Afghanistan and Pakistan




Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbors with interlinked destiny that not only share geographic contiguity, but also have lot of other commonalities like; faith, history & heritage, ethnic groupings, socio-cultural values, mutual economic interests and geo-strategic dependence etc. Pakistan’s seaports for land locked Afghanistan and Afghanistan’s location at the crossroads of South and Central Asia further adds to their importance for each other. It was due to these reasons that Pakistan supported Afghans and hosted more than 3.5 millions refugees in their war of independence against Soviet occupation. That refugee influx affected Pakistan’s internal, social and economic development, creating a drug menace, smuggling, social violence and a Kalashnikov culture. Since, Pakistan’s fundamental aim has been to stabilize its western borders, it became acute because of India’s hostile posture, compelling Pakistan to seek defensive measures. Owing to this reason, Pakistan, since its independence, has been aspiring for friendly, cordial and mutually beneficial relations with Afghanistan. Despite Pakistan’s desire of friendly relations, and commonalities of interests and other drivers based on socio-economic interdependence, the bilateral relations have remained mostly strained.

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From the beginning, Afghanistan has followed a policy of hostility towards Pakistan, and has been patronizing a separatist Pakhtoonistan Movement. Afghanistan was the only country to oppose Pakistan’s admission to the United Nations, conditioning its recognition upon the provision that the right of self-determination be given to the people of Pakistan’s NWFP. Actually, the demand for Pakhtoonistan was made in December 1947, when the Indian Army was moving towards Pakistan’s border and was poised for a quick advance into Kashmir. Since then, raids from Afghanistan into Pakistani territories have taken place from time to time. India’s threat remains central and primary to Pakistani security calculation with Afghanistan, as well. Kabul began hosting separatist Pakistani Pakhtuns and Baloch and in retaliation Islamabad did the same to dissident Afghans.

A cursory glance over the history of their relations present a dismal picture of Afghanistan’s non-co-operative attitude and irredentist claims – prompted by internal and external vested interests particularly in the wake of the Cold War and post 9/11 bursts of blame games of interfering in each others internal affairs. Re-emergence, regrouping and regaining strength of Taliban and Al Qaeda once thought defeated in Afghanistan, is threatening both the reconstruction process and the Coalition forces in Afghanistan. The renewal of the Taliban insurgency in the provinces bordering the Pak-Afghan border has once again generated tensions between Kabul and Islamabad. The two countries are accusing each other of interfering in their respective domestic affairs. Afghanistan blames Pakistan for fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan in order to destabilize the government of Hamid Karzai and install a more compliant government in Kabul. President Karzai himself criticized Pakistan on several occasions, claiming Pakistan was training militants and sending them over the border.

In turn, Islamabad blames Kabul for its alleged support to the Baloch guerrillas and the situation in Waziristan and Bajore agencies. Such distrust and criticism has often led to angry rebuttals and poisoned relations between the two neighboring countries. Though much headway has been made in terms of enhanced trade ties linking Kabul with Islamabad, the political problems refuse to go away and prevent the two countries from achieving the full potential of their economic cooperation. However, all this becomes irrelevant in forging closer ties between the two countries as soon as authorities in Kabul start blaming Islamabad for the violence in parts of Afghanistan and the Pakistanis react by pointing out how ungrateful the Afghans were after having enjoyed Pakistani hospitality for years.

Kabul did send signals to Islamabad that it too had nuisance capabilities in Pakistani territory and could use the Pashtun question for its own benefit. On February 17, 2006, President Karzai himself led a forty-member delegation to the funeral of the Pashtun nationalist leader Abdul Wali Khan. During a press conference on the same day, Karzai warned that Iran and Pakistan and others are not fooling anyone. He further declared: If they don’t stop, the consequences will be … that the region will suffer with us equally. In the past we have suffered alone; this time everybody will suffer with us…. Any effort to divide Afghanistan ethnically or weaken it will create the same thing in the neighboring countries. All the countries in the neighborhood have the same ethnic groups that we have, so they should know that it is a different ball game this time.

The suspicions and mistrust has reached to its apex when Afghanistan’s President Hamed Karazai openly blamed Pakistan by putting all responsibility of ongoing law and order situation in Afghanistan and resolved to adopt hot pursuit policy of crossing Pakistan’s border to destroy militant’s bases. Americans ‘do more syndrome’ and NATO / ISAF forces’ consistent allegations that Taliban’s insurgency is being fed and controlled from the sanctuaries inside the Pakistan’s tribal areas. Indian factor is also playing its role in aggravating the bitterness of bilateral relations and spoiling the environment of trust with a view to pursue its own nefarious designs. Building up of such an anti-Pakistan scenario in Afghanistan’s soil is alarming. It contains a very loud and clear message for Pakistan’s security and Pak-Afghan relations. Pakistan can’t afford another India on its western border. Nor it can allow a War against Terror (being fought in Afghanistan) to spread and spill over to Pakistan. In such deteriorating environment, therefore, Pakistan had to remain prepared for new situations on the Afghan side and be able to adapt accordingly. And the one long term solution rests on the defusing of ongoing cold war, establishing mutual trust and relations based on mutual interests and brotherly sincerity.

There has to be a realization that any adversity faced by one could affect the other. It is thus, in the interest of both countries to have friendly and cordially relations marked with trust, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of other so as to promote peace, political stability, economic prosperity and socio-ethnic unity and cohesiveness in the region. If Afghanistan is passing through a phase of uncertainty because of decades of violence and civil war, Pakistan is also facing a phase of instability because of extremism, militancy, political wrangling, socio-ethnic polarization, and range of other issues from bad governance, water and electricity crises to sectarian and ethnic discords. Therefore, normalization of Pak- Afghan relations is the only recipe to bring peace and stability in the two countries. Pakistan should be content with having an independent, integrated and friendly western neighbor. It could further be argued that, despite the present cold relationship between the two countries, other compulsions, especially those caused by economic and security issues are likely to draw them into a long-term, friendly relationship.

Background of the Research Study

Afghanistan and Pakistan are neighbours with commonality of faith, socio-cultural values, ethnic affinity, socio-political history, geographical contiguity, and geo-economics dependency. In the context of given security environment, Pakistan looked towards Afghanistan as a potential friend in the region. Realizing that landlocked Afghanistan was economically dependent on Pakistan, and given that both countries are Muslim with common historical legacy, Pakistan assumed that Afghanistan will be a natural friend, give up its unrealistic territorial claims and maintain friendly, cordial and mutually beneficial relations. However, during the last five decades, the relations between both the countries never ran a smooth course.

Ongoing war in Afghanistan and its spill over effects in Pakistan especially in Pakistan’s Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) has strengthened the critics claim that peace in FATA is linked with peace in Afghanistan and vice versa. The loudly talked of economic opportunities of huge oil reserves and bright prospects of trade linkage between Central Asian States with Pakistan and rest of the world are also seems to be hostage to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations for the last so many years. Both the countries are counted amongst the poverty-ridden areas with under developed masses and infrastructure. Socio-economic progress depends on social order and peace, political stability and productive inter state relations. Pakistan-and Afghanistan, despite having a long list of commonality of interests, has failed to pursue, develop and maintain mutually rewarding relations with each other thereby harming each others socio- political fiber and neglecting economic opportunities.

Foregoing in view there was a need to carryout research that help in developing guidelines for the attainment of Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy objectives: peace and a friendly government in Afghanistan, a conducive environment for the repatriation of refugees, getting Afghanistan to accept the legal status of the Durand Line and access to Central Asia. The research finding are also likely to help some extent in formulation of a post operation process toward reforms in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, leading to their integration into Pakistani national politics and administration.

Statement of Research Problem

To carry out an in-depth analysis of the bilateral relations with special emphasis on post-9/11 bilateral environment with a view to identify hurdles/ obstacles that are negatively influencing the bilateral relations. The bilateral irritants once identified would help in making suggestion for the improvement in relations and development of trust based socio- political environment yielding economic benefits and creating socio- political cohesiveness.

Objectives of the Study

The research study was aimed to achieve following objectives:

  • To describe history of Pakistan Afghanistan relations from 1947 to 2007
  • To carry out an in-depth evaluation of history of Pakistan’s Afghanistan relations with a view to identify main obstacles and hurdles amongst the development of dependable friendly relations.
  • To recommend measures that can strengthen commonality of interests help develop trust and improve the worsening state of relations, and to make suggestions for improvement.

Research Methodolog

The research is descriptive, and analytical in nature. The research was conducted between March 2009 and January 2010. The methodological focus of the research was on wide ranging review of the related literature. The review of the related literature was based on historic record as well as on the content analysis of the current events in Pakistan Afghanistan relations. The data is mainly derived  extracted from secondary sources following qualitative approach. The research data has been derived from various books, research journals, periodicals, news papers and state papers agreements of different time span. The references points have also been obtained tthat would mainly based on the secondary data available in the form of books, research studies, official  Think tanks reports, state papers, newspapers summaries editorials and research articles published with in Pakistan and abroad. Content Analysis method would be used to synthesize the data for analysis, drawing findings and making recommendations.

The result of this research finds that the on going crisis-laden relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have historical currents and currents of British legacy that stretches back to the British India. Historical antipathy and mistrust runs deep. Road to peace and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan has to be built upon deeper understanding of their relations. Building on the results, it is vital to engage Afghanistan fully to understand the dilemmas of its security and insecurity. One must also remain cognizant of and closely analyze the regional dimension Afghanistan- Pakistan relations. The border skirmishes, the Communist invasion, the civil war in post cold war Afghanistan, the rise of Taliban, the on going War on Terror have all been conflicts between actors with transnational links.

Outline Organization of the Research Thesis

This M.Phil Dissertation contains five chapters as follow:

  • Chapter- 1 introduces the research study, giving out background of the research question and the research methodology that was followed during the conduct of this study.
  • Chapter-2 presents a review of the related literature that was reviewed during the process of research.
  • Chapter-3 presents a detailed overview of the state of Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations from 1947 till today. The chapter has been developed in historic setting in chronological order, giving out important events/ mile stones that tuned the course of their bilateral relations. For the ease of understanding and clarity of presentation the chapter has been further divided in two sections as per following scheme:

Section-1: From 1947 to the Taliban Era till 9/11, 2001. The section covers five distinct phases of the bilateral relations as follow:

    A˜ Phase-I describes the ill fated start of Bilateral relations commencing from 1947 with the establishment of Pakistan and terminating with the resignation of Mr. Daud, Prime Minister of Afghanistan in1963).
  • Phase-II denotes the period from 1963 to 1973. It covers the events that helped in bringing detent amongst the deteriorating relations and establishing climate of mutual trust and confidence building on both sides.
  • Phase III marks the period from the time of Sardar Doud’s resumption of power through a coup against King Zahir Shah in 1973 till he was assassinated by the communists in Saur Revolution of 1978.
  • Phase-IV presents the bilateral account of relations during the Soviet’s Occupation from 1979-1992.
  • Phase-V is reserved for narration of the emergence of Taliban & Pakistan’s Support for Revitalizing Peace & Stability in Kabul till September 2001.

Section-2 focuses to discuss the breaking and making of bilateral relations since 9/11. The section also attempts to identify factors leading to the worsening state of relations, unfolds the overt / covert role of other states non-state actors in influencing the Pakistan- Afghanistan relations.

