Google Maps May End Afghan-Pak Border Battle

Hopes Google Can Clarify Where Balochistan Border Is

Afghan and Pakistani forces traded fire last week, a matter which escalated significantly over the weekend, with Pakistan reportedly killing 50 Afghan troops and destroying multiple checkpoints. The matter started over a dispute on where the border is, and Pakistani census workers trying to work along the frontier.

A deal is in place to resolve the situation according to both Afghan and Pakistani officials, following an agreement to use Google Maps and GPS tracking to settle exactly where the Durand Line border is. The Durand Line has been the de facto border between Afghanistan and Pakistan since 1947.

It’s disputed by some in Afghanistan, however, who argue that the Indus River is the real border. The consequences of this claim would be that Afghanistan would own most of Pakistan, and needless to say that’s never going to actually happen. Afghanistan’s government largely respects the Durand Line.

This isn’t the first time Google Maps has been involved in a border dispute. In 2010 Nicaragua sent troops into Costa Rica, citing an error on Google Maps’ border that claimed it was Nicaraguan territory. Google has since corrected the mistake, and now both Afghanistan and Pakistan seem comfortable with the Google Maps version of their border. Exactly what that border line means on the ground, however, remains to be seen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.