3.4 Geo-politics of a Settlement

Although the Afghans have been vocally passionate about the rejection of the Durand Line, the confusing nature of their demands have also come to light. Afghanistan would like to see Hie Durand Line revoked as well as supporting the Pashtun strive for independence. These simultaneous demands seem to be incompatible, as continued support for the Pashtuns in Pakistan would only further cement the Durand Line (Khan, 2005, p.100). Afghanistan needs to show consistency for their demands to be taken seriously by the international community as well as Pakistan. For example, The US special envoy Philip C. Jessup, visited Kabul and was presented with a list of Afghani claims but he refused to consider them “due to their vague and confused nature” (Hilali, 2005, p.48). The fact that Afghanistan has chosen a combination of both rather than committing to one is confusing (Qureshi, 1966, p.110).
Another obstacle is Pakistan’s “psycho-political insecurity” (The American Institute of Afghan Studies, 2007, p.12). Pakistan is afraid of the challenge Afghanistan could bring to the Durand Line question, if it acquires the strength to do so in the future. At the moment, Afghanistan has been a consistently unstable country, not possessing enough might to seriously confront the Durand question. The Conference held in July 2007 on the Durand Line by the American Institute of Afghan Studies made an important observation. The participants found that Afghanistan has a strong nation but a weak state, with the opposite being the case in Pakistan who has a stronger state but weak nation (The American Institute of Afghan Studies, 2007, p.10-11). These different weaknesses and strengths have a direct impact on each country’s willingness and ability to settle the Durand dispute. Pakistan is aware of this and so strives to maintain a weak Afghanistan in attempt to suppress the Pashtun problem This can be seen as one of the main reasons why it began aiding and supporting Afghan resistance groups in the 1980’s when the Soviet Union invaded
Afghanistan (Roashan, 2005). They knew that the “Soviets were in a position to back a forcible effort by Kabul, to revise the Durand Line and to re-open the Pashtunistan issue” (Hilali, 2005, p.48).
Another hindrance to achieving a settlement is Pakistan’s reluctance to enter negotiations for fear of losing the strategic relationship it has with the US. So long as teginal ntao>-r>oJt insecurity poses a threat to US interests, it will continue to provide Pakistan with military and financial assistance. Another reason for the unwillingness of Pakistan to begin discussions is because this would mean that the Durand Line border is not settled when Pakistan stress that it is. Pakistan does not want to seem that she will be able to budge on the status of the border as an international boundary.
“Thus continued trouble along the frontier generates a greater benefit to Pakistan than does seeking accommodation with its neighbour” (The American Institute of Afghan Studies, 2007, p.17).

Continue reading – Chapter 4: Possible Solutions