On Sunday, February 27th, the fence marking the territorial sovereignty of Afghanistan and Pakistan at their 2,700-kilometer border, the Durand Line, reopened for all sorts of activities. This occurred following the fight between Taliban and Pakistani forces, which left 20 injured and 3 killed in the bloodshed. Since then, military tensions have intensified as a result of the Taliban’s reclaiming of power last year. A security source said it came after “successful talks” between Pakistani officials and the governor of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

According to the sources in Kandahar, Pakistani border guards beat an Afghan child at the Spin Boldak Gate, and Afghan security forces opened fire on Pakistani border guards in the area. The incident took place in the afternoon on Thursday, after which the gate was closed to traffic. After the event, the army forces from the Al-Badr corps arrived at the scene and began preparing to respond to the Pakistani border guards.

This shows how relations between Pakistan and the Taliban are turning increasingly hostile over the territory at the Durand Line and the cross-border “terror activities” of groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) against Islamabad. Pakistan intends to bring the tribal areas near the Durand Line under its control and complete its Durand barbed wire fencing. Following deadly attacks on their troops, the Pakistan military has launched an operation along the Durand Line near Afghanistan.

Asvaka News in Afghanistan tweeted, “Fighting has been raging in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar between # Taliban and # Pakistan forces on the # Durand Line since this afternoon.”After seeing the human casualties that have occurred, civilians near the Durand Line have decided to flee their homes. 

According to local media, the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani officials held a meeting on Monday in the northern reaches of Afghanistan’s Torkham over trade flows and people’s movement across the Durand Line. After the meeting, Mahmood Azaam, spokesman for the governor of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, confirmed the reopening of the border and the alleviation of military pressure in the region. 

Background

At the stroke of midnight on August 15th, 1947, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, also known as the Durand Line, hovered like a dark cloud over the region. It was the day Pakistan officially broke away from British colonial control, declaring its independence and sovereign freedom, as well as asserting the permanency of the Durand Line. A mark of separation from Afghan territories on the northwest front whose unofficial existence extends as far back as the end of the 19th century. 

It has remained a dark cloud in the middle of the eastern sky. Upon the declaration of the borders’ permanency, Afghanistan divergently voted against Pakistan’s admission to the United Nations in 1947, expressing distress over the marked-up line as it was considered unfavorable to them. 

Afghanistan has not formally recognized the Durand Line, and many Afghans view it as an arbitrary, nonsensical reflection of geography, history, and culture. As a result, Afghanistan and Pakistan have both persistently challenged their bilateral relations by infringing on each other’s side of the border through diplomatic disregard and military means. It is uncertain how long and under what conditions the border will remain open.

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