The Durand Line issue cannot be settled until there is stability in Afghanistan: Afghan Academician Prof. Mohammad Ismael Yoon
By Prabalta Rijal
Apr 21, Kabul: The Durand ;ine reason for conflct between the two countries for centuries as Kabul has time and again refused to accept the border line dividing the countries. As Afghanistan takes strides towards peace and reconciliation by bringing rebel groups like the HIA to the round table, terror organizations too are bobbing their heads in the region.
The Oslo Times Chief Correspondent Prabalta Rijal caught up with Afghan Acdemician Prof. Mohammad Ismael Yoon for a brief rendezvous on the Durand Line,Iranian Intervention in and yellow journalism in Afghanistan.
The Durand line has been the reason for conflict between the then British India -Pakistan and Afghanistan for over a century now, why hasn’t the Afghan government recognized this international border?
The British rulers of India had forcefully imposed the line on the then ruler of Afghanistan, Amir AbdurRehman Khan, against his will. The Afghans haven’t recognized this line. Except for three emperors,no other rulers of Afghanistan have gone against the wish and will of the Afghans. All the Afghan rulers have rejected the line.
Is it worth all the destruction and terror it has caused for so long? Will Afghanistan ever attain peace if it cannot secure its borders and end this age old conflict?
Terrorism is a global phenomenon, the attack on a hotel in Bombay and the terrorist attacks throughout the world is the proof that terrorism is not limited to the areas on both sides of the line. Just like many other states, Afghanistan is also a victim of global terrorism, which has nothing to do with the Durand Line. If Pakistan links terrorism in the region with the Durand Line, it means that if Afghanistan recognizes the Line as an official border terrorism will end in the region. In other words, Pakistan is using terrorism to force Afghanistan to accepting the Durand Line. The current wave of terrorism has come into being after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, while Pakistan has been intervening in Afghanistan’s internal affairs from the day when Pakistan came into being in 1947.
An MP recently claimed that the Afghan government silently recognized the line as a border but is not honest in its recognition with the public, but why this difference?
Since 1893, when the Durand Line Agreement was signed, only three Amirs( Afghan rulers) out of haplessness and pressure from the British India had agreed to admit areas of the other side of Durand as the areas of influence of both, British India and Afghanistan. They had agreed that the Afghan government will not be inciting revolts against the British India. It has never been recognized as a border between the British India or Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since then Afghanistan has been ruled by 17 different regimes, none of which has recognized the line as a permanent border.
How does a new border actually benefit Afghanistan? Wont it cause more problems in regards to a recognition of Baluchistan?
Baluchs have a right to reclaim their land that was annexed forcefully by Pakistan with military might, after Pakistan came into being in 1947. However, Afghans have a right to annex Pashtun lands occupied by Pakistan. The imperial Britain has also created a lot of issues between the Baluchs and Pashtuns. The province named Baluchistan, Quetta and some other areas in particular, are Pashtun majority area. These areas are precisely called South Pashtunkhwaand residents of the area naturally call themselves as Pashtuns and Afghans. Afghans are struggling to annex the area with Afghanistan.
Reclaiming lost lands involves a relocation of millions of people, if Afghanistan has lost land due to the Durand line treaty, it has also gained land it never historically controlled because of the treaty, so how fair is this on the millions of people who consider themselves either Afghans or Pakistanis?
By practice every nation regains its lost territories through various means. When the nations gets militarily, politically and economically stronger it erases all the separation lines forcefully. The second option is referring to people’s demands. Frauds, force, improper usage of religious emotions that change people’s passage of demand and exploitation shouldn’t be availed in democratic processes. Referring to people’s will can be just and logical only when there is a balance of power between the parties to the conflict. There is no balance of power between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the current situation, and this is the reason that Pakistan is using political, economic and religious means to force Afghanistan into recognition of the line. We demand that Afghanistan should be given a chance to excel and get to an equal status with Pakistan and then negotiate a logical and just solution for the Durand issue.
Aslo Will the Pashstun community in Pakistan actually want to annexed back into Afghanistan?
