Taliban Justice. Then and Now

Kahar Zalmay has an excellent report about how he traveled with friends who wanted a small property dispute in Karachi to be solved and had to go to North Waziristan to the court of Khan Said aka Sajna, local Taliban commander. Its a must read.
Part two is here

Our business was related to the Sajna group of the Mehsud Taliban but there was another group too, the Hakimullah Mehsud group. I was focused on the Sajna group to get to know how it operates.  For Mehsud tribesmen, there were separate offices in Miranshah, which would deal with their matters like land disputes, business disputes and family issues. Areas like Saanp, Makeen, Ladha, Speenkai Raghzai, Baarwan, etc, had their separate offices (markiz) with landline telephone numbers, which the Taliban would openly use to dial numbers across Pakistan. There were around 17 offices for different areas in the main Miranshah bazaar.

Read it all.

It also reminded me of something I wrote 6 years ago after a trip to Karachi. I am posting this unchanged (from an email I wrote at the time). It seems to me that the heroic and optimistic phase of Taliban justice may be over (comparing my 6 year old report to the new one by Kahar Zalmay). Anyway, I think it gives a good idea of how things looked on the ground to at least one pair of drivers who lived in Karachi in 2008. 

I interviewed two pathan drivers from Waziristan and got identical replies from both (the affair with the sister obviously applies to only one of them), so I am posting the rough translation and leave any
conclusions up to you:
Q. Who is now ruling waziristan?
A. The Taliban, led by Baitullah Mehsud.
Q. What if he is killed?
A. He will be replaced. This is an organized movement. It is not dependent on any one person. If he is killed, someone equally capable will replace him, inshallah.
Q. How do you find their rule?
A. Much much better than the rule of Pakistan used to be.

Now, there is peace among the tribes and hundred year old disputes have been settled honorably and all parties have accepted the settlement because they all know that it is according to shariah and is fair. Now there is rule of law instead of rule of the gun. Anyone who violates the shariah will face justice. All those who live by the rules have nothing to fear.
Q. What about the war on terror?
A. Yes, the war is a problem and this will continue for some years. We expect that the Pakistani army will continue to fight us because their generals have abandoned Islam and become slaves of America. But still, rule by the Taliban is better, even with the war. Better than the rule of the political agents and their sardars.
Q. What about development work?
A. Development work increased in the last few years, thanks to the Taliban. In the past, the sardars and the poltical agents would steal all the money meant for development. But in the last 2 years, they
were warned by the Taliban to spend those funds fairly, So roads and colleges have been built. There is some problem because of the war now, but we hope there will be more development when peace is
restored. Of course, no behayaaee (shamelessness) is allowed. Half naked women and music and other abominations will not be allowed.
Q. What about your own life in Karachi?
A. The Taliban rule here too. The pathan colonies have many ANP and PPP supporters but they also have taliban representitives to handle legal disputes. We had a problem. our sister was married at an early age, but then there was dushmani and she was sent home and is now at our home. But the man
would not grant a divorce,  so we could not marry her anywhere else. It was a big problem. We got a degree from a Pakistani court, but nobody could enforce it for us. We got a fatwa from the local mufti, but still the man would not give her a formal divorce. Then we went to the Taliban court here in Karachi. They called that man in. He said he needed to consult relatives in Waziristan, so the Taliban court gave him 3 days. In 3 days he came back. The taliban heard the whole case and gave a
judgement. He had to divorce her. He gave the divorce right there and then. RIGHT THERE IN THE COURT! Where else can you get justice like this?
Q. What if he did not obey them?
A. (laughing) Then he will pay a very heavy price. No one can disobey them. They are strong and they have justice and Islamic law on their side. Why would anyone disobey them?

Q. What did you have to pay to have your case heard?
A. Nothing sahib. NOT a penny. This is Islamic law sahib, not the Pakistani courts.
Q. What if they start passing bad orders?
A. Sahib, you think this is a joke, but this is not a joke. They are good people and they have changed the face of Waziristan. They are organized. They follow Islamic law. Why would they give bad orders?
anyone can make one mistake. but if they stop following Islamic law, we would all stop obeying them. After all, we know what Islamic law is. Disputes going back centuries have been settled in days. It is
almost like what you hear about the coming of Islam in Arabia. You too should do dawah and convert some kafirs in America to save your akhirat (afterlife). We Muslims should have rule of law. Look at the kafirs, they have rule of law, even though those are man-made laws, not the laws of Allah. We
should not be ruled by corrupt generals or other self seeking persons. Wouldn’t it be better to be ruled by Islamic law? Wouldnt it be better to have real justice? under the Taliban, even the weak have rights. Alhamdolillah.

“Siri, you’re fired!!!”

Addressed to whoever is in charge of the universe: spare us the wonderful new age where we contemplate relationship problems with our personal digital assistants. This way lies complete societal collapse as we know it. Spare the Siri so that your child does not grow up to be a complete moronic automaton.

One of the unexpected pleasures of modern parenthood is
eavesdropping on your ten-year-old as she conducts existential
conversations with an iPhone. “Who are you, Siri?” “What is the meaning
of life?” Pride becomes bemusement, though, as the questions degenerate
into abuse. “Siri, you’re stupid!” Siri’s unruffled response—“I’m sorry
you feel that way”—provokes “Siri, you’re fired!”

Earlier this year, a
mother wrote to Philip Galanes, the “Social Q’s” columnist for
The New York Times, asking him what to do when her ten-year-old son called Siri a “stupid idiot.”
Stop him, said Galanes; the vituperation of virtual pals amounts to a
“dry run” for hurling insults at people. His answer struck me as
clueless: Children yell at toys all the time, whether talking or dumb.
It’s how they work through their aggression.

