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Never a Pawn in Someone Else's Game by Kurarun Never a Pawn in Someone Else's Game by Kurarun
This was made for round 69 of the Map of the Fortnight contest over on AlternateHistory.com. The challenge was to show an alternate trade network.

Someone had set a challenge (or rather, a dare) to make an Afghanistan-wank for a previous MotF, which I accepted but never completed, mainly because I wanted to put too much detail on the map and gave up. Thankfully, this meant that I had most of the legwork done when I returned to the idea for this round. :D


The history behind this map involves Amanullah Khan - the first king of the modern and independent Kingdom of Afghanistan - breaking with the Soviets earlier, thereby preventing British agents from attempting to undermine his "pro-Soviet" regime. Instead, Amanullah plays the Soviets and Britain off each other. He antagonises them both for their oppression of Muslims, but never outright denounces either side in favour of the other. His vocal support for his fellow Muslims in Central Asia and India keeps the more conservative and radical members of his realm on his side.

Under Amanullah Afghanistan gradually shifts to be more democratic and free, with many Islamic rules being removed from the lawbooks (though people remained free to follow these rules). Afghanistan is seen as a shining example of what an independent Islamic state might be, and as the Indian independence movement gains more momentum many Pashtuns believe that joining with Afghanistan would be the best choice, rather than joining a newly independent India or Pakistan.

The Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre ( [link] ) happens similarly to our timeline, with the Indian National Congress and Amanullah Khan denouncing the actions of the British. The Pakistan Movement, however, denounces the protestors for attempting to split the Muslims of India into several nations. This heartlessness in the face of tragedy causes support for the Pakistan Movement to melt away, eventually becoming no more than a forgotten dream.

When Indian independence does come about, Pashtun regions on the border of Afghanistan are given the option to join with the kingdom, which they do willingly. A number of Muslim regions around the borders of India choose independence, whilst most of the country opts for union.

With the Second World War over and British India free, Afghanistan starts to shift towards the West. The aging Amanullah spends his last years touring Europe and America, portraying the kingdom as "The Eastern edge of the West" and therefore a vital area for any global anti-Soviet strategy.

Afghanistan's vast untapped natural resources are quickly developed, with national agencies providing subsidies and the appropriate infrastructure. The Afghanistani Rail Administration is one such national agency, and played a vital role in developing Afghanistan into the rich, free country it is at the start of the new millennium.


Trivia:


- The map title comes from the quote "We will never be a pawn in someone else's game. We will always be Afghanistan." by Ahmad Shah Massoud in Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda by Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzullo.

- The text in the box in the upper-left reads "The railroad administrator for Afghanistan is the Afghanistani Rail Adminitration (ARA). Indian gauge (1,676 mm) is the national standard, with areas of dual Indian/Russian (1,520 mm) gauge where the rail network connects with Turkestan. Standard gauge (1,435 mm) is often used in mining, but is becoming less common.".

-Indian gauge was chosen as the national standard in order to ease trade between Afghanistan and Indian countries, so that Afghanistani goods could easily reach a port (and, conversely, foreign goods could easily reach Afghanistan).

-Iran uses Standard gauge, but has some extensive Indian gauge railways in the east where it connects up with Afghanistan's rail network.

-The text in the bottom right corner reads "DNI International Almanac - 2000". The DNI is the Directorate of National Intelligence, which is this timeline's CIA equivalent, and the International Almanac is their version of the World Factbook. For this reason the map uses the term "railroads" (which is usually American) rather than "railways" (which is usually British").

-The capital of the Kingdom of Afghanistan is Darulaman. Amanullah Khan started plans to build Darulaman in our timeline, but this plan was cut short by pesky radical conservatives (in this timeline Amanullah's earlier break with the Soviet Union prevents the British from provoking these radicals into rebellion).

