Is It Possible To Resolve Conflict Between Pakistan & Afghanistan?

By Sikander Hayat

There has been a feeling of mistrust between the countries of Afghanistan & Pakistan from the day of Pakistani independence from British rule. Afghanistan tried to stop Pakistan from becoming the member of United Nations as a recognised state. For the record, Iran was the first country to recognise Pakistan as an independent state on the map of the world.
Afghanistan is a country where Pakhtuns have always dominated the corridors of power and their percentage in the ethnic composition of the country is 40% with Tajiks, Hazara, Uzbek and other ethnic group making rest of the 60%. Although there is a large number of non Pakhtun nationals of Afghanistan but still the ruling class of this country look at it as a Pakhtun nation and thereby give itself a responsibility to save the Pakhtuns living in neighbouring Pakistan.

Here I am looking at the issue through the Afghan perspective which has the mindset that somehow people living in the tribal agencies of Pakistan need to be liberated from Pakistan as they were wrongly left on the other side of the Durand Line (International border between Afghanistan & Pakistan).

Mohammed Daoud Khan (an Afghan prince and politician in Afghanistan who overthrew the monarchy of his first cousin Zahir Shah and became the first President of Afghanistan from 1973 until his assassination in 1978) launched an attack Pakistan to conquer the tribal areas but was repulsed by the tribal army of the Pakistani Pakhtuns.

Afghanistan has never been strong enough to conquer Pakistani land but neither it is willing to give up its claim on these tribal agencies. This situation has left a festering wound in the relationship between Afghanistan & Pakistan. In my view this situation has to be solved as soon as possible as it is hurting the development of both countries while Afghanistan is being used by India to train and fund terrorists operating in Pakistan killing Pakistani civilians.

I believe that there are two main solutions which can help resolve the issue of Durand line between Afghanistan & Pakistan.
The first solution is that Afghanistan accepts Durand line. Both countries should remain in their boundaries and there are no more fights. But this solution is hard to sell to
people on both sides of the border. These are same people with same ethnic origin, same religion and same values.

The second solution is that Afghanistan and Pakistan form an economic trade zone with single currency and no border checks so that people can cross over whenever they want.

Pakistan and Afghanistan will keep their political & geographical entities intact but the free movement of people and finance will be guaranteed. Both countries will keep their separate armies, currencies and other arms of state.

We must not forget that there are more Pakhtun living in Pakistan then in Afghanistan so any right to vote for Pakistani Pakhtun in Afghanistan will brutally alter the power structure in Afghanistan by cornering Tajks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and other major minority groups in Afghanistan.

There seems to be a misconception about Afghanistan that it is a Pakhtun state, which is extremely wrong as Pakhtun make about 40% of the total Population with Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kirghiz, and Hazara as the other major groups in the country. Afghan demands for annexation of tribal areas is similar to Canada asking for the annexation of the northern USA because the same people live there as in Canada.

Pakhtun domination will create resentment in other stakeholders in Afghan population and may come to divide Afghanistan into Pakhtun and non Pakhtun areas.

The best possible option for both Afghanistan and Pakistan is to stop stoking flames in each others territories. The only durable option is to allow free movement of people across border and allowing Afghanistan access to Gwadar port.


  1. This is excellent article. The solutions you have suggested sound somehow impractical. The first solution would never be accepted by Afghanistan and as you said by both sides of people. Well, the second solution is good, had it been possible, Alas, it isn't. How can you forget Taliban insurgency? ,Infiltration of the Taliban across the Durand Line. To me, personally, both solution sounds illogical and unfeasible. However,It was your opinion, thanks for sharing it. Regards.

  2. Thanks for your comments Mr Khosa. I believe that insurgency cannot go no forever and it has to end one day. That day will come sooner rather than later because Afghan people are sick of fighting and support for Western occupation of Afghnaistan is ebbing away in their respective countries. There are already rumblings in Britain & United States about sanity of this war.
    Once the war is over and a political settlement is reached, than all the things that I have mentioned, I believe, will become possible.

  3. Well you are right.However, your solution is conditional," If the war is over and a political agreement is reached". Thanks for reply.

  4. pakistan is always and will be the besttt!!!!!

  5. Do you think that boycotting Bonn conference in good or bad for the future of Pakistan and the general perception of Pakistan in Afghanistan.

  6. I have read your comment Mr. Skinder Hayat.
    it seems to me that you have little knowledge about history of Afghanistan. Afghan peoples were witnessed the birth of Pakistan in 1947 from India while at that time more than 50 years passed from 1893.(Durand line)
    As you cited the majority of Afghanistan made of Pashtons, that's right and more then half of Pashtons are on the other side of Durand line. There is one thing between Pashtons that unite them together is called* Pashontob.
    It does not matter which tribe they belongs to. Pashtontob means all pashtons are from one father and mother, they will protect each others from anything that may arm them.
    However, the other tribes of Afghanistan like Tajiks, Hazaras, Baluchs, Uzbeks Pashayee and etc. living in Afghanistan with pashtons made Afghanistan as melting pot. Afghans blood are mixed with each others during passed 5000 years history of Afghanistan. As you mentioned in your comment about "Afghanistan has never been strong enough to conquer Pakistani land"I want to tell you that during Sardar Dawoud Khan's government he called his armed forces and who were under age of 30 at the time to report to Ministry of Defense within 48 hours to join possible attack on Pakistan, all Afghan nation Pashtons, tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and etc. were ready to fight Pakistan by saying Allah u Akbar.
    Nowadays, Afghans still have the same mentality that's mean they are united if there is a foreign treat Afghanistan has never been strong enough to conquer Pakistani landat . At that time Pakistani military were looking for hols to hide . Thanks to King Reza shah of Iran stoped this attack.
    In conclusion, none of Afghans recognize this Durand line which was signed for 100 years and it was in power until 1993, The originally border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is Attack river,(Punjab and Sind) only make a country which is called Pakistan.