  • Chapter-4 analyzes the data gathered in chapter three and draw findings and conclusions of the research in scientific rational way. These findings relate identify major challenges that hampered Pakistan Afghanistan relation for the last sixty two years or so.
  • Chapter-5 offers suggestions and makes recommendations for the improvement of Pak Afghan relation to their best.



Pakistan and Afghanistan are immediate neighbors having 2240 km common border formally known as Durand Line. Despite shared geography, ethnicity and faith, relations with Afghanistan have never been smooth rather they have been a painful experience especially for Pakistan. With the Indian threat looming from the East, Afghanistan’s hostile attitude has added further in the fragile security environment challenging the very existence of Pakistan. Ian Stephon termed such a security scenario enveloping simultaneously from the East and the West as a ‘pincer movement’ aiming to crush still- born Pakistan. A secure and friendly North-Western border has always been Pakistan’s desire and security requirement vis-A -vis India which, could never get materialized because of India’s inspired Afghanistan’s hostile attitude. With the sole exception of the four years of Taliban rule (1997-2001) over Afghanistan, successive governments in Kabul have displayed varying degrees of disaffection towards Islamabad. Issues of Pakhtoonistan and Durand line, at the Herat of such hostile/ unfriendly attitude and antagonistic relations, resulted from Afghanistan’s ambitions over certain areas in the North West of Pakistan that, for a brief period, remained part of territories conquered by Ahmad Shah Abdali from1747 to 1773.

Change in Afghanistan has always affected the region in general and Pakistan in particular. Stability across both sides of the borders is mandatory for peace and security in the region. The research study is focused to evaluate the conduct of Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy with a view to identifying its strengths and weaknesses, irritants and force multipliers so as to make suggestions for its improvement. The underlying aim of this research study is to revisit these relations and give them a new direction for peace and prosperity in the region. This chapter tries to analyze different phases of Pak-Afghan relations in chronological order with a view to identifying challenges hindering rapprochement process and continue to enflame the geo-strategic and geo-political environment amongst the two neighbours. After the irritants causing worsening of relations are identified then the research offers certain measures to address these irritants and suggest a strategy to bring both of the neighbors at friendly terms. The chapter is divided in to two parts and each section is denoted as section. Section one explores the period from 1947 till American occupation of Afghanistan; and section two discusses the inter-state relations in post 9/11 era as follow:

Section -1: Historic Perspective: Pakistan Afghanistan Relations (1947- 2001)

Section-II: Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations since 9/11

The sequential Analysis of this chapter is arranged in chapter four followed by the recommendations in chapter-5. For the purpose f better understanding and ease of references some of the historically significant documents (treaties, speeches and agreement etc) are attached as appendices and annexure at the end of this thesis.



Pakistan Afghanistan Relations:

An Historic Perspective -1947- 2001

Pakistan came into being on the basis of Islamic ideology which, in turn, was revolving around the concept of Muslim Ummah and was destined to be the symbol of universal Islamic solidarity across the globe. According to the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, ‘A cardinal feature of this ideology (of Pakistan) is to make Muslim brotherhood a living reality. It is, therefore, part of mission which Pakistan has set before itself to do every thing in its power to promote closer fellowship and cooperation between Muslim countries’. It was with this background that Pakistan, since its inception, pursued every step that could bring Muslim world closer at one platform. Its one of the fundamental principle has been to establish brotherly relations with the Muslim countries. Pakistan succeeded in cherishing very cordial relations with every Muslim country baring Afghanistan. In case of Afghanistan geographical location has acted more negatively than the expected binding role of its Muslim faith. In case of Pakistan-Afghan relations Lord Curzon’s (former Viceroy of India) saying seems to be worth mentioning here, ‘frontiers are indeed the razor’s edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war and peace, of life or death to nations’ seems proving to be correct.

It is regrettable fact of the history that from the time of Pakistan’s birth, Afghanistan has maintained an attitude of hostile neighbor and Pakistan has to live upon with because neighbour can not be changed. At the Heart of Afghanistan’s indifferent attitude towards Pakistan were the issues of Durand Line and Pakhtoonistan. Both of the issues were based on Afghanistan’s ambitions of regaining control of NWFP and other areas which, for a brief period, were part of Ahmad Shah Abdali’s conquered territories. During 1940s, when it became apparent that Britain is likely to free India, the Government of Afghanistan asked Britain that in the event of the diminish of British authority the whole Pathan region as far as the Indus should revert to Afghan sovereignty or the people of NWFP be given choice of independent Pathan state. Since then Afghanistan is playing a self- styled champion’s role for the Pakhtoons state called, ‘Pakhtoonistan’.

The rationale sounded of the Pakhtoonistan was that since India was partitioned between Hindus and Muslims therefore, by parity of reasoning; there should be a further partition to provide the Pakhtoons with their own home land also. The proponent of the claim forget that Pakistan’s inception was not based on the ethnic reason but, rests on religious, cultural, historic and economic considerations. Referendum results held for the future of NWFP, 289244 votes in favour and 2874 against, clearly demonstrated the desire of the inhabitants of the area in absolute term. People of the Tribal Agencies, without exception, stated that they were part of Pakistan and wished to preserve same relations with Pakistan as they had with the British.

Afghanistan was the only country around the world that opposed Pakistan’s entry in United Nation in September 1947. For the purpose of better understanding of the issue and coherency of the events Pak- Afghan relations are described into five phases. The below mentioned phase wise distribution of the events would help in acquiring in-depth sight of the happenings that shaped the bilateral relation to its present course.

  • Phase-I: The Ill Fated Start of the Bilateral Journey (1947-1963)
  • Phase-2: Detent in Pak- Afghanistan Relations (1963-73)
  • Phase-3: Reversal of Rapprochement (1973-1978)
  • Phase-4: War of Independence against Soviet’s Occupation (1979-1992)
  • Phase-5: Emergence of Taliban & Pakistan’s Support for Revitalizing Peace & Stability in Kabul:

Phase-I: The Ill Fated Start of the Bilateral Relations (1947-1963)

The phase marks the ill fated beginning of the bilateral relations, commencing from the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 and continues till 1963. The phase describes how the seeds of conflict and discord were sowed and promoted between the two brotherly neighbors by the vested interests. Describing Pak Afghanistan relations President Ayub Khan identified two misconceptions amongst Afghans that influenced future course of inter state relations in negative directions:

Pakistan, having no reasonable prior infrastructure a state, would find it a difficult to survive as an independent and sovereign state therefore; it would be wise enough on the part of Afghans to public their claims on Pakistan’s territory especially alleged under Durand Line before it was disintegrated.

The second misconception was based on the self assumed fear amongst Afghan rulers that Pakistan’s survival and successful march to democratic system of governance would undermine the position of the rulers in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, since its inception, is struggling for its survival as an independent and sovereign country against heavy odds. It has inherited a hostile neighbor, ten times larger in size and weight, determined to undo the partition of subcontinent and re-emerge as united India from Ammu River to Bay of Bengal. Therefore, Pakistan has no other option but to maintain a foreign policy of friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world and especially with its neighbors. Furthermore, Pakistan’s strong attachment to its Islamic ideology has prompted it to espouse very intimate, cordial and brotherly relations as corner stone of its foreign policy. Pakistan, that already had threatening East could not imagine to have another hostile nation on its West. It was only with the friendly relations with Afghanistan that could help Pakistan to escape the nightmare of being sandwiched between two hostile neighbors simultaneously from East and the West. But Kabul’s refusal to recognize the Durand Line as a legitimate international boundary and its demand regarding Pakhtoonistan was extremely irritating beginning. Afghanistan was the only country to oppose Pakistan’s admission into the UN, conditioning its recognition upon the provision that the right of self-determination be given to the people of Pakistan’s NWFP. Actually the demand for Pakhtoonistan was made in December 1947, when Indian army was poised for a quick advance into Kashmir, on Pakistan’s border. Since then raids from Afghanistan into Pakistani territories have taken place from time to time. Reportedly, in November 1947 a special Afghan envoy visited Pakistan with three demands:

  • Pakistan tribal areas shall be constituted into a sovereign province
  • Pakistan must give Afghanistan access to the sea either by creating a free Afghan zone in Karachi or providing an Afghan corridor in West Balochistan
  • Both countries should sign an agreement that should allow one party to remain neutral if the other was attacked”.

Afghanistan was the only country that voted against Pakistan’s admission to the UN on the ill-conceived cry of Pakhtoonistan and ill motivated blame of Pakistan’s mal treatment of Pathans. These complaints were perceived to be motivated in part by the ruling Afghan elite’s desire to deflect criticism from their own country’s economics backwardness, and in part by Indian machinations. Afghanistan’s press and radio unleashed the propaganda war mainly to pressurize Pakistan to accede to their demand of Pakhtoonistan. Pakistan, though disappointed from Afghanistan’s role, demonstrated open Heartedness by expressing its will to cultivate friendly relations with her. Mr. I.I. Chundrigar was dispatched as ambassador to Afghanistan followed by a delegation led by Sardar Abdul Rab Nishter to represent Pakistan in Afghanistan’s Jashin e Azadi celebrations. However, to create conducive conditions, win allegiance of the tribes and set grounds for mutual trust, Pakistan reversed long-standing British policy of stationing troops in the Pathan tribal areas by withdrawing its troops stationed in tribal areas. Pakistan’s gesture of trust and respect of the tribal traditions was reciprocated by the Loya Jirgah of Pakistan’s tribal agencies by declaring their allegiance to Pakistan against India.

Reconciliatory efforts including Afghanistan’s withdrawal of its negative UN Vote and exchange of ambassadors in 1948 from both sides could not contribute much in bringing both of the countries closer. Rather, Afghanistan’s Loya Jirgah’s proclamation, in June 1949, fueled the flames further when announced that it did not recognize Durand Line and declared all Durand line related agreements void. In 1950, the tension reached to its climax when Afghan king Zahir Shah made an anti Pakistan speech at a celebration in Kabul. The Afghanistan’s flag was hoisted and anti Pakistan leaflets were dropped by the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan government did not halt on proclamation rather took a step further by setting up a Pakhtoon parliament inside Pakistan’s tribal areas. Irregular forces from Afghanistan crossed Pakistan border to fabricate Pakhtoon uprising in Pakistani tribal areas in 1950-51 were even handedly dealt by Pakistan’s security forces. Afghanistan denied its covert involvement in the cross border infiltration. Pakistan rejected Afghanistan’s claim of neutrality in the cross border infiltration and both nations withdrew their ambassadors for few months till those were repositioned. The assassination of Pakistani Prime minister Liaqat Ali Khan by an Afghan national in 1951 further deteriorated the already fragile relations.

Given the strained relations with Pakistan, Kabul overtly joined India to oppose any possibility of U.S. arms aid to Pakistan. Afghanistan’s ambassador Mohammad Kabir Ludin protested to Secretary Dulles on January 4, 1954, that US military assistance to Pakistan might create a “Power vacuum” in Afghanistan that a foreign ideology could exploit. Afghanistan’s request for US arms support was rejected by the Washington in December 1954 primarily with the possible Soviet reaction rather than with the Pakistani response. The rise to power of Sardar Daud, the cousin of Afghan monarch who was an ardent supporter of Pakhtoonistan movement and Pakistan’s joining of SEATO and CENTO for defense purposes were two other irritants.