Our minds respond to speech as if it
were human, no matter what device it comes out of. Evolutionary
theorists point out that, during the 200,000 years or so in which homo
sapiens have been chatting with an “other,” the only other beings who
could chat were also human; we didn’t need to differentiate the speech
of humans and not-quite humans, and we still can’t do so without mental
effort. (Processing speech, as it happens, draws on more parts of the
brain than any other mental function.) Manufactured speech tricks us
into reacting as if it were real, if only for a moment or two.
today will be the first to grow up in constant interaction with these
artificially more or less intelligent entities. So what will they make
of them?
What social category will they slot them into? I put that
question to Peter Kahn, a developmental psychologist who studies
child-robot interactions at the University of Washington. 
In his lab,
Kahn analyzes how children relate to cumbersome robots whose
unmistakably electronic voices express very human emotions. I watched a
videotape of one of Kahn’s experiments, in which a teenaged boy played a
game of “I Spy” with a robot named Robovie. First, Robovie “thought” of
an object in the room and the boy had to guess what it was. Then it was
Robovie’s turn. The boy tugged on his hair and said, “This object is
green.” Robovie slowly turned its bulging eyes and clunky head and
entire metallic body to scan the room, but just as it was about to make a
guess, a man emerged and announced that Robovie had to go in the
closet. (This, not the game, was the point of the exercise.)  
“That’s not
fair,” said Robovie, in its soft, childish, faintly reverberating
voice. “I wasn’t given enough chances to. Guess the object. I should be
able to finish. This round of the game.” “Come on, Robovie,” the man
said brusquely. “You’re just a robot.” “Sorry, Robovie,” said the boy,
who looked uncomfortable. “It hurts my feelings that,” said Robovie,
“You would want. To put me in. The closet. Everyone else. Is out here.”



India at the forefront of fighting Climate Change

Recycled lunch: Using human waste to grow food, and fight climate change

Rajanna Uganawadi and his ancestors have been working the soil on the outskirts of Bangalore as long as anyone can remember. Their seven acres are a patchwork of green plots pieced together amid the new apartment complexes sprouting up on farmland around India’s IT capital.
Next to Uganawadi’s cement-block house, a yellow tanker truck painted with lotus flowers backs up next to a stand of young banana trees. The stench of toilet water hangs in the air as a young man pops open a spout and a heavy stream of clear liquid and brown sludge sprays from the truck onto the base of the trees. It’s untreated sewage from a large apartment complex nearby.
From Waste to Resource
Bangalore farmer Rajanna Uganawadi says by switching from synthetic fertilizers to human waste he’s increased his banana harvests to three or four from two.

Credit: Bianca Vasquez Toness
Bangalore farmer Rajanna Uganawadi says by switching from synthetic fertilizers to human waste he’s increased his banana harvests to three or four from two. The practice also avoids significant amounts of greenhouse gases from the manufacture, transportation and application of synthetic fertilizer.
The man repeats this all day – draining out septic tanks and delivering the contents to farmers around Bangalore. It’s an extreme twist on the old adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
”So that’s it,” the man says. “I meet the need. Some people want it to be emptied and I take it from them and I give it to those who want it.”

Reihan Salam- neocon unlimited

The neo-con motto: sometimes you have to burn down the barn in order to spring clean the house. In medical/surgical terms, the doctors will declare the operation a success (aka mission accomplished) even if the patient shuffles off his mortal coil.

Many americans are (justifiably) convinced that their country is a force for the good. Indeed there are defenders of the empire who aver that the US Army should be the default awardee of the Nobel Peace prize (due to its role as globo-cop).

Of course when you are rich and powerful, the very people you wish to protect will want throw insults (and sticks) at you. People will accuse you of all sorts of crimes: betrayal of a trusted friend, vaccination masquerading as a sterilization program, twitter messaging to trigger a revolution….the list goes on.

Reihan Salam does not mind the ingratitude and would like to keep playing with a straight bat for the greater good of the world. And also because it is personal. However his argument about the Bangladesh war leaves us (a bit) confused. Richard Nixon never found the time (and the will) to tell the genocidal Pak Army to back off (despite being warned by his own diplomat of the innocent blood being spilled). As Reihan himself admits, all it required was for Nixon to lift his (little) finger- no invasions, no “moralistic crusades” were required.

The “neocon” in the Bangladesh war was Mrs Gandhi. Even though Reihan does not quite give her the full credit (that is due from one brother to the other), she withdrew her army once the battle was over and handed off power to the Bangladeshis. Perhaps America would have done good by following her example. Defeating Saddam was the easy part, it was winning the peace which proved bothersome for the USA in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

At a bare minimum, those of
us who favored the war might have hoped for a democratic Iraq in which
the rights of ethnic and religious minorities were respected and that
was more closely aligned with the United States than Iran. The new Iraq
fails on both of these counts.

Given all of this, why am I still a neocon? Why do I still believe
that the U.S. should maintain an overwhelming military edge over all
potential rivals, and that we as a country ought to be willing to use
our military power in defense of our ideals as well as our interests
narrowly defined?
There are two reasons: The first is that American
strength is the linchpin of a peaceful, economically integrating world;
and the second is that we know what it looks like when America embraces
amoral realpolitik, and it’s not pretty.

Of course, all of these arguments could be true and one could
nevertheless believe that the U.S. should avoid doing anything more than
narrowly fulfill its security commitments. Why insist on moralistic
crusades, as neocons are wont to do? I suppose I have a personal reason
for doing so.

It turns out that this week isn’t just the anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. It is also the 43rd anniversary of a telegram
in which an American consul general, Archer Blood, took the unusual
step of condemning his own government. 

