Month: February 2015
Another Angry Voice on Podemos
|Why the EU is damned to doom|
On facebook I follow the extreme left page, Another Angry Voice, and they have a small piece on Podemos, the new left-wing party that’s virulently growing in Spain (even more worryingly the party wants to call a referendum on the Spanish monarchy).
Podemos and the appeal of Pablo Iglesias
The Origins of Podemos
Podemos arose out of the 15-M “indignados” protests, which were a little bit like the Spanish version of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, but crucially the Spanish protesters managed keep the movement going and convert it into a powerful political force, whilst the Occupy Wall Street movement has faded away into near irrelevance in the grand scheme of US politics.
When the right-wing Spanish government led by Mariano Rajoy brought forward plans to introduce €600,000 fines for people participating in “unauthorised” public protests, they gave the 15-M movement a huge incentive to legitimise themselves as an official political party.
The rise of Podemos
Since Podemos was formed in March 2014, the party has experienced an unprecedented rise in popularity. In May 2014, just two months after it was formed, Podemos took 8% of the vote in the European elections to bag 5 MEPs (that’s two more than the Green Party managed in the UK, despite the UK having 73 European Parliament seats to Spain’s 54).
One area in which Podemos is utterly dominating Spanish politics is in the online sphere. The Podemos Facebook pagehas picked up over 950,000 followers, which is more than the pages of all of the other political parties in Spain combined!
Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Sam Manekshaw (and a comment from Major Agha Amin)
A post from Dr Hamid Hussain. A (typically earthy) comment from military historian Major Agha Amin follows below Dr Hamid Hussain’s post.
A while ago, many officers asked about the controversies about Ayub Khan’s selection and I wrote a piece that may interest those raising these questions.
Mr. Ardeshir’s comment about Sam Manekshaw and Ayub Khan is incorrect. It is related to Sam and Yahya Khan. The real story is as follows;
In early 1947, Sam and Yahya were serving together at Military Operations directorate in New Delhi. Sam owned a red James motorcycle that looked like the picture below;
Yahya fell in love with it and Sam agreed to sell it for 1000 Rupees. In the chaos of partition, Yahya left for Pakistan promising to send the money from Pakistan but later forgot about the money. After 1971 war, Sam once joked about the incident stating that ‘”Yahya never paid me the Rs1,000 for my motorbike, but now he has paid with half his country.” In 2001, Pakistani columnist Aredshir Cowasjee went to India and met Sam. Cowasjee remembered Sam’s quip and offered to pay the money Yahya owed along with the interest. Sam replied that ‘Yahya was a good man and a good soldier. We served together and he didn’t have a mean or corrupt bone in his body’.
An additional corollary to the above story is another story. In 1946, Lt. Colonel Sam Manekshaw was GSO-1 (Operations), Major Yahya Khan was GSO-2 (Frontier Defence) and Captain S. K. Sinha was GSO-3 (Internal Security) at Military Operations Directorate in New Delhi. In 1971, General Sam Manekshaw was Indian army chief, Yahya was Pakistan army chief and Lieutenant General S. K. Sinha was head of pay and pension department at army headquarters in Delhi. When war started, Sinha sent a letter to Sam requesting for chance to participate in the war. Sinha wrote, “old G-1 is going to war with old G-2 and G-3 is being left out’.
Selection of First Native C-in-C in Pakistan
In 1947, India and Pakistan emerged as new independent states and Indian army was divided. There were no senior native officers and both countries decided to keep British officers at senior posts while native officers were given accelerated promotions to prepare them for senior positions. In India, General Robert Lockhart (commissioned in 51st Sikh; now 3 Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army) was appointed first C-in-C. He relinquished charge in January 1948 and was succeeded by Lieutenant General Francis Robert Roy Bucher (commissioned in 55th Coke’s Rifles; now 7 Frontier Force Regiment of Pakistan army. He later changed to 32nd Lancers that was amalgamated with 31st Lancers in 1922 to form 13thLancers; now an elite cavalry regiment of Pakistan army). Near the end of 1948, it was decided to appoint an Indian C-in-C to complete the nationalization process and in January 1949, General Cariappa took charge as first Indian C-in-C. In case of Pakistan, General Frank Messervy (he was commissioned in Hodson Horse) was appointed first C-in-C on August 15, 1947. He retired on February 1948 and succeeded by his Chief of Staff (COS) General Douglas Gracey (commissioned in Ist King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles and later commanded 2/3rd Gurkha Rifles). Interestingly, the last two British C-in-Cs of India belonged to regiments that were allotted to Pakistan and the two British C-in-Cs of Pakistan belonged to regiments that went to India.
On the eve of independence, Pakistan inherited only two native Brigadiers; Muhammad Akbar Khan and Nawabzada Agha Muhammad Raza. Several officers were given accelerated promotions and senior positions were filled with Pakistani officers. In 1949, it was decided that Major General Iftikhar Ali Khan will be the first native C-in-C. He was commissioned from Sandhurst in August 1929. His parent regiment was 7 Light Cavalry. Later, he was transferred to 3 Cavalry when later regiment was Indianized and he served as regiment’s Adjutant. During war, he served with newly raised 45 Cavalry. He was junior to several Pakistani officers and the list includes with commission dates in brackets; Muhammad Akbar Khan ‘Rangroot’ was Daly College Indore graduate and not Sandhurst commissioned (December 1919), Faiz Mohammed Khan (July 1921), Mohammad Ishfakul Majid (August 1924), Khairuddin Mohammad Idris (September 1925), Malik Fazal-ur-Rahman Kallue (January 1927), Nawabzada Agha Muhammad Raza (January 1927), Raja Mohammad Afzal Janjua (January 1927), Muhammad Ayub Khan (February 1928), Nasir Ali Khan (February 1928) and Mohammad Yusuf (January 1929). It is important to clarify seniority issue. At every rank, several officers are superseded and seniority alone is never a criterion for senior positions. Some officers when superseded ask for retirement while others continue to serve. Two examples will clarify this position. Mir Haider was commissioned in December 1919 and in 1949, he was Major. Jamaldar Orakzai was commissioned in August 1928 and in 1948 he was Colonel serving at Quarter Master General (QMG) branch. Haider and Orakzai were senior to Iftikhar but in view of their service track and rank, they were not relevant to the selection of army chief. It was decided to send Iftikhar for Imperial Defence Course (IDC) in London to prepare him for his job. In December 1949, his plane crashed near Jangshahi in Karachi killing all on board that included his wife and son and Director Military Operations (DMO) Brigadier Mohammad Sher Khan. Sher was a Sandhurst graduate commissioned in September 1932 and joined 6th Battalion of 13th Frontier Force Rifles (now 1 Frontier Force Regiment).
