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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid