1. What Is Durand Line?
  2. Why is Durand Line in news?
  3. International Stand on Durand Line
  4. India’s stand on Durand Line
  5. Baluchistan and Taliban angle
  6. Gwadar Port = Pakistan + China
  7. Gwadar Port= Strings of Pearl?
  8. Chabahar Port= India + Iran
  9. Mock Questions

What Is Durand Line?

  1. The 2,600 km border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  2. This line is named after Sir Mortimer  Durand, the Foreign Secretary of then undivided British India. He negotiated this border with the King of Afghanistan.
  3. At the end of 19th Century, the Power of Afghani king had declined so he had no choice but to accept it.
  4. Fast forward to 1947, India-Pakistan gain independence. But Afghans refuse to recognize Durand line as the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  5. In 1947, at the UN General Assembly meeting, Afghanistan even cast a vote against the admission of Pakistan to the United Nations.

map-durand line Afghanistan

Why is Durand Line in news?

  • Recently, a top US diplomat said that Durand Line constitutes the “international border” between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • This has annoyed the Afghan Government.
International Stand on Durand Line
Afghanistan Durand Line does not have any legitimacy.We reject the statement made by USA.
Pakistan Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan is “a closed and settled issue”.
  • For gaining support of Pakistanis during Cold war, US sided with them on Durand Line issue.
  • After above controversy, US said “Our policy on this (Durand Line) has not changed.”
  • Silent on the issue.
  • Although this silence is widely interpreted as supporting Pakistan’s position.
United Nations
  • The Durand Line question has not yet formally reached the United Nations,
  • otherwise, UN could play a major role in settling the disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

India’s stand on Durand Line

  • It may be worthwhile for India to signal that we do not necessarily recognize the Durand Line.
  • Why? Because, to this date, the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are characterized by rivalry, suspicion and resentment.
  • The primary cause of this hostility rests in the Durand Line Agreement. India can use it to deepen friendship with Afghanistan, by taking their side on Durand issue.
  • But Indian Foreign policy prefers to stay away from all political risks, therefore very unlikely.

Baluchistan and Taliban angle

map-balochistan durand line

  • Baluchistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan.
  • It is the largest province by area, but smallest by population.
  • On August 11, 1947, the British acceded control of Baluchistan to the King of Baluchistan,
  • Mohd. Ali Jinnah tried to persuade the Baluch king to join Pakistan, but the Baluch parliament refused it.
  • So the Pakistani Army invaded Baluchistan in 1948, and took control of everything. (they tried to do same in Kashmir during 1947, but couldn’t succeed.)

Anyways, later on the Baluch people started independence movement against Pakistani rule, leading to insurgency, armed struggle.

It is still going on. (and every once in a while, Pakistan accuses Indian agency RAW for supporting those Baluch rebels)

But how does Baluchistan issue connect with Durand Line?

If there is a strong and assertive Government in Afghanistan, following things can happen

  1. Afghan Government takes very assertive and aggressive stance. (just like China over Tibet issue).
  2. Afghan armed forces may launch some campaign to reclaim the territory.
  3. Afghan intelligence service may start funding and training Baluch insurgents to create more trouble for Pakistan. (just like ISI +LeT= trouble 4 India)

Therefore, Pakistan wants a weak, destabilized, puppet government in Afghanistan to prevent above nightmares from happening. That’s why, ISI has been providing shelter for members of Al-Qaeda and Taliban In Baluchistan area. It serves two purpose

  1. Taliban commits acts of terrorism within Afghanistan = keeps President Hamid Karzai’s Government occupied with domestic trouble.
  2. Baluch rebels and Talibans belong to two separate Ethnic groups. So Presence of Taliban in the region assure that they keep infighting to dominate the region. (Both of them finance operations using kidnaping, ransom, toll-tax, etc. So, if two companies operating in same territory, there will be struggle for gaining those ‘economic resources’.)

