Afghanistan's Fateful Border
THE SOURCE: “The Man Who Drew the Fatal Durand Line” by David Rose, in Standpoint, March 2011.
When Sir Henry Mortimer Durand left Kabul in the autumn of 1893, his fellow Britons showered him with hosannas. Durand, then serving as foreign secretary of Britain’s Indian colony, had succeeded in negotiating the first “scientific frontier” between what are now Pakistan and Afghanistan, a crucial victory in British efforts to contain Russian expansionism. Queen Victoria herself telegrammed congratulations.
Fears of Russian encroachment into Afghanistan had sparked two wars with the Afghans, in 1839–42 and 1878–80, and the British believed that drawing a well-defined frontier and...