The Great Game" is a term used by historians to describe a political and diplomatic confrontation that existed for most of the nineteenth century between Britain and Russia over Afghanistan and neighboring territories in Central and Southern Asia. Russia was fearful of British commercial and military inroads into Central Asia, and Britain was fearful of Russia adding "the jewel in the crown", India, to the vast empire that Russia was building in Asia. This resulted in an atmosphere of distrust and the constant threat of war between the two empires.
After taking power in 1799, French leader Napoleon Bonaparte won a string of military victories that gave him control over most of Europe. He annexed present-day Belgium and Holland, along with large chunks of present-day Italy, Croatia, and Germany, and he set up dependencies in Switzerland, Poland, and various German states. Spain was largely under his hegemony despite continuing guerilla warfare there, and Austria, Prussia, and Russia had been browbeaten into becoming allies. Only Great Britain remained completely outside of his grasp.
Napoleon had proposed a joint Franco-Russian invasion of India to his Imperial Majesty Paul I of Russia. In 1801 Paul, fearing a future action by the British against Russia and her allies in Europe decided to make the first move towards where he believed the British Empire was weakest. He wrote to the Ataman of the Don Cossacks Troops, Cavalry General Vasily Petrovich Orlov, directing him to march to Orenburg, conquer the Central Asian Khanates, and from there invade India. Paul was assassinated in the same year and the invasion was terminated. Napoleon tried to persuade Paul's son, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, to invade India; however, Alexander resisted. In 1807, Napoleon dispatched General Claude Matthieu, Count Gardane on a French military mission to Persia, with the intention of persuading Russia to invade India. In response in 1808, Britain sent its own diplomatic missions, with military advisers to Persia and Afghanistan under the capable Mountstuart Elphinstone to avert the French and possible Russian threat. However, Britain was left with concerns about being able to defend India.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the East India Company controlled southern India, Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa (modern Odisha). Dominance was gained at the expense of its French equivalent, the Compagnie des Indes. Britain and France were at war, and the Franco-Persian alliance of 1807 followed the same year by the Franco-Russian Treaty of Tilsit and attempt to negotiate trade deals with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Talpur Amirs of Sindh, alerted the HEIC to the external threat posed from the northwest.
In 1810, Lieutenant Henry Pottinger and Captain Charles Christie undertook an expedition from Nushki (Balochistan) to Isfahan (Central Persia) disguised as Muslims. The expedition was funded by the East India Company and was to map and research the regions of "Balochistan " and Persia because of concerns about India being invaded by French forces from that direction. After the disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812 and the collapse of the French army, the threat of a French invasion through Persia was removed.
By 1819 only Sindh and the Sikh Empire of Punjab remained outside the Company's control. Napoleon was vanquished, but the Empire of the Tsars had begun to expand south and east. Britain was fearful of Russia adding the "jewel in the crown", India, to the vast empire that Russia was building in Asia. This resulted in an atmosphere of distrust and the constant threat of war between the two empires. If Russia were to gain control of the Emirate of Afghanistan, it might then be used as a staging post for a Russian invasion of India and Russia was fearful of British commercial and military inroads into Central Asia.
The Great Game began on 12 January 1830 when Lord Ellenborough, the President of the Board of Control for India tasked Lord William Bentinck, the Governor-General, to establish a new trade route to the Emirate of Bukhara. Following the Treaty of Turkmenchay 1828 and the Treaty of Adrianople (1829), Britain feared that Persia and Turkey would become protectorates of Russia. This would change Britain's perception of the world, and its response was The Great Game. Britain had no intention of getting involved in the Middle East, but it did envision a series of buffer states between the British and Russian Empires that included Turkey, Persia, plus the Khanate of Khiva and the Khanate of Bukhara that would grow from future trade. Behind these buffer, states would be their protected states stretching from the Persian Gulf to India and up into the Emirate of Afghanistan, with British sea-power protecting trade sea-lanes. Access to Afghanistan was to be through developing trade routes along the Indus and Sutlej rivers using steam-powered boats, and therefore access through the Sindh and Punjab regions would be required. Persia would have to give up its claim on Herat in Afghanistan. Afghanistan would need to be transformed from a group warring principalities into one state ruled by an ally whose foreign relations would be conducted on his behalf by the Governor-General and the Foreign Office. The Great Game meant closer ties between Britain and the states along her northwest frontier.