In 1955, Pakistan restructured its administrative units on one unit basis by incorporating all the areas in Western part of the country as West Pakistan province and eastern areas as East Pakistan province. Afghanistan government vehemently opposed the decision of integrating the Pathan dominated Northwest Province and instigated mass rallies and protests inside Afghanistan and across. Pakistani embassy in Kabul was sacked, consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad were attacked and Pakistan flag was molested. Pakistan’s people retaliated by attacking on the Afghan consulate in Peshawar and Pakistan government embargoed Afghan goods. Fearing Soviet Union may exploit the opportunity by filling vacuum in Afghanistan; Washington’s diplomacy prevailed in subsiding tempers and resumption of normal relation between Kabul and Karachi.

In September 1955, Pakistan’s flag was again raised at its embassy and consulates, and the Afghan emblem flew once more over its consulates in Pakistan.[xx] November 1955 added a new external dimension to top the Pak-Afghan relations when Moscow severely reacted against Pakistan’s joining of CEATO and CENTO in South Asia and elsewhere. Communist leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin paid a highly publicized visit to India and Afghanistan. In India Communist leaders endorsed New Delhi’s position on Kashmir and in Afghanistan announced Moscow’s backing for the Afghans on Pakhtoonistan, pledged $100 million in economic aid and offered military assistance.[xxi] The visit marked entry of a new player in Indo-Afghanistan nexus against Pakistan and Afghanistan, for all intents and purposes, became an economic satellite of the USSR.

On seeing possibility of Afghanistan going in to the laps of Soviet Union, America and other world powers including Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia tried to normalize the relations between the two neighbors and urged Pakistan not to severe its diplomatic relations with Afghanistan. To reconcile and develop prospects for friendly relations, Pakistan’s president Iskandar Mirza visited Afghanistan in August 1956 and Hussain Shaheed Suharwardy Prime Minister of Pakistan toured Afghanistan in 1957. These visits were reciprocated by Afghan ruler King Zahir Shah in 1958 and Prime Minister Sardar Daud Khan in 1959. These visits helped in cultivating attitude of reconciliation on both sides. Sikandar Mirza and Daud agreed to relegate political issue to the lower priority and conceded to explore U.S suggestions, which envisaged establishing a transit zone in Karachi, providing special rolling stock for the Afghan trade, building short railway spurs into Afghanistan from the existing railheads at the border towns of Chaman and Landi Kotal, and improving roads and warehouse facilities inside Afghanistan. Development of these facilities was to cost about $30 million that was to be borne by the United States.

Seeing the competitive spirit amongst the leaders of the cold war, Prime Minister Daud tried to harvest from both sides of the fence. However, in President Ayub’s view Daud believes the Soviet would win the Cold War and therefore sought Moscow’s friendship. Inflow of Communist aid became so significant that the Russian had virtually taken over Afghanistan.[xxiv] Soviets were developing the road infrastructure in Afghanistan in a way that could be strategically of their own use in later time frame. America did not agree to Pakistan’s idea of adopting tough line against Afghanistan that had mortgaged its future to Soviets, as it was likely to push Afghans further into the Soviet camp. American use of Peshawar air port for U-2 flights prompted Soviets to penetrate further in to Afghanistan and threatening Pakistan for the serious consequences for being accomplices in U-2 flights.

Since the happening of U-2 incident USSR supported every Afghan move to isolate or damage Pakistan in any aspect. Indian connivance and Soviet’s support to Afghanistan against Pakistan marked another series of cross border raids into Pakistan by Afghan tribesmen in the fall of 1961. These incursions led to the termination of Pak-Afghan relations and closure of Afghanistan’s consulates and trade offices in Peshawar and Quetta that were turned to be centers of subversion. In retaliation, Kabul broke off diplomatic relations, closed the border and suspended transit trade with Pakistan. The new stand off effectively cut land-locked Afghanistan off from most of the world, leaving it dependent on transportation links with the Soviet Union, extremely limited access through Iran and with India through air. The break with Pakistan had accelerated the adverse trends on Afghanistan’s economy and political system. America, stressing its concerns on growing Soviet influence in Kabul, maneuvered to manage the crises by offering U.S. good offices to both of the countries. In a bid to reduce Afghan dependence on the Soviets, America offered to finance the extension of railway lines from Pakistan into Afghanistan and urged the temporary reopening of Afghan trade offices. Pakistan agreed to a cross-border rail link near Quetta but denied the one near Peshawar. The reluctant Pakistan, finally succumbing under American pressure in September 1962 agreed “rather reluctantly” to consider allowing the Afghan “tentacles” across the border and a meeting between Pakistani and Afghan foreign ministers in New York. However, the credit of successful mediation goes to Iran that managed to agree both countries on Tehran Accord 1963.

Phase-2: Detent in Pak- Afghanistan Relations (1963-73)

Following Iran’s successful mediation which resulted in the 1963 Tehran Accord, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to restore diplomatic relations, open their closed border and resume trade and commercial ties. Both sides further agreed to ‘approach all mutual problems in accordance with international law, and to continue to create an atmosphere of good understanding, friendship, and mutual trust.[xxix] Resumption of bilateral relations and reopening of trade route in end September provided a sigh of relief to the depressed economic environment of Afghanistan. The onus of responsibility for severing the Pak-Afghan relations was put on the Prime Minister Daud who resigned in March 1963.

Daud’s resignation as Prime Minister, the main exponent of Pakhtoonistan, and mediation of Shah of Iran led to the normalization of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the two states restored full diplomatic relations by mid 1963. These developments diluted Kabul’s focus on the Pakhtoonistan issue and made the Afghan rulers to take a more relaxed view of Pakistan. The relations were improved to such an extent that during the 1965 India -Pakistan war, Afghanistan sided with Pakistan which enabled Islamabad to fully concentrate on its war with India and worry less about the security of its western border. King Zahir Shah, in his state visit of 1968, was given a very warm welcome by Pakistan. King Zahir Shah’s visit was reciprocated by Muzafar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Finance Minister, to explore the possibilities of increasing trade and fields of economic cooperation. Islamabad decision to disband one unit led to further warmth in Pak-Afghan relations including increase in economic cooperation and mutual understanding. Afghanistan maintained strict neutrality during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan and refrained from taking advantage of Pakistan’s preoccupation in war.

Phase-3: Reversal of Rapprochement (1973-1978)

The normalization process that commenced in 1963 with the resignation of Sardar Daud as Prime Minister of Afghanistan started gaining currency with every passing year. The bilateral relations were about to be matured enough to resolve the historical legacy of mistrust when these were interrupted by a sudden change in the Kabul’s corridors of power. In July 1973, Sardar Daud, an ardent champion of Pakhtoonistan issue, deposed King Zahir Shah while on visit to Europe with the help of leftist forces and in connivance with the Soviets. These left forces were mainly from the Parcham wing (under Babrak Karmal) of the Communist People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Daud abolished the monarchy and inaugurated a republic under his own presidency. Pro-Soviet elements in civil and army that supported Sardar Daud in his coup d etat took their right granted in interfering state policies that was perceived as an alarming development in Islamabad. During his last tenure as Prime Minister Afghan -Pak relations remained murky and could not improve till his resignation in 1963. Now once again he was in power hence the process of Pakistan-Afghanistan rapprochement got struck in the middle and was to be reversed soon. The resumption of power by Mohammed Daoud in which pro-Soviet, leftist officers of the Afghan armed forces played an important role, was perceived in Islamabad as a negative development. Seeing his old record of supporting separatist tendencies in Pakistan it was feared that the Daoud comeback would once again arouse separatist movements amongst Pakhtoons and Balochis living across Durand Line. And it did happen in Balochistan when Afghanistan provided sanctuaries to the Marree and Bugti insurgents in mid 70s. To give a gesture of solidarity with Baloch insurgents in 1974-75 Daud’s announced mobilization of his forces to Pak-Afghan border under the guise of war game that resulted in Pakistan’s reciprocal deployment of troops along its western border.

Baloch insurgency was not new one but extension of their old demand of autonomy that was raised in their previous insurgencies of 1948, 1953, 1956-68. And similarly Pakhtoon uprising was also a new phenomenon rather resurfaced pulses of old Pakhtoonistan movement. However, it was inept handling of Pakistan government that portrayed Baloch and Pakhtoon demands of political autonomy with secessionist coloures and perceived it a deliberate attempt by Kabul to disintegrate Pakistan. These perceptions in Islamabad were reinforced by the sanctuary and financial assistance given to Baloch separatists in Afghanistan. Considering Daud a serious threat to Pakistan integration, Pakistan government decided to support anti Daud forces in destabilizing and bringing down Daud regime. Resultantly, Pakistan welcomed Afghan Islamists with anti communist and anti Daud feelings. These dissidents were provided training and other supports for their incursions and uprisings inside Afghanistan. Figures like Gulbaddin Hekmat Yar, Ahmad Shah Masood, and Burhan-ud-din Rabbani escaped to Pakistan and continued controlling their armed resistance against Communists backed Daud regime from Peshawar. These forces succeeded in gaining momentum with in few years and attained a status of armed opposition to be reckoned with. Reportedly, around 5,000 Afghans dissidents were trained by Pakistan in its secret military camps.

On the other side Iran also did not like Daud’s support for Baloch nationalism as it was felt a dangerous move that could ignite Iran’s dormant Baluch population as well. Experiencing rise in Soviet influence in Afghanistan’s internal affairs Daud observed that anti Pakistan policies were doing Afghanistan more harm than good. Daud, succumbed to Pakistan retaliations and decided for reconciliation with Islamabad and invited Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto for Kabul’s visit. Bhutto was given an unprecedented warm welcome in Kabul in June 1976 and Daud was given red carpet reception in his reciprocal visit to Islamabad in August same year. These reconciliatory visits helped in reviving trust, defusing tension, resolve of peaceful coexistence, and finding pacific settlement of disputes. Dr Babar Shah opines in his article ‘Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy: An Evaluation’ that Bhutto agreed to release the National Awami Party (NAP) leaders accused of supporting the Pukhtoonistan demand, while Daud agreed to recognize the Durand Line as the frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Daud while distancing him from the communist forces sought aid from Iran and persecuted both wings of the PDP in 1977.

However, the process of rapprochement was once again derailed as the window of opportunity got closed with the overthrow of Bhutto government in Pakistan in July 1977, and elimination of Daud by communist forces in April 1978. Kabul was taken over by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) designating Noor Mohammed Taraki as President, Hafiz Ullah Amin as Prime Minister, and Babrak Karmal as deputy Prime Minister. The country was renamed as the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). Soon the communist reforms enraged land owners and the clergy -resulting in wide spread protests and rioting all along the country side. The currents and undercurrents of Iranian Islamic Resolution also added Islamic color and temptations to the forces resisting communist regime in Afghanistan.

The positioning of communist regime in Kabul presented a serious threat to Pakistan’s security and integrity as it was perceived from Kabul-Delhi-Moscow nexus with all its ramifications. Pakistan had no other option but either to surrender or to go for all support to the forces resisting against the communist regime of President Noor Mohammed Taraki. Besides, supporting and organizing resistance forces against the Communist regime of Kabul, Pakistan had to host over 150,000 Afghan refugees into Pakistan immediately after the Saur Revolution of April 1978.  In December 1978 PDPA signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. On September 16th 1979, Hafizullah Amin staged another coup against own government, killing Taraki, and took over as President of Afghanistan. Moscow having found Amin less subservient invaded Kabul during the last days of 1979 executed Amin and installed Karmal as a new president.

