‘Durand Line a conspiracy against Pakhtuns’
By Zakir Hassnain
PESHAWAR: Speakers at a seminar said on Wednesday the historic Durand Line, which separates Pakistan and Aghanistan, was a conspiracy to divide Pakhtuns and urged them to unite and claim their rights.
They said the Durand Line had not only affected the history of Pakhtuns but also changed their social and economic conditions. Addressing a two-day seminar on the border line organised by the Pakhtunkhwa Qaumi Party (PQP), leader of the Saraiki Mahaz MA Bhutta said it was not possible to continue applying the Durand Line because Pakhtuns on both sides shared religion, culture and customs. “It was an agreement between Britain and Afghanistan, Pakistan had nothing to do with it. Therefore, the Durand Line has no status today,” Mr Bhutta added.
He said after Pakistan’s disintegration in 1970, the Saraiki belt, which included 40 percent of Pakistan’s population, was made part of Punjab. That province housed only 15 or 16 percent of the total population but controlled over 80 percent of the resources in Pakistan.
The Saraiki Mahaz leader said of the 40 federal secretaries, only four were from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), five from Sindh, two from Balochistan and the rest from Punjab.
“General Ziaul Haq and General Abdur Rehman pocketed millions of dollars at the cost of Pakhtuns’ blood,” he said, adding, “Now Punjabi generals want friendship with India.” He said it would have repercussions on all of Asia if there could be no unity among Pakhtuns. “The Pakhtun community was divided into four, adding that the Durand Line was an important issue and Pakhtuns should discuss it.
Germany-based Afghan Makhan Shinwari said the Durand Line was the result of a conspiracy aimed at breaking Pakhtun power. He said the line had affected the Pashto language. “There are no non-Muslims among Pakhtuns,” he remarked. He demanded Pashto be given national status.
Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah of the Jeay Sindh Tehrik, grandson of late Sindhi nationalist GM Syed, said the present era was the time of emergence and downfall of nations. He said big countries were disintegrating and “natural alliances” were forming. He cited the former Soviet Union and the European Union as examples. New nations are not born in ideologies, he added. Ms Zaira, wife of the lawyer, intellectual and Awami National Party leader Afrasiab Khattak, said the agreement, which produced the Durand Line, loses its legal status after 100 years, which has now passed. “As such, the Durand Line has no status,” she said. She urged Pakhtuns to unite to solve their problems.
Dr Fazal Rahim Marwat, associate professor at the Pakistan Study Centre, University of Peshawar, said the Durand Line was the worst agreement in history. He said the Afghan Pakhtuns had been divided by the Durand Line and lost their fertile land as well, which did great damage to their geographical and political structure.
President of the Mazdoor Kissan Party Afzal Khamosh said the line had been forcibly drawn between the Pakhtuns. He said Pakhtuns would have to join either Pakistan or Afghanistan to unite.
Ajmal Khattak also said the Durand Line had damaged the history and economy of Pakhtuns. He said Pakhtuns’ unity was the key to solution to their problems.