-Iran, Balochistan, India, and Turkestan are republics, with Jammu and Kashmir remaining an isolated, monarchical state (they're not particularly oppressive, though, just underedeveloped). Though neither Turkestan or Iran are Islamic Republics, they are becoming increasingly radical - and not in the "doing a kickflip through a burning hoop" way.
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:iconthejboy88:
Thejboy88 Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012
Nice to see a version of this country that isn't having a hard time.
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you - I try. :D
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:iconkyuzoaoi:
kyuzoaoi Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012  Student Artist
Does Afghanistan try to control Balochistan for the access to the sea?
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Sort of. Less "control" and more "maintain friendly relations with" - Afghanistan has access to Indian Ocean ports through India, Balochistan, and Iran, so it doesn't need to dominate Balochistan in order to keep sea access, but it'd rather keep its options open, just in case one of those three countries decides it doesn't like Afghanistan any more. :)
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:iconcheeseburgertom:
CheeseburgerTom Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
So they don't do anything when the time comes for the land beyond the Duran line to revert to Afghanistan?
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean. I don't believe the Durand Line was a specifically temporary border, and they have reclaimed a lot of land that was on the British side of the Durand Line in this timeline - specifically the areas that became Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA in our timeline. The Pashtun-inhabited land south of there became part of an independent Balochistan (the alternatives were invading to take only the Pashtun-inhabited regions, which would leave Afghanistan with a hostile state between it and the sea, and invading to take over all of Balochistan, which would probably result in guerilla warfare and insurgency by the Balochs - instead Afghanistan sought friendly relations with Balochistan, in order to have easy access to the sea, but did award the Pashtuns living there a "right to return" so they can easily migrate to Afghanistan).
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:iconcheeseburgertom:
CheeseburgerTom Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014
Ah.  No, I was mistaken and hadn't really looked at it for a while.  I thought it was one of those 99 year sort of things that would eventually expire.  Instead Afghanistan maintains it never agreed to it.  

I could see it being less of an issue than it is if the king signed off on it and there wasn't the idea of  a separate Pashtun population held as part of a foreign state.
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, it's not so much an issue in this timeline as Afghanistan recovered a lot of what they lost, and they want a friendly, stable country on their southern border so their exports have easy access to ports. They could invade to take the whole thing, but that would make them a pariah and agitate the Balochs to rebel against them - so it's more trouble than it's worth, really. :p
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:iconkyronea:
Kyronea Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012
This is a beautiful map, and the concept is fantastic. Certainly a far cry from reality's Afghanistan. What are the other differences in the world? It looks like a rich, independent Afghanistan caused some significant butterflies.
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks Kyro! :D

I hadn't thought a whole lot about the differences a successful, independent Afghanistan would create in the wider world. Most big things - World and Cold wars - went roughly as per OTL. I'm not sure if Afghanistan's shift towards the West during the Cold War would've had any impact on things like the Korean and Vietnam Wars. I imagine there are a couple more developing monarchies in the Middle East and Africa though, following Afghanistan's example - possibly Hashemite kingdoms in places like Iraq, and maybe a Kingdom of Egypt.

Since India is bigger (in addition to Punjab and Sindh, Nepal and Bangladesh/East Bengal are part of the Union) and has less things to worry about (no rivalry with Pakistan, Islamic fundamentalism is less widespread and confined mostly to Turkestan and Iran) it might be more prosperous than it is in OTL. Presumably China is India's main rival, though neither of them were outspoken proponents of the Cold War (the Sino-Soviet split happened roughly as OTL, and India became somewhat isolationist and Fabian socialist, as per OTL, as well as being part of the non-aligned movement). Following the end of the Cold War, India might open itself up more, attempting to recreate Afghanistan's success with export-led industrialisation, maybe becoming this timeline's China, whilst China becomes this timeline's India (huge population, not really oppressive, but too stuck in its ways to make the big changes necessary).

This timeline's India is better situated to exert influence in Africa than China is in our timeline, so there might be some more changes for Africa (and maybe Arabia) due to that, but I'd guess they'd mostly be economic - maybe more Indian Ocean trade leading to a more developed East Africa.