There are many confusing stories about selection of first native C-in-C of Pakistan but they relate to selection of Ayub and not Iftikhar with the exception that Ayub contended that Iftikhar’s name was floated as possible first native C-in-C but no final decision was made. This may be due to the fact that decision was made but Iftikhar died before any official notification was issued. Very few officers of that time period wrote memoirs therefore written record is very limited. Political leadership of newly independent Pakistan under Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan selected Iftikhar on the advice of British senior brass. British considered Iftikhar professionally sound and apolitical. His thoroughly westernized life style was probably a plus. Some suggest that he was tough disciplinarian and may have temper problem. According to Major General A. O. Mitha, he had ‘the reputation of eating a Brigadier or Lt. Colonel for breakfast everyday’. Ayub considered Iftikhar a good officer but ‘a difficult man’ and ‘short-tempered’. Two most credible sources about the subject matter are Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi and Major General Syed Shahid Hamid. Pataudi knew Iftikhar for a long period of time starting from the days when two were at Royal Indian Military College (RIMC) at Dehra Dun where Iftikhar was senior to him. In early 1948, Pataudi served as 14 Para Brigade commander under Iftikhar when later was commanding 10 Division. Pataudi was bachelor and stayed at Iftikhar’s house and knew Iftikhar intimately. When Pataudi came to Pakistan in October 1947, he was posted to Gardai Brigade in Waziristan commanded by Ayub. The two were together for three months and developed friendship. When Ayub was C-in-C, he superseded Pataudi therefore he was resentful. Hamid served with Iftikhar in the same 3 Cavalry Regiment. Hamid’s time in 3 Cavalry was not pleasant and he soon left the regiment. He didn’t have good memories as some Indian officers including Iftikhar preferred to interact with British officers rather than fellow Indian officers. Hamid also had friendly relations with Ayub and Ayub used to stay with him. He served as Master General Ordnance (MGO) and Adjutant General (AG) under Ayub.
These two contemporaries of Iftikhar and Ayub give different accounts and these perspectives are based on their own personal relations with the two. It is important to note that during a professional life spanning over two to three decades an officer interacts with several hundred officers in different capacities therefore one can expect quite diverse opinions. Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi considered Iftikhar professionally sound, well read and highly intelligent. In contrast, he considered Ayub as a typical battalion officer good at basic soldiering but not cut for higher direction of war. He defended Iftikhar’s aloofness by suggesting that ‘he was a very shy person which gave the impression of his being conceited, which he wasn’t’. Pataudi claims that Iftikhar was concerned about politicization of officers and distrusted politicians. He once commented that ‘it would be better for both of us if we both got out before our hands were stained and garments polluted’. Pataudi is of the view that if Iftikhar had been C-in-C, ‘he would not have allowed the Army to be used for political purposes and ‘would have never used his position as C-in-C, to come into power through the Army’. In contrast, Major General Shahid Hamid is of the view that Iftikhar was a thoroughly westernized officer (he was married to a charming Parsee girl who was number one woman rider in India.), ruthless and hated politicians. Hamid is of the view that Iftikhar would have adopted the same course later adopted by Ayub.
Iftikhar’s choice as first native C-in-C is an established fact and Pataudi states that Prime Minister contacted Iftikhar and informed him about the decision which Iftikhar shared with him. In addition, Pataudi also states that on that day Ayub was also in Lahore and contacted him and asked to arrange for a meeting with Iftikhar to get to know the incoming C-in-C. Ayub was leaving the next day therefore meeting didn’t materialize. Hamid also alludes to the fact that Ayub was always curious about Iftikhar as it was an open secret that Iftikhar would be next C-in-C. An incident narrated by Ayub also gives credence that Prime Minister had considered Iftikhar for C-in-C position. There was a division commander’s conference and Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan invited some senior officers to circuit house. He brought up the subject of selection of C-in-C and told the audience that ‘it was possible that the appointment would not go to the most senior officer’. He then elicited opinion of several officers regarding selecting a junior officer as C-in-C.
Among the list of officers senior to Iftikhar, Akbar was commissioned in 1 Brahmans but spent most of his career with Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC) with no command, staff or instructional experience (the only exception was command of Meerut sub area in 1947). In April 1946, British recommended several Indian officers for senior appointments to prepare them for command when British left. Akbar was recommended by the selection board to be Army Commander but it was probably to have a Muslim and not for professional excellence. Akbar was the only senior Muslim officer at Brigadier rank while the remaining six recommend for promotions and coveted postings were Hindus (Cariappa, Rajindra Singhji, Srinagesh, Nathu Singh, A.J. Rudra and B.S. Chimni). In Pakistan, by 1949, several officers have attained accelerated promotions and were considered professionally superior therefore Akbar was not considered for post. He retired at Major General rank in 1950. One other qualified candidate Raza was not liked by British. Brigadier Francis Ingall in the process of establishment of Pakistan a military academy dealt with Raza who was then serving as Adjutant General (AG) and didn’t have high opinion of him. Ingall considered him ‘extremely pompous’, ‘difficult to deal with’, vague’ and ‘hesitant to make decisions’. A junior councilor at British High Commission A. H. Reed remarked that Raza ‘a born intriguer, had been lobbying hard for the Commander-in-Chief position’. He also remarked that Raza was feared by juniors and universally disliked by both British and Pakistani officers. Major General A. O. Mitha who served under Raza summed up the general opinion that Raza was professionally average and ‘had the reputation of being strict and a bit of bully’. However, after a personal encounter he developed great respect for Raza for his ‘large-heartedness’ and ‘broad-mindedness’. Many other officers senior to Iftikhar later retried at Colonel and Brigadier ranks.
