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.
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.
- 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.