Durand line agreement: still a bad memory for many Afghans


PESHAWAR: The Durand line agreement was signed more than a century ago by the ruler of Afghanistan with the British government leaving his own people at the mercy of colonial power. This agreement is still a sour memory for the whole Afghan nation. 

Signed on November 2, 1893 by Afghan ruler Amir Abdur Rahman and Sir Mortimer Durand with the purpose to demarcate borderline between Afghanistan and British India. Under the agreement, the Afghan ruler abandoned a large part of his country, now comprised of the present day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of Balochistan, on the mercy of the British colonial power.

This borderline is still known as Durand line, but now its a boundary line between Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why for the people living in Afghanistan, this line has become a nightmare and are unable to accept it.


In 1872, British and Russian governments under the Paris agreement decided to formulate a commission for the settlement of mutual boundaries. Under the treaty of Gandomak, signed after the Anglo-Afghan war in 1879, Kandahar, Peshawar, Attock, Sibi came under the British government.

In 1892, on the request of Afghan ruler Amir Abul Rahman, British government sent Sir Mortimer Durand to Kabul. This visit led to the Durand agreement for the settlement of the border. Under this agreement, four commissions identified the areas and marked permanent boundaries. 

‘The agreement wasn’t bound by time period’

Contrary to the common perception, the agreement was not bound by any time period, the 100 years’ time is just guesswork. Under the agreement, the four commissions specified the boundary area from Wakhan, Gilgit-Baltistan, China Province Xinjiang to Chaghi and Zahedan.

On April 9, 1895, Sir Richard made an agreement with Sardar Ghulam Haider Khan which sets the boundary from Charkha Pas to Bajauar. Afghan rulers want to take Momand area, but the British government declined their demand. And so after the third Anglo-Afghan war in 1919 agreement, Mohmand was made part of the British government.

Similarly, J Donald made in agreement with Sardar Shirin Dil Khan to set boundary from Sikaram top to Touchi top. Similarly, H A Anderson though local tribal elders set the boundary from Laram Top to CharKhel Bermel. L W King with local tribal elders on 8 March 1895 Bermel to Domandi Gomal

From 1893 to 1919 the British government paid Afghan rulers Rs 1.8 million per annum for the border settlement. The predecessors after Amir Abdul Rehman also owned this agreement. Similarly, Amir Habib Ullah Khan and British officer Sir Louse Dean also extended this agreement while on August 8, 1919, after the third Anglo-Afghan War Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Khan further extended the agreement.  

Under the Vienna Convention, international agreements inked between countries are also applicable to those created later on.  Afghanistan has not signed the agreement under the Vienna Convention, while Pakistan has accepted it. Some of the Afghans are of the opinion that after the creation of Pakistan, the Durand line agreement has no meaning. However, they accepted other boundary lines with China, Iran and central Asian countries drawn by the British government, therefore, denying it in the case of Pakistan is beyond common sense.


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