News / Asia

British Legacy Lingers in Afghan-Pakistan Border Clashes

British Colonial Legacy Seen in Afghan-Pakistan Border Clashesi
X
May 09, 2013 1:33 AM
Tensions are high between Pakistan and Afghanistan after recent cross-border clashes in which one Afghan policeman died. The frontier is a remnant of British rule in India and is disputed by Afghanistan. Critics say it’s another example of Britain’s colonial legacy, a history that the British are now being forced to confront. More from Henry Ridgwell in London.
British Colonial Legacy Seen In Afghan-Pakistan Border Clashes
Henry Ridgwell
Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan are high after a series of cross-border clashes in recent weeks, including one in which an Afghan policeman died.  The frontier is a legacy of British rule in India and disputed by Afghanistan.  Critics say it is another example of Britain’s lingering colonial legacy - a history that the British are now being forced to confront.

Afghanistan has sent hundreds of troop reinforcements to the border in recent days.  It accuses its neighbor of building a military border gate in the mountainous Goshta region, which Afghanistan says lies well within its territory.

Pakistan denies any encroachment - saying the gate lies on the Durand Line, the frontier established by British diplomat Mortimer Durand in 1893.

Despite widespread international recognition, the frontier is disputed, says Myra MacDonald, author of a book on the region and security correspondent for Reuters.

“The Afghans have never recognized it.  And even under Taliban rule, the Taliban would not recognize it.  Pakistan has always wanted it recognized.  The Afghans consider it something that was imposed on them by the colonial British,” MacDonald said.

Bijan Omrani, a central Asia historian, says archive documents suggest the British never intended for the Durand Line to be an international frontier - but rather a buffer against Russian attacks on the empire.

“Ordinary British Indian law went up to the foothills of the mountains.  But, in those mountain areas where the Pashtun tribal peoples were, they had something called the Frontier Crimes Regulation. And that has been in existence ever since the frontier was demarcated.  This regulation doesn’t accord with any modern norms of human rights and it has held the frontier region back,” Omrani said.

MacDonald says this regulation has huge implications for the region today.
“As far as America is concerned, it’s where all the drone attacks are taking place as well. 

So it’s a place with a very ambiguous status, whose people are not really able to speak freely and clearly about what’s going on there, and with serious problems of Islamist militancy,” MacDonald said.

The Durand Line divided Pashtun tribal lands.  Afghanistan has long desired to reclaim that territory, according to historian Bijan Omrani.

“Pakistan fears that Afghanistan will try and reunite it and take a huge chunk out of Pakistan.  And the Afghans always know that the Pakistanis, certainly in the Taliban era, used those difficult-to-access tribal areas to train the Taliban to interfere in Afghanistan,” Omrani said.

The tension on the former frontiers of its empire come as Britain is forced to confront its wider colonial legacy.  Three elderly Kenyans won a court case allowing them to sue Britain for compensation.  They say they were brutally tortured under British rule in the 1950s.

Lawyers say the case could open the way for many other claims from across the world.

The British government says it is an enduring feature of its democracy that it is willing to learn from its history.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs