Thursday 17 December 2020

134 - Borders of Pakistan

It is common knowledge that the state of Pakistan came into existence on 14 August 1947, after a long political struggle. Its idea was based on the two nation theory and on the same principle India was divided into two separate countries. But, have you ever thought that how and when the borders of this new state came into existence? Now, this is the topic of this post that how and under what circumstances Pakistan got its geographical borders. All these borders were attained at different times and under different circumstances.

We shall start from the Sindh – India border, the oldest of all the borders of Pakistan. It is interesting to note that all the historical regions of Pakistan, Sindh is the only one, which became part of Pakistan completely, all others are only partially inside Pakistan. Sindh is an ancient country and its borders are more or less the same for many centuries. The British occupied this province in 1843 and made it a part of the Bombay Province. However, even during this time, the borders of Sindh were quite distinct. Eventually, it was separated from Bombay in 1936. In 1947 Sindh joined Pakistan and its border with Bombay and Rajputana became the international border between Pakistan and India. The length of this section of the border is approximately 995 km.

Borders of Pakistan.

Sindh 1931.

Further northeast of Sindh, the princely state of Bahawalpur was located. This state was established in 1727 by Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi. The ruling family is called Daodputras. They claim to be descendants of Abbasid caliphs. This family ruled this state until the state accepted accession to Pakistan in 1947 and its border with Rajputana became the international border. Bahawalpur acquired its final borders sometime during the 1820s. Anyway, the state signed a subsidiary alliance with British India in 1833, such kind of alliances though curtailed the freedom of a state, but it gave it more political and geographical stability. The length of this border is approximately 565 km.

Punjab 1931. 

North of Bahawalpur lies Punjab. This is where the most difficult border had to be decided while partitioning this important province. This task was given to the Radcliffe commission and this commission published its award on 17 August 1947, three days after the independence of Pakistan. This section of the border starts at the point where the border of Bahalwapur with India ends and goes up to the border of Kashmir, commonly known as the Radcliffe line. It is the newest border of Pakistan and its length is approximately 527 kms.

Now if we turn northwest of the Radcliffe line, Punjab’s border with the state of Jammu and Kashmir starts. This border was defined when in 1846 the British defeated the Khalsa state of Punjab and recognized the state of Jammu as a separate state under the Dogra family of Jammu. Now a days this section of the border is known as the Working Boundary with a length of 205 km. 

Jammu & Kashmir 1931. 

Further north west of the working boundary the border of Pakistan and India runs through the territories of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This border was known as Cease Fire Line and was the result of the ceasefire agreed upon between India and Pakistan on 1 January 1949. In the Simla agreement of 1972, it was renamed as Line of Control (LoC). It starts at the point where Pakistani controlled Kashmir starts and ends at a point known as NJ980420. The length of the LoC is 740 km.

Before 1984 the LoC was not demarcated further to the point NJ98420 and the line was assumed to moving northeast towards the Chinese border terminating at Karakoram Pass. All the maps prior to this time and even today most of them, show the same location of the line. It left the whole of the Siachen glacier within Pakistan.  But in 1984 Indian forces infiltrated the area and now the line runs northwest towards the border of China, leaving the Siachen glacier inside India. Its length according to my estimate is around 110 km. 

So the total length of the Pakistan-Indian border, starting from Sir Creek to Siachen Glacier is 3142 km. I calculated the length of the borders by closely drawing a path along the border on google earth. The length of the LoC is given in an article on Wikipedia. However, the contact line between the two countries at Siachen is a more tricky affair. It is not demarcated at all and no source gives its exact length. Even no maps are available showing its location, except the following source:

From this point further westward, Pakistan’s border with China starts. It has two parts first with the Shaksgam valley, which was decided by Pakistan and China under an agreement in 1962. The rest of the border north of Gilgit is much older. Its dates back to at least the 1840s when Dogras started ruling this area or perhaps its origin could be older than that time. In 1947 this area sided with Pakistan and since then it is Pakistan’s international border with China and its length is about 440 km. 

In the west, Pakistan shares a very long border with Afghanistan. British power started penetrating these areas in the 1840s. After the Second Anglo-Afghan war, Afghanistan was forced to surrender vast areas to British India, under the agreement of Gandamak, signed in 1879. Then in 1893 a further agreement was signed which finally decided the border between Afghanistan and British India. This border is known as Durand Line. Its length is 2,430 km.

Afghanistan 1851.

Balochistan 1931.

On the west, Pakistan shares its border with Iran. British power’s influence penetrated into Balochistan in the 1840s and 1850s. In 1871 a treaty was signed with Iran and the border was agreed upon between Iran and British India. The length of this border is 909 km.

Prior to the supremacy of British India, areas now forming Pakistan were ruled by the above-mentioned powers. 

The above map shows the area, which different powers surrendered to the British before they became part of Pakistan in 1947. So we can see that Punjab, Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were gained from Sikhs and Dogras. While Sindh was conquered from the Talpur dynasty.  On the west, Afghanistan was forced to surrender large parts to the British. While Bahawalpur and Kalat etc. were semi-independent states ruled by Muslim rulers as part of India with British India to be the paramount power. 

Tariq Amir

December 17, 2020.
Doha - Qatar.

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