As Gary Bass recounts in his
chilling book The Blood Telegram,
Richard Nixon and his chief foreign policy consigliere, Henry
Kissinger, enthusiastically backed Pakistan’s military junta in its
efforts to not only overturn the results of its country’s first free and
fair election, but to massacre hundreds of thousands of Bengalis in an
effort to teach what was then a rebellious province a lesson. One of the
men who died, as it happens, was my uncle.

Knowing fully well that he was endangering his career, Blood decried
the American failure to defend democracy or to denounce Pakistani
atrocities. He also knew that had President Nixon decided to lift a
finger, he could have forced Pakistan to stay its hand. Yet it seems
that humanitarian considerations never entered the picture for Nixon and
Kissinger. They were apparently too taken with treating the world as a
chessboard to bother reckoning with the monstrous crimes they were
aiding and abetting. 

Though Pakistan was unable to prevent the emergence
of an independent Bangladesh, thanks in large part to India’s decision
to intervene, the country remains scarred by the bloodletting. Imagine
if a different president hadn’t cheered on Pakistan’s military rulers
but rather threatened to use U.S. power in defense of Bengali civilians.



Nuclear madness

South Asia has always been identified as the most likely place where nuclear war-fare is likely to break out. we are now one step closer to that nightmare.

India has a no-first use nuclear policy while Pakistan does not. That may change with a new BJP govt at the helm. While this may appear only to be of symbolic importance nevertheless symbols are important. There should have been out of the box thinking (whereby NaMo would sit down with NaSha and discuss ways and means to strengthen regional security) instead what we have is more macho posturing.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), widely tipped to form the next government,
pledged on Monday to revise India’s nuclear doctrine, whose central
principle is that New Delhi would not be first to use atomic weapons in a

Unveiling its election manifesto, the party gave no
details, but sources involved in drafting the document said the
“no-first-use” policy introduced after India conducted a series of
nuclear tests in 1998 would be reconsidered.

Arch-rival Pakistan, which responded within weeks that year by conducting tests of its own, does not profess “no first use”.

The BJP made no mention of reviewing nuclear policy in its manifesto for the previous elections in 2009.

India adopted a no-first-use policy at a
time when it was under pressure from punitive embargoes by western
nations for its nuclear tests, but since then it has been unofficially
accepted as a nuclear power. The no-first-use policy was based on a premise that India would
retaliate so massively against a nuclear strike that an enemy would not
contemplate such a move in the first place.

However, a source
who advises the BJP said there has been significant debate in recent
years about being bound to the policy given the advances of Pakistan’s
nuclear capability.

He said Pakistan’s nuclear inventory may
have already overtaken that of its neighbour, and it has claimed
progress in miniaturization of weapons for use on the battlefield. “Do we need tactical weapons? This issue was never raised and discussed
because at the time it was not a concern.” said another source involved
in drawing up the manifesto.

There was no immediate reaction from the Pakistan government or its military, which controls foreign and defence policy. A former Pakistani national security adviser, retired Major General
Mahmud Ali Durrani, said he would not be concerned if India revised the
central tenet of its nuclear doctrine. “I don’t think it will
be of great consequence,” he said. “The nuclear doctrine here is MAD
(mutually assured destruction). If one side does it, the other side has
enough to cause unacceptable damage in response.”




Kargil War

This topic comes up every once in a while on twitter and I always regret having lost my old post about it when the old Brownpundits crashed and burned. So I just looked up a cached copy and am reposting it (with slight editing) so that it is available whenever another young Pakistani officer announces that we were robbed of a great victory in Kashmir by Nawaz Sharif (I am not kidding).

First, some links with details about the operations:

1. http://www.nps.edu/Academics/Centers/CCC/Research/StudentTheses/Acosta03.pdf an excellent summary of the Kargil war by the US Naval postgraduate school.

2. http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/kargil.pdf A more recent summary focused on airpower but with a good summary of the whole affair..

3. Role of the Pakistan air force: http://kaiser-aeronaut.blogspot.com/2009/01/kargil-conflict-and-pakistan-air-force.html

Back in 1999 I thought that Musharraf should have been dismissed and prosecuted for his role in the affair, but I also bought into the propaganda that the operation was a “great tactical success but a strategic blunder”. As time went on and more details came out, it became clear that the planning at the tactical level was as bad as the stupidities and mistaken assumptions that underlay the strategic vision of General Musharraf and inner coterie and in particular the commander of Force Command Northern Areas (FCNA), General Javed Hassan.

The men (primarily Northern Light Infantry (NLI) and Special Services Group (SSG) volunteers) who did the actual fighting from the Pakistani side performed with suicidal bravery, but once the Indian army learned from its early mistakes and brought all its resources to bear on the operation, these brave men were left to literally starve and bleed to death while Javed Hassan and his boss tried to bluster their way past their disastrous mistake. Musharraf’s coup protected the plotters from facing any consequences within Pakistan and a systematic disinformation campaign was used to crease (not just in Pakistan but also in some casual observers and Anatol Leiven level analysts abroad) an impression of tactical brilliance. The above reports provide a good corrective and one hopes that the day may still come when Musharraf and Javed Hassan will face the music for their role in this terrible disaster…a disaster that led to hundreds of needless deaths on both sides in an operation that civilian prime minister Benazir was able to see as “crazy” at first glance. Unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif was not that sharp…

Given how long it takes most armies to learn from their mistakes during the course of a battle, the Indian commanders on the spot deserve some credit for belying stereotypes and actually thinking and adapting while the battle was on. The British Indian army was a fine fighting force, but not one known for innovation and flexible thinking. Either India got lucky in a few officers on the spot (e.g. artillery commander Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh and GOC 8 mountain div General Puri http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/kargil-a-ringside-view/0/) or it really does have a better culture of officership than its mother army did.

