Foreign Policy Blogs

If politics weren't involved …

One thing that could be considered, but won’t, is scrapping the absurd Afghanistan-Pakistani border. It was demarcated in the late-19th century by Great Britain as part of “The Great Game”, because Britain wanted to establish a buffer zone in between Czarist Russia and India. Needless to say, those political calculations don’t hold any worth today.

I know Pakistan would never go for the partition of their country, but seriously, this border makes absolutely no sense in the present. It splits the area’s Pashtun population—though to be fair, most Pashtuns have never abated by the border—making coherent policy in the region nearly impossible (and we’re seeing this in the current debate over the need for action in Pakistan, as well as in Afghanistan). Futhermore, it’s completely ungovernable and totally fails as an effective separation of control between Afghanistan (no real state authority anywhere in the country, really) and Pakistan (little state authority in Balochistan, virtually none in the NWFP and FATA).

But, as said above, this is all entirely hypothetical, since borders are apparently sacrosanct now, even when they aren’t real borders (Afghanistan doesn’t even recognize it as the border!) and serve no beneficial purpose. No one will ever think of proposing an independent Pashtun state—not because it doesn’t make sense, but because politics are involved. (Click on the picture below for a bigger map of pre-Durand Line Afghanistan.)

Pre-Durand Line Afghanistan

Pre-Durand Line Afghanistan



Andrew Swift

Andrew Swift is a graduate of the University of Iowa, with a degree in History and Political Science. Long a student of international affairs, he is on an unending quest to understand the world better.