1919, and 1921. Hence, this fact negates the assertion of the present Afghan rulers that it was a forced treaty on Afghanistan.
However, creation of controversy by Kabul over Durand Line cannot be seen in isolation, as it is part of the double game of the US and India, including Israel which secretly back the Afghan politicians in this respect. Islamabad considers that peace in Afghanistan is a guarantee of peace in Pakistan and the region.
But, the US and India do not want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.
Owing to America’s dual strategy, trust deficit has deepened between Islamabad and Washington. Therefore, on June 10, last year, a high-level delegation of the US visited Islamabad and met the Pakistan’s former Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz separately.
During the meeting, expressing his serious concern on the US drone strike in Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Gen. Raheel Sharif highlighted as to how it had impacted the mutual trust and was counterproductive in consolidating the gains of Operation Zarb-i-Azb against terrorists. He elaborated, “All stakeholders need to understand Pakistan’s challenges-inter-tribal linkages and decades—old presence of over three million refugees—blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate”.
In this context, in the recent past, new wave of terrorism in Pakistan killed several innocent people, while various terrorist outfits such as the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) and the affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) claimed responsibility for these brutal acts. TTP based in Afghanistan has its connections with ISIL and other terrorist organizations and affiliated terror groups, including Baloch separatist elements, and all these groups are promoting the anti-Pakistan agenda of the foreign entities to destabilize Pakistan. As part of the double game, American CIA, Indian RAW, Israeli Mossad and Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) which are in collaboration, are using these terror outfits in weakening Pakistan and especially Balochistan, including Afghanistan through various acts of terrorism in order to fulfill their covert strategic aims against Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran.
In the recent past, the capture of secret agents of RAW and NDS by Pakistani intelligence agencies might be cited as an instance. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP is behind several terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has also become center of the Great Game due to the ideal location of Balochistan. With the tactical assistance of CIA, particularly Indian RAW is trying to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
While, India, the US and puppet rulers of Afghanistan have always blamed Islamabad for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan to divert attention from the acts of sabotage, which they have been arranging in Pakistan. Main purpose behind is also to pacify their public, as the US-led countries have failed in their fight against the Taliban who are waging a war of liberation against the occupying forces. In this connection, besides the previous false accusations against Islamabad and Pakistan’s security agencies, blame game of these countries could be judged from some new development.
In this regard, on January 10, 2017, an explosion took place in Governor House Kandhar (Afghanistan) where diplomats of United Arab Emirates (UAE) were also present along with the Governor, Deputy Governor, Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other dignities. The blast killed 12 people—five UAE diplomats and injured 18 persons, including Governor of Kandhar and UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan. IGP Abdul Razziq went outside the hall few minutes before the blast. IGP Razziq put blame on Pakistan’s Haqqani network and its primary intelligence agency, ISI on the very next day. The matter was investigated by two committees, consisting of NDS and Afghan government and UAE, including Scotland Yard. IGP Razziq did not cooperate with the investigation teams, even though he was responsible for the security of Governor House.
Online reports disclosed that IGP Abdul Razziq did not enjoy good relations with the Governor over custom collection issue. All illegal taxes were collected by IGP’s dedicated persons, instead of custom officials. Governor wanted to streamline the system to benefit the Afghan government which was not liked by IGP Razziq and developed enmity with the Governor. All this led to blast at Governor House. These developments indicate that explosion could not have occurred without facilitation by IGP Razziq and his men employed at Governor House.
The reports also revealed that Abdul Razziq is a staunch enemy of Pakistan and a dedicated planner and supporter of anti-Pakistan activities. The attack was planned by him to blame Pakistan-based anti-Afghan government group’s involvement in the incident, while the planning was done by Indians who control Razziq, and aim of the incident was also to deteriorate Pakistan and UAE relations.
It is notable that after the recent terror attacks in Pakistan, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists, living in safe havens in Afghanistan.
The army, which took the lead in dealing with Kabul over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had announced closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan, citing security reasons.