Anyway, take a moment to read the above reports and links for details, but the main point is that it was not even a “tactical success”. It was poorly planned and once the Indian army found its feet, leaving those men out on the peaks to die was hardly a sign of brilliant tactical execution. The basic TACTICAL assumptions that proved wrong were:

1. The heights, once occupied, could be held by small groups for at least the entire summer.

2. Those men could be resupplied under fire for several months with food, water and ammunition, using mountain trails and helicopters.

3. The Indian army was incapable of attacking from any direction except straight up the front slopes, where they would be cut down like grass.

4. And behind it all, the firm conviction that while “our boys” will exhibit the required suicidal bravery, the other side will not.

All these assumptions proved wrong. After some early charges that failed with heavy casualties (but also showed that Indian troops were perfectly capable of suicidal bravery of their own) the Indian army figured out how to use its artillery to great effect and went up near vertical slopes at night under cover of accurate artillery fire and recaptured crucial heights. They also managed to interdict most of the resupply effort, leaving many freezing Pakistani troops exposed on the heights without food or water. There is no evidence that either Javed Hassan or Musharraf made any real effort to come up with new solutions once their original assumptions proved wrong. Musharraf seems to have focused mostly on making sure the blame could be pinned on Nawaz Sharif, and that some sort of domestic (or intra-army) propaganda victory could be salvaged from the disaster.

The status quo is indeed in India’s favor by now. The critical period for India was the early nineties. Once they got past that, they were never going to be kicked out of Kashmir by force; and by using outside Jihadis and then the regular army and failing to dislodge them, Pakistan has already played all its cards. Another attempt could set the whole subcontinent aflame, but is not likely to change that outcome.

The fact that Kashmiri Muslims (or at least, Kashmiri Muslims in the Kashmir valley proper) remain thoroughly disaffected with India provides some people with the hope that human rights and democracy campaigners can win where brute force did not. But this too seems unlikely. The same Kashmiri Muslims are almost as disaffected with Pakistan as they are with India, so that the main demand seems now to be independence. But the demographics, geography, history and international situation of Kashmir all make any smooth passage to independence inconceivable. Inconceivable in the literal sense of the world; what I mean is, try to conceive or imagine in concrete detail what this independence would look like and the steps via which it would be achieved. Enuff said.

btw, General Shahid Aziz, who used to be Musharraf’s DGMO (director general military operations), CGS (chief of general staff) and then corps commander Lahore (and is now saying he repents siding with infidels against the Afghan Mujahideen; the timing of his decision to switch sides against the new Afghan regime remains in line with past GHQ strategic coups; see Afghan election coverage for details) has decided in his retirement to announce that kargil was a disaster caused by Musharraf.

He did back away a bit after other army officers accused him of washing the army’s dirty linen in public, but the damage was done.

By now, the cat is well out of the bag though. Here is Brigadier Javed Hussain from the Pakistan army making exactly the same points..

And now we have General Asad Durrani, former ISI chief (and the SOB who said on BBC TV that the thousands of Pakistani civilians, including school children, killed by the Taliban and other Jihadists are “collateral damage” and we have to accept this damage in the larger national interest, which he believes has been well served by our Jihadist policies) writing a book with a former RAW chief and saying most of the same things..

Gen Durrani on MNS knowledge of Kargil

For many other interesting links and videos, see this excellent collection from researcher Aamir Mughal.

btw, there ARE jokers on the other side. We are, after all, one people:


Sam Manekshaw, by Hamid Hussain

From Dr Hamid Hussain.

Sam was representative of an earlier generation of Indian officers.  Few historical tit bits about the documentary.  If you look Sam in pictures, he is always wearing black PIFFER pips although usually senior officers do not wear regimental color pips.  Lieutenant General ® S. K. Sinha gives his opinion about Sam in documentary.  There is interesting story about Sinha.  Sinha is originally from Jat regiment but in WWII, he spent about two weeks with a draft of 4/12 FFR (Sam and present Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif’s battalion) before his own battalion came to theatre.  Later, he also went to Gorkha Rifles.  In 1947, three young officers were serving together in Military Operations (MO) directorate in Delhi.  Sam was GSO-1, Yahya Khan was GSO-2 and Sinha GSO 3.  In 1971 Indo-Pak war, Sam was Indian army chief, Yahya Khan Pakistan army chief and Sinha was at GHQ heading pay commission.  Sinha asked Sam to be given a chance to participate in war and stated, “The old G1 is going to war with the old G2 and the old G3 is being left out”.  Sam owned a red motorcycle and in 1947 he sold it to Yahya for Rs.1000.  In the upheaval of 1947 Yahya went to Pakistan and never paid the money.  Sam used to joke about that Yahya never paid him for the motorcycle therefore he went ahead and got half of the country of Yahya.  I did obituary of Sam attached below;


