Indian Army successfully test fires Agni-II IRBM for the third time। Agni-II is nuclear capable। The firing on February 20 in full operational configuration। DAC clears proposals worth Rs 15,935 Cr (approx $2.2b) । The approval covers purchae of Rifles, Carbines and Light Machine Guns for the Army, Navy and Air Force । New weapons are required by the Indian Army’s for effective engagement of Pakistani infiltrations । Leading Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir passes away । Globally respected for her liberal views, she was a strong pro-democracy activist । SpaceX Launches the World’s Most Powerful Rocket, and aboard it, Mr Musk’s electric red sports Car । “It’s kind of silly and fun, but silly and fun things are important,” he said Feb 6। Mr Elon Musk owns both SpaceX, the world’s biggest space company, as well as Tesla cars। SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has ferried payload to Space Station but this time, rocket is turbocharged। For the first time, NASA was not involved in launching such a heavy rocket। Singapore Airshow Opens Feb 6 । Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Airbus, Sikorsky, and the global biggies are taking part । Honeywell Provides Fuel Made From Mustard Seeds For Trans-Pacific Flight । Russia views India as a Privileged Partner, says Rostec CEO Chemezov । US Carrier Carl Vinson to make first ever visit to Vietnam in March । Carl Vinson woll dock at Da Nang, apparently boosting bilateral military cooperation । Happy Republic Day to All Indians । Emirates signs agreement for up to 36 additional A380s । India successfully test fires 5000-Km A380s ICBM। Defexpo to be held April 11-15 in Tamil Nadu, India’s southern state। HAL receives RfP for 83 LCA Tejas from IAF। The new LCAs will have AESA combat Radar। IAF had announced the decision for new LCAs sometime back। INS Kalvari commissioned into Indian Navy December 14। Prime Minister Modi ceremonially inducted the Scorpene class boat in Mumbai। Built by state-run MDL with French collaboration, Kalvari is the first submarine inducted after 2000। Modi described the Kalvari as a fine example of Make in India। Five more Kalvari Class submarines are to be commissioned over the next couple of years।
February 25, 2018
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Durand’s Curse

A line across the Pathan Heart
Retelling Afghan history
By Sapna Chand Published: August 2017

Are we in South Asia history negligent? This question comes up every time there is a major crisis or the border heats up. Then, historical precedents are dusted up to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. But what good can such an exercise be if the historical precedent itself was drafted with an eye on the watch; to beat the deadline.

cxf Most other important countries value their history; their past is well recorded. In contrast our knowledge can be patchy. No wonder we in India find ourselves at a loss when a situation like Doklam crops up. The world knows the Chinese version, admittedly expansionist, but we do not have an alternative text to the so called 1890 treaty. Surely, history in that corner of the world did not begin in 1890, and it certainly did not happen then in the way Chinese interpret it.

Another part of the region that has suffered enormously is Afghanistan. In 1893 an Englishman duped the Afghan Amir into signing blindly on a piece of paper. This man was the Foreign Secretary of India, Mortimer Durand. When he arrived in Kabul, he told Amir Abdur Rahman: The Government of India had decided that for the future (only) the Persian text of all communications between them and the Amir would be regarded as binding.

Yet, a few days later, the Amir was made to sign only the English text of Durand Agreement, a language that he did not know. Consequently Afghanistan lost 40,000 square miles of its territory. And, no one has ever written about it.

Durand’s Curse by Ambassador Rajiv Dogra is the first book to raise fundamental questions and provide answers to that shock.

One of the mysteries is the physical condition of the Amir. Was he in a fit condition to negotiate with Durand?

By available information, the Amir was so ill by 1890s that he had to be carried everywhere in a palanquin. During the more serious attacks, he had fits and long periods of unconsciousness. These attacks happened between the middle of October and the end of February.

Is it just a coincidence that Mortimer Durand should have arrived in Kabul in October? Apparently, it was a well-planned move by the British who ruled and dominated much of Asia.

Ambassador Rajiv Dogra has spent hundreds of hours pouring over records that had remained locked up so far. Patient work enabled him to piece together this story and provide clues to these riddles of history. The result is a phenomenal book.

By a sneak look that I could have, Ambassador Dogra’s Durand’s Curse reads like a thriller. He has certainly the right credentials for it.

A vetrean diplomat, he is credited with some of the major foreign policy successes; from initiating the idea of bringing Qatar gas to India to obtaining the Aini Airbase in Tajikistan. And he has the backgound as a successful writer of both fiction and non-fiction.

Unfortunately, the line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pathan heart ever since.

People on both sides of that line remain restless, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They continue to ask the question, why did the Amir of Afghanistan sign the Durand agreement in 1893? What forced him to do so?

These and many other questions have continued to haunt generations of Afghans.

Durand’s Curse may also reveal a new dimension to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s role. Was Nehru also responsible for Pathan misfortunes y not paying attention to their cause as the British merged them into Pakistan? At a meeting of the Cabinet on 4 July 1947, in the presence of Muslim League’s Liaquat Ali Khan, Nehru did make an attempt but was brushed aside by the British. He had said:

“…about a month ago the press and the Radio in Afghanistan had started a campaign giving prominence to Afghanistan’s interests in the North West Frontier and the claim was made that Pathans were Afghans rather than Indians and they should have the utmost freedom to decide their own future and should not be debarred, as the proposed referendum would appear to do, from deciding either to form a separate free State or to re-join their mother-land, viz. Afghanistan.”

Sadly, he went on to add, “These claims had later been taken up on an official level with H.M.G. and the Government of India. The Government of India had refuted this (as) irredentist claim of Afghanistan to the area lying between the Durand line and the Indus River, and had pointed out that the issue regarding an independent Pathan State was a matter entirely for the Government of India and the Afghan Government had no locus standi. H.M.G.’s Minister at Kabul had mentioned the possibility that the Afghan Government’s object might be to divert public attention in Afghanistan from the internal economic situation which was precarious.”
Was Nehru the historian right in claiming that Pathans were not Afghans? Did this seal the fate of Afghans? Had Nehru said Pathans were Afghans, maybe the history and cartography of the region would have looked different. There are many such amazing chapters of history that Durand’s Curse tackles, challenging the conventional narrative.

The account put together in the Durand’s Curse provides answers and presents a spell-binding tale of intrigue and whodunit. Hopefully, this will be the first step towards uniting the Pathan people and getting them their just due of a united Pashtunistan. The world owes it to them.




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