Durand Line

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Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The present border of approximately 1,500 miles between Afghanistan and Pakistan was agreed upon in a treaty signed on 12 November 1893, in Kabul by Sir Mortimer Durand, representing British India, and Abd al-Rahman, amir of Afghanistan.

Durand, the Indian foreign secretary, had been sent by Lord Landsdowne, the viceroy of British India, to pursue Britain's "Forward Policy" designed to control tribal activity along the northwest border of British India. Afghanistan has never accepted the legitimacy of this border, however, arguing that it was intended to demarcate spheres of influence rather than international frontiers. In addition, the Afghans contend that this border bisects the Push-tun tribal area, leaving more than half the Pushtun tribes in Pakistan. Afghans believe that Pushtuns are true Afghans and therefore the Pushtun area, sometimes called Pushtunistan, should be part of Afghanistan. The "Pushtunistan question" has remained an obstacle to good relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

After the communist takeover of Afghanistan in 1978, the government of Nur Mohammed Taraki and Hafizullah Amin actively challenged the legitimacy of the Durand line, largely because of their strong Pushtun sentiments. For this reason, the Afghan government formally repudiated the Du-rand Agreement in 1979. In 1993, 100 years since the signing of the agreement, the Durand Agreement formally lapsed. Afghanistan refused to renew the treaty, leaving Afghanistan and Pakistan with no official border.


Dupree, Louis. Afghanistan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Ewans, Martin. Afghanistan: A Short History of Its People and Politics. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

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