3.1 An International Boundary?

Afghanistan’s problem with the Durand Line is that they are not able to accept it as a permanent international boundary. At present, the Government of Afghanistan sees the Durand Line as a de jure border, unofficially. This is justified through the claims that the terms of the Durand Agreement are not clear. Furthermore the claim lies in the fact that the Amir did not intend to cede sovereignty of the stated tribal lands, rather, he signed the agreement with the understanding that the agreement would merely mark out respective spheres of political influence.
Hasan Kakar points out that the Amir did not actually write the sentence ‘1 renounce my claims” with regards to Chagail, Miziri, Biland, Khel, Kurram, Afridi, Bajaur, Swat, Surer, Dir, Chilas and Chitral (Kakar, 1968, p.145). Durand himself did not intend to annex these areas, “Durand did not propose to move forward the administrative border of India but merely pushed for political control” (Sykes, 1926, p.219). A mutual understanding of this sort gives the claim a legitimate tone, with Caroe also adding, “It is true that the agreement did not describe the line as a boundary of India, but as the frontier of the Amir’s dominions and the line beyond which neither side would exercise interference. This was because the British Government did not intend to absorb the tribes into their administrative system, only to extend their own, and exclude the Amir’s authority in the territory east and south of the Line” (Caroe, 1958, p.382).
Also, according to Dupree, the last paragraph of the agreement is vague and inconclusive, leaving it open to interpretation. Paragraph 2 of the agreement states: “The Government of India will atno time exercise interference in the territories lying beyond this line in the side of Afghanistan and his highness the Amir will at no time exercise interference in the territory lying beyond this line on the side of India” (Durand Line Agreement, 1893).

Continue reading – 3.2 Validity