Kabuki Dance – Pakistan’s Balancing Act

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Following was in response to several questions regarding Pakistan’s regional challenges and current policies.

 Kabuki Dance – Pakistan’s Balancing Act

Hamid Hussain

Pakistan’s challenging regional environment has taken some new turns and new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to cope up with these challenges.  Government’s major advantage is that it has no clash with the dominant army.  In many areas of foreign policy, it has ceded significant ground to the army.

Pakistan is in a difficult spot on three issues. First is rapid pace of negotiations between Taliban and Americans with projected quick withdrawal of American troops, second is isolation of Iran and third is potential entanglement in intra-Arab rivalry with United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia on one and Qatar on the other side.  Pakistan is facing these regional challenges in the background of internal political instability and very serious economic downward trend.  Part of political instability and associated economic meltdown is due to self-inflicted wounds.  Departing from the normal process of check and balance, judiciary and army played an active role in tuning up the system that will have its own set of consequences. It has widened the political gulf and added new fissures.

Regional challenges of Pakistan are directly linked with American policies.  We are living in a Trumpian world that has sowed a lot of confusion on all fronts.  Every country and non-state player is adjusting positions at such a rapid speed that it is hard to make sense of every move.  Pakistan is also caught in this Trumpian world on several fronts.

US policy is in disarray with no coordination between different government agencies.  President Trump is using single point agents without full institutional support behind these efforts.  In many cases, some power centers of Washington are diametrically opposed to President’s efforts.   It is probably right time for withdrawal of American troops from both Syria and Afghanistan. Trump may have realized what Christopher Fettweis wrote in 2008 in his book Losing Hurts Twice as Bad that “bringing peace to every corner of the globe, even those whose stability we have wrecked through our own incompetence, is not necessarily in the strategic interest of the United States”.   However, the method in which it is being done has confused both allies and foes.  American intelligence agencies are publicly disagreeing with Trump that is unprecedented.  In late January 2019, in a hearing at Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence and heads of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) contradicted Trump on security issues.  They told the committee that Iran was still abiding by the nuclear deal.  Trump had pulled out of the deal stating that Tehran had broken the deal.  Furious Trump sent his twitter tirade saying that ‘the intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naïve when it comes to the dangers of Iran.  They are wrong’.  Continue reading “Kabuki Dance – Pakistan’s Balancing Act”

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Why I write on India’s lack of Asabiyyah

SC writes:

I have a suggestion for the bloggers. if you really want this blog to become popular and attract more insightful, witty and intelligent commenters, then you need to outgrow this India-Pakistan never-ending soap opera. This, and the other done-to-death Aryan-Dravidian debate occupies 90% of reading space on this blog.

There are many other interesting topics to talk about. If you are running out of ideas here are some from the top of my head. Continue reading “Why I write on India’s lack of Asabiyyah”

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Wagner and India-

I went through Kim’s Twitter and website.His style and approach reminds me of China Mieville.

I guess there’s always a niche for a Westerner to take on “Eastern topics.” I wonder if he would have gotten so much traction or controversy with his work if he was a plain old Sikh?

The Daily Telegraph would have probably not noticed him or been very careful in what it wrote. It is a bit perverse to see what is a hugely important in Indian history now being “milked”.

As an aside name me coloured Shakespearan academics (in Western institutions) or in Western history? It’s rare to see a coloured individuals teach Western history topics to white students; if Coloured are in humanities and academia, it will be in coloured topics. It’s a bit like casting white actors to play Middle Eastern and other ethnic roles.

I was ruminating the other day what was most interesting about that video of the little girl interrupting her dad on the BBC; is that the BBC had taken so much effort to find the one white American academic they could speak to in Korea about Korea.

Now it may seem I’m just having a usual gripe about Colonisers but it’s simply a reflection that the highest echelons of academa still remain steeped in white privilege.

I’ve seen this time and time again in Britain; as Britain begins to “brown”, the white spaces just grow and fossilise. There might be much gripe about diversity but Britain at the top looks and feels extremely different to urban Britain.

Minorities have a few choices at their disposal:

(1.) Struggle to the top but they will have to invisibly “whiten” as they do so. It is essentially adopting

(2.) Just focus on making money and being hyper-bourgeois; leave exciting Bohemian areas to white people.

(3.) Become angry and disaffected to be noticed but so much anger is corrosive to the soul. I get tired of every other tweet being “I cried with rage” about relatively abstract and trivial topics. I wish I could send every SJW to the third world for a 6 month to understand what “real problems are”.

(4.) Do what I do and create another base “back home.” I don’t have much privilege in the West but I sort have privilege in the East as a Westerner (yes it’s a perverse logic). Privilege is really important to get ahead in life and the absurd arguments of SJWs that they need to “atone” for their privilege is essentially that they are so far ahead that they need to give others a lift up.