Phase-4: War of Independence against Soviet’s Occupation (1979-1992)

The December, 27th 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which killed Hafizullah Amin and installed Babrak Karmal as the country’s president, created a frightening situation for Pakistan as it brought the Red Army dangerously close to the Khyber Pass, the traditional gateway of invasions of South Asia from the north. The invasion was seen in Islamabad as a calculated move rather than a help to a floundering puppet. Moscow’s takeover of Afghanistan deeply offended Zia’s sense of Islamic brotherhood. The invasion coincided with the post revolutionary disarray in Iran, Baloch insurgency in Balochistan and continued uncertainty in Pakistan. Russian forces were positioned with in an hour flying time of the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Baloch area. Furthermore, the proponents of warm water theory feared that Pakistan was the terminal stop for the Soviet troops. Hence the Soviet military move into Afghanistan was posing a direct strategic threat to the security of Pakistan, Iran and the Persian Gulf alike. Pakistan was faced with a challenge; how to tactically face and engage an ideologically hostile super power standing right on its doorstep. Pakistan had three options to deal with the situation in Afghanistan: accept it as the fait accompli, or provide full support to freedom fighters resisting against the invasion, or mobilize international community to put political pressure on Soviet Union along with covert support to the resistance forces. According to Mr. Abdul Sattar, ex- Foreign Secretary and Foreign Minister of Pakistan:

“The Soviet military intervention provoked a deep sense of alarm in Pakistan. Suddenly the buffer disappeared and if the Soviet rulers consolidated their control in Afghanistan they could use it as springboard to reach the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Pakistan could not afford to acquiesce in the Soviet intervention. But neither could it afford a confrontation with a super power. Islamabad therefore decided on the middle course, avoiding confrontation but raising a low pitched voice of concern and protest.”

America, whose sense of regional insecurity was already injured with the downfall of Shah of Iran, perceiving Soviet invasion as a geo-strategic threat not only to Pakistan but also to the Persian Gulf area and American interests. Considering the likely repercussions America decided to bolster its regional security network in an attempt to contain the communist expansion. President Carter, on May 4, 1980, declared

‘We will provide military equipment, food and other assistance to help Pakistan defend its independence and national security against the seriously increased threat from the north.'[xlviii]

Pakistan, owing to sheer compulsions of its own security concerns allowed US to make use of its territory for unfolding of proxy war against communist expansion. But, Carter’s offer of $400 million, in military and economic assistance to be spread over in two years, was rejected being incommensurate with the size of the corresponding threat. However, lack of agreement on military and economic aid did not effect widening intelligence cooperation between CIA and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Soon, in early 1981, the new incumbent Administration led by Ronald Reagan realized the urgency of the situation and enhanced their economic and military assistance to $ 3.2 billion-five years proposal. The lion’s share of American aid channeled through Pakistan was funneled to seven groups of Sunni Muslims based in Peshawar.

The American’s supply of arms, ammunition and equipment to the Mujahideen, was funneled through Pakistan’s ISI. The covert aid for raising, training, equipping and managing Mujahideen in to the battle field went as high as $400 million by 1984 from $60 million annually in 1981. The leading recipient of this aid was Hezb-i-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar that proved to be the trust worthy and deserving resistance force. It was Pakistan’s skill- full use of intelligence and resources against Soviet forces that made Afghanistan a ‘bleeding wound for Moscow. Finally, Gorbachev during his November 1986 visit to India called for political solution of Afghanistan that could guarantee its sovereignty and nonaligned status. This realization in Moscow gave a way to diplomacy and Islamabad initiated negotiation on the time frame of the intended withdrawal of the Soviet forces. On one side, diplomatic channels were busy in drafting final version of the Geneva Accord and, on the other side, clandestine bomb blasts and bombings of Pakistan cities were underway to derail the forthcoming withdrawal process. Blowing up of Ojiri Camp munitions depot on 10th April 1988 was one of such sabotages. Finally, the Peace Accord between Pakistan and Afghanistan was signed in Geneva on April 14, 1988, with the two superpowers as its co-guarantors. The salient of the accord were:

  • All Soviets troops to leave Afghanistan within nine months, and half of them to be removed in the first three months.
  • The Accord called for a ban on cross border activities.
  • Both of the super powers were to ensure one-year moratorium on arms deliveries.
  • However, both of the superpowers has the right to arm their ‘allies’ should there be a violation of the one-year moratorium on arms deliveries.

The Accord did not cater for any post withdrawal interim government in Afghanistan thereby leaving the country in a state of civil war. The Soviet invaders departed on schedule and their withdrawal was followed by eight years of civil war that devastated the remains of Kabul and its surrounding. The withdrawing Soviets left behind necessary war munitions and equipment that enhanced staying power of Dr Najeeb Ullah Government in Kabul. On the other side, Americans stopped the flow of arms, ammunition and equipment to the Mujahedden thereby virtually depriving them of any capacity to fight. The disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991 triggered the collapse of Najeeb Ullah in April 1992 and setting up of Sibghatullah Mojadedi’s broad-based Interim Government. The power sharing arrangements under Peshawar accord brokered by Pakistan failed when Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, President and Ahmad Shah Masood, the defense minister, conspired to keep Gul Badin HikmatYar designated Prime Minister out of power. This new power game gave birth to another civil war on ethnic lines. Instead of honoring the terms of Peshawar Accord, Rabbani perpetuated his power illegally by getting himself reelected as President in June 1994.

Rabbani’s extension of his presidential power in the transitional government that was expiring on 15th December 1994 was a betrayal of Peshawar Accord. The in-fighting amongst the different Mujahedden between 1992 and 1994 brought about colossal loss of men and material that included over 45000 dead and nearly same numbers were maimed. The social anarchy, chaotic conditions and rampart mismanagement all around Afghanistan was depicting the country a failed state like Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. Pakistan accused Rabbani on his betrayal of Peshawar Accord and nurturing links with India to spite Pakistan’s interests. The unprecedented love for Pakistan demonstrated during and after the Soviet occupation vanished and Pakistani citizens in Kabul were being termed as enemy agents. The situation went so worst that Pakistan Embassy in Kabul was closed down in July 1994 and Pak-Afghan border also met the same fate. Suddenly a new force called Taliban emerged over the ashes left behind by the war lords in southern Afghanistan. Rabani betrayal created friction between Islamabad and Rabani regime and emergence of Taliban in Afghanistan provided Islamabad an alternative choice to replace Rabani.

Phase-5: Emergence of Taliban & Pakistan’s Support for Revitalizing Peace & Stability in Kabul

Pakistan that was eagerly looking for revitalization of peace and stability in war torn Afghanistan found a window of opportunity to realize its long awaited dream of having peace and stability in Afghanistan -a mandatory condition for voluntarily return of over 3 million Afghan refugees to their homes. Disillusioned with the prolonged in-fighting and criminal activities of the Afghan Mujahideen leadership, the Tehreek-i-Islami-i- Taliban Afghanistan emerged in and around Kandhar in September 1994 and begun as a new movement to pursue following points[:

  • To disarm all war lords/ militias either by persuasion or through coercion.
  • Restoration of peace and social order by enforcing Islamic laws in the areas under their control.
  • Retain control of all areas liberated by the Taliban
  • Defend the integrity and Islamic character of Afghanistan.

The Taliban phenomenon soon become a puzzling reality, gathered momentum and grew into a dominating force that was to be reckoned with. Pakistan, was worried on the possibility of the over flow of Afghan civil war into its territory. Since, most of the Taliban were amongst those who, during their stay in refugee camps during Soviet’s occupation, were educated in Pakistan therefore, they had soft and sympathetic feelings for Pakistan. Taliban’s seizure of Toba Achakzai arms and ammunitions depot (Spin Boldak) in October 1994 was a classic example of tactical surprise and swiftness of operation that help them to own over 80,000 Kalashnikovs and hundreds of thousands of ammunition rounds. Taliban’s timely military intervention helped Pakistan’s NLC convoy (loaded with goods) destined for Central Asia to get rescued from the captivity of warlords. Having brushed aside resistance between Chaman and Kandhar Taliban easily overpowered the disunited old guards defending Kandhar on 5th November 1994. Fall of Kandhar to Taliban resulted in to high level defections in government forces and local militias joining Taliban.

Having consolidated their authority in and around Kandhar, Taliban spread north towards Kabul and West towards Herat. Soon the movement picked up momentum and by February1995 they were in occupation of nine provinces. Capture of Charasyab in February 1995, overrunning of Herat in September 1995, Jalal Abad on 11 September 1996 and Kabul on 26th September 1996 flushed the movement with success and fame. India provided lot of financial, material and diplomatic support to Rabani and Ahmad Shah Masood inorder to enhance their ability and capacity to withstand Taliban pressure. Frontier Post reported that Indian cargo plans landed at Bagram air base on 15th, 16th, 21st, and 27th June 1995. There were also reports of Indian pilots flying plans belonging to Rabani forces. With occasional reverses at certain parts of the Afghanistan Taliban were finally able to control 27 out of 32 provinces by the 3rd weak of May 1997. India, following the old dictum that your enemy’s enemy is your friend went all out to support Rabani and Ahmad Shah Masood who had developed serious differences with Pakistan on Taliban issue. India also succeeded in falsely feeding Iran that Pakistan on the behest of USA is supporting Taliban with the sole aim of isolating  containing Iran. Taliban became a common enemy where Iranian and Indian interests converged. Whereas, India’s main aim in Afghanistan was to prevent Pakistan in solidifying a common block of Muslim countries that would give strategic depth to Pakistan at the time when confronted with India. New Delhi was also fearful from the Taliban likely support to Kashmiri freedom fighters therefore India wanted help Rabani and Masood in denying Taliban control of Afghanistan.

Taliban’s rapid move, winning loyalties of opposing commanders by doling out money and their success in bringing out peace and stability in the areas under their control have diluted the resolve of the Heratis, and the forces defending Jalal Abad, and Kabul to put up stiff resistance against them. Sultan Amir, Pakistan’s Consul General in Herat recalls, ‘they (Taliban) brought peace, they eradicated poppies, gave free education, medical treatment and speedy justice, they were the most respected people in Afghanistan’ The story of Taliban rise and takeover of Afghanistan is summed up by Mr. Abdul Sattar:

“The Taliban whirlwind, brewed in the chaos and tyranny of warlordism, started from Kandahar, swept across the southern Afghanistan in 1995, gathering strength as the idealistic seminaries were joined by the former Mujahideen, fed up with factional internecine warfare. The populace welcomed the more disciplined and better behaved Taliban. The popular base of reputed Mujahideen leaders was undermined. Continuing their march, the Taliban on the dawn of September 27, 1996, drove into Kabul”.