In early 1948, Ayub was superseded at the rank of Brigadier and two sources confirm this. Shuja Nawaz was given access to Ayub’s file for his encyclopedic work on Pakistan army and his information removes doubts about seniority. Ayub Khan was sent to command East Pakistan sub area (later designated 14th Division) with the local rank of Major General. This could have caused confusion in terms of seniority and General Gracey sent a note to Military Secretary stating that when Ayub is promoted to Major General rank, this will be antedated to the date of his local Major General rank starting January 08, 1948. Gracey went ahead to clarify the seniority list putting Ayub ‘NEXT below Maj. General Iftikhar Khan, and next above Major General Nasir Ali Khan’. This clearly shows that while Iftikhar was junior as far commission date is concerned but when he was promoted Major General, Ayub was Brigadier with only local Major General rank thus making him junior to Iftikhar. Pataudi was a friend of C-in-C General Frank Messervy and both played polo together. Pataudi states that in early 1948, when he was serving under Iftikhar at Lahore, Ayub on his way to East Pakistan passed a note to him ‘been superseded. Can you do something’? Pataudi went to Rawalpindi and met Frank Messervy and gently raised the subject. Messervy replied that selection of right officers at this stage was crucial as they will lead the army when British officers are gone.
After the death of Iftikhar, selection of C-in-C came up again. The decision was finalized sometime in September 1950 when General Douglas Gracey was C-in-C. Syed Wajahat Hussain (later Major General) served as ADC to General Gracey in 1947-48 at the rank of Lieutenant. In 1956, he visited England and stayed with General Gracey. Wajahat states that Gracey told him that after the death of Iftikhar in plane crash, the choice of C-in-C was narrowed down to Ayub, Raza and Nasir Ali Khan. According to Gracey, Ayub was picked because of his command experience compared to Raza and Nasir although Gracey was worried about Ayub’s political ambitions. Raza was commissioned in 1/7 Rajput Regiment and later commanded 6/7 Rajput and 18/7 Rajput battalions. Raza was the first Pakistani Adjutant General (AG). Nasir was also commissioned in 7th Rajput Regiment and commanded 9/7 Rajput. He was the first Pakistani Military Secretary (MS), Quarter Master General (QMG) and Chief of Staff (COS) of Pakistan army. Nasir spent all post independence time at staff positions and didn’t command a Brigade or Division. Nasir was not particular about military decorum and this may have also gone against him. In summer, sometimes he was seen wearing sandals without socks with his military uniform. In a British trained army, I’m sure this attitude would have horrified not only British but many Pakistani officers.
Gracey’s remark about Raza’s lack of command experience is curious as he commanded 12 Division. 12 Division was raised in Peshawar in November 1948 by Major General Mohammad Yusuf who commanded it until December 1949 (Division was later moved to Batrasi and finally to Murree). Yusuf was succeeded in command by Raza. Major General A. O. Mitha confirms that in his memoirs. He served under Raza when he was Commanding Officer (CO) of 9/8 Punjab Regiment and his battalion was defense battalion of the division at Batrasi. When decision about C-in-C was made in summer of 1950, Raza was in command of the division for about six months and this may have not been thought as adequate. One possibility is that Gracey was referring to mid 1949 time period during consideration for C-in-C position when Iftikhar was chosen as at that time Raza had not yet commanded a division. Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan had a favorable view of Raza as Raza’s father was Liaqat’s friend but probably recommendation of General Gracey and favorable input by Secretary of Defence Sikandar Mirza tilted the balance in Ayub’s favor. Sikandar Mirza was Secretary Defence and he weighed in Ayub’s favor. Mirza had spent his long career in Indian Political Service (IPS) on North West Frontier and familiar with the byzantine intrigues. He contacted the head of nascent Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Colonel (later Major General) Shahid Hamid and asked him to generate an adverse intelligence report about Raza with the intention of getting him out of the race for C-in-C. Shahid refused to oblige.
The command of 14th Division needs some elaboration. At the time of partition, the command in East Pakistan was designated East Pakistan Army. Ironically, this grand title was given to a formation that consisted of a single infantry battalion; 8/12 Frontier Force Regiment. When Ayub assumed command in January 1948, it was called East Pakistan Sub Area and consisted of only two infantry battalions (8/12 Frontier Force Regiment and 2/8 Punjab Regiment). In December 1948, sub area was designated 14th Division and although its command played a major role in the decision of Ayub’s appointment as first C-in-C, technically Ayub’s command consisted of only two infantry battalions.
In September 1950, it was decided that Ayub would be next C-in-C. He was appointed Deputy C-in-C under Gracey to groom him for the top job. He visited military installations in England and Germany. He took charge on January 17, 1951. Lieutenant General Ross McKay was appointed his advisor. Ayub’s appointment as first C-in-C has been criticized by many with the hindsight. This criticism is invariably in the context of Ayub’s coup and long tenure as President with the assumption that another army chief was not likely to launch the coup.
The issue of seniority and a bad report in Second World War is cited against Ayub. As far as seniority is concerned regarding three contenders; Raza, Ayub and Nasir, Raza was senior and Nasir and Ayub from the same course although Nasir was put junior to Ayub in army list. In the argument against Ayub’s professionalism a bad report is cited which is probably ‘tactical timidity’ during Second World War in 1945 by his commander Major General Thomas Wynford ‘Pete’ Rees (Served with 1/3 Madras during First World War, long stint with 5/6 Rajputana Rifles and commanded 3/6 Rajputana Rifles). Rees was commanding 19th Division in Burma. Ayub was serving with First Assam Regiment as second in command (2IC) at the rank of Major. First Assam was a divisional support unit under direct command of Rees. On January 10, 1945, Commanding Officer (CO) of First Assam Lieutenant Colonel W. F. Brown was killed and Ayub Khan assumed command. Ayub was removed from the command by Rees when Ayub suggested that battalion was not fit for the assigned task. Rees considered this as tactical timidity and removed Ayub from command. On March 07 (some accounts give the date of March 15) 1945 Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Parsons took command from Ayub. Parsons was originally from 5/6thGurkha Rifles and had served with First Assam in the past. Ayub stayed in the tent of Risaldar/Honorary Captain Ashraf Khan of Hazara until his departure to India on April 18.
