ISLAMABAD - Veteran US diplomat Alice G Wells yesterday supported Pakistan’s stance on the Durand Line border with Afghanistan.

Wells, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and current international government relations adviser at Exxon Mobil, said the Durand line was an internationally recognised border.

“Afghan politicians of national stature know that the Durand line is an internationally recognised border.  Fanning nationalist or irredentist claims detracts from negotiating peace and economically beneficial ties between 2 two) countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan),” she tweeted. Earlier, Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said: “No Afghan politician of national stature can overlook the issue of Durand Line.”

In a Twitter post, he wrote: “It will condemn him or her in life & after life. It is an issue which needs discussions & resolution. Expecting us to gift it for free is un-realistic. Peshawar used to be the winter capital of Afghanistan.”

Saleh claimed Pakistan had come out of denial. “It is openly saying that they are harbouring the Taliban. This clarity despite being bitter is a development which can be utilized in benefit of peace process. I had candid discussions with General (Qamar Javed) Bajwa and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) director when they visited Afghanistan. Keep Pakistan engaged 4 (for) peace,” he added.

In 1893, the Durand Line was drawn between then British-ruled India and Afghanistan’s Amir Abdur Rahman Khan as an effort to improve relations and exchange between the two countries.

Says Durand Line internationally recognised border

Though the British controlled several issues related to Afghanistan, it was considered a free state. The 2,600 kilometres long line was in a way imposed upon Afghanistan by the British and after Pakistan’s formation, the same line was treated as the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Since the departure of the British from the Area, Afghanistan has been trying to reassess the border with Pakistan, but the two nations have failed to come to any conclusion.

Pakistan says that Durand Line is a well established international border while Afghanistan does not accept it. One claim that Afghanistan often uses to assert its position over the Durand Line is that the border drawn by the British was valid for 100 years, and its validity had expired.

Another claim that Afghanistan makes is that the legitimacy of the border ended with Pakistan’s formation as the agreement was between India and Afghanistan and not with Pakistan.

Pakistan has been fencing of the Durand Line to stop militants’ infiltration. Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said the fencing was being done to address Pakistan’s serious security concerns and was fully in accordance with the established norms of international law.

The fencing did not encroach on Afghan territory, the spokesperson said, adding the Afghan side would be well-advised to engage on border matters through the relevant institutional mechanisms to address any misconceptions.

Regrettably, he said, the Afghan government had not yet positively responded to Pakistan’s suggestion for conducting joint topographic surveys.

Chaudhri reaffirmed Pakistan’s respect for the territorial integrity of Afghanistan and conducting its relations with the brotherly country in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter.