Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Afghanistan: Part II - line in the sand

The Afghanistan border was drawn up by the British in 1893, of particular interest for my topic is that the current border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, referred to as the Durand Line, was created for the sole purpose of dividing various tribes. These tribes shared a common language, ethnicity, culture, and religion and are referred to as Pashtuns; division was seen as necessary so they would not unite and form a strong opposition to British rule. As of 2005 there are 28 million Pahtuns in Pakistan and as of 2006 13.4 million in Afghanistan (Source). My thesis revolves around the vulnerability of NATO, and in particular Canadian troops in Afghanistan, as they are forced into a defensive posture, which together with the overall situation in the Middle East leads to a conclusion that Canada should withdraw.

Canada's overall purpose is to rebuild Afghanistan and help the Afghani people be self-sustaining. As I hinted above however, the Afghani people are not a nationality; their sense of who they are is not derived from their nation's borders, with right reason considering those borders were imposed with ill intent.

Until 1978, Afghanistan did not recognize the Durand line, even now there are only two points on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan where there are even fences, at Torkham and Chaman/Spin Boldak, not to mention Pakistan only maintains checkposts far into it's territory; people travelling between the two countries don't even know when they are in Afghanistan or when they are in Pakistan (Source: pg 383 War and Boundaries in Afghanistan: Significance and Relativity of Local and Social Boundaries, by Bernt GlatzerDie Welt des Islams 2001). Before 1978 the Afghani government called for the Pakistani territory occupied by the Pashtuns to either be united with Afghanistan or be made into Pashtunistan.

All these points illustrate that the loose borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan are so weak because these borders have no real power. Where the people are identical on either side, the line becomes meaningless to those inhabitants; yet NATO and with it Canada differentiate between the same people based on this arbitrary line. NATO and Canada are thus fighting in one country, a people that spans two. NATO and Canada cannot ever be on the offensive until this changes; and this change would require NATO and Canada to broaden the fight to Pakistan, as it would be impossible for NATO to fight within Pakistan against the Pashtun People. But this will never occur, Pakistan is far superior in strength then Afghanistan ever was, as it not only has a large army but a Nuclear arsenal, not to mention it is a necessary and good ally in the Middle East.

Therefore the conclusion that must be reached is that because the Pashtun people extend beyond the Afghani borders into Pakistan, and we should not and cannot fight in or against Pakistan, NATO and Canada will always remain on the defensive. This defensive position will not affect a victory, and is only creating greater turmoil to the lives of the Afghani people.

(To Be Continued)


Anonymous said...

Afghanisnam. Right?

Alexander said...

I initially didn't have that perspective, but learning more and more I am seeing similarities.