All evidence suggests that Ayub got a bad report during his command of First Assam Regiment although exact nature is not clear. Pataudi states that Ayub discussed this with him when he was working with him in Waziristan. Pataudi also claims that he had seen this report when he was in Delhi. Pataudi opted for Pakistan and came to Pakistan in October 1947. While in Delhi, he was given access to files of Muslim officers opting for Pakistan as he was designated Deputy Military Secretary of Pakistan army. In October 1958, British High Commissioner Sir Gilbert Laithwaite pointed to this in his report about Ayub. Laithwaite wrote, ‘he was according to our records, a failure as a Commanding Officer (Lieutenant Colonel) on active service and had to be relieved’. Ayub survived the bad report of Rees and later re-raised and commanded his parent battalion 1/14 Punjab Regiment (now 5 Punjab of Pakistan Army). Later, he served as President of Army Selection Board tasked with recommending permanent commission to Emergency Commissioned Officers (ECOs). Some suggest that Ayub had this negative report removed from his file when he became C-in-C. Shuja Nawaz who was given access to Ayub’s file communicated to me that he does not recall seeing Rees’s report in the file. Pete Rees and Ayub’s paths crossed again when Rees was commanding Punjab Boundary Force (PBF) and Ayub served under him. Ayub Khan was one of the advisors to Reese at Colonel rank. It is not clear whether two had any problems in view of their previous unpleasant encounter. PBF was severely criticized by Punjab politicians for failure to control law and order. PBF story is another neglected chapter of subcontinent history and very little has been written about it. I have done some work on the subject and in my view it is quite unfair to criticize PBF or Ayub for the tragedy that was a chapter from Dante’s inferno. I think this left a deep mark on Ayub and his extreme distrust of politicians.
Some suggest that country’s founder Jinnah was not in favor of Ayub which is probably not correct. In October 1947, Ayub was Brigadier and commanding Gardai Brigade Group in Waziristan area command. If the assertion that Mr. Jinnah was not happy with Ayub is true then it does not make sense that Ayub is promoted Brigadier against Mr. Jinnah’s wishes and given the task of execution of Operation Curzon; withdrawal of troops from tribal areas. Similarly, Ayub was promoted Major General in January 1948 and posted to East Pakistan when Mr. Jinnah was very well in full control of all affairs. In Pakistan, there is a wrong perception that Operation Curzon was the brainchild of Jinnah. By 1946, it was clear that British were leaving and British high command had put in place a plan for removal of regular troops from tribal areas. This decision was reached before the Cabinet Mission plan when even partition of India was not envisaged. On April 24, 1946, a conference was held at Peshawar. It was attended by Governor North West Frontier Province George Cunningham, Agent to Governor General Baluchistan, Air Officer Commander-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), British minister at Kabul, C-in-C General Claude Aukinleck and senior military and civil officers. It was realized that the status of tribes will be uncertain until the outcome of Cabinet Mission plan. The decision was made that regular troops will be replaced by civil armed forces although the process was to be gradual. It was in this context that decisions such as Indianization of officer Corps of Scouts, raising of Central Waziristan Scouts, Malakand battalion and re-raising of Khyber Rifles was discussed. Gardai brigade was the first to be withdrawn and replaced by local tribal levies; Khassadars. Once Civil Armed Forces were properly organized and equipped then Wana and Razmak brigades withdrawn. Events of sub-continent moved much faster with impending independence of India, emergence of Pakistan and massive migration and slaughter put this issue on the back burner. It is to Jinnah’s credit that he made the decision quickly and swiftly implemented the plan. The caveat is that by that time tribesmen had been directed by Pakistan to greener pastures of Jammu & Kashmir during 1947-48 conflict.
Ayub Khan was an average officer not different from many of his contemporaries. He was trained as a regimental officer and he was neither trained nor did he strive to learn the higher direction of war. His reading was limited to Readers Digest type of publications and Philip Mason’s Men Who Ruled India. He was not known for reading classic or modern military works on history or art of war. This was the reason that Lieutenant General Ross McKay was appointed his advisor. Ayub was mild mannered and humble. He was handsome with an impressive personality and very pleasant. This endeared him to many international leaders.
Ninety percent of officers of Indian army both British and Indian were groomed for regimental service. Selection and training of Indian officers during Indianization of officer corps was focused on basic regimental training. It was envisioned that probably the highest rank an Indian could achieve was command of a battalion. Second World War opened the door wide open and large numbers of Indians were commissioned. War also resulted in accelerated promotions and several Indians commanded battalions. After the war, when it was clear that British Raj would come to an end, then the question of promoting Indians to senior ranks was seriously discussed. In 1947, only a handful of Indians were at colonel and brigadier ranks. Indian subcontinent went through cataclysmic changes with emergence of new states. It had an impact on all institutions including army. In these extraordinary circumstances, officers were given accelerated promotions and first Pakistani C-in-C was selected in these exceptional circumstances. What else describes the anomalies of that time period than the fact that first Indian C-in-C jumped six ranks from Major to four stars General in six years while first Pakistani C-in-C accomplished this feat in five short years?
– Major General ® Shaukat Raza. The Pakistan Army 1947-49 (Lahore: Services Book Club, 1989)
– Shuja Nawaz. Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2008)
– Major General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi. The Story of Soldering and Politics in India and Pakistan (Lahore: Wajidalis, 1978)
– Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan. Friends Not Masters (London: Oxford University Press, 1967)
– Interview of Major General ® Syed Wajahat Hussain by Major ® Agha H. Amin, Defence Journal, August 2002
– Lieutenant Colonel Mustasad Ahmad. Living Up To Heritage: The Rajputs 1947-1970 (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 1997)
– Major General Shahid Hamid. Disastrous Twilight (London: Leo Cooper, 1986)
– Lt. Colonel ® Gautam Sharma. Nationalization of The Indian Army 1885-1947 (New Delhi: Allied Pubslishers, 1996)
– Brigadier Francis Ingall. The Last of the Bengal Lancers (California: Presidio, 1988)
– Pradeep P. Barua. Gentlemen of the Raj: Indian Army Officer Corps 1817-1949 (New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2008 Indian Edition)
– Major General S. Shahid Hamid. Early Years of Pakistan (Lahore: Ferozsons, 1993)
– Major General A. O. Mitha. Unlikely Beginnings: A Soldier’s Life (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2003)
February 13, 2014
The following comment is from Major Agha Amin, (from his website here)
Dear Dr Hamid Hussain
you have simply left out joginder singh who stated that ayub khan was in chamar regiment ? joginder was his unit officer and mentioned this incident in his book behind the scenes
Shuja Nawaz had a vested interest as his brother Asif Nawaz was from Ayub Khans unit.
