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Durand Line: the line of Evil

Author: Dr. Dipak Basu

Balochistan, along with the North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P) are the victims of an imaginary line, called Durand Line, which was described by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president as the "line of Evil". In deed that line signifies both the British and Pakistani imperialism that have subjugated the Baluchs and the Pushtuns.

In 1893, the Afghan and British governments agreed to demark a 2,450-kilometer (1,519 miles) long border dividing British India and Afghanistan. The signatory of the document, known as The Durand Line Agreement, were Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, ruler of Afghanistan, and Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of the British Indian government. After a series of battles and false treaties signed by the British, 'The Durand Line Agreement' of 1893 divides boundaries between three sovereign countries, namely Afghanistan, Balochistan and British India. According to that agreement Britain had taken a lease of the area in N.W.F.P and Balochistan, without the knowledge of Balochistan. Sir Durand gave verbal assurance to Afghanistan that the lease will lat until 1993, but in the written agreement there is no mention of it. Otherwise just like Hong Kong, N.W.F.P would have gone back to Afghanistan in 1993.

The Durand Line Agreement should be a trilateral agreement and it legally required the participation and signatures of all three countries. However, the clever British drawn the agreement bilaterally between Afghanistan and British India only, and it intentionally excluded Balochistan. Thus, Balochistan has never accepted the validity of the Durand Line. The British, under false pretenses, assured the Afghan rulers that Balochistan was part of British India, and therefore, they were not required to have the consent of anyone from Balochistan to agree on demarking borders. Meanwhile, the British kept the Baloch rulers in the dark about the Durand Line Agreement to avoid any complications. According to International Law, all affected parties are required to agree to any changes in demarking their common borders. Hence, under the rules of demarking boundaries of the International Law, the Agreement of Durand Line was in error, and thus, it was null and void as soon as it was signed.

Also, International Law states that boundary changes must be made among all concerned parties; and a unilateral declaration by one party has no effect. However, the British government disregarding the objection of Afghanistan gave away the N.W.F.P to Pakistan after a fraud plebscite. However, it never gave Baluchistan to Pakistan in the same way the British never gave away Jammu & Kashmir to India.

When in 1949, Afghanistan's "Loya Jirga" (Grand Council) declared the Durand Line Agreement invalid and also raised objections in the United Nations against the creation of Pakistan and its boundary decalared by the British alone, the so-called world body had ignored the plea of a small nation.

Pakistani Invasion of Indepent Baluchistan, 1948:

On August 11, 1947, the British acceded control of Balochistan to the ruler of Balochistan, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan - the Khan of Kalat. The Khan immediately declared the independence of Balochistan, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah signed the proclamation of Balochistan's sovereignty under the Khan.

The New York Times reported on August 12, 1947: "Under the agreement, Pakistan recognizes Kalat as an independent sovereign state with a status different from that of the Indian States. An announcement from New Delhi said that Kalat, Moslem State in Baluchistan, has reached an agreement with Pakistan for free flow of communications and commerce, and would negotiate for decisions on defense, external affairs and communications." The next day, the NY Times even printed a map of the world showing Balochistan as a fully independent country.

On August 15, 1947 the Khan of Kalat addressed a large gathering in Kalat and formally declared the full independence of Balochistan, and proclaimed the 15th day of August a day of celebration. The Khan formed the lower and upper house of Kalat Assembly, and during the first meeting of the Lower House in early September 1947, the Assembly confirmed the independence of Balochistan. Jinnah tried to persuade the Khan to join Pakistan, but the Khan and both Houses of the Kalat Assembly refused. The Pakistani army then invaded Balochistan on April 15th, 1948, and imprisoned all members of the Kalat Assembly. India stood by silently. Lord Mountbatten, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru or Maulana Azad, then the president of India's Congress Party said nothing about the rape of Baluchistan or later of N.W.F.P.

Throughout the period of British rule of India, the British never occupied Baluchistan. There were treaties and lease agreements between the two sovereign states, but neither state invaded the other. Although the treaties signed between British India and Balochistan provided many concessions to the British, but none of the treaties permitted the British to demark the boundaries of Baluchistan without the consent of the Baluch rulers. Once Balochistan was secured through invasion, the Pakistanis deceptively used the law of uti possidetis juris to their advantage and continued occupation of territories belonging to Afghanistan, the N.W.F.P with the full approval of the British Army in India and their supreme commander Lord.Mountbatten. As Pakistan is in illegal occupation of territories belonging to Afghanistan and Balochistan under false pretenses, it is in Pakistan's interest to have a weak and destabilized government in Afghanistan so there is no one to challenge the authenticity of the Durand Line Agreement. That was the reason Pakistan has joined the conspiracy of President Carter and his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (as described in the interview given by Brzezinshi to the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur on 15-21 January 1998) to destabilize the Afghan government of Noor Mohammed Taraki in 1978 by using Pakistani army and destroy it completely through the invasions of the Muzzahideens in 1992 and Talibans later in 1995 with the approval of President Clinton who has sent his special adviser Robin Rafael to Kandahar to congratulate the Talibans. In the same way Clinton administration has sent 10,000 strong Mujahideen army, composed of Arabs, to Bosnia in 1991 to murder the Christian Serbs.