Defence Journal, August 2008
Sam Manekshaw (April 03, 1914-June 27, 2008)
Hamid Hussain
On June 27, 2008 Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw passed away in a hospital in India.  He was called Sam by his colleagues, Sam Bahadur by soldiers and Lord Mountbatten called him Manekji.  He was the last of the breed of an officer corps which joined the British Indian army in 1930s.  Sam was the most popular soldier in India and was admired even in Pakistan.  Sam was born in Amritsar and educated at Sherwood College in Nainital and Hindu Sabha College in Amritsar.  He passed out from Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun in 1934 getting his military identity of IC-0014.  He followed the routine of spending one year of probationary period with the British regiment; 2nd Batallion of Royal Scots after commission.  He then joined the elite 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment (FFR).  This battalion evolved through its one hundred and fifty year history going through various reorganizations which changed its name.  It started as 4th Sikh Local Infantry after First Sikh War in 1846.  In 1901, it became 4th Sikh Infantry and in 1903 became 54th Sikhs. 1922 reorganization changed it into 4th Battalion of 12 Frontier Force Regiment.  1957 reorganization gave it its present designation of 6 Frontier Force (FF).   The original designation of force deployed on the frontier of newly acquired territories in 1849 was Punjab Irregular Frontier Force (PIFFER).  Till today those who join Frontier Force Regiment are known as PIFFERS.  Young impressionable cadets at academy see their instructors as role models and the caliber of an instructor may be a factor when a cadet chooses his battalion.  Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Carter of 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment was a first rate officer and then instructor at Dehra Dun (he later commanded the battalion in 1942 when it was being reorganized into a reconnaissance battalion at Ranchi).  He may have been responsible for two cadets of the batch joining the 4/12 FFR; Sam and Atiq-ur-Rahman nick named Turk. 
In Second World War, Sam then a captain was leading Sikhs of Charlie company of 4/12 FFR in Burma.  A small group of Japanese soldiers surprised the troops and sneaked into the perimeter of the battalion at night.  This caused a panic and a number of soldiers bolted from the scene.  Sam’s Sikhs firmly stayed in their positions.  Sam had threatened them that he will personally distribute ‘bangles’ if any of them moved from their position.  Later, in one of the attacks on a Japanese position, Sam was severely wounded when seven bullets of a Japanese machine gun hit him in his stomach.  His orderly Sher Singh put Sam on his back and evacuated him to Regimental Aid Post where Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) Captain G. M. Diwan tended to him.  Sam was in a serious condition and all who saw him were convinced that he will not survive from his serious wounds.  Major General D. T. Cowan pinned his own Military Cross (MC) on Sam’s chest stating that ‘a dead person cannot be awarded a MC’.  Death was closely lurking around Sam.  When Sam was being treated at a hospital at Pegu, Japanese planes bombed the hospital and Sam’s bed was moved to the lawn. Severely wounded Sam was moved to Mandalay and then to Rangoon.  Sam was on the last ship which left Rangoon before Japanese overran it.  The ship was also bombed by Japanese planes but Sam made it to Madras.  He survived this ordeal to live up to the ripe age of 94.  After partition in 1947 when Sam’s battalion was allotted to Pakistan, 8th Gorkha (Shiny Eight) became Sam’s home. 
During 1947-48 Kashmir Operations, Sam then Colonel was a staff officer at Directorate of Military Operations.  In Baramula, Pakistani tribesmen killed Colonel Thomas Dyke and his wife who were on holidays.  Dyke had done his first year attachment with 2nd Royal Scots along with Sam before joining Sikh Regiment.  Sam commanded an infantry brigade, served as Commandant of Infantry School, commanded an infantry division and then went on to become Commandant of Defence Services College at Wellington.  He commanded 4th Corps and then became Western Army Commander followed by commanding Eastern Army Command.  In June 1969, he succeeded General Kumaramangalam to become eighth army chief of Indian army.  
In early 1950s, two PIFFERS on Pakistan side and one old PIFFER from Indian side were commanding the brigades close to border.  Brigadier Bakhtiar Rana was commanding a brigade in Lahore, Brigadier Atiqur Rahman (nick named Turk) was commanding 101 Brigade (based in Sialkot but sent to Lahore due to anti-Ahmadiya riots) while Sam was commanding a brigade in Ferozpur.  Rana and Turk went to see Sam and old PIFFERS buddies enjoyed Sam’s hospitality.  After 1971 war when Sam came to Pakistan as Indian army chief for negotiations, Turk was his host.  Sam had lifelong attachment to his parent battalion.  When he was army chief, there was a standing order to all the staff, guards and sentries that whenever an ex-serviceman of 4/12 FFR came to the army headquarters, he should be brought to the chief no matter what chief was doing.  In 1971 war when he was Indian army chief, he kept an eye on performance of 4/12 FFR (now 6FF) which was fighting from Pakistan’s side.  His staff would notice a certain pride in his eyes when the briefing officer would give some account of 4/12 FFR.  He commented to his military assistant ‘I should like to see one of my 8th Gorkha battalions fighting the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment’.  When Major Shabbir Sharif of 6 FF got the highest gallantry award of Nishan-e-Haider fighting from Pakistan side, Sam wrote to one of his old British Commanding Officer (CO) of 4/12 FFR in England that he was so proud that an officer of ‘his battalion’ got the honor although Sam’s forces were fighting against Pakistan.   In 1973, when he came to Pakistan for post-war negotiations, he requested that dinner be served in the silverware of his parent battalion.  4/12 FFR (6 FF) was then stationed in Okara and cutlery of the battalion was carefully packed and sent to Lahore where Sam was entertained.  During his 1973 visit to Pakistan, Sam was given a lunch at Station Artillery Mess in Lahore.  Sam went around looking at the impressive array of trophies in the mess.  He stopped by a trophy and asked what a trophy of 54th Sikh (4/12 FFR) was doing in the artillery mess.  One Pakistani officer confided that the trophy was brought to the mess for the special occasion.  In March 1973, when Sam visited England, he hosted a dinner where all serving and retired officers who had association with 54th Sikhs and 8th Gorkha Rifles were in attendance.