Pakistan was looking for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan with a cooperative government in Kabul that could facilitate return of over 3 million Afghan refugees on one hand and provide safe access to Central Asian markets on the other. Keeping in view the fast moving progress of Taliban movement Pakistan felt that it could successfully move towards its goals through the Taliban administration in Kabul. It was first time for Pakistan that Afghanistan had a government that was Pakistan friendly and had no link with India. Pakistan extended full diplomatic and economic support to the Taliban Government. To reconstruct Chaman- Kandhar-Herat- Kushka highway Pakistan provided financial and technical support to the Taliban as well. Pakistan’s politico – economic assistance to the Taliban was partially on a desire to promote its national interests. Taliban’s success in controlling the war lord and bringing peace in their controlled areas influenced Pakistan to bet future of Afghanistan upon them. Pakistan’s leaning towards Taliban was motivated by number of geo-economic and geo-strategic considerations as follow:

  • Rabani Government’s hostile attitude coupled with growing involvement of India was the dominant factors that compelled Pakistan to drift towards Taliban. Furthermore Taliban were predominantly Pakhtoon and supporting them meant preferring Pakhtoon over Rabbani and Masood who have bitten the hand that had fed them in difficult and hard days.
  • Taliban would be able to secure trade route to the land locked Muslim Central Asia -a goal that Islamabad was looking for.
  • Their religious outlook and Islamic belief would help in providing anti secular anti Indian force that would deny India Afghanistan territory to use
  • against Pakistan.

  • Taliban controlled Afghanistan would lend strategic depth to Pakistan against its arch rival India.
  • Taliban controlled Afghanistan would also facilitate Kashmiri Mujahideen in their training and struggle for freedom from Indian yoke.
  • Taliban government means punishing/ revenging from Rabani who was instrumental in the sacking of Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul.
  • Taliban proved to be a coherent force capable of controlling war lords, bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and calling an end to the ongoing civil war that has the chances of overflowing to Pakistan’s territories.

To cement its relations with Taliban regime Pakistan accorded them diplomatic recognition in 25th May 1997 as they entered Mazar e Sharif. The Taliban government was meeting all the recognition requirements as per international law. Taliban government was in effective control of the most of the Afghanistan territory including capital and included representatives of all the ethnic groups. Pakistan’s recognition of Taliban government persuaded Kingdome of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to follow the suit immediately after, which they did. However, official recognition of Taliban widened the gap between Pakistan and Iran on this particular issue. The Pak-Iran ties were further deteriorated when Taliban asked Iran to close their Embassy and leave Kabul with in 48 hours. All the Central Asian countries except Turkmenistan were opposed to the Pakistan’s sponsorship of Taliban. American response to the Taliban government was cautious but encouraging. Robin Raphael (then Assistance Secretary of state) called Taliban an indigenous movement, and hoped that their extremist policies can be moderated by engaging them. However, gradually US policy towards Taliban started changing because of Taliban’s oppressive behavior towards women and presence of Osama and Taliban’s open support for him. On May 5th, 1999 the US Senate passed a resolution calling on President Bush not to recognize any government that discriminated against women.

In 1998, Pakistan government generously provided over $ 6 million in direct support to the Taliban in addition to the trade facilities. U.S intelligence at the time assessment contended that Pakistan was funneling the Taliban forces with munitions, fuel, and food. Taliban’s brutal style of enforcing Islamic practices and cruel treatment of women sent alarms in the region and were soon alienated. Simultaneously, Pakistan also persuaded Taliban to make a broad-based coalition government by sharing power with major ethnic groups in Kabul. Taliban having control of their 90% Afghanistan’s territory refused to sit with Northern Alliance as coalition partner. Pakistan’s insistence on broad based government backed by continued diplomatic pressure, Taliban turned to Saudi millionaire Usama Bin Laden for economic support. Taliban allowed Usama to live comfortably in Afghanistan and in return he provided money and hundreds of Arab fighters to participate’ in the Taliban military campaigns in the north.

Pakistan was caught between the American pressure on the one hand and the Taliban’s absolute refusal on bin Laden’s expulsion on the other. Meanwhile Taliban’s killing of Iranian diplomats in Herat annoyed Iran pointing fingers on Pakistan. In order to stem erosion of its friendly relations with Iran and play down the American criticism of its support for the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Islamabad began to distance itself from the Taliban. In September 1998 Iran closed its border with the Taliban held areas and on 9th December 1998 UN Security Council adopted Resolution No. 1214 calling on Taliban to:

  • Cease fire with the Northern Alliance
  • Stop shielding terrorists and closing narcotics trade
  • And enter in to peace talks with the opposition factions.
  • motion of censure for killing the Iranian diplomats and the slaughter in Mazar-i-Sharif

Though Pakistan support to Taliban was based on its national priorities and objectives but at the same time Pakistan also tried to bring Taliban and the opposition closer. Pakistan viewed a broad based, multi-ethnic government in Kabul as the recipe for long term peace and stability in the country. With the UN persuasion and Pakistan’s intervention Taliban agreed to meet anti Taliban Alliance at Ashkabad from 10 to 14 March 1999 on the agenda of peace, cease fire and arrangements for broad based government in Afghanistan. The talk ended in fiasco without giving any credible out put to build further. On 15th October 1999, the UN adopted Resolution No. 1267 that demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden, failing which UN imposed economic sanctions on 14th November 1999. Taliban’s relations with the Al-Qaeda network were of mutual benefits. In return of providing safe sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban gained money, troops and arms to fight the Northern Alliance

Pakistan’s stand with regard to Taliban’s recog and having a multi-ethnic broad based government in Kabul remained unchanged even in Musharaf Government. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, while denying any change in Afghan Policy, retreated that Pakistan would continue to pursue the idea of a broad based government in Afghanistan that represents all major ethnic groups. In June 2000, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister while in Tehran for ECO Ministerial conference very loudly declared that Pakistan supports every peace initiative whether that is Iran led OIC efforts or by the UN, and Pakistan will accept any peace formula that is accepted by the Afghans.  Pakistan’s consistent engagements and pursuance to Taliban started paving the way for improvement on the issues of international concerns.

It was the outcome of such constructive engagements that during his visit to Pakistan Afghan Interior Minister not only resolved differences over Afghan Transit Trade amicably but also agreed to hand over proclaimed offenders involved in sectarian violence in Pakistan. Soon a meeting between the Taliban leadership and the US under Secretary Thomas Pickering was arranged by Pakistan which helped both parties to understand each others view point and agreed to continue talks. Resultantly, to honour their commitment Taliban closed down three training camps including Rashkor and Kargha, cracked down narcotics factories, and placed restrictions on Osama’s related Arab fighters. Such a positive response by the Taliban helped build mutual trust not only with Pakistan but also with the US and other neighbours. But the situation changed with the 9/11 that brought American symbols of economic and military might under brutal attack and Osama Bin laden, living in Afghanistan, was declared as master mind behind the tragic incident. Pakistan condemned this vile act and denounced terrorism in its all manifestations. United States warned the Taliban, the ruling authority in Afghanistan, to hand over Osama or face the consequences. Taliban refused to handover their guest who fought to liberate their homeland from the Russians. Hence, the U.S. decided to attack Afghanistan, destroy Osama and its training camps, and disintegrate the Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and, giving unparalleled and unprecedented accumulation of power to the Northern Alliance -mainly a none-Pakhtoon entity.




The horrific acts of September 11, 2001 changed the world and Pakistan found itself between the devil and the deep sea. It marks a new phase of the Pakistan foreign policy in general and Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy in particular. Pakistan was given a stark choice by America; ‘either to be with us or against us’.[lxxx] Pakistan stood at a crossroad as President of United States George W. Bush made it clear that he would not make any distinction between the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks and those who harbor them:

“We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime”

Pakistan was to either stand with America in its war against Al Qaida and Taliban or suffer U.S. retaliation if continue with its pro Taliban stand. Pakistan opted to side the international coalition and provide intelligence, flight corridor and bases for logistic support and recovery to the U.S. led military attack over Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.[lxxxi] Pakistan, to avert likely war, did its best to mediate between U.S and the Taliban. George Tenet, former head of C I A, in his book amply records Pakistan’s efforts of bringing Taliban to the table and averting war. He claims that Pakistan helped in arranging meetings between Robert Grenier, (CIA boss in Islamabad) and Mullah Akhter Mohammed Osmani, Taliban leader to sort out any peaceful solution.[lxxxii] Reportedly, Pakistan spy master Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed (DG ISI) with a high level delegation also visited Taliban leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar on 17th September 2001, and persuaded him to extradite bin Laden so as to avert drastic consequences from US attack. The attack was effective in destroying the training camps, however, the large numbers of the Taliban and Al Qaeda dispersed and disappeared in to the hinterland and some fled in to the neighbouring Iran and Pakistan. Within 8-10 weeks the Taliban were over powered, routed, major cities including the capital fell on November 13th, 2001.

Being a gate way to Central Asia, the geo- strategic location of Afghanistan provides a shortest and most cost effective route for channeling vast energy resources of Central Asia to the outside world. The fall of Taliban in Afghanistan paved the way for foreign actors to intervene in Afghanistan to secure their strategic interests. After the disintegration of Taliban and surrender of Kabul, UN arranged meeting of selected in Bonn (Germany) to decide upon Afghan interim government under Hamid Karazi with six months mandate commencing from 22 December 2001. Pakistan supported the interim set up and Hamid Karzai paid an official visit to Pakistan in February 2002 that renewed bilateral relations on friendly terms. Pakistan offered all sort of moral, political and economic support to strengthen new government in Kabul under the presidency of Mr Karazai. President Musharraf visit to Afghanistan in April 2002 and announcement of 100 million dollars aid for reconstruction of Afghanistan should be seen in this context. Pakistan also provided full support for the peaceful conduct of presidential and parliamentary polls in October 2004 and September 2005 and sealed its border to guard against any incursions across the border to disrupt election process. President Musharraf was the first head of state to visit Afghanistan after the successful completion of presidential election.

Soon the warmth of relations between the two neighbors started deteriorating because of the intrigues of the cabinet members belonging to Northern Alliance. The trust deficit widened further with each passing day and president Karzai, once considered to be pro-Pakistan, started blaming Pakistan for supporting cross border terrorism. Baring the person of Hamid Karazi, the Bonn Conference wrongly neglected dominant tribes while giving political role in future set up of Afghanistan. This mistake turned in to catastrophic as it helped blossom the Afghan insurgency. The other Bonn conspiracy turned in to blunder was keeping Pakistan out of the process and from under taking any kind of reconstruction work. On the contrary Afghanistan’s distant neighbour like India was provided opportunity to further its strategic interests against Pakistan. Since then, India has found a vast platform in Afghanistan to conduct its covert activities in Balochistan through Balochi dissidents and FATA through TTP and to destabilize Pakistan.

Kabul did send signals to Islamabad that it too had nuisance capabilities in Pakistani territory and could use the Pashtun question for its own benefit. On February 17, 2006, President Karzai himself led a forty-member delegation to the funeral of the Pashtun nationalist leader Abdul Wali Khan.[lxxxiv] During a press conference on the same day, Karzai warned that Iran and Pakistan and others are not fooling anyone. He further declared:

If they don’t stop, the consequences will be … that the region will suffer with us equally. In the past we have suffered alone; this time everybody will suffer with us…. Any effort to divide Afghanistan ethnically or weaken it will create the same thing in the neighboring countries. All the countries in the neighborhood have the same ethnic groups that we have, so they should know that it is a different ball game this time.