Even after 2001, Pakistani intelligence agencies have provided shelter for members of Al-Qaeada and Taliban who are committing acts of terrorism within Afghanistan to destabilize the democratically elected government of President Hamid Karzai. Pakistan has waged a proxy war against the United States through Taliban, and continues to terrorize the Afghan nation in hopes to frustrate the US to leave Afghanistan and weaken the Afghan government.Meanwhile, the Baloch have launched their "War of Independence" in Iran and Pakistan. Liberation Movement in Balochistan:

Mir Azaad Khan Baloch, the General Secretary, The Government of Balochistan in Exile in Jerusalem decalared recently, "Afghanistan and Baluchistan should form a legal team to challenge the illegal occupation of Afghan territories and Baluchistan by Pakistan in the International Court of Justice. Once the Durand Line Agreement is declared illegal, it will result in the return of Pakistan-occupied territories back to Afghanistan. Also, Baluchistan will be declared a country that was forcibly invaded through use of force by the Pakistanis; and with international assistance, Baluchistan can regain its independence."

The Baloch freedom movement is not new but failed to draw the attention of the world. A very serious crisis lasted from September 1961 to June 1963, when diplomatic, trade, transit, and consular relations between Baluchistan and Pakistan were suspended. Another insurgency erupted in Balochistan in 1973 into an insurgency that lasted four years and became increasingly bitter. The insurgency was put down by the Pakistan Army, which employed brutal methods and equipment, including helicopter gunship, provided by Iran and flown by Iranian pilots. The shah of Iran, who feared a spread of the insurrection among the Iranian Baloch, generously gave external assistance to Bhutto. By early 1974, an armed revolt was underway in Baluchistan. By 2004 Baluchistan was up in arms against the federal government, with the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front, and People"s Liberation Army conducting operations. Rocket attacks and bomb blasts have been a regular feature in the provincial capital, particularly its cantonment areas, Kohlu and Sui town, since 2000, and had claimed over 25 lives by mid-2004.

The Gwadar Port project employed close to 500 Chinese nationals by 2004. On 03 May 2004, the BLA killed three Chinese engineers working on the Port. Rockets attacked Gwadar airport at midnight on 21 May 2004. On 09 October 2004, two Chinese engineers were kidnapped in South Waziristan in the northwest of Pakistan, one of whom was killed later on October 14 in a botched rescue operation. Violence reached a crescendo in March of 2005 when the Pakistani government attempting to target Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a seventy-year-old Sardar (tribal leader) who had fought against the government for decades, shelled the town of Dera Bugti. The fighting that erupted between the tribal militia and government soldiers resulted in the deaths of 67 people. Ultimately Nawab Bugti also became a martyr in the cause of the liberation of Balochistan. The Durand Line and N.W.F.P

To this date, the relations between Afghanistan, Balochistan and Pakistan are characterized by rivalry, suspicion and resentment. The primary cause of this hostility rests in the debate about the validity of the Durand Line Agreement. Dubbing Durand line as a line of hatred Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he does not accept this line as it has raised a wall between the two brothers, and slices a part of Afghanistan from the motherland. He said this on 26 January 2006 after offering condolence over the death of Khan Abdul Wali Khan, the last surviving son of the 'Frontier Gandhi' Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who was betrayed by Mahatma Gandhi in 1947. Afghanistan always vigorously protested the inclusion of Pashtun and Baluch areas within Pakistan without providing the inhabitants with an opportunity for self-determination.

In the 19th century, Afghanistan served as a strategic buffer state between czarist Russia and the British Empire in the subcontinent. Afghanistan"s relations with Moscow became more cordial after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The Soviet Union was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with Afghanistan after the Third Anglo-Afghan war and signed an Afghan-Soviet non-aggression pact in 1921, which also provided for Afghan transit rights through the Soviet Union. Early Soviet assistance included financial aid, aircraft and attendant technical personnel, and telegraph operators.

British during their Empire in India were anxious to award N.W.F.P to the Muslim League to minimize the importance of Afghanistan, a pro-Soviet state. The most important party in the N.W.F.P was the Khudai Khidmatgars who had formed the government there since 1935 in collaboration with the Congress party of India. The opinion of the British governor Sir George Cunningham was the same of that of the Muslim League that, since the Hindus were not a people of the Book, and since the Khudai Khidmatgars of Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan were working in concerned with the Hindu Congress for national independence and freedom from British slavery, hence this partnership was in fact a partnership with heathenish Kafirs.

The Muslim League always had been an ally of the British, and it was wholly unsympathetic to all the Muslim organizations fighting the British - to the righteous scholars and leaders of Deoband, whom it did no even desist from abusing. It was not prepared to recognize the efforts of other individual Muslims who were contributing to the national movement for independence. On the contrary, it had kept pressing the British not to recognize any other Muslim or Muslim organization except the Muslim League as representative of the country's entire Muslims, when it was very unpopular party among the Muslims in Bengal, Sindh, and N.W.F.P, all Muslim majority areas of the British India.