In his professional career, Sam was famous for his brief and to the point orders.  In 1962 Indo-China war, Sam was urgently dispatched to take over 4thCorps from Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul (nick named Bijji).  On his arrival Sam assembled all staff officers and gave his one sentence address stating ‘Gentlemen I have arrived.  There will be no more withdrawals in 4th Corps, thank you’ and walked out.  He issued a brief order to all in the Corps which read, ‘there will be no more withdrawals without written orders and these orders shall never be issued’.  These statements elevated Sam’s reputation but the fact was that Sam took over the Corps after the unilateral ceasefire announced by China.  Sam himself summed up his philosophy of work by stating that ‘I am a simple infanteer and a Gorkha at that and I want everything cut and dried.  Complicated stuff is for the intellectuals’.  He was known for his straight talk even with heavy weights of Indian political scene.  In 1971, when a large number of refugees started to pour from then East Pakistan into neighboring states, the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura started to flood Delhi with urgent telegrams.  Prime Minister Indira Gandhi summoned Sam to a cabinet meeting.  She was very angry and after a long diatribe about the situation turned towards Sam and asked him ‘What are you doing about it?’ The response which Sam gave was typical.  On question of what he was going to do, he said ‘Nothing, it’s got nothing to do with me.  You didn’t consult me when you allowed BSF [Border Security Force], the CRP [Central Reserve Police] and RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] to encourage the Pakistanis to revolt.  Now that creates trouble, you come to me.  I have a long nose.  I know what’s happening’. 
Sam’s working method was based on simplicity and he avoided lofty statements.  He was well aware of the ground realities and talked frankly about tricky issues even with his soldiers.  In the run up to 1971 war, when he visited a garrison he would bluntly tell soldiers that when war breaks out there will be no scavenging.  He told them that he was commanding soldiers and not thieves.  He also warned them against womanizing.  He reminded his soldiers that the war was against the Pakistan army and not against their women.  In professional matters, he kept high standards.  A general was accused of misusing funds.  When Sam summoned him to his office and narrated the charge, the general blurted ‘Sir, do you know what you are saying?’  Sam snapped at him, ‘Your Chief is not only accusing you of being dishonest but also calling you a thief.  If I were you I would go home and either shoot myself or resign.  I am waiting to see what you will do’.  The same evening the general resigned.  
Sam had a sense of humor and there are many stories of his witty responses.  When he lay critically wounded in Burma, the Australian surgeon tending to wounded asked him what happened, Sam replied ‘I was kicked by a mule’.  In 1971 conflict, when then prime Minister Indira Ghandi asked him if he was ready for the impending conflict, Sam replied with a twinkle in his eyes ‘I am always ready, sweetie’.  In the run up to 1971 war, when he visited different garrisons, he warned soldiers against womanizing.  He would tell them that ‘when you feel tempted, put your hands in your pockets and think of Sam Manekshaw’. 
In 1973, after becoming Field Marshal when Sam was visiting England, he hosted a dinner.  One of his former Commanding Officer was also present who asked him ‘May, I call you Sam’.  Sam replied, ‘Please do, Sir.  You used to call me bloody fool before.  I thought that was my Christian name’.  After retirement, Sam was a director with Escorts.  A hostile bid for the organization was thwarted by changing of the whole board.  Mr. Naik was one of the new directors.  Sam remarked that ‘This is the first time in history when a Naik has displaced a Field Marshal’. 
He was sometimes brash but always had enough humility.  In 1971, when Prime Minister asked him to go to Dacca to accept surrender of Pakistani forces he said that the honor should go to Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora.  After surrender, Sam flew to Calcutta to congratulate officers of eastern command.  When he landed at Dum Dum airport, he was escorted to a Mercedes car captured from Pakistanis but he refused to sit in Mercedes.  When wearing casual dress, he always preferred Peshawari chaplis. 
Sam was lucky during his whole career.  In 1947-48 Kashmir war, he was a staff officer at General Head Quarters (GHQ).  In 1962 debacle, he was serving as Commandant of Defence Services Staff College far away from the conflict.  He was asked by his mentor and new army Chief J. N. Chaudhri (nick named Mucchu) to take over 4th Corps from Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul.  Sam took over after the unilateral ceasefire by China and therefore never put his skills into any battle.  In 1965 war, Sam was Eastern Army Commander while all the action was on the western front.  India was in a much better strategic position in 1971 and the outcome of the war was a foregone conclusion.  Sam became a popular soldier after India’s victory on 1971. 
Sam’s life was not without controversy.  Sam’s frank comments got him into trouble with his superiors.  In 1962, then Defence Minister V. K. Krishna Menon and Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General B. M. Kaul initiated an inquiry against Sam for alleged ‘anti-national attitude’.  Sam was accused of being more loyal to Queen of England than President of India.  He was also accused of stating that as commandant of Staff College, he will not allow any officer as instructor whose wife looked like ‘ayah’.  Sam’s promotion was held for eighteen months during this time.  A Court of Inquiry headed by then Western Army commander Lieutenant General Daulat Singh exonerated Sam.  The principle witness against Sam was Brigadier H. S. Yadav (he was commissioned in Grenadiers and nick named Kim).  Brigadier Inder Vohra was another witness against Sam.  In 1963, when Sam took over as Western Army Commander, Yadav served under him as a brigade commander.  Some officers trying to curry favor with Sam, made adverse remarks about Yadav.  Sam quickly replied ‘Look chaps, professionally, Kim Yadav is head and shoulders above most of you’.  Yadav himself had enough sense of humor that after conclusion of 1971 war, he sent a telegram to Sam which read, ‘you have won the war: all by yourself, without me – a remarkable achievement.  My congratulations’.  In January 1973, Sam again stirred a controversy and was accused of having disdain for everything Indian.  In an interview he had stated that his favorite city was London where he felt at home.  More explosive comment was his statement that in 1947 Jinnah asked him to join Pakistan army.  Sam added that ‘if I had, you would have had a defeated India’. 
In this author’s dictionary, the pinnacle of any officer’s career is not in attaining general rank but the honor to command the battalion he is commissioned in.  Unfortunately, in Sam’s illustrious career, he never had the chance to command a battalion.  However, this fact does not diminish his position in Indian army history.  Sam’s first annual confidential report by his superior read, ‘this officer, I beg his pardon, this man, may one day become an officer’.  He not only became an officer and a gentleman but became the most popular officer of Indian army.  In his passing, an era has come to an end.  Knowing Sam, it is most likely that even up there, he will be hanging out with old warriors of PIFFERS and Gorkha regiments.  Good bye, Sam. Rest in peace. 
1- Author is thankful to many PIFFER officers for their valuable input. 
2- Lieutenant General Depinder Singh.  Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw: Soldiering with Dignity (Dehra Dun: Natraj Publishers, 2003, Second Edition)
3- Lieutenant General M. Attiqur Rahman.  Back to the Pavilion (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2005)
4- Hamid Hussain.  Stranger Than Fiction, Defence Journal, December 2007
5- The Independent, June 28, 2008
6- The Indian Express, June 27, 2008
7- Lieutenant General A. S. Kalkat.  Sam Manekshaw.  100 People Who Shaped India.  India Today.
Dr. Hamid Hussain is an independent analyst based in New York.  For corrections, comments and critique humza@dnamail.com
Hamid Hussain
July 18, 2008