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What to read if you don’t want to read Guha

In the podcast with Kushal Mehra he made an offhand comment that it was strange that conservative American intellectual Ben Shapiro was reading India After Gandhi to understand his country. Mehra’s confusion is simply that Shapiro is on the Right, but he is reading from the perspective of Indian Left to understand India. Though probably hyperbolic, perhaps it would be like a Hindu nationalist reading Howard Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States to understand America.

I know there are issues India After Gandhi. My friend Reihan Salam thought that Amardeep Singh was entirely too uncritical when he blogged the book many years ago. Since I have no read the book I will not hazard to offer an opinion.

But, the question then remains: what books on Indian history should an American read to offer up some balance? This is a live issue, as an American conservative friend was himself considering reading  India After Gandhi before being taken aback by Mehra’s comment about Shapiro and his reading habits.

Please leave book recommendations!

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Pakistani Perfidy & The Nehruvian Deep State

As a minority, it is the everyday discrimination that hurts me most

In a campaign led by a few other residents, the Hindu family was refused their basic right of acquiring the property. It was claimed that instructions to prevent Hindus from acquiring apartments had come from an army office located near the building, based on the so-called belief that all Hindus are Indian spies. That claim was later found out to be false.

Personal conversations revealed that the bigoted residents were actually really concerned about the family setting up idols in their home as part of their religious rites. There were some other, more rational residents, who suggested that what the Hindu family did in their home was their private business, but the voices of sanity were silenced.

The article is written by a Pakistani Christian and is couched in the language of engrained fear. No Pakistani minority will dare lash out in the same manner that Indian Muslims do.

I eagerly await Kabir Bhai and his fellow Pakistani liberals to lecture us:

(1.) Pakistan is a Muslim state so that there is absolutely nothing we can do about this.

(2.) India does the same thing with vegetarian colonies.

The Roots of Hindu Rage are very simple. They are seeing their Hindu kin being turned into second-class citizens all over the Muslim world, while the Indian Muslim minority flaunt (and exploit) their privileges in India. Compared to the Muslim minority in Myanmar, China or even Israel; Indian Muslims have it exceptionally easy.

AR Rahman and Adnan Sami were holding court like demi-gods in the Voice yesterday; I cannot think of a single society where Muslims & Islamicate culture hold so much prestige.

If the same thing had happened to India to a Muslim family; the Nehruvians, post-modernists and NGOs would make sure it’s front page news.

Nehru India as the “Deep State”

The Deep State of India is Nehruvian India, which is driven to ensure that the post-Independence constitutional settlement endures. The inane constitutional settlement ensures that India will always be a fractured nation and therefore will need a “Dynasty” to wield power.

Would HinduRashtra split India?

Hindu India would not lead to a fractured India because most of the Hindu states and population are anyway strongly Hindu. The only non-Hindu states (Punjab, some of the seven sisters) would be able to safeguard their own local traditions in the same manner Tamils have done with regards to Hindi; they are not pan-Indian ethnicities. There is only one minority that will screech and battle every step to Hindu Rashtra and that is the Muslim minority. They will never sing Vande Mataram or appease the Hindu majority. Babri Masjid need not have been destroyed; Hindus are not a vengeful people and Ram idols in the building would have turned it into another Balaji site.

What is happening is that Hindu Rage at Muslim behaviour is instead being deflected towards Islamicate culture (and the odd riot) and therefore Allahabad pays the prices for Allah refusing to share the limelight with Hindu deities.

Rahul Gandhi in context with the rest of the global Left

There is nothing miraculous about Rahul Gandhi’s resurgence; it is the same syndrome you see in progressive parties all over the world.

Rahul Gandhi is Jeremy Corbyn, Beto O’Rourke, Justin Trudeau and even Macron. The diverse left needs a straight white male figurehead/kingmaker to hold its coalition together whereas the right can experiment with different leaders (May, Merkel, Modi, Marine Le Pen).

Nehru India as the Brahmin bulwark against a Shudra HinduRashtra

The upper caste urban vote bank of the BJP feel their guilt expiated when they are able to vote for a OBC like Modi; it may be a reason why Advani (a Sindhi Brahmin) never made it as PM. Maybe the Brahmins of the BJP aren’t able to maybe fight tooth and claw or as hard their Shudra counterparts?

It also raises an interesting question that if Hindu India’s best dynasties were actually Shudra (Gupta, Mauryas), then is the Mughal-British-Nehruvian Deep State of India committed to Brahmin rule by the Nehru-Gandhi clan as opposed to Shudra Rule by the BJP?

The Vijaynagar Empire and the saving of the Hindu Majority

It is interesting how Indian history is taught in a very misleading way. Akbar and the Mughals are presented as Indian (which is questionable since their eye-watering opulence, the Peacock Throne apparently cost twice as much as the Taj) but the Vijaynagar Empire is seen as a footnote (there is an important twitter thread on it, which I can’t find).

