Thursday, August 18, 2011

Can the American Government Pressure Pakistan?

We certainly can—and we must—pressure Pakistan to do much, much more in the war against the Taliban. How can we do that? We can use the Durand Line Agreement against them. In 1898, the British Indian colonial government foreign secretary William Durand signed a treaty with the Afghan ruler Amir Abdul Rahman to partition a significant amount of Afghan land and put it under British India control. 

Over the past century, that treaty has been questioned for several reasons. First, Amir Abdul Rahman was illiterate and unable to read even Farsi or Pashto, let alone English, which was the language used in the treaty. Also, Amir Abdul Rahman signed that treaty in exchange for weapons and money which were supposed to be paid every year. It is more than likely that Abdul Rahman's understanding was that British India control would exist only for an interim period; that is, during the time over which he accepted the payments. In other words, he probably considered this a temporary arrangement and did not know that it could—or would— become permanent. Nonetheless, after a while the yearly payments were stopped by British India, thus constituting a breach of the original treaty and agreement.

While all of these issues might have cast a shadow over the Durand Line Agreement, the real blow came in 1945, when the British government lost India, and Indians got their freedom, thus effectively invalidating any previous treaties signed by that colonial power. In point of fact, India itself gained its independence from Britain using this very same argument. What that meant later on however, was that when India formally declared its independence in 1947, Pakistan was created—partitioned by the now null-and-void Durand Line Agreement; in other words, with Afghan lands passed over through a defunct and repudiated treaty signed by a deposed colonial power. They did it anyway and the world- community took little notice of these critically important facts. 

Without those illegal treaties masterminded and signed by the colonial Indian British government, Pakistan itself could not be created, and might not even exist today as a sovereign state. Technically speaking, the entire Northwest frontier of Pakistan belongs to Afghanistan. Over half of Pakistan, all the way to the Arabian Sea, is Afghan land. In fact, Pakistan itself has never formally ratified the Durand Line Agreement through which it came into existence!

In February of 2009, when the Taliban marched perilously close to Pakistan's own capital of Islamabad, we in America became very nervous and our officials criticized Pakistan for not confronting and stopping the Taliban's approach on the city. We had no reason to be worried. In fact, instead of being worried, we should have seized this opportunity to gain a powerful position in our stance toward Pakistan. The march of the Taliban to Islamabad gave us all of the reason we needed to take control of a significant amount of land that is controlled by the Taliban. Thus the Taliban's march to Islamabad could have spelled the beginning of the end of the Taliban, because all of those areas that are currently off limits to our troops and military operations could have been restored to Afghanistan over night, thereby making it perfectly legal for us to go in and flush out the enemy from lands that now belonged to Afghanistan and no longer to Pakistan.

Furthermore, one would have hoped that the Taliban march to Islamabad—and the threat of losing a vast portion of it's geography—would have stirred up the Pakistani's sense of patriotism and thus forced a divorce between ISI and the Taliban. And that too could have been the beginning of the end for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. 

At this time, I still firmly believe that we can put Pakistan under tremendous pressure to listen to America and Europe simply by reminding them of the illegality of the Durand Line Agreement. We can obligate them to keep the territory clean of Taliban or risk the loss of the vast territories now under Pakistani control. This can be used as a wild card to pressure Pakistan to do much more to flush out and destroy the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

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