India- Hindu or Secular?

Obviously none of the above, since (a) Hindus are not one united volk governed by a Pope and a scripture and (b) Secular is a meaningless word used to play off one community vs. another (to the detriment of all concerned). Adding to the general harm is the blast of a blasphemy law. There is no point in requesting the powers that be to remove religion from the public square because that would prevent politicians from grandstanding in their desire to seek votes.

As the D-day approaches the world is sitting up and finally noticing that there will be an election of enormous consequence in India.


It is billed as the
biggest election on Earth. In the world’s largest democracy, an
electorate of 815 million will troop up to 930,000 polling stations in
28 states in nine phases over five weeks, starting Monday and ending May
12. If vote counting goes as swiftly and accurately as has been the
norm in India, results will be announced May 16. Then would begin the
real tamasha (show, entertainment, drama) over who would form the next government.

Polls show the centrist Congress government would be wiped out.
During a recent trip to India, I found no party stalwart who doubted
that prospect, so palpably angry is the public at Congress misrule that
has been marked by corruption, dynastic rule (under the Gandhi family),
government gridlock and stalled economic growth coupled with nearly 9
per cent inflation.

The right-wing
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win. Yet its leader,
Narendra Modi, is no shoo-in as the next prime minister for both prosaic
and profound reasons, the latter relating to the identity of India: is
it a secular nation of 1.3 billion with Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and
other minorities totalling as many 200 million, or a Hindu nation with a
Hindu ethos that the minorities must acquiesce to and assimilate in, as
Modi’s most fervour supporters believe?

That is the real story of this election. What makes it
particularly Indian and deeply democratic is that the most passionate
defenders of secularism against Hindu communal forces are many Hindus

No party has won a
majority since 1986. Smaller parties routinely scoop up about a third of
the vote and a third of the seats, an apt reflection of the steady rise
of regionalism. The best projected scenario for the BJP is for 213
seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament. That would
necessitate enticing or outright bribing 59 others to get to the needed
272 seats to form a coalition government.

There is no strong
third party to forge an arrangement with. This may change with the rise
of the populist Aam Admi (common man) Party, “the Tea Party of the
left,” with its campaign against corruption and culture of entitlement.
But it has already said it won’t partner with BJP. Several regional
parties would come with about 20 seats or less, each wanting to exact
its price. But even some of those ready to back a BJP government may not
back Modi as leader of India, so polarizing a figure he has been.

Whereas the party has
held office before (1998-2004), its prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
was a moderate who was expected to and did keep the BJP zealots in
check. But Modi is seen as hopelessly divisive.

He is chief minister
of the western state of Gujarat where under his watch there was a
communal conflagration in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people were
shot, hacked or burnt to death, an overwhelming majority of them

For secular Indians,
that stain cannot be washed away by his explanations — he had nothing to
do with it; several inquiries were not able to pin any blame on him
directly; there have been no more sectarian riots since; the Muslims of
Gujarat have benefitted from the unquestionable economic boom that he
has brought by attracting Indian and foreign businesses.

His critics, however,
note that one of his caucus members was jailed for 28 years for being
what the court called “a kingpin” in the murder of 97 people. The
federal inquiry that did not find sufficient evidence to charge him did
not exactly exonerate him for his criminal negligence and moral
culpability in failing to stop the days-long riots, in which state
police and civilian authorities were accused of complicity.

Modi has refused to
recant. His supporters argue he has nothing to apologize for. He once
refused a Muslim kufi cap offered him at a public meeting, whereas he
routinely dons various regional headgears for photo ops. He continues to
cater to Hindu chauvinism. He has chosen a federal riding not in his
home state but rather in the Hindu holy city of Benares. He repeats the
BJP mantra of doing away with all the “special deals” for the disputed
(Muslim) state of Kashmir on the Pakistan border, constitutional and
other commitments given for historical and strategic reasons. He says
Muslim terrorism suspects should be prosecuted, not mollycoddled
(reacting to a federal minister who said that long detentions without
charge should be looked at).

“Modi represents everything that’s evil in Hinduism,” says Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Congress minister, a Hindu who calls himself a secular fundamentalist. Echoing Indian
secularists, he told me: “India is not, cannot be, Hindu India. It is a
constitutionally secular nation, with a long history of a composite

The real drama of the
election would unfold after the election, he said. “I am selling tickets
on my veranda to see the parade of politicians who’ll be horse trading —
and battling with their conscience.”




This Mughal is a Rajput fan

Today is the big day, when a Rajput king (who was a second class ticket examiner for the Indian Railways in a previous life) rides into battle. His top general is a Tamil Brahmin who terrorizes the enemy with a carrom ball. They also have a die-hard fan who has traveled half the world to say hello. What is so special about him is that he belongs to a tribe which has sworn to fight a thousand year war with the Rajput Tamils.