Mr. Abdullah Abdullah Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister while on visit in America, during the third weak of March 2006, called on international community to see the continuing war of words between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the context of domestic and regional relations. Same weak on 23rd March Afghan President, Mr. Hami Karazi while addressing a counter terrorism conference at Ankara blamed relentless pursuit of political agendas as the root cause of terrorism, violence and extremist tendencies prevalent in Afghanistan.

The suspicions and mistrust has reached to its apex when Afghanistan’s President Hamed Karazai openly blamed Pakistan by putting all responsibility of ongoing law and order situation in Afghanistan and resolved to adopt hot pursuit policy of crossing Pakistan’s border to destroy militants’ bases. Americans ‘do more syndrome’ and NATO / ISAF forces’ consistent allegations that Taliban’s insurgency is being fed and controlled from the sanctuaries inside the Pakistan’s tribal areas

Indian factor is also playing its role in aggravating the bitterness of bilateral relations and spoiling the environment of trust with a view to pursue its own nefarious designs. Establishment of over a dozen Indian Consulates all along Pak-Afghan border has become security concern for Pakistan. These Consulates are doing less humanitarian work and more running the spy/ sabotage network to destabilize Pakistan. Anti-Pakistan activities that include channeling of arms, ammunition, and money in to Balochistan and FATA by these consulates have been pointed out by Pakistan at number of forums/ occasions. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani has reportedly provided requisite proofs of Indian involvement in Balochistan affairs to his Indian counter part Egyptian resort of Sharmel Sheikh Summit on July 16th 2009. The proofs also included names and photographs of Indian officials meeting with Baloch dissentient Brahamdagh Bugti and other terrorists in Afghanistan and during their visits to India. Building up of such an anti-Pakistan scenario in Afghanistan’s soil is alarming. It contains a very loud and clear message for Pakistan’s security and Pak-Afghan relations. Pakistan can’t afford another India on its western border.

Nor it can allow a War against Terror (being fought in Afghanistan) to spread and spill over to Pakistan. In such deteriorating environment, therefore, Pakistan had to remain prepared for new situations on the Afghan side and be able to adapt accordingly. And the one long term solution rests on the defusing of ongoing cold war, establishing mutual trust and relations based on mutual interests and brotherly sincerity. There has to be a realization that any adversity faced by one could affect the other. It is thus, in the interest of both countries to have friendly and cordially relations marked with trust, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of other so as to promote peace, political stability, economic prosperity and socio-ethnic unity and cohesiveness in the region. If Afghanistan is passing through a phase of uncertainty because of decades of violence and civil war, Pakistan is also facing a phase of instability because of extremism, militancy, political wrangling, socio-ethnic polarization, and range of other issues from bad governance, water and electricity crises to sectarian and ethnic discords. Therefore, normalization of Pak- Afghan relations is the only recipe to bring peace and stability in the two countries. Pakistan should be content with having an independent, integrated and friendly western neighbor. It could further be argued that, despite the present cold relationship between the two countries, other compulsions, especially those caused by economic and security issues are likely to draw them into a long-term, friendly relationship.




Pakistan and Afghanistan, two immediate neighbors, in spite of the fact that they have shared geography, shared ethnicity and faith, but their bilateral relations have never been smooth. Instead, they have been mostly bitter and painful. The cardinal feature of Pakistan’s foreign policy has been to promote closer fellowship and cooperation between Muslim countries. And Afghanistan being immediately neighbour Muslim country of Pakistan deserved added care and closeness. Afghanistan geography and neighborhood acted more negatively than the binding role that the Muslim faith was expected to play. Any change in Afghanistan has always affected the region in general and Pakistan in particular. Pakistan succeeded in cherishing very cordial relations with every Muslim country baring Afghanistan. With the sole exception of the four years of Taliban rule (1997-2001), successive governments in Kabul have displayed varying degrees of antagonism towards Islamabad. The most disturbing period with bitter experiences was the two spells of Sardar Daud, from 1947 to 1963 and from 1973 to 1978. He proved to be the self styled champion of Paktoonistan issue and Durand Line controversy. In order to maintained sustained pressure upon Pakistan in this regard his era witnessed repeated incidences of border clashes, insurgents surge, sabotages, border closure, trade embargoes, burning of national flags and embassies, and severing of diplomatic relations etc. History of their inter state relations testifies that Pakhtoonistan issue was the result of architect of Indo-Afghan connivance so as to keep Pakistan destablized in its hinter land. More over on every occasion of trade embargo or border closure India and Soviet Union presented themselves as alternatives to Pakistan. When Sardar Daud realized that stability across both sides of the borders is mandatory for peace and security in the region then it was already too late.

The underlying aim of this chapter was to revisit preceding chapter with the purpose of identifying challenges and obstacles that continue to enflame the geo-strategic and geo-political environment amongst two Pak-Afghan brethrens. An close view of the making and the breaking of the roller coaster type bilateral relations points towards mainly two interrelated historical problems; the Durand Line issue and Afghan support for the Pakhtoonistan movement in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP). However, there have been few other irritants as well that have contributed in spoiling Pak-Afghanistan relations over the last six decades. Excluding a long list of minor irritants from this write up, a few of the worth mentioning challenges  findings identified during the research analyses are:

  • Durand Line Issue
  • Pakhtoonistan Issue
  • Interference into each others internal affairs
  • Foreign hand and particularly Indian Factor

Durand Line Issue

Since the inception of Pakistan the Durand Line is British legacy that kept hounding the Pak-Afghan relations on one hand and constant source of internal disturbances in the NWFP province for quite some time. Durand Line is the de jure boundary line between Pakistan & Afghanistan, drawn as a result of a fully negotiated agreement on 12th November 1893 between British Government of India and the Afghanistan, and signed by Sir Mortimor Durand (British Foreign Secretary) and Afghanistan’s Amir Abul Rehman Khan and subsequently reaffirmed by the later Afghan rulers in different agreements and treaties. Amir Abul Rehman’s own autobiography states that the boundary line was agreed upon from Chitral and Baroghil Pass up to Peshawar, and thence up to Koh-i- Malik Siyah( the tri junction of Persia, Afghanistan and Balochistan) in this way that:

“Wakhan Kafiristan, Asmar, Mohmand of Lalpura, and one portion of Waziristan(Birmal) came under my rule, and I renounced my claims from the railway station of New Chaman, Chaghi, the rest of Waziri, Biland Khel, Kurrum, afridi, Bajaur, Swat, buner, Dir, Chilas and Chitral.” 

The legal acceptability of the line was raised by the people and various governments of Afghanistan from time to time that fueled mistrust and suspicions against each other. Research finds that the issue is simple, clear and easy to understand/ interpret but roots of the issue lie in the lack of proper information and misunderstanding of related documents. Whereas, promotion of better understanding of the issue among Afghan government, civil society and people may lay the foundation of warm relations between the two countries that both need today desperately. The factual position of the issue is:

  • The agreements treaty documents signed, ratified and endorsed by successive Afghan regimes negate the claim that the agreement was coerced or imposed by the British.
  • It also refutes the baseless claim that the agreement has expired after 100 years in 1993.
  • Some of the proponents of the issue are of the view that Line being an arbitrary and not factual or physical, hence, it is dubious. The research finds that the line follows the tribal boundaries and well recognized features. The only tribes which were partly divided were the Mohmand and Waziri.
  • Rights and obligations for the newly emerged state like Pakistan under International Law also support Pakistan’s stand that the agreement is enforceable in post-British period as well. The law clearly states that treaties of extinct states concerning boundary lines remain valid and all rights and obligations arising from such treaties of the extinct state devolve on the successor nation which inherits treaty rights. Pakistan is the successor nation on the north western part of the Indian subcontinent.
  • After partition of the sub continent, British Governments of different times with stand to their pre-partition position on Durand Line as a willingly negotiated and internationally accepted border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The permanency and legality of the Durand Line was also validated by the Lord Home, British foreign secretary, in the British parliament on November 3, 1953. And lately British Prime Ministers; Mr Anthony Eden and Mr Harold Macmillan confirmed this position in separate statements made by them in the British parliament on March 1, 1956, and May 20, 1960, respectively. 

Foregoing rationale in view and a cursory glance of history points that a large number of states have their borders drawn and redrawn on different account. Now reversal or realignment of their borders on the basis of historic setting of the pastwould jeopardize the socio- political system of the world leaving behind chaos, confusion and anarchy. This even may result in to call an end of Afghanistan itself as Afghanistan has 250 years life of its own but remain a subsidiary of India and Pakistan for more than 1000 years or so. Hence, if we choose to regard borders illegitimate on historical grounds then it will become a right of each state to reject the status of its international border thereby demolishing the current international borders. Whereas, the Durand Line is the only boundary that was demarked through bilateral understanding and yet the only border that Afghanistan is inclined to flout. Under international law, Afghanistan’s objections to the Durand Line are unlikely to hold ground.

Pakhtoonistan Issue

Pakistan’s Afghan policy has always been predominantly influenced by its ideology and earnest desire for closer ties with all countries of the Muslim world. Afghanistan was not an exception to it, rather it occupied more important place in Pakistan’s foreign policy due to its location, commonality of its ethnically Pakhtoon population and socio-historic elements. On the contrary, Afghanistan never accepted Pakistan with all its territorial manifestations as it claimed Pakhtoon areas of NWFP and Balochistan as an integral part of the state of Afghanistan that was forcefully annexed by British India.

Afghanistan first made this claim in 1944 to the Great Britain when it was learnt that Britain might leave India soon after the World war. Having received negative response from the British, Afghan Government in connivance with Indian Congress used the Doctor Khan’s government of NWFP to demand for joining with India. But the geographically distant location of NWFP from India, its proximity with Pakistan and predominant Muslim population made it difficult for the Afghan Government to succeed in its intrigues. Having failed to convince the British to allow NWFP to join Afghanistan, the government of Afghanistan embarked upon a campaign for an independent Pakhtoonistan consisting of the Pakhtoon inhabited areas of Pakistan. To ascertain true aspiration of the people of NWFP holding of a referendum was decided as a compromise. Feeling the pulses of the Pakhtoon people of the area in favour of Muslim homeland the Congress demanded that referendum shall not be confined to choosing India or Pakistan but the people should also be given the option of independence. The referendum results revealed that absolute majority of Pakhtoon areas were pro-Pakistan. Afghanistan did not accept the referendum results and continued harboring and nursing elements to voice their dissatisfaction over Pakistan.

Instead of helping new born Pakistan to secure and maintain its sovereignty and territorial integrity against the heavy odds of unjust partition Afghanistan challenged Pakistan’s right to rule over its Pakhtoon areas as a successor state of the British India. Rather, its government at that point of time, did it’s all out effort to push for creation of another independent state in Pakhtoon dominated areas West of Indus River or alongside the Durand Line. Afghanistan was the only country that voted against Pakistan’s entry in to UN. Whereas, on the other hand Pakistan taking cognizance of the Afghanistan’s land locked state allowed Afghan goods to pass through Pakistani territory and allocated a number of railways carriages to transport Afghan goods.

