What's new

Some Historical Inaccuracies! Part 2


Jan 9, 2012
Historical inaccuracies and myths.

Durand line.

by Saiyan0321


Durand line is a border that demarcates Pakistan and Afghanistan. The 2611 km2 border is marred by controversy, myth and historical inaccuracies. Often these inaccuracies stand unchallenged and become part of the narrative. It is imperative that some semblance of reasonable argument be presented at international level and local level to combat such an increase of misinformation.


Before formation of modern day Pakistan, the area was home to kingdoms and tribal states. Such a kingdom was the Sikh empire which was formed in 1799-1849, the Sikh empire established power in most of modern day Punjab and expanded well across the Indus River. The Sikh empire divided itself into four provinces which were Lahore, Multan, Kashmir and Peshawar. The Sikhs continued their frontier all the way to jamrud where their expansion was checked in the battle of jamrud. jamrud lies in the Khyber agency of modern day Pakistan. The Sikhs ruled these regions till its fall and annexation into the British Empire in 1849. It must be mentioned here that in 1804 the ruling afghan elite themselves sold the fort of Attock to ranjit singh 1.

Historical inaccuracy NO. 1. Everything west of the Indus and east of the Durand is part of Afghanistan.

In most afghan maps and in the view of many Afghans everything west of the Indus and east of the Durand belongs to Afghanistan. This means that the entire area of Baluchistan, khyberpakhtunkhwa and FATA is part of Afghanistan. They reason this due to conquests of ahmad shah abdali in 1747 however this is no arguments as conquests alone do not exhibit complete right as the territories remained part of the empire for a very small time and on top of it all the empire fell apart after abdali's death and the area saw continued turmoil and disintegration into small countries and states till the rise of dost Muhammad in the 1826. If such arguments are given ground then many empires and country can start forward claims.

The British, which were the military juggernaut in the subcontinent were slowly expanding their empire and influence in the entirety of the subcontinent and found themselves in modern day Pakistan. This led to the first Anglo-afghan war from 1839-1842 which saw the British invasion of Kabul.

In 1849 the British annexed the Sikh empire however along with it the Persian invasion of Herat and Qandahar happened which saw the afghan amir lose two extremely important cities. Amir dost Muhammad looked to British economic and military aid to retake the cities.

on the 30th of march 1855 the British and the afghan amir formed the treaty of Peshawar which established British control over Peshawar and the areas the afghan amir claimed as the treaty mentioned " respecting the territorial integrity" as well as mentions that " friends of friends and enemies of enemies" for each other which is also the reason why the afghan amir did not interfere in the war of independence of 1857. Arms and a subsidy of 12 lakh annually were provided which saw the afghan amir retake those cities. This means that areas of Peshawar were recognized as part of British Empire by Afghanistan in 1855 2.

Since the afghans claim territories east of the Durand and west of the Indus, we must also look into the British treaties with baluch to showcase how weak or nonsensical this argument is yet it is extremely widely spread among them. The baluch history is also marred with extreme inaccuracies but we won’t touch upon them much.

In 1875 the treaty of Jacobabad was signed between British India and the warring baluch tribes which saw reconciliation between the tribes and their khan and the khanate of kalat was was recognized as under British control. The area of modern day Baluchistan never existed in its present form. Before the abolition of the one unit the area had various tribes and khanates with their khans with nobody establishing suzerainty over the other. The British came to control slowly what they called the cheif commissioners province or British Baluchistan which was composed of chaghai, quetta-pishin, jhatpat,loralai, Zhob and sibi whereas kalat, las bela, kharan and makran ( which was disputed as makran was unwilling to accept the suzerainty of kalat) 3 . With this we have establish that these areas were not part of Afghanistan and had their own dealings with the British. Another point for consideration that the areas that were British Baluchistan bordered the Durand line completely.

