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November 5, 2012
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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 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.


- 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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Thejboy88 Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012
Nice to see a version of this country that isn't having a hard time.
Kurarun Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you - I try. :D
kyuzoaoi Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2012  Student Artist
Does Afghanistan try to control Balochistan for the access to the sea?
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. :)
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?
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).
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.
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
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.
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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