The central theme of Afghanistan’s argument made in favour was that the Pakhtoons living across the Durand Line are one nation and the Durand line arbitrarily splits the nation into two. Afghanistan failed to realize that the Durand line was not an arbitrarily drawn but a physically drawn and accepted border since 1893. The border follows physical geo-political features of tribal boundaries. Syed Abdul Qadoos in his research studies finds that the line separated those tribes which go to markets in Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Tank and Quetta from those with economic links with Khorasan,, having Kabul, Ghazni, Kandhar as their market towns’. The only tribes which were partly divided were the Mohmand and Waziri. Furthermore, the interesting part of the Pakhtoonistan issue was that was the Afghan demand of seeking union of Pakhtoons with Afghanistan and not Afghanistan based Pakhtoons with NWFP. The Afghan concept of Pakhtoonistan consisted of only those Pakhtoon who live in Pakistan. When ever the idea of holding a plebiscite for a united Pakhtoon land was put forward the Afghan government always reacted angrily and rejected the idea.

Afghanistan went all out to keep Pakistan under pressure to destabilize before it was able to consolidate its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Afghanistan not only supported the Pakhtoon uprisings but also instigated, housed, equipped, and armed Baloch insurgents to destabilize Pakistan from with in. Pakistan initially reacted with diplomatic and political protests followed by the repeated incidences of closing border, severing of diplomatic relations, and suspension of Afghan trade transit through Pakistan. Trade blockade badly affected Afghanistan’s economy and her socio-economic development. Afghan Prime Minister Sardar Daud, who was the main architect and devout proponent of the idea of Pakhtoonistan, was blamed for Afghanistan’s dwindling state of economy. Sardar Daud’s resignation in March 1963 paved the way for bilateral rapprochement and Pakhtoonistan issue went dormant till the return of Daud in to power in 1973.

The period from 1963 to 1973 witnessed improvement in bilateral relations, bilateral visits by the states dignitaries, restoration of mutual trust and confidence. In 1973 Daud staged a coup d’etat with absolute powers in hand as self assumed President resulted in to the revival of the Pakhtoonistan issue once again. However, the issue did not acquire the prominence it had experienced in 1950s. Simultaneously, third insurgency in Balochistan also had a jump start- more intense than the past ones. To make Daud realize with the likely repercussions of this dirty game of intrigues, Pakistan hosted and extended full patronage to Daud’s political/ ideological opponents like Gulbadin Hikmat Yar, Rabani etc. The need for peaceful co-existence brought Daud in terms with Pakistan and bilateral relations started improving. In 1975 Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto paid an official visit to Kabul and in 1976 Sardar Daud paid a similar visit to Pakistan. It was looking obvious that resolution of Pakhtoonistan and Durand Line is likely but the Zia ul Haq’s take over of Islamabad in July 1977 and killing of Daud in Sau Revolution of March 1978 marked the end of rapprochement. Fears of Pashtunistan led Pakistan to support jihadist surrogates in the Afghan resistance during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and, later, to build up the Taliban. Ironically, during its rule in Kabul the Taliban refused to endorse the Durand Line despite pressure from Islamabad. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also resisted, calling it “a line of hatred that raised a wall between the two brothers.”

Encouraging Insurgents for Across Border Activities & Indian Factor:

It has already been discussed above that Afghan government not only supported the Pakhtoon uprisings but also instigated, housed, equipped, and armed Baloch insurgents to force Pakistan to succumb before Afghanistan’s demands of Durand Line and Pakhtoonistan issue. Sardar Daud era as Defence minister and Prime Minister, from 1947 to 1963 is replicated with number of incidences of Afghanistan’s involvement in internal disturbance in Pakistan. Faqir of Appi’s arm resistance in Waziristan and Balochie’s uprising in Kalat in 1948-49 are extreme examples in this regard. To desist Kalat state merger with Pakistan, Prince Karim, brother of Khan of Kalat, launched the first armed insurgency against Pakistan on 16th April 1948 with its base in Afghanistan. Prince Karim Khan was later apprehended by Pakistan’s security forces and was sentenced to prison. Afghanistan’s moral, and material support to Prince Karim Khan in his armed resistance against Pakistan’s control over Kalat was embroil Pakistan’s security forces in Balochistan so as to weaken its counter insurgency effort against Faqir of Appi in NWFP. This all contributed in dissipating Pakistan’s security forces and diluting their effort in support of Kashmir freedom movement against India. Hence, India came out as the real beneficiary from Afghanistan’s involvement in creation and supporting insurgencies in Pakistan.

In 1955, with the introduction of “One Unit” in Pakistan, a mass uprising in Balochistan and NWFP erupted with the overt/ and cover protest of Afghanistan. The One Unit scheme marked the end of the individual identity of the four western provinces of Balochistan, Sindh, NWFP and Punjab, which was a great set back to the nationalist aspirations prevailing in NWFP and Balochistan. Prince Karim, who had completed his term of prison by the time, mobilized widespread demonstrations in Balochistan in consultation with the National Awami Party in NWFP. His arrest by Pakistan Army in October 1958 disclosed that ongoing rebellion was also being sponsored from Afghanistan. The Baloch uprising under transformed in to a guerilla movement under Sardar Nauroz Khan kept simmering even after his arrest and hanging of five of his sons in July 1960. However, Sardar Daud’s resignation in March 1963 paved the way for bilateral rapprochement that made Pakhtoonistan issue and Baloch insurgency dormant till his return to power in 1973. Daud take over of Kabul in 1973 kick started third insurgency in Balochistan with more intensity then the past ones.

To repay Daud with same coins in this dirty game of intrigues, Pakistan hosted and extended full patronage to Daud’s political/ ideological opponents like Gulbadin Hikmat Yar, Rabani etc. This exiled Afghan leadership succeeding in nurturing armed struggle in Afghanistan against Daud interests. Having disappointed from his coup time communist friends and fearful of armed opposition organized by Hikmat Yar, Masood, and Rabbani, Daud decided to compromise with Pakistan. The rapprochement process progressed rapidly and both sides’ heads of government were near to settle the issues like Pakhtoonistan and Durand Line in 1977. But, the Zia ul Haq’s take over of Islamabad in July 1977 and killing of Daud in Saur Revolution of March 1978 marked the end of rapprochement. Fears of communists renewed support for Pakhtoonistan led Pakistan to support Afghan jihadist surrogates in their resistance against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and, later. Pakistan’s support to the Afghan Mujahideen against Communist invasion, later against Najeeb Ullah and later to the Taliban movement was to create a Pakistan friendly government in Kabul that could:

  • Accept validity/ legality of Durand Line as a international border.
  • Put the Pakhtoonistan issue at the back burner for ever.
  • Denounce any moral or material support to Baloch insurgents and deny provision of safe heavens to the in Afghanistan territory.
  • Earliest availability of secure trade route to tape the untapped land locked Muslim Central Asian market for Pakistan’s goods and services.
  • To induce Afghan brothers not to allow India to use Afghanistan territory against Pakistan territorial integrity and security. Rather Pakistan friendly Afghanistan and Afghan government lend strategic depth to Pakistan against its arch rival India.
  • Peaceful and stable Afghanistan would strengthen stability and peace in Pakistan especially in NWFP and Balochistan. Continued civil war has the chances of overflowing to Pakistan’s territories

It was not only Pakistan that was involved in Afghanistan’s infighting but outside players like India, Russia, Iran and United States also have their physical stacks deployed. Pakistan and Iran, having common border and common legacy might have reasons of their involvement but India, Russia and Iran were in mere due to their imperialistic ambitions. Pakistan’s support to Taliban stepped up India’s support Northern Alliance formed by Ahmad Shah Masood, Rabani and other opposition groups. India was not the only country but, Moscow and Iran were also supporting anti Taliban forces including Northern Alliance. India and Russia’s support for the Northern Alliance arose from its desire to establish an anti-Taliban, anti-Pakistan government in Afghanistan. Taliban’s gains led to Russia supplying arms while India began “airlifting non-military supplies” to the Northern Alliance troops via Iran. In early 2001, the United States also joined triad of India, Russia and Iran as their fourth partner in aiding Northern Alliance in their bid to change Taliban regime. Rahul Bedi famous journalist from India while citing Indian intelligence reports revealed that while India, Russia and Iran were leading the anti-Taliban campaign on the ground, Washington was giving the Northern Alliance information and logistic support. Besides hinting about the presence of a Russian military contingent in Massoud’s Panjsher Valley, he also declared that Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were being used as bases to launch anti-Taliban operations by India and Russia.

Despites Pakistan’s all out support to the Afghan Mujahideens including Taliban and hosting of over 3 millions refugees for the last thirty years or so Pakistan could not get its objectives achieved. Taliban during their rule though denied India any space in Afghanistan but failed to endorse the Durand Line despite pressure from Islamabad. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is also resisting to its resolution though calling it a line of hatred that raised a wall between the two brothers.

The blame game of involving each others internal affairs is on the turf again. Today after its whole hearted support for last nine years, the Karazi Government accusation that Pakistan is encouraging the insurgents is absurd. And similar accusation are being sounded from Pakistan that, Tahreek e Taliban Pakistan(TPP) is getting arms, ammunitions and even man power from Afghanistan, Afghanistan based Indian consulates are intriguing sponsoring insurgents in FATA, Sawat and Balochistan and Afghanistan is providing safe heavens to Pakistani terrorist at large.

The Pak-Afghan border across the Durand Line has become a source of constant accusations from both sides. Afghanistan is accusing unobstructed flow of militants infiltrating from Pakistani side of the border to Afghanistan. Whereas, Pakistan argue that it has not only deployed over 150000 troops along the border to prevent any infiltration across but succeeded in launching and delivering appreciable operations against militants hide outs in Sawat, South Waziristan and else where. Without giving recognition to Pakistan’s substantive effort against the militants, Afghanistan’s rhetoric ‘to do more’ is spoiling the trust and confidence. Afghanistan has also failed to satisfy Pakistan on its counter accusations that many Indian consulates in Afghanistan appear to be indulging in undesirable activities against Pakistan. If a comparative analysis of Pakistani efforts and the Afghan efforts to plug the Pak-Afghan border is made, one would indeed be surprised to learn how great efforts are undertaken by the Pakistani side. Compared to Pakistani efforts, the Afghan efforts are not only negligible but extremely limited.



Afghanistan and Pakistan are neighbours and their physical proximity and common stakes are undeniable facts hence both have to live upon in either case. The people of both countries have suffered too much due to the bilateral antagonism. Economic, political and social cost of their conflict prone attitude and policies has been very high and time has come for both to look for pragmatic approach. Both nations have no other way forward but they way of normalcy, peace, stability, trust, friendship and cooperation. The pragmatic approach can be easily built upon the commonalities that are shared by the people of two neighbours. Both have lot in common such as faith, heroes, history and heritage, tribal ethnic diversity like Pakhtoons, Balochs, Hazaras that co-existed since millennium. Millions of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan for nearly thirty years, and their new generation that was born, nurtured and educated on Pakistani soil can serve an anchor for the voyage of new relationship. The voyage of new relationship has to be built upon the principles of sovereign equality, resolve for non interference in each other affairs, and pacific settlement of disputes. Such an approach is the way peace, stability, and socio- economic development, alleviation of poverty and eradication of evil of illiteracy. The new pragmatism complimented by the commonality of their history, faith, heritage, geography and socio- culture values, can help them to root out challenges of war and violence. There is no denying the fact that stable, peaceful, and strong Afghanistan and Pakistan are in each others interest as road to peace, progress and prosperity passes through their common borders.