Britain believed that it was the world's first free society and the most industrially advanced country, and therefore that it had a duty to use its iron, steam power, and cotton goods to take over Central Asia and develop it. British goods were to be followed by British values and the respect for private property. With pay for work and security in place, nomads would settle and become tribal herdsman surrounding oasis cities. These were to develop into modern states with agreed borders, as in the European model. Therefore, lines needed to be agreed and drawn on maps. Two proud and expanding empires approached each other, without any agreed frontier, from opposite directions over a "backward, uncivilized and undeveloped region."
Britain intended to gain control over the Emirate of Afghanistan and make it a protectorate and to use Turkey, Persia, the Khanate of Khiva and the Emirate of Bukhara as buffer states between both empires. This would protect India and also key British sea trade routes by stopping Russia from gaining a port on the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean. Russia proposed Afghanistan as the neutral zone. The results included the failed First Anglo-Afghan War of 1838, the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1843, the Second Anglo-Sikh War of 1848, the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878, and the annexation of Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand by Russia.
In 1557, Bokhara and Khiva sent ambassadors to Ivan IV seeking permission to trade in Russia. Russia had an interest in establishing a trade route from Moscow to India. From then until the mid-19th century, Russian ambassadors to the region spent much of their time trying to free Russians who had been taken as slaves by the khanates. Russia would later expand across Siberia to the Far East, where it reached the Pacific port that would become known as Vladivostok by 1859. This eastward expansion was of no concern to the British Foreign Office because this area did not lie across any British trade routes or destinations, and therefore was of no interest to Britain. Beginning in the 1820s, Russian troops would begin to advance southward from Siberia in search of secure boundaries and reliable neighbors. This advance would not cease until Russia’s frontiers and her sphere of influence were firm in the Central Asia, and this would include Bokhara and Khiva.
During the 1840s and 1850s, Russia’s aims in Central Asia were for Bukhara and Khiva to refrain from hostile actions against Russia, cease possession of Russian slaves and the granting asylum to Kazakhs fleeing from Russian justice. Khiva must cease her attacks on caravans along the Sir-Darya. Russian merchants must be allowed to trade on the same terms as native merchants in Bukhara and Khiva. The khanates must guarantee the safety of the persons and property of Russian merchants, levy no excessive duties, permit unhampered transit of goods and caravans across Central Asia into neighboring states and allow Russian commercial agents to reside in Bukhara and Khiva, and free navigation on the Amu-Darya River for Russian ships. None of these aims were realized. Russia's borders remained insecure and in addition, there was growing British influence in the region.
After 1830, Britain's commercial and diplomatic interest to the northwest became difficult. In 1831, Captain Alexander Burnes and Colonel Henry Pottinger's surveys of the Indus River would prepare the way for a future assault on the Sindh to clear a path towards Central Asia. Burnes embarked on a dangerous 12-month journey beginning in 1831 into Afghanistan and through the Hindu Kush to Bukhara, returning in 1832. Burnes and Christian traveling through a Muslim country was one of the first to study Afghanistan for British Intelligence and upon his return, he published his book, Travels To Bukhara. Between 1832 and 1834, Britain attempted to negotiate trade agreements with Maharaja Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Sikh empire of Punjab, and the Talpur Amirs of Sindh. However, these attempts were unsuccessful.
In 1835, Lord Auckland was appointed Governor-General and replaced Bentinck who had pursued a non-intervention policy. In that year, Lieutenant John Wood of the Indian Navy commanded the first steamboat to paddle up the Indus River and surveyed the river as he went. In 1838, he led an expedition that found one of the River Oxus' sources in central Asia.