Normally this would be an unremarkable story, especially so as Mohd. Bashir’s wife is from Hyderabad (India) . Lots of Indians would also support Pakistan if the latter was playing (some “Indians” support Pakistan even when playing against India). But still as Dr Omar says, as long as the 2-nation theory lives out its zombie like life (and it will do so till Kashmir is normalized), these stories do make a few bright splashes against a perpetually cloudy sky that is SAsia.

There is one thing about Mahendra Singh Dhoni that even his staunch critics will applaud. Whether he is on or off the field, he loves to walk the talk. So, when
he declared that the hostility associated with an India-Pakistan
encounter is long over, Dhoni meant it and his latest act has proved it.

The Indian captain on Saturday arranged a complimentary pass for a
die-hard Pakistani cricket fan Mohammed Bashir, who came all the way
from Chicago to support his team.

Although Pakistan were
knocked out in the group stage, Bashir has stayed back to watch India
play the final and now has become a “die-hard Dhoni fan” having
interacted with the Indian captain.

“I was watching India’s
training session yesterday but I didn’t have any tickets. Dhoni is
familiar with my face as he has seen me before the Champions Trophy’s
Indo-Pak game in Birmingham. I told him that I don’t have a ticket to
watch the finals.

“Dhoni then called some “Kaka” (trainer
Ramesh Mane or ‘Mane Kaka’) and told him to arrange for my ticket. Kaka
promptly gave me a complimentary pass. I am completely moved by his
gesture,” the new “Chacha Pakistani” said on Sunday.

“He (Dhoni) asked about me and I told him that I am settled in Chicago.
Since I was standing there for a long time, he told someone to give me
fruits. I am a Pakistan fan but for today, I am a Dhoni fan. Also I have
another India connection. I am Hyderabad’s son-in-law as my wife hails
from the region,” a proud Bashir said flaunting his final match pass.

During Pakistan’s matches, Bashir, who would be in his early 50’s,
could be seen wearing a giant sized kurta in the design of his national
flag. He has also been a big hit among the local fans after supporting
Bangladesh during one of their matches.

Bashir runs a Mughlai restaurant in Chicago named “Ghareeb Nawaz” which specialises in biryani.



Why Dilip Babu will not vote for BJP

Dilip DSouza is a left-wing ideologue and author (hence the title- Dilip Babu is a proper Bengali Bhadralok name). He is also a strong voice for the minorities in India. The challenge for the BJP is to convince people like Dilip to vote for their vision of India. It is challenging because it is never right to polarize communities against each other, and two wrongs never make right either.  

While we feel that Dilip’s viewpoint is (understandably) jaundiced, the views expressed below are eminently fair and balanced.

The pity is that I actually think our constituency has a good
politician from the BJP. If he ever runs for Parliament,  my opinion of
him, by itself, would tempt me to vote for him. Yet I cannot forget he
is from the BJP. Much as I’m also tempted by the logic that we must
sometimes look at the candidate and not the party, I know this like the
back of my hand: I will not vote for this party.

The pity is, too, that any party that presides over the plethora of
scams of the last few years deserves no less than to be flung out of
power. I mean the Congress, of course. And even so, I won’t vote BJP.
They have done too much to turn away too many people like me. Perhaps
they don’t care, but that’s the way it is.

To start, there’s the obsession with building a Ram temple in
Ayodhya. Every time we hear that times have changed and young Indians
aren’t interested in this tired old nag of an issue, somebody in the BJP
will announce that building that temple is on their agenda.

India is afflicted with scams, or still widespread poverty, or poor
primary education—whatever it is, the BJP returns, every time, to that
lazy way to ask for votes: champion the Ram temple. Sure enough, it
appears in their newest manifesto too. If you had to judge solely from
the several decades that the BJP has demanded it—luckily, you don’t—this
temple is this country’s highest priority. It must take singularly
warped minds to hold tight to this warped vision for India for so long.

On from there is the way the BJP and fans label anyone remotely
critical as “anti-Hindu”. A good example is a  ‘List of Anti-Hindu
Personalities and Their Intricate Connections’ that has been doing the
rounds for some years now. (Full disclosure: I happen to be on that list.)

I know why these lists are made. “Anti-Hindu” is a surer way to get
people’s bile up, after all, than a mere “anti-BJP”. (Similar are the
labels “Pakistani agent”, “Italian origin” etc.) It’s also a lazy way to
argue, used when bereft of anything more substantial. 

On from there…I could go on, with plenty more reasons not to vote
BJP. Among them, the party’s unwillingness to see justice done for
horrific crimes. Above all, though, I believe their politics demeans

I believe we have the people, the talent and the passion in this
country to take on the world. But the BJP chooses instead to
systematically turn Indian against Indian. This applies to the
“anti-Hindu” label it uses freely, it applies to the lies and suspicion
it directs at its critics, it applies to episodes of murderous violence
that have been left to fester. For me, all this is unforgivable.

And when you call them on it, the BJP’s supporters have only this
particularly brainless response: “But the Congress also does crappy
things.” Well yes, it does. In fact, crappiness from the Congress was
the reason this country grew repulsed by that party in the first place.
But when they came to power, the BJP turned out to be no different from
the Congress, and in many ways even worse. 

 (To my knowledge, not even
the Congress holds on to lists of ‘Anti-Hindu Personalities’.)

great dilemma is that on fundamental counts like these, our two major
political parties have failed us. I won’t shy away from the challenge
this dilemma poses when I head for the voting booth. But it does also
leave me with this certainty: I won’t vote for the BJP.