Also note that Shuja Nawaz in his work referred by you as encycolpedic distorted history and elevated his fatherin laws brother abdul ali malik as main hero of Chawinda while Shaukat Rizas official account maintains that Abdul Ali Malik was indecisive and just implored commanding officer 25 Cavalry “Nisar do something”
Problem is that in biased pakistan army hero had to be from between rivers indus and chenab ! Thus all Nishan i Haidars were awarded to people from this region as most generals were from this area.
I interviewed Major General Tajammul Hussain Malik in 2001 and he stated that Major Aziz Bhattis Nishan i Haidar award was not based on merit.
Even in Battle of Sulaimanke 6 FF Pashtun officer Farooq Afzal or Saeed Afzal was ignored.
I dont think that Nishan i Haidar could have been awarded to Karnal Sher and Lalak both non Punjabis if Pakistan Army had a non Punjabi Chief.
Even General Musharraf acknowledged General Kakars extreme parochialism in his book.
General Khwaja Ziauddin told me that on Asif Nawazs death Kakar requested General Ali Kuli to fly to Pindi to convince his relative President Ghulam Ishaq to appoint Kakar Chief.So Kakar was trying to reward his benefactor Ali Kuli.
It is same General Kakar who as per General Ameer Hamza was thrashed by Major Rasheed Warraich at Sulaimanke.
I remember Kakar was so unpopular for illegally stopping armys election allowance of 1993 elections that he was literally hooted by troops in Darbar held at Fortress stadium .I was on leave and went to this darbar to give company to a friend.
Brigadier Nisar main hero of 1965 war was just ignored by promotion boards as he was from Patiala (Pashtun descent) and not from main Punjabi belt.
It is same Nisar who was praised by Indians for his outstanding performance as commander of Changez Force in 1971.
You see Psc and afwc business came only in 1976 when MG Abdullah Saeed (6 FF) GOC 33 Division asked my father to write a paper and in that analysis it was discovered that most serving generals were non Psc or non afwc.Nisar was bypassed long before that time when Psc or afwc became compulsory.
Frankly much of what is going on in Pakistan is a farce.Pakistan seems to exist only between Indian border and Indus river !
In retrospect one may state that partition of 1947 was a failure .Punjabi Hindus regarded as exploiters were replaced by Lahore Gujranwala Faisalabad Sargodha and Pindi Divisions with some Pashtun low caste Khattak Kammis and Hindko Kakar clowns.LTC Feroz , 33 FF my squash partner in Okara in 1993 recounted that kakar counted cherries of his garden as corps commander and suspected that 33 FF guard was pinching the official residences gardens cherries ?
A Trip to Pakistan
End of the Muslim Brotherhood
This is an old post and I would probably change some things now (and in fact, will change some things soon once I do a new post) But this was lost when the old Brownpundits crashed and I wanted to recover it. So here it is
Posted on October 7, 2013 by omar
Hussein Ibish has written an article on the decline and (impending?) fall of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Reports of their death may be exaggerated, but surely the “Islamist political party” project is not doing well in most places. Turkey will be cited as an immediate counter-example, but I think AKP just hasn’t had the chance to really become too “Islamic” yet. If and when they do (and pressure to do so is bound to come from within, unless the project falls apart so badly in the middle east that Turkey gets away without trying it), they will find themselves in trouble as well.
The problem (in over-simplified form):
Modern states and modern politics (not just all the complex debates about how power should be exercised, who exercises it, who decides who exercises it, the theories around it; but also the actual institutions and mechanisms that evolved) arose first and foremost in Europe. There are surely things about that evolution that are contingent and could have been different elsewhere, but there are also many very fundamental features of modern life (modern levels of knowledge, modern industry and organization, modern understanding of human biology, psychology, sociology etc) that will still hold no matter where they develop on this planet. This is an extremely dense and imposing edifice. You cannot reject it and be modern in ways most people do seem to want to be modern (I have NEVER met an Islamist who did not want an air-force). Some non-western countries have already managed that knowledge transfer (e.g. Japan, South Korea), others are getting there (China), others hope to get there someday (India?) but Muslims are notable for wanting to get there while remaining medieval in terms of theology, law and politics. And not just at the fringes. Fringes are fringes everywhere. But in the Islamicate world, this dream is mainstream.
Why? maybe because while no serious theory of politics developed in Islamicate religious thought (Ibn Khaldun is not religious literature), some dreams/fantasies of an idealized “Islamic state” were allowed to percolate. The deal was that the ulama would throw this dream around at each other and leave actual ruling to the rulers (who in practice were always and everywhere guided by existing Byzantine, Persian and Central Asian models and by “mirrors for princes” kind of literature, not by the dreamworld of the “rightly guided caliphs”). Every Islamicate empire down to the late Ottomans ruled in the name of Islam, but they did so using institutions and methods that were typically West-Asian/Central-Asian in origin. And then the Europeans took off (literally by 1903 but earlier metaphorically) and that whole world crashed and burned.
And out of this wreckage, somebody dug up the old stories of the rightly guided caliphs; It seems to me that early fantasists (like Allama Iqbal) took it for granted that a lot of this is just propaganda and we all need propaganda, so “ek hi suf mein khaRey ho gaey Mahmood o Ayaz” (a famous verse of Iqbal, describing how Sultan Mahmood and his “slave” Ayaz could pray in one row; the wonders of Islam, that sort of thing) but they fully expected reality to be much closer to London than it was to Medina (witness his approval of the Grand Turkish assembly). To them, it was more like Chinese or Japanese reformers creating their own version of what worked and getting out from under the imperialist thumb. I am sure Iqbal did not expect to be the leading poet of the Pakistani Taliban! But over time, stories frequently repeated can come to be seen as the truth. Islamist parties want to create powerful, modern Islamic states. But the stories they are using are more Islamic than modern. Far more so than the early reformers perhaps realized. The result is that every party is all the time in danger of becoming hostage to those espousing primitive notions of Shariah law and medieval political ideas. It turns out that pretending to have “our own unique genius” was much easier than actually having any genius that could get the job done. Human nature being what it is, the easy path was taken.