In 1837, the Russian envoy Captain Jan Vitkevitch visited Kabul, and the British believed that it was to facilitate some form of diplomatic or military presence in Afghanistan. While in Kabul, he dined with the British envoy, Captain Alexander Burnes, who reported negatively on Russia's intentions. Russia feared British inroads on their commerce in Central Asia, as well as the influence that a Muslim power with British support might have on the other khanates.
During 1838, there were rumors in London of a coming Russian move towards Khiva. Additionally, Persia intended to annex Herat to make up for territory, however, the allegiance of Herat to Afghanistan was crucial to the British strategy. The Siege of Herat began in November 1837 when the new Shah of Persia, Mohammed Mirza, arrived before Herat. His intention was to take Herat then move on to Kandahar. With him was the Russian Envoy Count Simonich, seconded Russian officers and a regiment of Russian deserters under the Polish general Berowski. Eldred Pottinger, an officer of the Bengal Artillery, who had earlier entered Herat in disguise, stiffened the defenses and despite the presence of Russian advisers, the siege lasted eight months. Britain threatened to take military action and Persia withdrew in September.
Meanwhile, the conflict between Afghanistan and the Punjab focused on the Khyber route. Dost Muḥammad Barakzai appealed to the HEIC for aid in recovering Peshawar, but the Company could not help him without alienating its treaty ally Maharaja Ranjit Singh. When Dost Muḥammad Barakzai redirected his appeal to Russia, the Governor-General Lord Auckland resolved to depose Dost Muḥammad Barakzai and replace him with Shah Shuja Durrani. Dost Moḥammad Barakzai had been dealing with Persia and Russia, while it was thought that Shah Shuja Durrani could be trusted to have nothing to do with them.
Long before 1838 the British in India had been alarmed by the Russian advance into Central Asia and by the interest of the czar’s agents in Persia and Afghanistan. At stake was the market for Russian or British products in Central Asia. British imperialists dreamed of sending goods in steamboats up the Indus and overland into Central Asia and Russian imperialists aspired to gain possession of Ḵīva in the belief that it would become the center of all the commerce of Asia and would undermine the commercial superiority of those who dominated the sea ([N.] N. Mouraviev, Voyage en Turcomanie et à Ḵīva, fait en1819 et 1820, tr. M. G. Lecointe de Laveau, Paris, 1823, p. 345).
From 1829 onward the British considered it a matter of urgent national importance to extend their influence into Central Asia before the Russians arrived (J. A. Norris, The First Afghan War 1838-1842, Cambridge, 1967. ch. 2). They also feared that their hold on India would be jeopardized if Russia were dominant in Central Asia and militarily present in or near Afghanistan. To protect their interests, they sent an envoy, Alexander Burnes, by way of Sindh to Lahore in 1830 and by way of Kabul to Bokhara in 1831-32 (for which he became famous as an explorer and political agent and earned the nickname “Bokhara Burnes;” see A. Burnes, Travels into Bokhara, Containing the Narrative of a Voyage on the Indus, London, 1834).
At this time the strong Russian influence in Persia was being used to encourage a Persian campaign against the strategically important fortress of Herat, which was ruled by a Sadozay (see Afghanistan x). The British sought to save Herat from Persia and thus to hold the Russians at bay in the west. Meanwhile, the only Indian state of any significant independence and military power was the Punjab under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The British could not hope to establish a strong influence beyond the Indus unless they first either conciliated or conquered the Sikhs.
The spectacle of the well-trained and equipped armies of Lahore persuaded the British to make friendship with the Sikhs a high priority. It was impossible for the British to befriend Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Dost Muhammad Barakzai at the same time, for there was a fierce quarrel between them over the Sikh occupation of Peshawar and the shelter and encouragement given to Shah Shuja Durrani. Even Burnes, on a mission to Kabul, was unable to reconcile Dost Muhammad Barakzai with Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Burnes’ masters could not offer Dost Muhammad Barakzai anything that he really wanted in return for giving up a correspondence with Persia and Russia.