Gwadar Port = Pakistan + China

map-gwadar port

  • Pakistani Government has built a port @Gwadar, in Baluchistan coast, with the help of Chinese engineering expertise.
  • Gwadar project is trouble for India, because of following reasons
  • Around One third of world’s oil supply comes through the Strait of Hormuz. (Recall the Hormuz oil blockade article click ME)
  • Gwadar is located only 180 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz.
  • This port would enable Pakistan take control over the world energy jugular and destroy Indian tankers (in case of war).
  • Earlier, All Pakistani Naval ships were concentrated @Karanchi port. Indian Navy could easily attack them and block Pakistani trade.
  • But now with Gwadar port, Pakistani navy could spread out its ships, thus preventing Indian navy from destroying all assets once. (Gwadar port is 450 km further away from Indian Border than Karachi Port.)
  • The Baluch rebels are opposing Gwadar port.
  • They say Gwadar Port hasnot lead to any economic Development in the region, all the port-jobs are given to the migrants from Punjab and Sindh province. There have been reports of rebels attacking Chinese engineers and workers. (and Pakistan claiming that RAW had hand in it).

Gwadar Port= Strings of Pearl?

map-baluchistan durand line and gwadar port

  • Gwadar port a part of ‘String of Pearls’ strategy of Chinese where they’ve got hold of strategic ports in Gwadar, Bangladesh, SriLanka, Burma, Thailand, Combodia, and South China Sea etc.
  • On a world map, these ports form of string (of pearls) which may form as Chinese line of defense to control oil movement.
  • Although China has always denied that Gwadar will ever be used by Chinese military.
  • Publicly China has always called it a civilian port of Pakistan.

Chabahar Port= India + Iran

  • Iran is barely 72 km away from Gwadar port.
  • Iran feels that Gwadar port (Pakistan) will take business away from Iranian ports.
  • Therefore, in competition to Gwadar, Iran has developed its own port called Chabahar with the help of India.  We already discussed this in earlier article (click me )
  • India also built a road to connect this Iranian port with Afghanistan. (Deleram Zaranj)
  • This will provide India the shortest route to Central Asian markets and will be a counter balance to Chinese influence in Gwadar.

Food for thought

Copy pasting some interviews from Baluch Leaders

  • Islamabad has always claimed that the Baluch resistance is been backed by India. But that´s just fake propaganda from Pakistani state media in order to show the world that the Baluch are proxies. India is not supporting us.
  • Baluchs are basically secular, by their culture, by their tradition, by their historical background, so the Pakistani regime is trying to Talibanise the Baluch society. Just where I am right now, the ISI – the Pakistani secret service – has set up two religious militant groups against the Baluch national struggle. They have formed these groups in the name of Islam but their real aim is to crush the Baluch freedom movement.
  • The Taliban are basically Pakistani military without uniform. They started beheading westerners after 9/11 but we were being beheaded by these religious butchers long ago. We have told the International community about the evil plans of the ISI – the Pakistani secret services – but our plea has been stubbornly ignored.
  • An independent Baluchistan would not only be good for us but also for the rest of the world. As we are secular people we would not allow extremism coming from Pakistan, Iran or Afghanistan.
  • Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Gillani has even spoken about conducting a referendum in Baluchistan but, tell me, when the French, the English, etc pulled out from their colonies, was there any referendum at all? We’re also a colony so Pakistan should leave without any pre-conditions.

Mock Questions

Which of the following statements are correct?

  1. Durand Line separates India from Afghanistan.
  2. 38th Parallel separates North Korea and South Korea.
  3. 49th Parallel is the boundary between USA and Canada.
  4. Gwadar port is located in the Arabian Sea.

Mains (GS paper II)

  1. Critically examine the Strategic interests of India, in and around the Strait of Hormuz. (20 marks)
  2. Assess the turbulent situation in Baluchistan. (10 marks)
  3. For India, What are the security and strategic implications of Gwadar Port? (10 marks)


  1. Do you think we should help Baluchistan gain independence, like we did to Bangladesh in 1971?
  2. Apart from Bangladesh, do you know names of any other countries that gained independence with the help of “foreign powers”?
  3. If Baluchistan gains independence, what will be its implication on the International Power equations?


  1. http://www.afghanland.com/history/durrand.html
  2. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/durand-line/1024243
  3. http://weeklypulse.org/details.aspx?contentID=689&storylist=6
  4. http://www.ipsnews.net/2012/10/qa-Baluch-groups-to-unite-against-pakistan/
  5. http://www.dw.de/taliban-are-pakistani-military-without-uniform/a-15939683-1