Pashtunistan - 1947-1955
Afghanistan vigorously protested the inclusion of Pashtun and Baluch areas within Pakistan without providing the inhabitants with an opportunity for self-determination. The Durrani monarchy went to the extent of opposing Pakistan's admission to the United Nations and raised irredentist claims to the Pashto speaking areas of NWFP and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan. A 'Pakhtunistan' flag was raised in Kabul, alongside the Afghan national flag, as early as September 2, 1947.
The partitioning and the creation of Pakistan caused a lot of the nomad's business partners to flee to India, which further damaged the nomad's trade. The regulation of movement across the border became even more tight under the Pakistani government. Since 1947, this problem has led to incidents along the border, with extensive disruption of normal trade patterns.
Although both Afghanistan and Pakistan made conciliatory gestures, the matter remained unresolved. In one of the government's attempts to suppress tribal uprisings in 1949, a Pakistani Air Force plane bombed a village just across the frontier. In response, the Afghan government called a loya jirgah, which promptly declared that it recognized "neither the imaginary Durand nor any similar line" and that all agreements -- from the 1893 Durand agreement onward -- pertaining to the issue were void.
In Kabul on July 26, 1949, the Afghan Government convened a hand-picked Loya Jirga. It included the members of National Assembly. The Afghan parliament made a proclamation against Pakistan, and in favor of the Pashtuns' right of self-determination. In disregard to the established global norms and international laws, it passed a resolution, rejecting, unilaterally, all treaties, conventions, and agreements concluded between the Afghan government and the British India government. The Jirga passed a resolution in support of Pchtoonistan and declared the 1893 Durand Agreement, the Anglo-Afghan Pact of 1905, the Independence Treaty of Rawalpindi of 1919, the Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1921 and other treaties and agreements in regard to international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan (based on Durand Line) and in regard to the status of the Pashtoons (Pathans) as null and void, having no legal implication. In addition, to reaffirm this abrogation, Pashtunistan Day was declared to be officially celebrated every year on August 31.
On 12 August 1949, a group of Afridi tribesmen was called in a meeting in Tirah tribal territory to establish a Pakhtoon Assembly. Another isolated meeting at Razmak in Waziristan, elected the Faqir of Ipi, as "President of Pashtoonistan". He had earlier served as Chairman of the "Provisional Assembly of Independent Pashtoonistan". It was known that the Faqir Ipi had been in league with the Red Shirts or the Khudai Khidmatgars of Abdul Ghaffar Khan.
The issue of an international boundary through Pashtun areas was of great importance to policymakers in Kabul. Pakistan halted vital transshipments of petroleum to Afghanistan for about three months in 1950, presumably in retaliation for Afghan tribal attacks across the border. At this time, Afghan government interest shifted to offers of aid from the Soviet Union and in July 1950 it signed a major agreement with the Soviet Union.
Afghanistan became more active as it moved two armored divisions and its air force along the Afghan-Pakistan border, presumably with a hope that it might give moral support to certain tribal interests on the Pakistan side of the Durand Line. The Afghan campaign reached its climax when, in 1950, Afghan King Zahir Shah made an anti-Pakistan speech at a celebration in Kabul. The Afghanistan flag was hoisted, as anti-Pakistan leaflets were dropped by the Afghan air force into tribal areas. Ultimately, on January 9, 1950, Liaquat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, condemned Afghanistan for its hostilities in the parliament.
In the summer of 1950, armed clashes occured between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the neighborhood of Gwazha, north of Quetta. On September 30, 1950, a more serious incident took place when a large Afghan force (commanded by a brigadier and supported by artillery and machine guns,) invaded Pakistan in Dobandi area, about 30 miles north east of Chaman. In the initial thrust they cleared a border security post of section strength comprising twelve persons and occupied the Bogra Pass(about four miles inside the Pakistan territory.) Their objective, it seemed, was to cut off the strategic Chaman-Quetta railway line passing through the Khojak Pass. On October 5, they were driven out by Pakistan Army which was supported by Pakistan Air Force. On October 7, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan said in the Parliament that "having utterly failed to suborn the loyalty of our tribesmen, they have started organizing raids into our territory by Afghan tribesmen and elements of the Afghan Army".
During 1950 and 1951, Afghan nationals continued raiding of and on across the border into Pakistan along the Durand Line. Irregular forces led by a local Pashtun leader crossed the border in 1950 and 1951 to back Afghan claims.
Pakistan Government dealt with these raids effectively. Pakistan's government refused to accept the Afghan assertion that it had no control over these men, and both nations' ambassadors were withdrawn, but were exchanged again a few months later. It also lodged protests with the Government of Afghanistan. Pakistan in a counter-move took some measures with regard to Afghan transit trade which passed through the port of Karachi. The pressure thus began telling on the land-locked Afghanistan. About that time a "Radio Free Afghanistan" also started broadcasting programs to dissidents in Afghanistan. This new tit-for-tat policy paid dividends and forays from across the Durand Line were reduced in frequency. Meanwhile, most foreign countries assumed a neutral and dis-interested posture to Pak-Afghan differences. This also held true for the USA which was fast replacing Britain in the Middle East and South Asia.
In 1955 Pakistan decided to amalgamate the NWFP into the newly formed province of West Pakistan. The Afghan government denounced the merger of West Pakistan's provinces, Tribal Territories and Princely States. On March 30, 1955, this led to an ugly incident, when Afghan demonstrators attacked and looted the Pakistani embassy in Kabul, and the Pakistan flag was torn down. Mobs ransacked the Pakistani consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar. After Pakistan's Embassy in Afghanistan was attacked, Pakistan retaliated by strangling Afghan's landlocked economy.
Normal trade and diplomatic relations were resumed between Afghanistan and Pakistan on September 9, 1955. But a report on November 16, 1955 disseminated by the White House said, "the Afghan government is strongly - even irrationally - committed to its Pashtunistan policy, which seeks as a minimum 'self determination' or 'autonomy' for the Pashtuns in north-western Pakistan. Although the Afghans officially deny any interest in extending Afghanistan's borders, the campaign undoubtedly has irredentist overtones."
The links between the political leaders of the North-West Frontier Province and the Hindu leaders of Congress were such that a majority in the North-West Frontier Province assembly originally voted to go with India in the partition, a decision which probably would have been rejected by the voting majority in the province.
President Sardar Muhammad Daud Khan remarked that the "British did a wrong thing many years ago and we have been fighting to rectify it. Until that is done the struggle will continue."
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|