In 1838 the Governor-General, Lord Auckland, signed the Simla Manifesto, which was in effect a declaration of war upon the Barakzai rulers of Kabul and Qandahār and of intent to restore Shah Shuja Durrani while saving Herat from Persian designs. The Sikhs played a minimal part in subsequent military operations. The Army of the Indus, as the British called it, entered Afghanistan in the spring of 1839 and made its way through Qandahār and Ḡaznī to Kabul. Governor-General Lord Auckland restored the throne of Shah Shuja Durrani in Kabul, on term and condition that the exiled former ruler would accept the Sikh gains west of the Indus, and the Company controlling his foreign policy. The agreement was formalized with the Treaty of Simla signed in June 1838 between Shah Shuja Durrani, the HEIC, and Maharaja Ranjit Singh. British influence was to be extended into Afghanistan and it was to become a buffer state.
Shah Shuja Durrani had ascended the throne in 1803 and had signed a mutual defense agreement with the British in 1809 against a possible Franco-Russian invasion of India via Afghanistan. In the same year, he was deposed and imprisoned by his half-brother. There were a number of Amirs of Afghanistan until Dost Muḥammad Barakzai gained power in 1836. Shah Shuja Durrani was not popular with the Afghans and tensions grew, leading to the killing of the British envoy, Captain Alexander Burnes, in 1841. By January 1842, the Afghans were in full revolt. With a weakening of military discipline, the British decided to withdraw from Kabul. The Kabul garrison of 4,500 troops and 12,000 camp followers left Kabul for Jalalabad that was 80 miles and 5 days march away. They were attacked by 30,000 Afghans. Six British officers escaped on horseback but only one, the wounded Dr. William Brydon riding on a wounded horse, made it to Jalalabad. Over one hundred of the British and 2,000 sepoys and camp followers were taken a hostage and the rest killed. In April, a punitive expedition by the "Army of the Indus" was dispatched and recaptured Kabul and freed the captives in September. The new Governor-General, Lord Ellenborough, decided to withdraw all British garrisons from Afghanistan and Dost Muḥammad Barakzai was freed in India to return to the throne.
In 1843, Britain annexed the Sindh and after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, between 1845 and 1846, the First Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire of Punjab and the East India Company, which resulted in the partial subjugation of the Sikh kingdom. Between 1848 and 1849, the Second Anglo-Sikh War was fought between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company, which resulted in the subjugation of the Sikh Empire and the annexation of the Punjab. Subsequently British created a new province of Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province in 1901.
In 1856, Persia commenced an assault on Herat and the British Home Government declared war on Persia. The Anglo-Persian War was conducted under Major General Sir James Outram until 1857 when Persia and Britain both withdrew and Persia signed a treaty renouncing its claim on Herat.
Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the East India Company's remaining powers were transferred to the British Crown in the person of Queen Victoria (who in 1876 was proclaimed Empress of India). As a state, the British Raj functioned as the guardian of a system of connected markets maintained by military power, business legislation, and monetary management. The Government of India Act 1858 saw the India Office of the British government assume the administration of British India through a Viceroy appointed by the Crown.
In 1863 Sultan Ahmed Kahn of Herat, who was placed into power by Persia and issued coinage on behalf of the Shah, attacked the disputed town of Farrah. Farrah had been under Dost Muḥammad Barakzai control since 1856, and he responded by sending his army to defeat Herat and reunited it with Afghanistan.
The Crimean War had ended in 1856 with Russia's defeat by an alliance of Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empire. The new and wary Alexander II of Russia waited some years so as not to antagonize the British, then Russia expanded into Central Asia in two campaigns. In 1864, a circular was sent to the consular officers abroad by Gorchakov, the Russian Chancellor, patiently explaining the reasons for expansion centering on the doctrines of necessity, power, and spread of civilization. Gorchakov went to great lengths to explain that Russia's intentions were meant not to antagonize the British but to bring civilized behavior and protect the traditional trade routes through the region. The first campaign started from Orenberg and proceeded in the direction of Kabul in Afghanistan. Russia occupied Chimkent in 1864, Tashkent in 1865, Khokhand and Bukhara in 1866, and Samarkand in 1868. Russia's influence now extended to outlying regions of Afghan Turkestan. The second campaign started from the Caspian Sea and was in the direction of Herat, near the Persian frontier. Khiva was occupied in 1873.
