Has Afghanistan never recognized the Durand Line?

Has Afghanistan never recognized the Durand Line?

By Fidato

Back in 1879, Afghanistan’s Amir Yaqub Khan retracted his claim to British control of the Khyber Pass, the Kurram Valley, Sibi and Pishin in exchange for an annual subsidy of “six lakhs”.

After 14 years in 1893, Amir Abdur Rahman whose known as father of modern Afghanistan signed Durand Line Agreement with the British and like his predecessor, he subjugated to the British. Afghanistan officially retracted it’s claim of Swat, Bajaur, Chitral and Chaman in exchange of “six lakhs”.

The Afghans claim that the treaty was signed under duress by Amir Abdur Rehman but their claim is debunked by Amir himself in his Memoirs. The Durand Line Agreement was renewed by Amir Habibullah Khan with British Indian Foreign Secretary Louis Dane in 1905.

King Amanullah succeeded his father, Amir Habibullah, to the throne in 1919. He signed two treaties with the British in 1919 and 1921. Both contain clear affirmation of Afghan government’s commitment to honor the “Indo­ Afghan Frontier” negotiated by Amir Abdur Rehman Khan.

Article V of 1919 Treaty reads:

“The Afghan government accepts the Indo­ Afghan frontier accepted by the late Amir.”

An extract from Article II of 1921 Treaty reads:

“The two high contracting parties mutually accept the Indo Afghan frontier as accepted by the Afghan govt under Article V of the Treaty concluded on August 8, 1919”.

Now when Pakistan came into being in 1947, she succeeded all the rights and obligations arising from Indian Independence (International Agreement) Order 1947, passed under the Independence Act in 1947. 

According to Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,

“It is accepted by all that whenever a new country or state is carved out of an existing colonial dominion; all the international agreements and undertakings that the previous ruler of the region had entered into would be transferred to the new independent national govt.”

According to this principle, Pakistan automatically assumed responsibility for adhering to all international agreements that the British Indian government had entered including the Durand Line.

The legality of the Durand Line as an internationally recognized frontier was also ratified by the statement of Mr. Noel Baker who was the Secretary of State for the Commonwealth. According to a speech given in the British House of Commons on June 30, 1950, Baker said:

“His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have seen with regret the disagreements between Pakistan and Afghanistan about the status of the territories on the North West Frontier. It is His Majesty’s Govt view that Pakistan is in international law the inheritor of the rights and duties of the old government of India and of his Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom in these territories and that the Durand Line is the international frontier.”

The extract from the communiqué issued on March 8 1956, at the conclusion of the SEATO Ministerial Council Meeting held at Karachi, also reaffirms the recognition of the Durand Line as the internationally recognized boundary (i.e., as per paragraph 8 of the communiqué):

“The members of the Council severally declared that their governments recognized that the sovereignty of Pakistan extends up to the Durand Line, the international boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and it was consequently affirmed that the Treaty area referred in Articles IV and VIII of the Treaty includes the area up to that Line.”


1. Dr Noor-ul-Haq, Pak-Afghan Relations, Islamabad Policy Research Institute
2. Sir Percy Sykes, 223.
3. Professor Ralph Braibanti, 7.
4. Tariq Mahmood, The Durand Line: South Asia’s Next Trouble Spot.


Categories: Geopolitics, International Affairs

Tags: , , ,

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