A small role was also played by well-meaning Western supporters, who wished to help the “lesser races” out of their misery and raise their “self-esteem”, and piled it on thick. With validation coming from Westerners, some in the Westoxicated Muslim elites had little difficulty believing “our indigenous tradition, our glorious heritage” and so on.
And last but not the least, some of the brightest minds of our generation chose to be ruined by postcolonialism instead of opting for more wholesome pursuits like sex, drugs and rock and roll. Today, the Leftist intelligentsia (otherwise the natural opponents of the Islamist parties) in Muslim countries is so heavily contaminated with Western academic claptrap that some can be found cheering on the Islamists as signs of welcome “resistance to the dominant narrative”. OK, maybe this is not true of Arab countries, I dont know. It seems to be prevalent in a certain Western educated, upper-class Pakistani and Indian context though.
The results do not look pleasant.
PS: On Islamicate empires, my background view:
Islamicate empires (the dominant form of political organization in the middle east and South Asia since the advent of Islam) had a near-total separation religion and state. The empires were run as West Asian empires, mostly (almost totally) an evolution of previous imperial patterns in that region. The religion evolved within these empires, but had practically nothing to say about politics. Religion was part and parcel OF the empires, but religious doctrine provided practically NO guidance to the political process. The political process used religion but was neither derived from it, nor bound by it .
Islamic theology accepted practically ANY ruler as long the rulers were Muslims. An imaginary idealized Islamic state was discussed at times but had little to no connection with actual power politics, contemporary OR past.
Empires governed loosely and interfered little with the everyday religious rituals of the ruled, especially outside the urban core. The rulers were interested in collecting taxes and continuing to rule. Most of the ruled gave as little as possible in taxes and had as little as possible to do with their rulers. This is not a specifically Islamic pattern, but it was almost universal in Islamicate empires.
As a result, Muslim religious literature developed no serious political thought. “mirrors of princes” and pre-Muslim (or not-specifically Muslim) traditions guided actual politics, not some notion of “Islamic state”.
PPS: some misconceptions are coming up repeatedly:
1. That I am referring to ALL muslims. Not so. I am talking about Islamist parties, which are NOT a majority in most Muslim countries, but are mainstream in most. There is also the matter of the Islamist parties getting a certain authenticity cachet in the eyes of Western observers looking for “Muslim representatives” in the multiculturalist universe.
2. That this is about whether the Egyptian military or the Morroccan king are making X or Y correct choice. No, its not about them. Its a broader generalization; the MODE of failure may vary. But failure of the Islamist political project is inevitable…not because there can be no such project in principle, but because the project as it has actually developed in the 20th century is based on the twin illusions of “the ideal Islamic state” and “Islamic political science”…neither of which actually existed in history.
The signs when you become white
(1.) you actually start becoming punctual
Is Islam a Religion of the Book?
Razib put up an interesting post on this topic on his blog . I think his point is that no religion is a “religion of the book”. People make the religion and they remake it as time demands. Messily and unpredictably in many cases, but still, it moves. And in this sense, Islam is no more fixed in stone by what is written or not written in it’s text (or texts) than any other religion.
Someone then commented (and I urge you to read the post and the comments, and the hyperlinks, they are all relevant and make this post clearer) as follows:
“Well, if you take the Old Testament and Koran at face value, the OT is more violent. The interesting question is then why Islam ends up being more violent than Judaism or Christianity, and for that I agree you have to thank subsequent tradition and reinterpretation of the violence in the text. It appears that for whatever reason Islam has carried out less of this kind of reinterpretation, so what was originally a less violent founding text ends up causing more violence because it is being interpreted much more literally.”
I replied there, and then thought I would put that reply up as a new post here because I want to see what people think of this quick and off-the-cuff comment. THEN, I can maybe improve it in a final new post this weekend. So, without further ado, my comment:
There is an easier explanation. Islam the religion we know today (classical Islam of the four Sunni schools and it’s Shia counterparts) developed in the womb of the Arab empire. It is evident that it provided a unifying ideology and a theological justification for that empire (and in the case of various Shia sects, varying degrees of resistance or revolt against that empire), but at the very least, they grew and formed together; one was not the later product of the fully formed other. Being the religion of a (very successful and impressive) imperialist project, it’s “official” mature Sunni version obviously has a military-supremacist feel to it.
Whether the text canonized as “foundational document” does or does not fully explain the imperialism and supremacism is a red herring. The Quran is a fairly long book, but to an outsider it should be immediately obvious that you can create MANY different Islams around that book and if you did it all over again, NONE of them have to look like classical Sunni Islam. The details of Sunni Islam (who gets to rule, what daily life is supposed to look like, how non-Muslims should be treated, etc) are not some sort of direct and unambiguous reading of the Quran. Even the 5 daily prayers are not specified in the Quran. The schools of classical Sunni Islam are supposedly based on the Quran and hadith, but the Quran and the hadiths are clearly cherry picked and manipulated (and in the case of the hadiths, frequently just invented) based on the perceived needs of the empire, the ulama, the individual commentators, human nature, economics, whatever (insert favorite element here).
So in principle, we should be able to make new Islams as needed (and some of us have indeed done so over the centuries…the Ismailis being one extreme example) and I am sure many of us will do that in the days to come as well. The Reza Aslan types are right about that (though i seriously doubt that HE can make anything lasting). In fact, in terms of practice, millions of Muslims have already “invented new Islams”. Just as a random example, most contemporary Muslims do not have concubines and do not buy and sell slaves (and find the thought of doing so shocking). They take oaths of loyalty to all sorts of “un-Islamic” states and most of them turn out to be loyal at least to the same degree as their other fellow citizens of various hedonistic modern states. And so on and so forth.