The British practically handed over the N.W.F.P to The Muslim League through a referendum where the supporters of the Khudai Khidmatgars abstained because of the absurd advice of Mahatma Gandhi. Khudai Khidmatgars and the Congress Party of Gandhi used to have the political power of the N.W.F.Psince 1935. Gandhi gave them assurance that if they abstain the referendum would be morally invalid and annulled. (Gandhi gave the same absurd advice to the Hindus in the referendum in the Mayamansingh district of East Bengal and as a result the whole of the district with about with about half of the population as Hindus went to Pakistan). The British had managed to persuade through bribing some members of the legislative assembly to support the inclusion of N.W.F.P in Pakistan. Immediately after 1947 Pakistan had started killing members of the Khudai Khidmatgars and most Pushtun leaders, including Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan had to take sanctuary in Afghanistan, then an anti-British and pro-Soviet country.

The Soviets began a major economic assistance program in Afghanistan in the 1950s. Between 1954 and 1978, Afghanistan received more than $1 billion in Soviet aid, including substantial military assistance. In 1973, the two countries announced a $200-million assistance agreement on gas and oil development, trade, transport, irrigation, and factory construction. Since 1978, the Soviet Union started providing large-scale military assistance to Afghanistan to protect the country from the invasion launched by Pakistan with the full encouragement of the CIA to destroy the socialist government of Noor Mahamed Taraki. When it became obvious that Afghanistan alone cannot resist the aggression of Pakistan, the Soviet army came to Afghanistan in December 1979 to help maintain its independence until 1992.

After 1979, the Soviets augmented their large aid commitments to shore up the Afghan economy and rebuild the Afghan military. They provided the Karmal regime an unprecedented $800 million. The Soviet Union supported the Najibullah regime even after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in February 1989. Russia has provided military assistance to the Northern Alliance against the Pakistan backed Talibans. Osama Bin Laden started off as a Mujahideen, against the Soviet backed socialist government of Afghanistan. He was actively sponsored by the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies and was felicitated in both the White House of Washington and the White Hall of London.

A grand Pakhtoon-Baloch tribal convention was held in Pesawar on 11 February 2006 where prominent Pakhtoon and Baloch leaders endorsed a call for the elimination of the infamous and imaginary British-made Durand Line with the objective of creating a Greater Balochistan. Awami National Party (ANP) leader Asfandyar Wali Khan said that the Pakhtoon nation was passing through a critical phase of its history, and therefore, the ANP had convened the tribal convention to devise a strategy to counter the ongoing Pakistan military operations in Balochistan and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). The Pakhtoon Milli Wahdat revolves around the elimination of the Durand Line, dividing Pakistan and Afghanistan, so that Pakhtoons living in NWFP, Balochistan and tribal areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan could form a state of their own.

A New Map for the Middle East:

Ralph Peter, in The Armed Forces Journal of the U.S, in June 2006, suggested that there has to be a major changes in the map of the Middle East, including Pakistan and Afghanistan to do justice to the ethnic groups who were forced to live under alien governments because the British and the French after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 have arbitrarily divided up the Middle East without thinking about the consequences of their actions on various nationalities who used to live under the Turkish Empire. According to this "New Map of the Middle East", Iran, "a state with madcap boundaries", would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today"s Afghanistan - a region with a historical and linguistic affinity for Iran. Iran would, in effect, become an ethnic Persian state again.

What Afghanistan would lose to Iran in the west, it would gain in the east, as Pakistan"s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren. Pakistan, another unnatural state, would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining "natural" Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi. Thus, even among the most conservative circle of the USA the support for free Baluchistan and N.W.F.P is gaining ground due to the treacherous character of Pakistan. While it is receiving massive amount of military and civilian aid from the U.S, Pakistan is still giving sanctuary to both Taliban and Al Queada, giving them free areas to roam in the N.W.F.P. Pakistan no longer enjoys the unconditional support of the United States. In a lightning visit to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan in March 2006, US president George Bush did not conceal where his favour lay. He left India having signed a much-coveted deal on nuclear energy, while his visit to Pakistan left Musharraf with nothing.

India enjoys support in Kabul from not only Karzai and his cabinet but many political elements that fought the Taliban, especially the Northern Alliance that was supported by Iran, the U.S. and its allies and continues to be friendly towards India. A strong, stable Afghanistan, bolstered by American military and diplomatic support, and further strengthened by an alliance with India, could on the other hand make Pakistan very uncomfortable indeed. India should take advantage of this historic opportunity to free both Baluchistan and N.W.F.P from Pakistan by giving total support to the Baluch freedom fighters and to the Afghan government, as Mrs. Indira Gandhi has changed the map of Pakistan in 1971. While Pakistan is continuously drawing the attention of the world about India's so-called 'injustice' to Kashmir, which Pakistan has invaded in October 1947, there is no reason for India to conceal the fact that Pakistan has occupied an independent country Balochistan in April 1948.

(The author is a Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University, Japan)