The treaty of gandamak in 1879, which was the result of the second anglo afghan war, saw the afghan amir agree to conduct his foreign relations on the advice of the British Empire and allowed a British representative to stay in Kabul. The agreement also gave the British control over khurram, sibi and pishin along with dumki and chaman. The British would pay the amir and his successors 6 lakh rupees annually. They also retained the michni and Khyber passes and the relations with the tribes of the area. 4

The treaties of Jacobabad and the treaty of gandamak saw the British establish the Baluchistan agency composed of tribes and princely states as well as the British Baluchistan which was the strip corridor that stood between other parts of Baluchistan agency and Afghanistan.

With the above we have established strongly that Afghanistan did not own the territories east of the Durand and west of the indus. in fact as established by many treaties and historical realities that the area was largely not under afghan control and thus such absurd claims have no locus standi and the areas that were under afghan control or were contested by the amir were wilfully and without duress given to the British empire to combat the geo political needs of that time.

Historical inaccuracy no 2. That the afghan amir signed under duress.

In 1879 the amir of Afghanistan agreed to conduct foreign policy with the British alone and basically surrendered its foreign relations which would remain as such till 1919.

in 1884 the ever expanding Russian empire captured merv and it seemed only a matter of time before the Russians would walk into herat however being large empires there was a consensus between Russia and British to not enter into a war with each other. This saw both Russia and British agreeing to keeping their borders separate with Afghanistan as a buffer zone between the two. Now a clash could only be avoided if Afghanistan had defined borders. For this work the Russia-British boundary commission went to work in 1884 and the final protocol was signed in 1887. 5

in fact in this process of border definition with Russia, Afghanistan was not consulted at all and was simply informed of the ongoings however the amir of Afghanistan did play an important role averting the panjdeh crisis of 1885 which saw the creation of the need for the frontier.

In sept 10 it was roughly agreed that the Russians would keep panjdeh and the border would be where it is now. The northern frontier of Afghanistan was fixed on the amu darya from lake zor kol. In the end the border was demarcated.

With the frontiers settled, the issue of the border of British India and Afghanistan came to surface. Interestingly the amir of Afghanistan himself took the initiative sent to lord dufferin a letter requesting them to send officials to Kabul to demarcate the border between the two, working with afghan officials. He discussed this with his dignitaries. In fact he stated the following-

"Having settled my boundaries with all my other neighbors (Persia, China and Russia), I thought it necessary to set out the boundaries between my country and India, so that the boundary line should be definitely marked out around my dominions, as a strong wall of protection"6.

Amir abdur rehman wished for great reforms for modernization of Afghanistan and to convert Afghanistan into a great nation and for that he wished to demarcate the borders so that he can concrete steps for afghan evolution. In fact he termed the agreement of 1893 as a basis for his reforms as stated

"It was of the first and greatest importance to mark out a boundary line all around Afghanistan, so that we should first know what provinces really belonged to Afghanistan before thinking of introducing any reforms and improvements therein. Fortunately, I have succeeded in defining the boundaries of Afghanistan with the neighbouring powers, and putting an end to their gradual moving forward. This has also removed the causes of misunderstanding and put an end to all possibility of raising quarrels between my neighbours and myself or my successors on this subject without breaking the existence treaties. This is a great basis for progress and peace for my successors, and on this score they will have no occasion to trouble themselves in communicating with their neighbours." 7

This shows that the Amir was under no duress as he himself started the process by calling the British officials and he himself wanted to finalize the borders to implement his own reforms.

Those that use this argument come forward claiming that the amir was not willing to talk on this issue and was avoiding the British but like all arguments, this too fail to take into account historical facts which point to the contrary as we have established that the amir himself approached the British for demarcation and wished for it for his reforms. On top of it all the rebellion of hazara delayed such a process.

The fact is that the new viceroy Lord Lansdowne appointed General Robert the commander in chief of British India, as head of the mission in Kabul and his appointment was did not please the Amir. The General was infamous in Afghanistan as he had ordered large scale massacres in the second Anglo-afghan wars and was considered a hardliner by the afghans. However his retirement was due and the Amir's delaying tactics worked as he retired and the viceroy sent the foreign minister of British India who was Mortimer Durand and he was very warmly received by the Amir. 8

With this we have established again that the amir was under no urgency nor stress and wilfully participated in the boundary demarcation.