What sets them apart is their inability (until now) to publicly and comfortably articulate a theological framework that rejects medieval (aka no longer fashionable) elements of classical Sunni Islam. And this is especially a problem in Muslim majority countries. What stops them? I think apostasy and blasphemy laws (and the broader memes that uphold those laws) play a big role. King Hussein or Benazir Bhutto or even Rouhani may have private thoughts about changing X or Y inconvenient parts, but to speak up would be to invite accusations of blasphemy and apostasy. So they fudge and do one thing while paying lip service to another. Unfortunately, this means the upholders of classical Islam (and ISIS and the Wahabis are not as far from the mainstream Sunni Ulama in theory as is sometimes portrayed, though clearly they are pretty far in practice) have the edge in debates in the public sphere. This IS a serious problem. But the internet has made it very hard to keep inconvenient thoughts out of view. So there will be much churning. Eventually, some countries will emerge out of it better than others.
ISIS itself will not. Of course, in principle, anything is possible. But we can still make predictions based on whatever model we have in our head. Like most predictions in social science and history, they will not be mathematical and precise and our confidence in them (or our ability to convince others, even when others accept most of our premises) will not be akin to the predictions of mathematics or physics. But for whatever it’s worth, I don’t think ISIS will settle into some semi-comfortable equilibrium. They will only destory and create chaos. And eventually they will be destroyed, though it is possible (maybe even likely) that large parts of Syria, Iraq and North Africa could become like Somalia. Too messy, too violent and too poor to be worth the effort of colonizing even by intact nearby states. But probably not forever. The real estate is too valuable and eventually someone will bring order to it. Probably using more force and cruder methods than liberal modern intellectuals are comfortable with.
Indian Troops in East Africa
Caste “privilege”, the Americal Dalit speaks
Over at The Aerogram there is an interesting piece up, Caste Privilege 101: A Primer for the Privileged. The main downside of the piece is that it is standard post-colonial “social justice warrior” claptrap. Unless you buy into the premises a lot of the rhetoric falls flat. You can really write a regular expression to just “search & replace”, and it could be about another set of people. Really the post just leverages pretty generic ideas about race privilege, and interpolates them into a South Asian context.
But the good part is that it is interesting that the experiences of low caste South Asians is highlighted. There simply aren’t that many in the Diaspora…or are there? Perhaps they “pass” as this woman and her family have done? And it is a nice reality check to note that what many South Asians consider normative South Asian behavior and folkways are actually just representative of a relative thin and elite strata of Indian cultures. It is also quite sweet and delicious when the authors suggest that many South Asian Americans with names like Iyer and Mukherjee who play the part of “oppressed person of color,” despite a customary elite family background, and impeccable educational qualifications and a high income, are oblivious to the structures of privilege in which they partake while excoriating white society.
The major issue I have is that in the process of lecturing (and frankly hectoring) higher caste Indians the authors express their own narrow viewpoints. For example, when talking about religious differences between low castes and higher castes, they excise Muslims out of the equation. As Muslims are about 1/3 of the South Asian population this seems an important lacunae, and as we all know there are caste and caste-like structures within Islam too, some of which have been imported from Hinduism (e.g., “Muslim Dalits”).
Finally, a lot of the generalizations about upper caste Indians seems to be bullshit. American born Indian Americans intermarry at nearly a 50% clip. I really don’t think that caste matters that much when they (we) are marrying people of other races at a very high rate. The fact is that no matter if you are a fair skinned Pandit or a dark skinned Nadar in this country you’re a “sand nigger.” Next to that all the caste posturing looks like a farce.
Victimhood, Desi Post-Marxists, Social Justice, Racism and other random thoughts
Just some random thoughts trigerred by a question that Razib asked and a post on FB.
“Why are all South Asian American websites so Left?
Any thoughts? It’s a consistent tendency that explicitly South Asian (de facto Indian) websites tend to have a Left inflection. This means that they’re soaked in critical race theory assumptions, but also genuflect to broader Left liberal concerns and priorities (e.g., “black lives matter” or the boycott of Israel). My hypothesis is that it’s a selection bias in the type of people who set up these websites, and read these websites. Though the average South Asian American is a liberal Democrat, they’re not that political, and too busy to know much about “intersectionality.” There are conservative South Asian Americans in the public intellectual space, but they are people like Avik Roy or Reihan Salam, whose focus is rarely on South Asians (though Reihan brings up his Bangladeshi background now and then).”
I think (and I think Razib would agree) that not ALL South Asian websites have a Left inflection. For example, I am sure there are a number affiliated with Hindutvadis/RajivMalhotra types that are explicitly anti-Left wing. And I am sure there are a number affiliated with various Muslim groups that are in their own world, impossible to classify as left or right, just not-WEIRD. But that being said, there IS a very distinct leftward tilt in the highly educated westernized South Asian crowd. Since this is exactly the crowd one finds in universities and “serious” media and arguing in “intellectual” blogs and so on, their visibility is far beyond their actual numbers. And it is not just about visibility. Most people (in some sense, almost ALL people) get their views and opinions ready-made from a relatively small group of opinion-makers. The extraordinary dominance of some (not all; some process of meme-selection does go on) left wing tropes in this highly educated and influential group therefore translates into wide (mostly uncritical and superficial) acceptance of many of these tropes within the larger South Asian community.
Which then brings us back to why? I have a few thoughts:
1. Victimhood bonus. I really think this is the single most powerful motivator. Many highly educated Indians (and Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, etc) come from an elite background and any reasonably consistent left wing analysis would have them feeling guilty about their position back home. But suddenly, here in Columbia university, you can get to play victim at no cost (and with some benefits..especially if you stay in the humanities, in which case career choices and peer groups will reinforce and support that choice). It is a VERY tempting offer and only the most churlish and obstinately pig-headed can pass it up. Racialicious is delicious. And this bonus is on offer from the Left, not the Right. That fork in the road and the choice to be made are therefore completely clear and impossible to resist.
2. Marxism from back home. Marxism was really the default ideology of the first anti-colonial generation in Asia and Africa. In some places, where real Marxist revolutionaries tried armed violent revolution and got put down (as in Malaysia) or were pre-emptively slaughtered by CIA-supported generals (Indonesia) the situation was more muddled, but in the Indian subcontinent the educated elite was highly influenced by Marxism. Most of us brought that vague left wing symnpathy with us to the West (it was not very deep. But then, it never is, anywhere; most left wing parties have 3 ideologues who actually try to read Capital, the rest are lucky if they can read the manifesto) and therefore naturally gravitated to the left in the West. The Left in the West had meanwhile moved on to post-Marxist pomo poco bullshit and that actually proved more attractive to most elite-origin desis than the more “economist” and organized revolutionary Marxism of the old days. No need to be poor, no need to be hunted by the FBI, and all the benefits of being on the right side of history. Who could resist?
