In Case You Were Wondering, the U.S. Isn’t Going to Redraw the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border
As a postscript to my Richard Holbrooke piece, a weird exchange came last night at Amb. Holbrooke’s appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations when a reporter for Voice of America asked if Holbrooke’s portfolio included helping Afghanistan and Pakistan resolve some lingering border disputes. “Are you talking about the Durand Line?” Holbrooke asked after the reporter rambled a bit. (The Durand Line is a colloquial term for the border, after the British imperialist who drew it.) Indeed, said the reporter. Holbrooke laughed and replied:
You know, there’s a former ambassador — he may be here today — Ron Neumann. Is Ron here? Ron has suggested we work on the Durand Line, and I kind of looked into it because one of the big problems is that we’re talking about cross-border operations in an area where the border isn’t agreed on.
But it is my reluctant conclusion we really cannot achieve much in that area right now. Most of the international boundaries in this incredible area of the world with the two largest countries — China and India plus Pakistan plus Afghanistan plus some of the former Soviet republics — most of those boundaries are not agreed on.
It turned out Amb. Neumann wasn’t in the audience, so I emailed him to ask what he thought about Holbrooke shooting down what might be called Durand Reform. “I am grateful that he gave my idea a look,” Neumann replied. “I respect his judgment. Perhaps its time will come in the future.”
So there’s that.