Afghanistan Transportation

By | December 16, 2021

Communications. – The Russian railway of Turkestān reaches as far as Termez, and the Samarkand-Krasnovodsk railway has a branch from Merw to the border post of Kushinski, connected to Merw by the telegraph; in India the north-western railway reaches New Ciāman, within the Afghan border. A line of about 400 km would be enough. through Afghānistān to connect the Russian railways with the Indian ones. It goes without saying that for political and military reasons the trans-Afghan railway cannot be built. It seems that during his stay in Berlin (1928) King Aman Ullāh made agreements with a German company for the construction of railways in the interior.

The main steps that from Afghānistān enter India are those of Kuram, Tōcī and Khaibar. In Wakhān, the northern stretch of Hindū Kush is crossed by passes leading to Citrāl and Gilgit (see badakhshān).

The main trade routes in the interior are: from Persia to Herāt via Meshhed, from Bukhārā to Herāt via Merw, from Bukhārā to Kābul via Qārshī, Balkh and Khulm, from Eastern Turkestān to Kābul via Badakhshān and Kāfiristān, from India to Ghaznī and Qal‛at-i Ghilzā’ī for the Gomal pass, from Ciāman to Qandahār and from there to Kābul or Herāt, from Parashinar (Kuram) via Peiwar and for the Shutagardan passes, to Lōgar and Kābul. The roads Khaibar-Kābul, Kābul-Qandahār and Kābul-Ciāman are suitable for car traffic, except after snowfall or heavy rain. The only navigable river is the Helmand, in the last stretch; only the timber travels on the rivers in rafts. For Afghanistan 2003, please check

The roads opened by King Aman Ullāh are: from Kābul to the Indian border for Gelālābād, from Kābul to the northern frontier for Turlkestān, repair of the Ghaznī-Qandahār road, to be extended to the Persian border. The Herāt-Qandahār highway is under construction, with Russian engineers, and the one to India along the Kābul River. Telegraph lines are built together with the roads. Cars, once rare, have increased to a few hundred in the last 5 years. In 1922 an Italian company had obtained the monopoly of automotive communications; he did not exercise it due to the difficulty of obtaining adequate road maintenance from the local authorities. A government airline connects Kābul to Tāshkent, and operates every two weeks, carrying passengers and mail.

Kābul has a telegraph line with Peshāwar, built by the British, and two radiotelegraph stations; Herāt and Mazār-i Sherīf also have such stations. There are telephones in the main cities, and telephone lines from the capital to Qandahār and Peshawār; the Kābul-Māzar-i Sherīf line is under construction. The phones are all state.

It was only in 1928 that Afghānistān entered the Universal Postal Union; until then his mail passed through India, concentrated in Peshāwar, and was forwarded to its destination by courier.

Distribution of the population and built-up areas. – The Afghan population has a density of 14 residents per sq. km. approximately; Figures for various regions are completely lacking. The major centers are located at the foot of the mountains, where the rivers flow into the plains (thus Herāt, Mazār-i Sherīf, Girishk, Farāh, Qandahār) or at the intersection of the main roads: Herāt, an important road junction, is on the way from N. to S., and on that from E. to O.; Mazār-i Sherīf on the road from N. to S. (Bukhārā-Termez or Kilif-Bāmyān for Kābul) and on the one from O. to E. (Maimanah-Badakhshān-Eastern Turkestān), Kābul on the road from N. to S. (between Afghan Turkestān and India) and on that from O. to E. (Herāt-Hazāra-Kābul, and Qandahār-Ghaznī-Kābul-India). Only Ghaznī and Kābul are found in the midst of hollows in the mountains.

In ancient times, Kābul did not have the importance it later acquired as the seat of the Durrānī, and the center of the country was located further N., at the foot of the Hindū Kush, near Ciarikar-Perwan. Herāt, Qandahār and Kābul are the most important points of the country: placed in the center of fertile valleys, each one can exist by itself and dominate important streets. To remain independent Afghānistān needs to possess all three. From the political-strategic point of view Ghaznī and Gelālābād go with Kābul, the ancient capitals Bust and Girishk with Qandahār, and Sabzavār with Herāt.

The Afghāni are not dedicated to emigration, and there are no Afghan colonies of any importance outside the regions bordering Afghānistān (see belūcistān and peshāwar). True nomadism it is rare: some tribes (Hazāra, Aimāq, Povindah) move for long periods from one point to another with herds or caravans, others, residents on the border, spend the winter in India, but all have fixed locations. The Emir ‛Abd ar-Raḥmān, after the expeditions against the rebels, used to send Afghāni as colonists and in exile, to Afghanize the populations; so he did in the Hazāra, Turkestān and Kāfiristān. 16,000 Kāfiri POWs were placed as settlers in Paghmān and Lōgar, or brought into the army. Amān Ullāh did the same in 1923, deporting part of the rebel tribe of the ‛Alīzā’ī of Zamīndāwar to Turkestān, and transporting people taken from other tribes to their territory. The spontaneous passage of tribes from one region to another is instead hindered by the government.

Afghanistan Transportation