3. Racism. Obviously there really IS a substratum of race conciousness and of explicit, or now mostly implicit, racial superiority in European and North American civilization. This is owned and massively condemned by the new Left (in fact, it has almost become the default organizing principle of the new Left, in place of proletarian revolution) and denied or (on the fringes these days) owned and honored by the Right. The choice is clear.
4. Ignorance. Never underestimate the ignorance of the educated human specimen. Since, unlike our working class fellow immigrants, we are mostly ignorant and simultaneously proud of our vast erudition, there is little chance we can spot blind spots, misrepresentation or total muckups in the Left wing post-marxist world after we move into it. We read the correct books, follow the correct opinion makers and become more and more ignorant and more and more proud of our vast knowledge. The clear choice is then reinforced. No surprise.
5. Truth. And last (and maybe least, or am I being too harsh?) there are elements of truth in the left wing position. The fetishization of individualism and guns and whatnot on the Right in America for example is just not very appealing. Environmentalism, healthcare, education, social justice, tolerance…on so many things the claim is that the left has the humane, reasonable and progressive position. And this claim has enough truth in it to keep the left the default setting for most educated immigrants. There is a “thinking right” and there are great inconsistences and even idiocies in the actual details of the “Left” once you get into it, but once you step ashore on the left side of the beach, you rarely even get to see those… So you keep going. Something like that.
Finally, and at a tangent to this whole business. The young people so tragically shot in N. Carolina. Some of our friends were naturally concerned that this reflects a new level of Islamophobia in this country. I had posted a link to a story about lynchings in the deep South (a century ago, things have changed a lot, even in the South) and a good friend commented that now they are lynching Muslims. My first muddled thoughts were (as usual? I am beginning to suspect I am sometimes just contrarian for the sake of being contrarian? maybe so) to deny that this is a lynching. I am copying my FB comments here without editing (you can figure out the context pretty easily) just to get thoughts from other better informed (and perhaps wiser) commentators:
Me: The “Muslim Lynching” in N Carolina, while a huge tragedy for those three good people and their grieving families, was NOT a lynching at all. That was my point. Actually this thought first came to me several years ago in LA. I was at an award ceremony for a (good) South Asian social work organization and some of the speakers were laying it on about their struggle against oppression and racism. I happened to be sitting next to a Black lady and after I told her that I did not think our experience had ANYTHING in common with the Black experience, she felt permitted to open up…and she did. She said she was happy to work in solidarity with people like us, but for us to somehow claim victimhood in the same ranks as Black Americans was, frankly, very very irritating to her. I agreed with her completely and we parted in perfect harmony 🙂 . Since then, I have had other reasons to get irritated by the “social justice warrior” types and have had occasion to think that Neitzsche (PBUH) may have had a bit of a point about such things. As a non-aristocrat (and unlike you, not much of a Roman General at heart 😉 ) I am not exactly pining for the return of aristocratic values, but I cannot help the occasional thought that White people who write for “The Nation” and whine about White supremacy and the poor huddled masses of Brown people being fooled by their superiors are, in some sense, in the happy position of whining about being so bloody superior..and of course, there are other more substantive problems with the whole identity politics run amuck thing.. .anyway, I am not sure it reflects well on us….this thought needs more serious elaboration and is liable to massive misunderstanding, so I will leave it here, but no, I dont think Carolina was ANYTHING like a lynching. It’s not a lynching when the local community goes around trying to be nice to the lynched..
To which a friend responded:
It’s a terrible tragedy what happened in NC. I’m sure the victims’ faith had something to do with it, but it’s also important to realize that it’s extremely hard to demand an understanding and compassionate attitude from the non-Muslim US public when the later has been witnessing unimaginable scenes of carnage running on a daily basis from the Muslim quarters of the world—beheading, burning people alive, rape, and plunder, being done systematically and in keeping with the ideological framework of Islam. I believe this was a random act of terror and doesn’t represent the mainstream American attitude. Comparing this tragedy by invoking lynching of black people is disingenuous or rather simplistic. In these trying times one has to be mindful that If only 10% of the Muslims are to be the extremists type, the number is higher than this, we are talking about 150 million strong diehard army which is glad to slay and get slain in their march to subjugate the entire world to their god, as per their holy book, surah 9111. It’s a staggering number indeed that’s diffused globally, and not to mention a good 50% of their sympathizers, the useful idiots, the clueless moderates. Eventually if moderate Muslims don’t accept this as a reality they are the ones who will be the next victims, either at the hands of the extremists or the hate crimes that’s bound to shoot up in the wake of atrocities which are too many to count. Islam has the crisis of ideology, an ideology that is intertwined with Muslims identity. Ultimately, it’s a crisis of Muslim identity. It’s not looking good for a very long time to come.
Me: I will take the opposite tack and suggest that the “fear of Muslims” and their impending clash with civilization is itself exaggerated. I think IS type atrocities will mostly occur in Muslim countries. Most European Muslim tourists-killers going to IS will get blown up by barrel bombs and go on to meet their houri quota rather soon. Few will make it back to explode in Europe and VERY FEW will make it to America (two oceans and Canada, alhamdolillah). Neither the terrorist campaign nor the backlash will be as huge as we sometimes fear. Or at least, that is my guess for today. Tomorrow, I may be in a different frame of mind…
Him: Technically you are correct. Omar Ali. But humans are not that objective when it comes to matters pertaining to faith and scenes of daily brutality committed in the name of religion. Perception is what matters in these situations.
Me: My thought was that we may see those scenes and think about them more than the average American. Most people have already classified “those barbarians” as barbarians. But then they have a life to live and I dont find most Americans obsessing about it…Maybe I am wrong, but that is how it seems right now.
Him: Those ‘barbarians’ carry a black flag inscribed with the first kalimah. Images like these make it very easy for the mind to associate.
Me: again, my thought was that the kalima and so on are more OUR crisis and OUR problem. Hardly worth notice for most Americans…
I have to run, but what do you think??