Kabul Embassy Files

The Chargé in Afghanistan (Jandrey) to the Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs (Mathews)


Dear Bert: From the flow of telegrams which has been received here, and especially the last one from London1 giving what appears to be the Pakistan Prime Minister’s final decision on our proposals, it is obvious that these proposals are not acceptable to the Government of Pakistan and that conversations will not take place. Unless we make an unequivocal statement that we consider the Durand Line to be the international boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan, [Page 1939]the Government of Pakistan will not agree to negotiate; if we make such a statement, you can be sure that the Afghan Government will retract its acceptance. The question with which we are now faced is whether or not there is anything more we can or should do to attempt to bring about a solution to this Pushtoonistan problem.

The fact that the Pakistan Government has insisted on our support for their thesis of the validity of the Durand Line has doubtless made you wonder if such a declaration on our part may not some time have to be made. I assume, however, that this would not be done until the Department has had an opportunity of reviewing the legal arguments of the Afghan Government. It is of interest in this connection to note that the day before his departure the Ambassador was given a French copy of a brief2 drawn up supposedly by a French international lawyer and possibly, if the Foreign Minister’s statement is correct, by a British lawyer as well. The Ambassador has promised to translate this brief while en route to Paris, where he should be about February 7.

Any unequivocal statement we may feel obliged to make concerning the Durand Line would certainty have the following effects:

The Afghans would feel that they had been tricked by the United States as our original proposals emphasized that no conditions should be placed on the negotiations. Accordingly, we would be accused of bad faith by coming out in favor of the thesis back of the very condition which Afghanistan, rightly or wrongly, has always found unacceptable.
Obviously, the relations between the Embassy and the Afghan Foreign Office, which are at present very cordial, would suffer. I don’t mind taking the rap here, which I should certainly have to do. The Ambassador was very careful not to argue against the Afghan point of view and the Afghans very definitely feel that he has been working in their interest. That is not, however, the unequivocal feeling about me or perhaps other members of the Embassy staff who have upon occasion questioned the validity of the arguments of Afghan government officials and our Afghan friends. I know, therefore, that any declaration on our part would result in strong criticism of me as being pro-Pakistan and anti-Afghan. Nevertheless, the Department must decide whether it has to make a statement, and if so, what timing will be most advantageous and what concessions, if any, Pakistan would be prepared to make for this support. In any case, I can’t believe that it would be to our advantage to have such a statement follow too closely on the heels of a breakdown in our attempts to bring about bilateral negotiations. Possibly Mr. McGhee, when he visits Kabul [Page 1940]early in March, may find a convenient opportunity of indicating our official opinion and implying that sooner or later we might feel compelled to take a definite stand on this point. (As stated above, he might first want to review the Afghan legal position.) I think the Afghans should have ample warning and not have our opinion come as a surprise.
Any announcement regarding the Durand Line would doubtless cause general criticism of Americans and would make it hard for the American teachers at Habibia, as well as for the teachers coming out for the Afghan Institute of Technology. What would probably be even more serious would be the loss of prestige by American educated Afghans who would doubtless personally feel the resentment of their superiors. The German and French stock would rise correspondingly.

The over-all decisions are of course up to the Department which must view this dispute on a global basis and decide how best to settle it and what value Afghanistan is to us under any circumstances. Moreover, the Department will doubtless consider carefully whether there is anything further that we can do on our own to bring about a settlement so long as the bigger issue of Kashmir remains unresolved. Meanwhile, I merely did want to get a note off to you in this pouch to record briefly my first thoughts on the effect of giving in to Pakistan’s insistence that we declare ourselves on the Durand Line.

Sincerely yours,

Frederick Jandrey
  1. Reference is presumably to telegram 4009 from London, January 19, p. 1934.
  2. Not printed. Reference is presumably to a brief entitled “Consultation for the Government of Afghanistan Regarding the Juridical Situation of the North West Frontier Province and Particularly Concerning the Free Tribes,” prepared by Mr. Georges Scelle, which is discussed in a memorandum, also not printed, by Mr. John Maktos, Assistant Legal Adviser for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs, to the Director of the Office of South Asian Affairs (Mathews), March 20, 1951 (689.90D/3–2051).