The Durand Line, AKA “the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” is one of those legacies of colonial times that everybody’s still, unfortunately, living with today. Named after the guy who dreamed it up, British Foreign Secretary for India (at the time) Sir Mortimer Durand, it was meant to fix the border between British India and Central Asia, a place where Britain liked to toss around its influence — they were trying to win the Great Game with Russia, after all — but that it had no interest in defending by force if push came to shove. It was also meant to prevent another Anglo-Afghan war — the first two, in 1839-42 and 1878-80, had been costly affairs that really didn’t accomplish much — which it
totally didha ha, it did not. Durand’s line followed the contours of the Hindu Kush mountains, though he was careful to draw it in such a way that it left the crucial Khyber Pass into the Punjab in British hands. On November 12, 1893, Durand and Abdur Rahman Khan (d.1901), the Barakzai Emir of Afghanistan, agreed to fix the line as the Afghan-India border.