Durand Line is a reminder of how Afghans have been cheated by the British and a man-made border was created whose legitimacy is questionable.
The latest skirmish between Pakistan and Afghanistan on their border may need come to a halt, however this long-standing battle between the 2 nations would proceed to erupt. The cause lies in the truth that the making of this 1,600-mile-long border, referred to as Durand Line, has been rooted in treachery and deception. That is why most Afghans haven’t been capable of settle for it. In reality, Durand Line is a reminder of how Afghans have been cheated by the British and a man-made border was created whose legitimacy is questionable. Pakistan stands on a really weak wicket on this context if one goes by the historic proof.
The Durand Line passes by means of ten provinces of present-day Afghanistan. In Pakistan, it passes by means of provinces resembling Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (additionally known as North Western Frontier Province), Federally Administered Tribal Areas(FATA) and Balochistan whose annexation itself has been beneath scrutiny.
The settlement that created Durand Line was signed on 12 November 1893 between British diplomat Mortimer Durand and Adbur Rahman, Amir(ruler) of Afghanistan at the moment. The settlement was pushed by the British in order that they might create a buffer zone between Russia and India, which was the jewel within the British crown.
The British have been cautious of Russia’s expansionist design and feared that it would assault India to grab it away from the British and this was most probably to occur by means of the land route. This tussle between the 2 was popularly referred to as ‘The Great Game’. This phrase was first used within the context of Afghanistan by Arthur Conolly, a British intelligence officer in 1840, in a letter to Major Henry Rawlinson. The latter had been appointed as a political agent in Kandahar. Conolly wrote, “You’ve a great game, a noble game before you.” But it was a British journalist and well-known author Rudyard Kipling who later used this phrase and made it a everlasting fixture when he wrote, “Now I shall go far and far into the North, playing the Great Game.”
The Durand settlement divided Afghanistan’s Pashtun inhabitants. Forty thousand sq. miles of the realm beneath Afghanistan the place virtually half of the Pashtun inhabitants lived got here beneath British rule on account of this settlement. In lieu of this settlement, the annual British grant was elevated from Rs 12 lakh to Rs 18 lakh, a really small quantity when it was in comparison with what Afghanistan had misplaced.
How was this settlement signed? And why does it scent of treachery and deception?
But first about Mortimer Durand. He was born close to Bhopal (presently the capital of Madhya Pradesh) in 1850. His father Major General Henry Marion Durand was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Northumberland. His pregnant mom Annie died throughout an extended March when she was making an attempt to flee from Indore (a metropolis in present-day Madhya Pradesh) through the battle of India’s independence in 1857. Major General Durand turned infamous for the brutalities he perpetrated through the 1857 battle. He led a contingent of British troops that burnt villages and killed Indians brutally because the British troops fought again towards the revolutionaries.
Mortimer Durand did his education in Switzerland and browse for the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn. He joined Indian Civil Services in 1873. Just a few years later he acquired chosen in Foreign Service. During his coaching, he discovered and mastered the Persian language.
In 1893 when Durand reached Kabul, there have been rising tensions between Afghanistan and its bordering nation, Russia. His mission was to ease these tensions and shield the British pursuits in order that an Anglo-Russian battle might be prevented. He stayed in Kabul for seven weeks. During this era, he acquired the Durand settlement signed in very suspicious circumstances.
Durand was assisted by a lesser-known and even a lot much less talked about British intelligence agent, Salter Peyne. The latter, it appears, performed a key position in clinching this settlement.
Peyne was planted by the British Intelligence in Amir’s durbar (court docket). His story is one thing straight out of a spy thriller. Peyne was born in England however he left the nation to come back to India on the age of 16. Initially, he joined as a clerk-cum-junior engineer in a agency based mostly out of Bombay (presently Mumbai). That was his solely employment in India. He later volunteered to work for the Amir of Afghanistan after the latter had imported a dynamo and flashlight with a conveyable engine however the Frenchman who was alleged to deal with it by no means returned to his Durbar as he was too fearful of the fearsome Amir. The British took this chance to plant Peyne in Amir’s durbar. Peyne reached Kabul in 1885 to interchange this Frenchman to deal with the equipment fancifully imported by the Amir of Afghanistan.
Rajiv Dogra talks about Pyne intimately in Durand’s Curse (Rupa, Pp 113-114):
“Peyne had won Amir’s trust to such an extent that when he had to send a personal confidant to convey message to the Viceroy, he chose Pyne over an Afghan.”
Dogra additional provides (Pp 120-121), “One can guess what happened on that fateful day of 12 November 1893. There were no Afghan nationals in the room with the Amir, just an Indian named Sultan Mohammad Khan (father of Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz) and the British delegation. To be absolutely correct, even Sultan Mohammed was not in the room. He was hiding in purdah (curtain) behind the Amir so that he could keep notes of the meeting. These notes could have provided a clue to what actually transpired, but there is no trace of them.” Interestingly, initially, it was agreed that the settlement can be signed in Persian. Amir knew Persian however didn’t know English however Durand had wonderful command over each languages. But the settlement was signed in English! The query is how would Amir have identified what was there within the settlement if it was signed in English and Amir didn’t know the language. It is obvious that Peyne efficiently manipulated Amir and acquired this settlement signed. Durand is on report about this when he made this commentary about Peyne:
“He is a very useful man. It is amusing to feel that the mission is being conducted by a little cockney trader.” (Durand’s curse, Pp121).
Another historic settlement that raises doubts over the legitimacy of the Durand Line is the truth that any such settlement needed to be a tripartite settlement between the British, Afghanistan and the State of Kalat (present-day Balochistan). The British had signed a treaty with the state of Kalat in 1876 recognising its independence. In the Durand settlement, part of the territory that was traded off belonged to the state of Kalat. But the British neither knowledgeable the Amir about it nor the state of Kalat.
And it couldn’t be a mere coincidence that the extremely positioned British diplomat Durand and a clerk Salter Peyne each have been awarded one of many highest British Civilian honours at the moment ‘Knighthood Commander of Order of the Star of India(KCSI) inside a month. Why was a clerk working within the court docket of Amir granted this honour at par with a high diplomat? And each Durand and Peyne made it to this record inside a month of signing the Durand settlement.
Dogra sums it up aptly (Pp127),
“Durand… had spent seven weeks in Afghanistan and most of that time was spent lying in wait for the right opportunity to bait the Amir. Once the Amir was brought around, the map-making was a casual affair. Durand’s was an instant line, drawn on a small copybook-type map and covered nearly 1,600 miles. Mortimer did not have the time to consult anyone, nor did he have the professional help of the kind that is necessary in such a major undertaking. And he consulted neither the historical evidence nor consulted any representative of the affected region. People who were to live on two sides of this line were given no say in the matter.”
That is why Afghans haven’t been capable of settle for Durand Line as a reputable border and it appears they’ve each cause to take action.
The author, an writer and columnist, has authored a number of books on RSS. Views expressed are private.