Uncovering Pakistan’s Ill Designs On Durand Line & Pashtun Misfortune

  • The conduct of the Pakistan Army along the historical but contested Durand Line serves as an indication of the state of affairs between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Drawn in 1893 by British colonial officials, the Durand Line divided Pashtun tribal areas without considering the ethnic and cultural connections of the Pashtun people. Consequently, Pashtuns view the line as an artificial border imposed upon them, and it has never been recognized by any political administration in Afghanistan. This includes the Afghan Taliban movement, which has been supported and fostered by Pakistan for decades.
  • As one of the successor states of British India, Pakistan inherited the tribal areas with the intention of integrating them into its national framework. However, the Pashtun people, united by a strong sense of ethnic identity, have consistently voiced concerns regarding the legitimacy of the Durand Line. They argue that this imposed border limits their ability to freely travel and engage with their fellow Pashtuns on both sides. Since its formation in 1947, Pakistan has grappled with suppressing Pashtun nationalist aspirations for the reunification of Pashtun territories.

Also Read, How Did Pakistan’s Support For The Taliban Backfire On Itself?

  • Over the years since 2017, Pakistan has been actively engaged in fencing the entire length of the Durand Line, spanning over 2670 km. However, these construction efforts have brought about significant social, economic, and cultural devastation to thousands of Pashtun families. The lives of these families have been disrupted and divided by physical barriers, leading to a state of statelessness for many.
  • For instance, the Kabul Khel tribe in North Waziristan, a Wazir clan, despite possessing valid Pakistani documents became Afghanistan citizens. This has resulted in the division of the clan and severe restrictions on their mobility. Simultaneously, Pakistan has taken advantage of the porous nature of the border to annex certain areas, which has led to the stripping of Afghan citizenship from hundreds of Afghan Pashtuns.
  • As a result, these individuals find themselves in a state of statelessness, without recognition or rights in either country. The consequences of these actions have had a profound impact on the affected Pashtun communities, causing immense hardship and marginalization.
  • The construction of the fence has not only divided communities but has also severely disrupted the traditional livelihoods of Pashtun border communities, including farming, livestock rearing, and cross-border trade. These activities were essential sources of income for these communities. It has further resulted in the loss of access to agricultural lands and shares, affecting land and property ownership.Also Read,
  • One group significantly impacted by the fence is the Kuchis, Afghan nomads, whose migratory routes and access to grazing lands have been blocked. This has had dire consequences on their flocks and traditional way of life. The economic repercussions have been felt on both sides of the border, particularly affecting the tribal community.
  • Moreover, the previously unregulated cross-border trade, which played a crucial role in the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns, has been completely disrupted. Traders have lost their businesses, and labourers have been deprived of their daily wage jobs. The absence of alternative employment opportunities has further exacerbated the economic challenges faced by these communities.
  • In addition to the aforementioned challenges, the Pakistani state forces responsible for guarding the border have further disrupted trading activities along the border. These forces have often harassed the border communities, unfairly blaming them for any disruptions in the Islamabad-Kabul dynamics. This pattern of scapegoating has persisted for decades, adding to the already strained relations between the two countries.
  • Furthermore, the strict checks at border crossings and the imposition of high customs duties have had a significant impact on profit margins and have complicated business operations. These measures have made it increasingly difficult for traders to engage in cross-border commerce, hampering economic activities and exacerbating the challenges faced by the communities involved.
  • Additionally, the border fence has also forced traders to rely on only one border crossing at Torkham, leading to increased transportation costs and price hikes for locals. All in all, the economic ruin caused by the fence has had a detrimental impact on the livelihoods and well-being of Pashtun communities on both sides of the border.
  • Interestingly, Pakistan’s involvement in supporting the Sunni Deoband extremist Taliban movement in Kabul and its subsequent confrontational approach towards seizing villages under the guise of border fencing is notable. With the installation of the Afghan Taliban regime and the expectation that it would comply with Islamabad’s designs, including suppressing Pashtun secessionist sentiments, Pakistan’s plans were thwarted when the same Taliban Regime reaffirmed the Afghan stance on the Durand Line’s illegitimacy. The Afghan Taliban not only halted Pakistan’s border fencing project but also dismantled parts of it in Nangarhar province.
  • In response to this setback, Pakistan resorted to extreme measures, including the use of its Air Force to bomb border areas in April 2022. These attacks resulted in the deaths of over 40 people in various bordering provinces, including Kunar, Khost, and Paktika. This demonstrates Pakistan’s willingness to use force to assert its control and suppress dissent along the border.

Also Read, Taliban: Pakistan’s Frankenstein Monster

  • In conclusion, the conduct of the Pakistan Army along the Durand Line reflects the complex relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Durand Line, disregarding Pashtun connections, is rejected by Pashtuns and unrecognized by Afghanistan. Pakistan’s fencing has devastated Pashtun families, causing statelessness and hardships. Livelihoods, such as farming and trade, have been disrupted, marginalizing communities. Pakistan’s association with the Taliban and confrontational actions reveal its control efforts. The use of force demonstrates Pakistan’s determination to suppress dissent and assert control.


The Editorial Team At DefenceXP Network Consists Of Professional Writers, Defence Enthusiast And Defence Aspirants.

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