From 1869 to 1872, Mir Mahmud Shah was able to gain control of the Khanate of Badakhshan with the help of Afghanistan's new ruler, Amir Sher Ali Khan, and by 1873 Afghanistan governed Badakhshan.
On 21 January 1873, Great Britain and Russia signed an agreement that stipulated that the eastern Badakhshan area, as well as the Wakhan Corridor to Lake Sari-Qul, were Afghan territory, the northern Afghan boundary was the Amu Darya as far west as Khwaja Salar, and a joint Russian - British commission would define the boundary from the Amu Darya to the Persian border on the Harirud. However, no boundary west of the Amu Darya was defined until 1885. The agreement was regarded as having defined the British and Russian spheres of influence in Afghanistan and Central Asia, gave the two sides the legitimacy to advance within their designated zones, created cordial relations between the two rival European powers, and raised the new problem of defining what were the frontiers of Afghanistan, Russia and China in the upper Oxus region in the Pamir mountains. The agreement was negotiated by Prince Alexander Gorchakov, the lands of Badakhshan and Wakhan were accepted by Russia as part of Afghanistan, Russia accepted all of Britain's proposals on Afghanistan's northern borders and expected that Britain would keep Afghanistan from committing any aggression. However, this sets in motion Russia's annexation of the Khanate of Khiva in the same year. Badakhshan would later be divided between Afghanistan and Russian-controlled Bukhara by the Pamir Boundary Commission in 1895.
In 1878, Russia sent an uninvited diplomatic mission to Kabul. Sher Ali Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, tried unsuccessfully to keep them from entering Afghanistan. The Russian envoys arrived in Kabul on 22 July 1878 and on 14 August the British demanded that Sher Ali Khan also accepts a British mission. The Amir not only refused to receive a British mission under Neville Bowles Chamberlain but threatened to stop it if it attempted to enter his country. Lord Lytton, the Viceroy of British India, ordered a diplomatic mission to set out for Kabul in September 1878 but the mission was turned back as it approached the eastern entrance of the Khyber Pass, triggering the Second Anglo–Afghan War.
The Treaty of Gandamak of 1879 required that Amir Abdur Rahman Khan had to accept British control of Afghanistan's foreign relations and to cede to the British a number of its southern frontier areas, including the districts of Pishin, Sibi, Harnai, and Thal Chotiali. In the following years, other tribal areas would be annexed by the British.
In 1881, Russian forces took Geok Tepe and in 1884 they occupied Merv. As the Russian forces were close to Herat, the British and Russian governments formed a joint Anglo-Russian Afghan Boundary Commission in the same year to define the borders between the Russian Empire and northern Afghanistan.
In 1885, a Russian force annexed the Panjdeh district north of Herat province and its fort in what has been called the Panjdeh incident. The Afghans claimed that the people of the district had always paid tribute to Afghanistan, and the Russians argued that this district was part of the Khanates of Khiva and Mir which they had annexed earlier. The Afghan Boundary Commission was supposed to have settled the dispute; however, the battle occurred before its arrival. The Afghan force of 500 was completely overwhelmed by the superior Russian numbers. Britain did not aid Afghanistan as was required by the Treaty of Gandamak, leading the Amir to believe that he could not rely on the British in the face of Russian aggression.
On September 10, 1885, the Delimitation Protocol between Great Britain and Russia was signed in London. The protocol defined the boundary from the Oxus to the Harirud and was later followed by 19 additional protocols providing further detail from 1885 to 88. The Afghan Boundary Commission agreed that Russia would relinquish the farthest territory captured in their advance, but retain Panjdeh. The agreement delineated a permanent northern Afghan frontier at the Amu Darya, with the loss of a large amount of territory, especially around Panjdeh.