In fact it would be pertinent to mention here that to dispel any sign or notion of blackmail, Mortimer Durand and his delegation went completely unarmed and both sides presented their demands.

The argument finds an end with an excerpt from the diary of Amir himself:

At the time when I was occupied in breaking down the

feudal system of Afghanistan and molding the country

into a strong consolidated kingdom, I was not unaware

or neglectful of the necessity of defining my boundaries

with the neighboring countries. I well knew that it was

necessary to mark out the boundaries between my

dominions and those of my neighbors, for the safety and

protection of my Kingdom, and for a purpose of putting

a check on their advances and getting rid of

misunderstandings and disputes." 9

Historical inaccuracy no 3. The amir had no locus standi and it was not democratic.

Firstly the Amir was the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan and had support of the people. Secondly not every country was democratic in the modern sense of the word and monarchs could come into agreements and those agreements are very much valid under international law.

Thirdly Amir Abdur Rehman drew his power and legitimacy from the fact that he created his right to rule through the Jirga system which was traditional tribal consensus. He created a centralized and organized state in an area which was disorganized with the creation of the supreme council, Loya Jirga and a modern army.

With this we prove that he was the ruler of Afghanistan and introduced political reforms to solidify and organize Afghanistan.

While signing the agreement the amir held a durbar which was attended by his sons, high ranking civil and military officers and over 400 tribal leaders. Mortimer stated that,

"'He (Amir) made a really first class speech

beginning. He then urged his people to be true friends to

us and to make their children the same. He said that we

did them nothing but good and had no designs on their

country. After each period of his speech, there were

shouts of 'Approved! Approved''4 from amongst those present".10

In fact the Amir in his memoirs himself states that,

“before the

audience I made a speech to commence the proceedings

in which I gave an outline of all the understanding

which had been agreed upon and the provisions which

had been signed for the information of my nation and

my people and all those who were present. I praised

God for bringing about friendly relations which now

existed between the two Governments and putting

them on a closer footing than they had been before.” 11

The way he convened the durbar and the loya Jirga, it shows that he was willful and the representatives and those attending were happy by this treaty. If there was any sign of displeasure then a civil war would have griped the country which did not happen as the powerful tribal leaders and military leaders showcased satisfaction to the agreement and if coercion was the case then why hold such a grand durbar and provide invite to so many tribal chiefs and military and political elite of the country.

This shows that the amir was under no duress, had locus standi as well and the agreement did not see conflict by those attending or holding the reigns of power in Afghanistan.

Historical inaccuracy no 4. The treaty did not involve the baluch thus is void since it didn’t have the necessary party in it.

As mentioned above the British Baluchistan also known as the chief commissioner’s province bordered Afghanistan and above the province the rest of the British Empire was in power. No baluchi sardar, khan or tribal elder held administrative or sovereign writ over any area that the treaty placed into effect thus they were no party to the agreement. One only has to look at a map to realize how absurd this argument is yet when it comes to Durand line, maps are often thrown out of the window in favor of emotional and sometimes unrealistic arguments.

Historical inaccuracy no 5. The treaty was for a hundred years and thus lost its power in 1993.

it is unknown from where this absurd notion came to pass but many afghans and shamefully some Pakistanis truly believe that the treaty was only for a hundred years and the entire west of Indus should be handed back. Putting aside the 'west of Indus' claim, no treaty held any such article anywhere that it was for a 100 years.

The British signed various treaties which came into effect. The treaty of Jacobabad of 1876, the treaty of Peshawar of 1855, the treaty of gandamak of 1879, the Durand line treaty of 1893, the anglo afghan treaty of 1905, the Rawalpindi treaty of 1919 and the treaty of 1921 yet nowhere does it say that its for 100 years.

A Pakistani journalist wrote a book "Durand line kay os par" about his imprisonment in Afghanistan where he highlights ignorance and misinformation by stating that the treaty was for 100 years. Even the afghan intelligentsia and politicians have peddled this false narrative.