The Vijaynagar Empire probably did save Hinduism from Islam by keeping South India structurally and absolutely Hindu. It is interesting that Northwest and north east India are majority Muslim (when one includes Pak & Bangladesh into it) but that South India, the other great wing of India, is 90%+ Hindu. There is no reason why South India & the Deccan, relatively far from the Brahmanical and Sanskrit core of UP, should not have had a substantially Muslim contiguous belt like the Punjab and Bengal.

There are different reasons as to why the Punjab and Bengal became Muslim but by the time the Muslim dynasties had infiltrated the South, there was an intellectually and ideologically resilient Hindu population.

I would also hazard that though the Deep State is optically secular-Hindu but structurally Mughal & British.

Part-Partition – the worst of all worlds

It explains why Nehru and Gandhi agreed to a “worst of all worlds” with a part-partition when they should have either gone for No-Partition or a Full Partition.

They could have made false promises to Jinnah, keep India united, wait for Jinnah to die and then set about their true scheme- that was the modus operandi of Jinnah and Iqbal to lie compulsively, promise everything and never settle except for what they wanted. Pakistan is only following the blueprint set by Jinnah and Iqbal.

Otherwise in a “Full Partition” Gandhi and Nehru should have insisted on a full and final exchange of populations in the mode of Greece & Turkey. Even though Greece and Turkey have a bloody history; it is not as tortuous as India and Pakistan. This is because India & Pakistan had an incomplete partition by Nehruvian-Gandhian design. Gandhi was assassinated on his way to advocated for the rights of Pakistan.

South India as the only “structurally” Hindu society

It is only South India and Bali that are structurally Hindu societies (is it any wonder that the great architectural monuments in the South are Temples and in the North are Mosques) but these thoughts are either for another post, my journal or my locked blog (sometimes my writings can be eye-watering controversial and I prefer them somewhere safe but private).

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On the difficulties of cross-cultural communication

I speak English. But I speak a certain type of American English. I’m brown. But my culture is American.

On a blog like this, these structural problems give rise to particular issues. I actually saw it on the old Sepia Mutiny blog first. Indian English is a distinct dialect not only in accent and lexicon but also in idiosyncrasies in its idioms.

When we speak and write to the audience of this weblog, Indian and American (or British) audiences may actually infer different implications of the things we say. The easiest way to illustrate this is the use of the word “secularist.” The word is rich and pregnant with connotation and association for the Indian audience, but not so much for the American one, where it denotes something clear, distinct, and delimited. For the Indian audience, I avoid using the word “secularist” and “secular”, because I don’t want to get involved in a stupid argument that I have a marginal investment in.

I really can’t fix this issue of semiotics and linguistics. Sometimes confusions will ensue, and I will point out the reason.

But, there are two problems with some Indian commenters of this weblog that I want to highlight:

  1. Throwing up a “wall of text” in lieu of a concise argument.
  2. Obvious bad-faith posturing.

On my posts, if you engage in this behavior I may just delete your comments without warning. Those of you who have engaged in #2, I know exactly who you are, and I may delete your comments without warning too. Talking with a friend who is Indian but not raised in the United States, it could simply be that this behavior is taken for granted as normal by Indians (Hindu nationalist repurposing of SJW talking points without any shame suggests to me that this may be the case). That’s fine. But not on my posts.

I am not going to manage the posts of others. So perhaps my posts will become deserts of commentary. I am at peace with that.

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BrownCast Podcast episode 15: conversation with a Carvaka

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunes and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above. You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…this podcast has been up for nearly a week on the patron page).

As far as show notes go, just check out Kushal Mehra’s YouTube page.

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We are all Aryans now

Last year I contributed a chapter to a book soon to be published in India, Which of Us are Aryans? In answer to the question, the straightforward answer is that almost all of us are Aryans. That is, the thin but persistent layer of Indo-Aryan (“steppe”) ancestry is present across the subcontinent. In higher fractions among Brahmins and Kshatriyas than in Dalits, in the northwest than the southeast, and among Indo-European speakers than Dravidians. But this ancestral component and its cultural correlates are found across southern Asia.

Secondarily, there has been some discussion about the negative valence in the West about the term “Aryans.” In particular, its “cultural appropriation” by German Nazis by way of Theosophy and various spiritual and quasi-spiritual movements in the early 20th century.

As an American to see the word “Aryan” bandied about like this is strange and a bit uncomfortable. But there are now more than 1 billion Indians, so I don’t believe we in the West are a position dictate in terms of the lexicon that we borrowed from Indians in the first place, often without clear attribution (most Americans and Europeans would be surprised that “Aryan” is an Indian and Iranian term).

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