This left the border east of Lake Zorkul in the Wakhan region to be defined. This territory was claimed by China, Russia, and Afghanistan. In the 1880s, the Afghans had advanced north of the lake to the Alichur Pamir. In 1891, Russia sent a military force to this area and its commander, Yanov, ordered the British Captain Francis Younghusband to leave Bozai Gumbaz in the Little Pamir. The Russians claimed that because they had annexed the Khanate of Kokand they had a claim over the Pamirs. Afghanistan claimed that the region never paid tribute to Kokand and was independent, so having annexed it the region was theirs. The British claimed that this was a breach of the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1873. Unfortunately for Britain, the Indian government pointed out that Bozai Gumbaz was not included in the Agreement and so it was in an undefined zone. Bozai Gumbaz had not appeared on the Russian map as being in Wakhan. Additionally, the British became aware that Younghusband had mistakenly entered Russian territory near Kara Kul and could have been arrested by the administrator there. Yanov offered a verbal apology if he had mistakenly entered the Wakhan territory, and the Russian government proposed a joint survey to agree on a border. In 1892, the British sent Charles Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore to the Pamirs to investigate. Britain was concerned that Russia would take advantage of Chinese weakness in policing the area to gain territory. Murray was engaged in some form of diplomacy or espionage but the matter is not clear, and in 1893 reached an agreement with Russia to demarcate the rest of the border, a process completed in 1895.
On November 12, 1893, the Agreement between Great Britain and Afghanistan was signed in Kabul. The Agreement reconfirmed the 1873 Agreement, required Afghanistan to withdraw from the territory north of the Amu Darya that it had occupied in 1884, and called for delimitation of the boundary east of Lake Sari.
When Mortimer Durand, Secretary of the State of India was appointed an administrator of the Gilgit Agency (now part of the Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan), he opened up the region by building roads, telegraph, and mail systems while maintaining a dialogue with the Mir of Gilgit. He intended to improve the road from Kashmir through the princely states of Hunza and Nagar and up to the frontier with Russia. The Mirs of Nagar and Hunza saw this as a threat to their natural advantage of remoteness. In 1890, Durant reinforced Chalt Fort that was near the border due to the rumor that Nagar and Hunza fighters were about to attack it, and continued redeveloping the road up to the fort. In May 1891, Nagar and Hunza sent a warning to Durant not to continue work on the road to the fort and to vacate the fort, which was on the Gilgit side of the border; else they would regard it as an act of war. Durant reinforced the fort and accelerated the road construction to it, causing Nagar and Hunza to see this as an escalation and so they stopped mail from the British Resident in Chinese Turkmenistan through their territory. British India regarded this as a breach of their 1889 agreement with Hunza, and after an ultimatum was issued and ignored they initiated the Anglo-Brusho Campaign of 1891. Hunza and Nagar came under a British protectorate in 1893.
On March 11, 1895, there was an Exchange of Notes between Great Britain and Russia. The notes defined British and Russian spheres of influence east of Lake Sari-Qul by defining the northern boundary of the Wakhan Corridor east of the lake. This boundary was subsequently demarcated by a mixed commission. The Great Game is proposed to have ended on 10 September 1895 with the signing of the Pamir Boundary Commission protocols, when the border between Afghanistan and the Russian empire was defined. The Pamir Boundary Commission was conducted by Major-General Gerard who met with a Russian deputation under General Povalo-Shveikovsky in the remote Pamir region in 1895, who were charged with demarcating the boundary between Russian and British spheres of interest from Lake Victoria eastwards to the Chinese border. The report of the Commission proved the absolute impracticality of any Russian invasion of India through the Pamir Mountains. The result was that Afghanistan became a buffer state between the two powers.
It was agreed that the Amu Darya River would form the border between Afghanistan and the Russian empire. Russia gained full possession of all of the Pamir Mountains, except for Taghdumbash, which would be the subject of a later Afghan-China agreement. To conclude their agreement, one peak was named Mount Concord. In exchange for a British agreement to use the term Nicholas Range in honor of the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia on official maps, the Russians agreed to refer to Lake Zorkul as Lake Victoria in honor of Queen Victoria of England.
The Russians had gained all of the lands North of the Amu Darya which included the land claimed by the Khanate of Khiva, including the approaches to Herat, and all of the land claimed by the Khanate of Khoqand, including the Pamir plateau. To ensure a complete separation, this new Afghan state was given an odd eastern appendage known as the Wakhan Corridor. "In setting these boundaries, the final act of the tense game played out by the British and Russian governments came to a close."
