Durand’s Curse: A Line Across the Pathan Heart
Author: Rajiv Dogra
9788129148643 | HB | pp. 256 | 2017 | Rupa Publications India
The Durand line is one of the lasting imperial legacies in South Asia. This book raises questions as to why its creation is not as well documented by the British as the northern border of Afghanistan and brings out the truth that the world has not known so far.
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Blood and fire have often blighted Afghanistan, the three Anglo-Afghan wars being among the bloodiest and the cruelest in its history. But Britain’s partitioning of Afghanistan will rank as the greatest crime of the nineteenth century.
In 1893 Sir Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of imperial India, drew a line over the Hindu Kush and the western Himalayas as the Amir of Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman, consented. The line is one of the lasting imperial legacies of South Asia. Since then, this invisible yet powerful cartographical reality has defined the westernmost frontier of undivided India and formed the core of the Afghanistan-Pakistan territorial issues.
Rajiv Dogra, former diplomat and an expert on Pakistan and Afghanistan, has written a comprehensive account of the origin, problems of the Durand Line and indicates the way ahead. The impact of the Durand Line is best summed by the comment from Wali Khan that Dogra has recounted. When asked about his identity, Wali Khan, son of legendary ‘Frontier Gandhi’, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, said, he was, “a six-thousand year-old Pashtun, a thousand-year-old Muslim and a twenty-seven year-old Pakistani.”
Rupa Publications India
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