  7. Dear Torialay,

    Thanks for your comment on the blog. I respect your view as a patriotic Afghan. But I would like to put forward a counter argument here.
    44 million Pashtun live in Pakistan with millions in Karachi to Islamabad, from Quetta to Peshawar.
    You call Uzbeks, Tajiks Hazaras Afghans but you are not prepared to give the same privilege to all the ethnicities who live in Pakistan to call themselves Pakistani. Do you not think that there is contradiction in your argument.
    Please visit Wikipedia and search under the words "Pashtun People". You will find that 44 million Pashtuns live in Pakistan and only 14 million in Afghanistan. Please tell me which is true country of Pashtuns, Afghanistan or Pakistan. I say both. There have been Pashtun Presidents in both countries. You say that Attock river is the border but what do you think of the millions of Pashtun who live in Rest of Pakistan. You claim Pakistani land and call Pakistan imperialist. That is hypocrisy of the extreme proportions.

    Sikander Hayat

    1. This comment doesnt make sense, so if its living 500000 pakistanis in england, does it makes to pakistan? we are talking about specific areas in pakistan, which is nwpf and balochistan. Where almost of the population are pashtuns/afghans, and was a part of afghanistan. And pakistan governtment have never had controll and will never get control of this areas, because these people recognise themselfs as pashtuns, balochs, tajik and hazaras, not as pakistanis.

  8. Dear Hayat,

    I do respect your point of view,However I am not agree with you. You are saying that 44 million Pashtons live in Pakistan through out Quetta to Karachi. This has nothing to do with Durand line. As a matter of fact million of Pashtons live all over the India too, but we do not claim Indian land. Our discussion is about Durand line not about where Pashtons are living.

    Once Afghanistan map change to it's original map which will happen in the future, this is decision of those Pashtons who lives in Islamabad or Karachi where want to stay, like during birth of Pakistan in 1947 from India many Muslims stayed in India.


    For your references see the new map of Afghanistan.


  10. Hi Torialay,

    Once again thanks for your comment. I really appreciate that you have taken time to put forward your point of view. Can you please also mention your name & place as well. That will give more meaning to this debate.

    There are three issues with your map that I want to raise.

    1. You have added Balochistan (which is Baloch majority area) to Afghanistan as well. As far as I know Baloch are not ethnically Pashtuns.

    2. While you are advocating uniting Pashtuns in one country, you are not giving the similar right to Uzbeks, Tajiks etc to join their motherlands of Uzbekistan & Tajikistan.

    3. How do you propose to get to this end. Are you proposing invading Pakistan and taking "your" land by force or will you ask the people living in "your" land to join you democratically.

    Awaiting your suggesting.

    Sikander Hayat

  11. Durrand line will come back to Afghanistan and the world will be peaceful again. it is illegal! Extremism and "Islam " the tool used by Pakistan will not continue to go on and or any othern excuse to destabilize Afghanistan.

  12. Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment. Just one little comment. Would it not be a good idea for Afghanistan to control what it has.
    Currently there are large parts of Afghanistan where there is no government control even with the help of Americans. First of all, Afghanistan needs to create a viable & functioning state & then think about annexing areas of other countries.

  13. You are talking bullshitt sikandar hayat. Pak army can not fight 1000 talibans in tribal areas, how can they fight "graveyard of empires". When it comes to tajik, uzbek and hazara in afghanistan, they are also not accepting the durrand line. Because we afghan(pashtun, hazara, tajik etc.) Share the same story and we gets along with each other. But punjabies and sindhis are different from us and pashtuns never get along with them and neither they share story with them. So afghanistan being a country which include nwfp and Baluchistan, will be a complett country. And we afghans have heart to fight, we are, was and will always be strong enough to fight pakistani. People who talk to much, cant do much. Pakistanis have big mouth and small hearts, a coward cant give birth to lion. Pakistan will disspear on the same way like it was being established by their british leaders, the country is totally failure to the world.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thanks for letting me know that I am talking "bullshit". I respect your right to make an argument but I assume that you will give me that right as well. Afghanistan is a sovereign country and so is Pakistan. It will be good for the new generations in both countries to find the solutions to their problems inside and not blame others for their failures. It will not serve anyone to pursue expansionist agendas at the cost of others otherwise Afghanistan will have another 50 years of instability ahead of her.

      Many Thanks
      Sikander Hayat

  14. I'm shocked by anynomous his statements. So this is how indias involvement is being understood to make and break Pakistan. Horrifying and then these guys blame Pakistan for kashmir terrorism.

  15. I am not Pakistani nor Afghan. Historical aka cultural conflicts are not unique to this neighboring borders. it has happened and continues to happen around the world.
    Unfortunately until the two nations get over the past, and find a way to co-exist, then the only people that will benefit is other 'powers' that gain through the conflict between you two. The "powers' can be political or religious.
    coming down to the basic level of two neighbors in a neighbourhood.. if they don't get along are they either going to gain? no. rather the neighbourhood will be worse for it - who wins? no one.
    don't forget we are all humans, we are all related. find a way to progress together than lose-lose-lose together.


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