There is a need to follow a new strategy changed from the old beaten track from the time tested old diplomacy and facilitate both PakiA­stan’s access to Central Asia and Afghanistan’s access to the sea. Reversal of hostilities and cordiality of bilateral relations would reduce ethnic fault lines and promote national unity in both countries. The new approach should not be confined to the time old diplomatic channel but also encourage people-to-people contact as well as contact between officials at all levels across the border. Foregoing debate and discussion of the preceding chapters in view, following measures are suggested for building bridges of peace and road to stability, cooperation, and socio- economic development in both states. Launching of friendship bus service in 2006, plying between Jalalabad Peshawar, is a laudable initiative towards confidence building, setting aside past and looking to the promising future. Some of the appreciable steps, taken to bring two brother countries closer at the level of interdependency, mutual trust and cooperation, especially after 2001 are:

  • Continued hospitality of over three million Afghan refugees in different nooks and corner of Pakistan.
  • Fully supporting International Coalition forces in their fight against Taliban and in operation Enduring Freedom.
  • Backing Bonn Agreements, recognizing and strengthening the leadership role of Mr. Hamid Karzai.
  • Helping/ facilitating conduct of smooth, free and fair Presidential elections in 2004 and 2009.
  • Provision of financial and non-financial assistance for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.
  • Provisions of large number of student scholarships to Afghan students in general and professional education in different higher education institutions in Pakistan.
  • Pakistan’s commitment and cooperation in the tripartite meetings (Afghanistan-Pakistan-US) in fighting terrorism through shared intelligence and close coordination.
  • onvening of Afghan-Pak joint peace Jirga form August 9 to August 12, 2007 showing resolve to bring sustainable peace in the region.
  • Several official visits by the head of the states, government, political, economic and military delegations are positive pointers towards strengthening of bilateral relations.
  • President Hamid Karzai and his cabinet assurance that Afghanistan will not allow any country to use its soil against the brotherly country of Pakistan.


There is serious realization in both countries that their destiny is linked to each other and road to peace, prosperity and development passes through their friendly relations based on spirit of cooperation, trust, respect for the sovereignty and national integrity of each other. Transforming Pak-Afghan relations have been long awaited daunting task. However, the thaw in the improving relations that was witnessed with the ousting of Taliban government in October 2001 has started improving for the last four five years. A lot has been done for confidence building and much has to be done for improvement of relations. Normalcy in the bilateral relations calls for a pragmatic approach from both sides in dealing with issues having sensitive track record. To transform both countries in to a friendly neighbours the pragmatic approach shall aim at bringing new policy changes in political, economical and security perceptions. Some of the measures recommended in this regard are:

Adoption of cooperative Engagement and Policy of Non-Interference: The long history of hosting and providing sanctuaries to each others opponents has led to bitterness and mistrust in Pakistan and Afghanistan relations. To end the decades of mistrust and suspicions on each other, both countries has to shun policies of interference in each others affairs on one pre text or the other. Once it is obvious that peace and stability in one country is dependent upon same in the other country each one has to work for bringing and maintaining peace and order in other’s soil. Game of power brokering and sponsoring ethno-political groups armed struggles on the name of independent or greater Balochistan, or Pakhtoonistan or fighting communisms etc must cease to end. Policy of intervention or interference shall be replaced with constructive engagement in following:

  • Pakistan shall provide all possible support available with in its resource in rebuilding the war torn country and destroyed infrastructure in Afghanistan.
  • Provision of educational opportunities to Afghan students through any one or combination of the following modes:
  • Extending scholarships/ student visas to Afghan based in general education and professional education.
  • Extending distant education infrastructure across Afghanistan
  • Opening up satellite/ constituent campuses of various Pakistani universities and professional colleges in major cities of Afghanistan.
  • Exchange of resource persons and provision of skill development infrastructure.
  • Help Afghanistan to build its railway infrastructure from Landi-Kotal to Jalabad, Kabul and other major cities and communication centers.
  • Normalization of relations is precondition to establishment of peace and stability not only in two counties but across Central Asia as well. Emerging friendship a cooperation shall not be seen as an alliance any other nation.
  • India shall dispense with all its nefarious activities of spying and subversive interventions through dissident Baloch and Pakhtoon groups. Negative role of Indian Consulates in spoiling Pak-Afghanistan relations which must come to its end. Similarly India and Pakistan both should refrain from using Afghan soil in down playing each other national interest. Both have to take new start and changing mind set that peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan, India and the region. India and Pakistan, both shall join hand in extending sincere help and assistance in early recovery and rebuilding of war torn Afghanistan.
  • International community shall believe that peaceful, and economically developed democratic Pakistan, and a self-reliant Afghanistan will enable safe exit / withdrawal of international security forces and NATO troops in early time frame. Therefore, there is a dire need of developing a common purpose and overarching goals amongst Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the foreign troops deployed and fighting in and around Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s Partnership in Afghanistan’s Capacity Building: Pakistan has been directly affected by the deteriorated peace and instability stability for the last 30 years or so therefore revival of peace and stability in Afghanistan shall be its foremost concern. Since, Pakistan has a direct and vital stakes in the revival of sustainable peace, stability and development of Afghanistan therefore, international community’ shall pursue its strategies in consultation, close coordination and consensus with Pakistan. Failing which each strategy/ effort will doom to its failure. There is a need of evolving a comprehensive strategy that enhances Afghanistan’s integral capacity to handle its issue related to socio- political control, security, and governance across length and breadth of Afghanistan. Moreover, promising implementation of any such strategy. ‘Security First’ strategy’ with out simultaneously pursuing development and empowerment tracks may not pay the dividends as factors contributing towards insecurity and instability are multi dimensional, diverse directional and often interrelated. Hence, restoration of security through military means shall also be accompanied by other policies like revival of public trust and confidence through good governance, people empowerment, free, dynamic and transparent media, judiciary and public policies. Pakistan and other countries shall work to enhance Afghanistan’s capacity building to manage its internal affairs as internally strong and stable Afghanistan would be more beneficial for the peaceful, stable and democratic Pakistan. It would in turn contribute to the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees; facilitate trade and tourism across the border.

Recognition of Durand Line & End to Pakhtoonistan Issue: Foregoing discussion and debate of preceding chapters in view it is now evident that the Durand Line issue has been use as a ploy for pressure and intrigue without any legal relevance. India and USSR seconded Afghanistan’s nationalist forces for their own vested interests to create and maintain a source of instability and disorder. Durand Line issue was deliberately used as a Propaganda tool with to distort historic facts and well constructed attempt to malign Pakistan. Sources cited in the preceding chapters and their analysis reveals that the agreement was a voluntarily signed document and Sir Durand was appointed on the request of Ameer Abdul Rehman of Afghanistan. The agreement was confirmed and reconfirmed by the successive rulers and governments of Afghanistan without having any iota of duress or coercion and free from any time limit of 100 years. Furthermore, Afghanistan’s loya Jirga renouncement of the treaty in 1949 has no legal grounds under international law and UN Convention on Treaties as renouncement of such treaties (linked to peace and stability) requires consent/ willingness of both parties of the agreement. Sources of most of twisted or distorted facts in this regard points towards Indian or Afghan authorship to advance their own cause and undermine target country-Pakistan. To support this argument it is appropriate to quote Mr Embree- an eminent scholar:

Durand Line delineated in the 1893 treaty is a valid international boundary subsequently recognized and confirmed by Afghanistan on several occasions. The drawing of this international border terminated any Afghan sovereignty over the territory or influence over the people east of [the] Durand Line. Pakistan as a successor state to British India derived full sovereignty over this region and its people and has all the rights and obligation of a successor state. In addition, the question of self-determination for Pashtuns was foreclosed by the British supervised plebiscite held in 1947 in NWFP in which 99 percent of votes cast were in favor of joining Pakistan. The Tribal Areas too expressed their assent through special Jirgas. [lxxxviii]

Besides, these all arguments in favour of the validity of Durand line as an international border, there are other serious constraints for Pakistan that don’t allow Pakistan to go other way round:

  • Accepting Afghanistan claim over Pakistan would undermine its very existence and will reinforce other ethnic movements like; free Balochistan, Sindhu desh, Saraiky province etc.
  • Given the ongoing Baloch nationalist insurgents uprising in Balochistan, ceding Pakhtoon areas to Afghanistan would threaten its viability.
  • Apparently it may satisfy Pashtun nationalists but the resultant demographic change in Afghanistan may not be acceptable to non-Pakhtoon ethnic groups, hence not suitable for Afghanistan’s own integrity and stability.

Furthermore, history also testifies that despite their formal position, none of the Afghan government has made any serious effort to advance territorial claims either bilaterally or in international forums. Instead, Afghanistan has so far used Durand Line issue as bargaining tool or to address domestic political concerns. Therefore, now it is time to settle this bone of contention for ever. Government of Afghanistan shall announce its formal acceptance of Duran Line as international boundary between the two states and apprise its populace with the factual position of the boundary. Similarly, India and ethno centered intellectual shall also be refrained from distortion of facts and figures.

Peaceful settlement through recognition of this nineteenth century border would mark a friendly start of bilateral relation in 21st century that would not only benefit Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also to the neighboring regions as well. The recognition of border would not only clarify the citizenship status of different Pakhtoon groups living across the Durand Line but also enable them to trade, and develop their economy on one hand and facilitate Pakistan’s entry Central Asian markets and Afghanistan’s uninterrupted access to the Sea. In short the recognition of Duran Line as international border between the two states would not only reduce the ethnic tension created by Pakhtoonistan but also reverse the era of hostilities that had dominated nearly sixty years of these states.


Pakistan and Afghanistan are two unfortunate neighbours whose relations with each other have always been somewhat problematic. Undoubtedly there is a realization between Pakistan and Afghanistan that can come closer in all most all fields of cooperation by capitalizing their commonalities of culture, faith, history, geographical proximity, close ethnic linkages, shared historical experiences and trading interactions. There are strong indicators of pragmatism from both sides to move from antagonism and conflict towards peace and harmony. Though some of the element of Non Pakhtoon community (from Northern Alliance) did manage to create obstacles and retarded the evolving process of peace and cooperation, however, frequent visits at public and official levels have been able to counter such effects. Pakistan’s contribution towards emerging peace and stability in Afghanistan, remove bilateral irritants, facilitating conduct of election processes through tough vigilance of border and managing participation of Afghan refugees are some of the acts need to be recognized from all levels.

There is dire shift observed in Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy that is now looking for only friendly government but a peaceful and stable Afghanistan without any foreign irritants irrespective of their nature. There are sign of realization in both countries tha stability and integrity of each country is in the interest of other and instability and violence in one will have spill over effects on the others. However, the future of Pakistan Afghanistan friendly relations hinges upon the unresolved issue of Durand Line that is hanging over for sixty years over or so. The boundary problem was the main irritant that soured bilateral relations, nurtured atmosphere of misunderstanding and mistrust and sabotaged all efforts to achieve stability and security in the region. The issue have been aggravated by the Indian phenomenon prevailing in Pakistan under the guise of Afghanistan friendship but aimed at destabilizing Pakistan through covert operations. Being the immediate neighbour and threatened with growing Indian threat from the East and from across the borders in Afghanistan besides the Tahreek e Taliban Pakistan, it is moral duty of Afghanistan to keep watch on the developments taking place on its soil against the integrity and security of Pakistan.

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Afghanistan and Pakistan. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from

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