Given the problems and difficulties that Afghanistan is surrounded by, bringing the question about the tendency of the Pashtun community for annexing to Afghanistan is injustice. In fact, all Pashtuns want to annex their motherland when there is stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. The Pashtun community in Pakistan wanted to get annexed to Afghanistan during the partition of India and also in the course of three Pak-India wars. When Afghanistan become stable or Pakistani military lose grip over the will of its people, then the questions such as will Pashtuns want to stay in Pakistan? Do Pashtun want a sovereign country of their own? Do they want to an annexed with Afghanistan? The questions are valid and just only in the situation when Pakistan and Afghanistan are equally strong and not now.
Can Afghanistan afford further ethnic tensions that could arise from trying to revive an issue that is already internationally accepted, if this border line is still considered an imaginary line that divides Afghnaistan, then why hasn’t the Afghan government asked for a UN intervention into the matter?
Ethnically, Afghanistan is a strong country. Compared to all those countries where minorities live with the majority ethnic group, national unity is stronger in Afghanistan. If any other country had faced so many difficulties and international intervention, it would have been disintegrated into many parts. However, besides religion and thoughts inspired by nationalism, there were many other factors that kept Afghanistan united and strong.It’s not Afghans who have raised voice for the recognition of the Durand Line, it’s others who have been trying to impose the line on Afghans. In some cases, even the international players prefer diplomacy to justice. Germany was divided into two states and the Berlin was built between them as a boundary, the world powers and nations also recognized them as two separate states. Same happened in Yemen, the country was divided into South Yemen and North Yemen. However, both the countries reunited. Korea was also forcefully divided into two countries, the possibility to get united into one Korea is getting stronger and stronger. Vietnam was also divided into two countries. Crimea was a part of Ukraine for half a century. Hong Kong is another example and so does exist many other examples of the countries that were divided and then got united.
Afghanistan has been broiling in a civil war and is fighting with many dynamics of terrorism.
The nature and intensity of the war can be gauged from the fact that despite the involvement of the UN and 6o other countries, the foreign intervention has not been prevented in Afghanistan. Referring the Durand Line issue to the UN in such a situation without doubt will not get anything for Afghanistan. A limited number of UN members will support Afghanistan’s cause. We therefore believe that the Afghan government observe the status quo, don’t recognize the Durand Line nor raise the issue on any international platform. In 1947, when Afghanistan was stronger than Pakistan, the Kabul based then UK and US envoys believed that Afghanistan had a chance to win the case. Same was the situation during the three Indo Pak wars. Afghanistan lost golden opportunities at that time. Now, Afghanistan needs to wait until it gets stronger to fight its case on international platforms.
As a media personnel could you tell us how yellow journalism has affected Afghanistan as many people believe that Iran has been financing various media organizations as well as other organizations in the country to interfere with cultural and other internal matters? Also doesn't this kind of infiltration hamper national interests?
Iranian intervention or doesn’t want to do so.
The government itself is under the Iranian influence.
Iran has been intervening in political, military,
social and religious spheres in Afghanistan for many years now."
What is the Afghan media's take on the recent peace talk process with HIA, and how successful do you think these talks will be?
Stability is the prime need of Afghans. Regardless who the reconciliation is with Afghans welcome it. Hezb-e-Islami is a prominent party and should reconcil with the Afghan government. We call upon Hezb-e- Islami to leave old extreme religious thoughts and the use of force as a means for political power. This cannot be tolerated and are not applicable anymore. Regardless of who uses it, violence should be rejected. We also call upon the Afghan government to treat the warlords as ordinary Afghans and stop providing them with incentives.
Though there has been a surge in the number of young women pursueing their higher studies, only 16 percent of the labour forces is made up of women in Afghanistan, what steps are being taken to ensure equal job opportunities to women in Afghanistan.
Women’s participation in social, cultural and political spheres has increased. Women’s share in the Afghan parliament is 27 %. Their share in education, trade, politics and other walks of life has increased but it has not reached to its natural level. In order to materialize women’s full participation in all walks of life, laws aimed at increasing women’s participation in all walks of life is the call of the day. The article of the constitution that dictates 25 % of women’s membership in the parliament has resulted in the 27 % of women membership in the parliament. Without the law, women won’t have been able to acquire membership on this level. Similar laws should ensure women’s rights in other spheres of life as well.
The Oslo Times International News Network