This type of misinformation cannot be allowed anymore.

In this respect Ahmar Bilal Sufi states; “the Durand Line Agreement has no expiry limits and the interpretation of a hundred years limit is not legally tenable. Neither the text of the 1893 Agreement nor subsequent treaties of 1919 and 1921 which affirmed the said agreement mention any time limit." 12

Historical inaccuracy no 6. The treaties were personal and not by the state.

True that the British did get the treaties signed by king habibullah in 1905 and then by king amanullah in 1919 and then by king nadir shah in 1930, however it doesn’t mean in any way that these were personal treaties. in fact such border demarcation treaties that Afghanistan signed were done by the state and the amirs under the capacity of a state as is the truth of the afghan frontiers with Russia and Iran.

Historical inaccuracy no 7. The amir were not independent.

The argument is hollow and reveals great historical ignorance. The amir wilfully called the British and in his memoirs stated that he wanted to demarcate his borders. In fact during the demarcation with the borders of Iran and Russia, the amir was barely consulted and only informed.

In the Durand line subsequent afghan Govts ratified the treaty as Afghanistan was free from British influence and had retaken the ability to make foreign policy in 1919, 1921 and 1939 which saw two independent monarchs king amanullah and king nadir shah ratify the treaty. In fact little known fact was that any side could repudiate the treaty of 1921 in a period of 3 years if they were not satisfied but since no side cancelled the treaty, the treaty remained in full force and this shows that the afghans were satisfied with the treaty and its only after the independence of Pakistan did they raise an issue.

Now these are the most common historical inaccuracies that come to pass when Durand line is discussed.

Why such misinformation?

With such a spread of misinformation, one can’t help but wonder why such stories and fantasies exist. The only answer that comes is that Afghanistan has always seen Pakistan through the lens of an enemy and to unite itself against a common foe it started the misinformation flow amongst the public. The propaganda has left all historical facts and legal sensibilities behind and has made Durand line a discussion of an emotional level and like all propaganda it has all the elements of betrayal, fear and deception.

In this case the saying, “say a lie enough times and it becomes the truth” is very much apt here. The propaganda has reached such levels that the entire afghan intelligentsia believes in it and without a proper voice of argument, the narrative gathers strength.

After massive internal wars and the ongoing 40 year old civil war, there lies no voice that can challenge the lies within Afghanistan.

1. Gopal Das, Tarikh-i-Peshawar (Lahore: Global Publishers, n.d.), p. 120.

2. Dr. Imrana Begum, Durand Line: A Legacy of Colonial Rule 1893-1970, Journal of Pakistan Historical Society, October-December 2015, Vol. LXIII, No. 4, p. 40.

3. The imperial gazetteer of india 1907-1909.

4. Ibid., p. 106-114.

5. Ibid.., p.

6. Imrana Begum, The Durand Line, p. 43.

7. S. Fida Yunas, Afghanistan: A Political History, The Afghans and the Rise and Fall of the Ruling Afghan Dynasties and Rulers (Peshawar: Author himself, 2000), p. 1.

8. Khan, The Durand Line, p. 33.

9.Supra, note 6 at 6

10. It is reproduced from the copy of the text of the agreement obtained from the National Documentation Centre

of the Cabinet Division of the Government of Pakistan.

11. Mahmood, T. (2005). The Durand Line: South Asia's Next Trouble Spot. Monterey: Thesis, Naval Postgraduate


12. Ibid..

I apologize beforehand for any grammatical mistakes.

@Kaptaan @Irfan Baloch @Joe Shearer @HRK @WAJsal


Jan 9, 2012
this thread should be made sticky nice work bro

Thanks man. :)

@WebMaster if you would be so kind as to make this and the other thread


A sticky. When it comes to Durand line, the narrative is steadily becoming one sided so our posters must know and possess adequate knowledge to counter the misinformation. Both these threads arm them with such information that they should be able to give a good answer to all those who question our international border both from historical and legal point of view.

So plz make both these threads a sticky.

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 1, Members: 0, Guests: 1)

Top Bottom