Birth of Durand Line 1884 – 1893

In Afghanistan, Abdur Rahaman was made the Amir in 1880.

By this time, the British had accepted the policy of disintegrating the Afghans and accepted it as a Buffer State between the two countries. The advocates of a British forward policy in Afghanistan and on the North West frontier of India regarded “Herat” as the gate of India. But British still retained the rights to handle the foreign relations of Afghanistan. In 1885, a military skirmish occurred and the Russian encroached the Merv Oasis and an Afghan territory south of the Oxus River around an oasis at Panjdeh. (It is now in Turkmenistan).

  • Thus the occupation of Merv placed Russia in a easy striking reach of Herat. So, this was a great alarm for the Russophobes.

    Immediately negotiations were opened between London and St. Petersburg. A possible war was averted with diplomacy and Lord Dufferin managed to secure a settlement. As per this settlement Russia kept the Merv Oasis, but relinquished further territories taken in their advance, and promised to respect Afghan territorial integrity in the future.

    Later, in 1893 during times of Lord Lansdowne, Abdul Rahman accepted to let a mission headed by the British India Foreign secretary, Sir Mortimer Durand, demarcate the territories as joint Afghan Frontier Commission.

  • This was the birth of Durand Line, which now defines the territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Durand Line is also known to have established the “Great Game” buffer zone between British and Russian interests in that region.
  • The Durand line agreement carved out of a new province called North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) out of annexed areas from Afghanistan.
  • They are currently part of Pakistan but Afghanistan did not recognize them.
  • In 1895, Afghanistan’s northern Border was fixed and Guaranteed by Russia.
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