The timing of the beginning and end of the Great Game is not completely agreed. One author believes that the Great Game commenced when Franco-Persian alliance of 1807 followed the same year by the Franco-Russian Treaty of Tilsit and attempt to negotiate trade deals with Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Talpur Amirs of Sindh. Another believes that it began with Russia's victory in the Russo-Persian War (1804–13) and the signing of the Treaty of Gulistan of 1813 or the Treaty of Turkmenchay of 1828. Another believes that it started in the aftermath of the Crimean war (1853–6) and Caucasus war (1828–59). One author proposes that The Great Game was over at the end of the First Anglo-Afghanistan war in 1842 with the British withdrawal from Afghanistan. Some authors believe that the Great Game came to a close with the three Anglo-Russian agreements of 1907 which delineated the spheres of interest between British India and Russian Central Asia in the borderland areas of Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. Another that it was trailing off not long after that time, and another with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the end of Russia's interest in Persia. One has stated that unofficially, the Great Game in Central Asia might never end. When everyone is dead, the Great Game is finished. Not before. - Rudyard Kipling
The pessimistic belief of resource scarcity emerged once again in the 1990s and with it the hope that the newly independent states of Central Asia and the Caucasus would provide a resource boom - the new "Persian Gulf" - and with it competition for oil and gas in a 21st-century version of The Great Game. These expectations were not supported by the facts and came with an exaggeration of the region's commercial and geopolitical value. Since that time, some journalists have used the expression The New Great Game to describe what they proposed was a renewed geopolitical interest in Central Asia because of the mineral wealth of the region, which was at that time becoming more available to foreign investment after the end of the Soviet Union. One journalist linked the term to an interest in the region's minerals and another to its minerals and energy.
Other authors disagree with these views. One strategic analyst has written that the Central Asian states are not pawns in any game and the so-called "New Great Game" is a misnomer that has not eventuated. Rather than two empires focused on the region as in the past, there are now many global and regional powers active with the rise of China and India as major economic powers. The emergence of Russia from a local-level player to an international-level one has seen Russia regarded as not an offensive power by the Central Asian states, which have diversified their political, economic, and security relationships. Other authors have written that the "Great Game" or the "New Great Game" implies that the Central Asian states are passive pawns in the hands of more powerful states. However, their membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, established in 2001, shows that they have gained a degree of real independence, with China offering a predictability unknown in the "Great Game".
Note: - Almost the Same game was played in 1980’s. Three players Russia, Pathan, and Punjabi were the same players but British were replaced by the America and Punjabi nation supported the America in the game, as supported the British in 1839?
Almost the same game is again in practice. Three players Russia, Pathan, and Punjabi are the same players but British are replaced by America. However, British is still a joint venture player with the main player America and India is also included in the game as a proxy player for America. China is an additional player. Whereas some regional players are also added in the game but these players are assisting the America, China, or Russia, therefore, they may be called as the extra players of the game and game is called as a ‘’New Great Game’’.
Nevertheless, the role of Punjabi nation in present Great Game is not only essential, as the role in previous games but it is significant too, due to the inclusion of China in the Great Game and project of CPEC as a joint venture project of Pakistan and China.
What will be the Strategy of Punjabi Nation in New Great Game?
1. Will the Punjabi nation support the America in the game, as supported the British in 1839 and supported the America in the game of 1980’s to obstruct the Russian advancement via Central Asia into Afghanistan to reach the warm water?
2. Will the Punjabi nation support the Russia in present Great game to facilitate the Russia, to reach the Gwadar via Central Asia and Afghanistan, to join the CPEC project by expanding the CPEC (China, Pakistan Economic Corridor) project into PCPREC (Pakistan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Economic Corridor) project?
3. Will the Punjabi nation keep himself neutral in the present Game in Afghanistan and concentrate on the CPEC project, therefore, the game in Afghanistan be played by the America, Russia, and China?