With Turkestan plagued by Islamic fundamentalism and corruption, the unrest might spill over to Turkic and Muslim populations in Russia (and China?), leading to a less stable Russia that has to try and pander to the West in order to get them to help, but is too corrupt and divided to really deal with its problems.

I imagine, with the different layout of Islamic extremism, that the history of the Balkans might be quite different, but I honestly don't know enough about the recent history of the region to make any real comment.
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:iconkyronea:
Kyronea Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
Seems fair, seems fair. I'm not entirely sure I understand why India is so much more united than it was in OTL, though. I might have missed that in my initial read of the map, but it seems like Afghanistan might almost encourage the Muslims in India to try to separate more so, rather than the opposite. But I could be wrong.

In any event, it seems like in this world, with India as a more major player, and with Afghanistan as a player, a lot of things are going to be different not necessarily so much with the Cold War, but with the period after, up to and including 2012. I wonder if Islamic-based terrorism would even become a real factor in the same way it has in OTL, or if it would take a completely different form altogether. (In any event, I would hope this would somehow...I don't know how, but SOMEHOW prompt the U.S. to be a bit more left-winged, because yes.)
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"Seems fair, seems fair. I'm not entirely sure I understand why India is so much more united than it was in OTL, though. I might have missed that in my initial read of the map, but it seems like Afghanistan might almost encourage the Muslims in India to try to separate more so, rather than the opposite. But I could be wrong."

Well, Afghanistan was basically an absolute monarchy at the time of its independence, and even after Amanullah Khan initiated reforms to create a constitutional monarchy his personality and popularity essentially meant that he was the voice of Afghanistan, especially when it came to international affairs. I'm not sure of his specific opinions in OTL, but in this timeline Amanullah wasn't specifically for or against the Pakistan Movement, though he was a supporter of the Indian National Congress.

As in OTL, there was a group of Muslim anti-British, non-violent protestors called the Khudai Khidmatgar in the NWFP made up primarily of Pashtuns. Although Amanullah was trying to sell the idea of Afghanistan as a multinational state, he and his people still felt a cultural connection to their fellow Pashtuns, and so were supportive of their cause. They tried to join the Pakistan Movement, but were rejected and joined the Indian National Congress instead (again, as they did in OTL). The major difference comes about after the Qissa Khwami Bazaar massacre - where many Khudai Khidmatgar non-violent protesters were killed by British troops - when the Pakistan Movement specifically denounced the Khudai Khidmatgar, as they were a popular and powerful Muslim movement that *didn't* want a united Muslim state.

When given the choice between fellow Pashtuns and a group of unrelated, apparently heartless Muslims, Amanullah and the people of Afghanistan chose the former.

Or that's how I'm justifying it, anyway. :P

"In any event, it seems like in this world, with India as a more major player, and with Afghanistan as a player, a lot of things are going to be different not necessarily so much with the Cold War, but with the period after, up to and including 2012. I wonder if Islamic-based terrorism would even become a real factor in the same way it has in OTL, or if it would take a completely different form altogether."

Well I mentioned Iran and Turkestan becoming more radicalised, and in other comments on this map I've speculated that there might be a lot of unrest in Russia, but whilst it would have an Islamic flavour the main issue would more be the freedom and independence of ethnic minorities, rather than fighting for the preservation of the religion itself. At least, that's what it'd be like initially - stuff might get, er, "interesting" later on.

"(In any event, I would hope this would somehow...I don't know how, but SOMEHOW prompt the U.S. to be a bit more left-winged, because yes.)"

Well, without a "War on Terror" and long, bloody wars against Islamic insurgents across several different countries, I'd guess that America would probably be more open to Muslims, and right-wing orators wouldn't be able to use "teh evol moslems" as an excuse to fuel racism and religious intolerance.

