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Colliding ContinentsA geological exploration of the Himalaya, Karakoram, and Tibet$
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Mike Searle

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199653003

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199653003.001.0001

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North-West Frontier: Kohistan, Hindu Kush, Pamirs

North-West Frontier: Kohistan, Hindu Kush, Pamirs

(p.157) Chapter 6 North-West Frontier: Kohistan, Hindu Kush, Pamirs
Colliding Continents

Mike Searle

Oxford University Press

The Hindu Kush Mountains run along the Afghan border with the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Following the First Anglo-Afghan war of 1839– 42 the British government in Simla decided that the North-West Frontier of British India had to have an accurate delineation. Sir Mortimer Durand mapped the border between what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1893 and this frontier is known as the Durand Line. Unfortunately it is a political frontier and one that splits the Pathan or Pushtun-speaking lands into two, with the North-West Frontier Province and Waziristan in Pakistan to the east and the Afghan provinces of Kunar, Nangahar, Khost, Paktiya, and Kandahar to the west. The border regions north of Baluchistan in Quetta and Waziristan are strong tribal areas and ones that have never come under the direct rule of the Pakistani government. Warlords run their drug and arms businesses from well-fortified mud-walled hilltop fortresses. During the period that Lord Curzon was Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905 the entire border regions of British India were mapped out along the Karakoram, Kashmir, Ladakh, and south Tibetan Ranges. During Partition, in 1947, once again an artificial border was established separating mostly Muslim Pakistan from India. Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy, gave Sir Cyril Radcliffe the invidious task of delineating the border in haste to avoid a civil war that would surely have come, and on 17 August 1947 Pakistan inherited all the territory between the Durand Line and the new Indian frontier, the Radcliffe Line. In the north, the disputed Kashmir region still remained unresolved and the northern boundary of Pakistan ran north to the main watershed along the Hindu Kush, Hindu Raj, and Karakoram Ranges. To the west, Afghanistan was a completely artificial country created by the amalgamation of the Pathans of the east, Hazaras of the central region, the Uzbeks in the Mazar-i-Sharif area, and the Tadjiks of the Panjshir Valley along the border with Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. The British lost three wars trying to invade this mountainous land between 1839 and 1919, and the Soviet Union which occupied Afghanistan for ten years from 1979 also withdrew across the Oxus River in failure in February 1989.

Keywords:   Afghanistan, Badakhshan, Diamond, Earthquakes, Hindu Kush, Kafiristan, Lapis lazuli, Mujahadeen, Nuristan, Zircon

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