Mountain Fortification in Afghanistan
July 24, 2015
The mountain valleys of northeastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province abut Pakistan’s northwestern Pashtun tribal areas and have been contested ground for hundreds of years. The area was a major trading route and disputed buffer zone between British India and the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Beginning in Queen Victoria’s reign, three British armies entered the difficult terrain in an attempt to influence Afghan loyalties. This led to the artificial creation of the Durand Line in 1893 that divided the two spheres of influence. This line then became the Afghan-Pakistan border upon Pakistan’s creation in the aftermath of the Second World War. Built on the Afghan side of the Durand line by the British during one of their 19th-century incursions, an isolated mountain fortress sits on an elevated stronghold. The fortress was constructed of local sedimentary rock that once formed the bed of the Tethys Sea. This structure provides a visual commentary on the value and difficulty of the terrain. Note, an Afghanistan flag flies over the fortress.