America might even shift towards being much less interventionist following the Cold War, since I doubt Vietnam went much better in this timeline, and without any sort of "big" threat to global liberty and the only possible rival superpower being an inoffensive, multiethnic, non-militant democracy (India) there's no real possible threat for America to intervene against. The exception would be the insurgencies in Russia, but I'd imagine America's involvement in that wouldn't be as great as Europe's would be, especially since they can't really use their aircraft carriers to power project into Central Asia.

I'm a bit tired, so I rambled a good bit during that explanation, but I think it made sense. :)
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:iconkyronea:
Kyronea Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012
Aye, it all made sense to me. I think I like this nice little timeline you've set up. As I said, the butterflies seem mostly positive, though as with anything there are a few downsides.
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! :D

I have a tendency to just make alternate timelines unrealistically better, so I generally have to add in a number of "downsides" after the initial development. That's definitely true of this timeline - it didn't really have any real downsides until I discussed the history of the world on here, and now it has widespread unrest in Russia, and a less developed, generally more restrictive China (or a China that doesn't develop and get less restrictive, at least).

I'm not sure what else might be worse than our timeline, maybe something in Europe?
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:iconkyronea:
Kyronea Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012
I don't think you necessarily have to make things intrinsically better or worse. Just different.

Also, remember social ideas as well. Progress of civil rights for minority groups such as LGBTs could always be slower than in OTL, for example, if you really want a downside.
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aw, but that would be a legitimately terrible downside. D:

Maybe I should just do what Thande does and put in everything cool I can think of. Do you think Pashtuns like airships?
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(1 Reply)
:iconspiritswriter123:
Spiritswriter123 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I bet a lot of Afghanis and Indians liked the way Pakistan looks now. I do have one question though, where's Islambad? Is it still in Balochistan?
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Islamabad is in the Union of India in this timeline - on this map it's roughly east of Peshawar, south of Abottabad. You can sorta see a few railroads going in that direction.

If you look at Pakistan's provinces and territories the way it's divided in this timeline is that Sindh and Punjab are part of India (as well as the Islamabad Capital Territory), Balochistan is independent, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the FATA are part of Afghanistan. :)
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:iconmdc01957:
mdc01957 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012
A rich, prosperous Afghanistan? Wouldn't that be something... ^^
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, it'd be pretty rad. Would probably solve a lot of problems (though, as I hinted in reference to Turkestan's growing radicalism, in this timeline some of those problems have just moved elsewhere). :)
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:iconmdc01957:
mdc01957 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012
Still, at least there's a viably stable country to counterbalance that.

Also, by the sounds of things, the Soviet breakdown in Central Asia ended up much worse right?
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't think the Soviet breakdown went a whole lot worse, though it was definitely worse than it was in our timeline. Certainly there was higher general support for one or several independent Turkic republics, rather than a looser union, due to the fact that Afghanistan, the Middle East, and India were viable trade partners. In our timeline the Central Asian SSRs initially supported a looser union because they felt they needed the economic support and common market with the other Soviet republics in order to prosper. With South and West Asia providing viable alternatives to Soviet economic power, the riots and unrest against the USSR during its fall would take on a more "Resist the foreign invaders!" feel, which in this timeline resulted in a united Central Asian/Turkestani identity, and thus a united Turkestan.

I haven't worked out the details, but I'm pretty sure things start going downhill pretty fast following independence, with radical Islam gaining more and more influence, corruption becoming rampant, maybe a military junta taking power. You know, "interesting times". :D
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:iconmdc01957:
mdc01957 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012
It might be a good idea to see what the rest of the world looks like here. This sounds very promising. :)
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! :D

There might not be too many changes in terms of borders, but I'd like to try and make some maps showing the different development of this world.
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:iconmdc01957:
mdc01957 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012
It might also have an effect on the British Empire, even in an indirect manner.
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:iconkurarun:
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well it certainly had an effect on British India, but I'm not sure what the effects on Africa or the Dominions like Australia and Canada might be. :)
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(1 Reply)
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