According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had called Gen. John Nicholson, commander of America’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through telephone to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan, perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.
Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organizations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.
In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.
Taking cognizance of the terror assaults, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies (Tribal areas).
It is mentionable that the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures, strong border-control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect.
Taking note of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border and to control the border crossings. In this context, the strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.
Meanwhile, during his visit to the Pak-Afghan border regions in Mohmand and Orakzai agencies, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Bajwa who was given a detailed briefing on security arrangements, cross-border terrorist threat and recent terrorist attacks from across on the Pakistani posts (From Afghanistan) said on March 25, this year that fencing on the Pak-Afghan border has commenced and the border areas of Bajaur and Mohmand agencies will be given first priority, as they are high-threat zones. He further stated that Pakistan Army would employ all resources required for the defence of the country.
It is noteworthy that Afghanistan Times on February 15, 2017 wrote, “India’s biggest publishing house Rupa Publishers are publishing this autumn a sensational book on the Durand Line by Rajiv Dogra, a veteran diplomat who is one of India’s foremost commentators on foreign affairs”. Some other online reports of the Indian media have also verified it.
In this connection, propaganda has already started by the Indian and Afghan media that Ambassador Dogra’s incoming book will bring out a new perspective about the Durand Line, better known as Pak-Afghan border and would challenge existing status of the Pak-Afghan border. Although contents of the book have not been made public, yet some material is being published and widely circulated with a clear intent to further deteriorate the Pak-Afghan relations. However, the intent of this book is quite clear, as the US-led India and puppet regime of Afghanistan has been promoting militancy and distrust between Islamabad and Kabul.
Nevertheless, Pakistan considers Durand Line as the recognized border, which Afghanistan refuses to recognize. This Line messily divides Pashtun people between Afghanistan and Pakistan, splitting tribes, clans and families. It is also the reason for the difficulties faced by the West in its current struggle against terror. Afghanistan always propagates to make Durand Line controversial. India is trying to ingress in Afghanistan. Therefore, they both have joined hands to exploit all the relevant and irrelevant issues which could defame Pakistan.
By following America’s double game, it seems that New Delhi also wants that talks should open between Pakistan and Afghanistan over the Durand Line issue. However, it is suggested that Islamabad should take a firm stand and deny it to be a dispute, because the Durand Line has already been endorsed by various Afghan governments in the past.
It is worth-mentioning that the Afghanistan’s former puppet president Hamid Karzai had also refused to recognize Durand Line as permanent border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Notably, today’s world is quite different. Those voicing against the Durand line or in favour of Pakhtun ethnicity needs to realize the new realities. The reality is that there are more Pashtuns living on Pakistani side of the Durand Line than in Afghanistan. The referendum of 1947 and the decision of tribal Jirga of FATA are the strongest and undeniable facts to judge the affinity of Pashtuns. Today’s Pakhtuns from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and FATA have a strong participation in all national and federal institutions including Armed Forces, sports, education, politics and all other walks of life and stand with Pakistan. They have rendered huge sacrifices in war against terror and entire nation respects their sacrifices.
Undoubtedly, as part of the dual strategy of America, India, Israel and the Afghan puppet rulers are exploiting the Durand Line issue so as to obtain their clandestine aims against Pakistan, Iran and Russia including Afghanistan. Similarly, by creating instability both in Pakistan and Afghanistan through terrorism, US-led Western powers (NATO) are jeopardizing their political and economic interests in the region, which are part of their global interests, while they have already been facing defeatism in Afghanistan. And in Syria and Iraq, they have failed in coping with the Russian-led coalition which is being supervised by the successful leadership qualities of the President Vladimir Putin. Similarly, New Cold War of the US-led NATO powers with Russia is proving fruitless, which has been bringing multiple internal and external crises by badly affecting the foreign policies and ordinary citizens of these anti-Russian powers, including those of the other Western countries. Coupled with heavy cost of war, all these problems are the result of the NATO’s prolonged war in Afghanistan and America’s fake global war on terror which continue unabated.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
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