General Bajwa, please retire

This blog was previously published on 28 November 2019 and is being re-published, like many recovered blogposts, over here.

There has been a crisis of governance in Pakistan over the last few days as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) controlled government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has abandoned all its governance reponsibilities to try and get General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) an extension of three more years.

Now he is about to begin a period as Army Chief, beyond his entitlement. Unlike calling for his firing, like I did the last time a COAS got an extension, I will take a more measured approach to what should be done here. Let’s look at the era that General Bajwa inhabited as the leader of Pakistan’s 550,000 man army.

Since General Bajwa came to power in late November 2016, (coincidentially, after Donald Trump secured a victory in the 2016 US elections, distracting the US from political developments across the world) he has presided over, in the words of former columnist Cyril Almeida, “the greatest rollback of civil liberties, political rights and media freedom in a generation.” Continue reading General Bajwa, please retire

America’s Brilliant Strategy in Afghanistan

From Major Amin. As most readers know by now, I am not a fan of this kind of realpolitik because I am too faint-hearted to be this cynical about thousands of Afghans being sold down the river, but the world is a nasty and brutish place and in the big picture, who knows… Anyway, the style of the American withdrawal and their general performance in Afghanistan for 20 years does not inspire much confidence, but if there is some method to this madness, it is probably this.. by the way, I would like to ask Major Amin if his assessment is in any way affected by the utter chaos and incompetence of the withdrawal itself? (see my postscript at the end)

Enjoy.

Major Amin also sent this text version. Please ignore any typos or formatting issues. After repeating the assertion he makes in his podcast (that the US has made a brilliant strategic move), he has attached his 2008 piece, which does accurately describe/predict the strategic quagmire the US had settled into in 2008, and suggests the response that Major Amin believes the US has now decided to pursue. Comments welcome. What follows is from Major sahib.

They can’t touch the _____t of America but Such a large concentration of nuts will certainly disturb Iran Russia and even china and PAKISTANS establishment is also not exactly happy .as insiders report—The Billion dollar question is that with 2500 Americans in Afghanistan, since last few months no Taliban advance but now a sudden emergence .clearly a secret agreement has been made.

A QUESTION: WHY THE USA deliberately created weakest afghan army with
(1) no tanks
(2) no artillery
(3) all seasoned officers of old army never allowed or dismissed
Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: Taliban and their future

Listen to the another recent episode of my podcast: AMIN SAIKAL’S STRATEGIC NAIEVETTE ABOUT AFGHANISTAN 

US WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN WILL BE BEST PUNISHMENT AND A LOVELY WAY TO DESTABILISE THE REGION AND CREATE MANY NEW STATES-

A 2008 ASSESSMENT

SEPTEMBER 2008

WAR IS NOT ABOUT ETHICS GOD IS NEITHER WITH US NOR WITH THEM
THERE IS NOTHING INEVITABLE IN HISTORY

USA MUST RECONSIDER ITS STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ OR ITS CULMINATING POINT MAY NOT BE FAR AWAY.

USA MUST RECONSIDER ITS STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ

In the last seven years or so the USA at the strategic, operational and tactical level has became the laughing stock of the world. Starting from the premise that both USA’s total failure or total success would not be good for world peace, one may state with confidence that the USA needs to seriously re- consider its strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan and worldwide.
The present situation is that the USA is making the major effort while its NATO allies less Britain are just pretending that they are also pushing the bogged  down vehicle. This is true for both Iraq and Afghanistan. If this continues China and Russia will have the last laugh. Continue reading America’s Brilliant Strategy in Afghanistan

Pocket Review: The Dharma Forest

The Dharma Forest by Keethik Sasidharan

Keerthik Sasidharan is an incredibly erudite Indian economist who works in the US and who has somehow managed to work full time, read so much AND write the first volume of a planned trilogy about the Mahabharata. The idea is that he will retell the Mahabharata through the eyes of 9 of its main characters and each segment will also bring out one aspect of the 9 rasas of ancient Indian philosophy. A general familiarity with the Mahabharata is helpful before you can read this, because the author does not provide you with a roadmap before you begin. But as long as you have that basic familiarity, you should be able to read and enjoy this book.

The first book introduces us to Bhishma, Draupadi and Arjun. The book is over 500 pages, so each character gets a lot of room to express themselves. And express themselves they do, in a very philosophical and subtle book that raises (and sometimes answers) profound philosophical questions while telling what is ostensibly a war story (one can say the same thing about the original Mahabharata). But be aware, just like the original, this  IS a war story, and no detail is spared. At first glance some readers may look at that and decide this is just too much detail, but again, as with the original, patience is rewarded; The philosophical, psychological and sociological insights are scattered within, and worth the time spend reading the details of the war, the weapons and the stratagems.

The author’s greatest achievement is his ability to render the actions and motivations of these ancient characters in terms a modern reader can grasp. The actions and choices made by the various actors in this drama can appear mystifying in the original, but Keerthik is able to stick to the original story (and even the original phrases) while making them fully comprehensible to us. For example, the story of Amba and her kidnapping and subsequent rejection can seem very foreign and strange in other tellings, but in this book you can almost understand why every character acts the way they do. That is a tremendous achievement. Well worth a read.

You can read an extended excerpt here.

PB Mehta has a good review here.

We Interviewed Keerthik for a podcast last year:

30 days? That’s an excuse to run consulate shredders — Kabul’s government won’t last the week

I started yesterday with a news article about how US intelligence said that the Taliban could take Kabul in 90 days. After the previous week had been filled with over half a dozen Afghan provincial capitals falling, it became clear that the Taliban were deploying all their strength across the country to capture as much territory and control as they could before US forces pulled out before the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

While the news of those northern cities falling had been bad, and it was felt that the Taliban were likely trying to prevent a replay of the 1990’s Afghan civil war when the north fought them for five years, 12th August got progressively grim. It started to seem that the Taliban were not just going to put a knife to the Afghan government’s throat (and northern escape routes) by taking Tajik and Uzbek cities, but rather box Kabul in. This became clear when not just small towns but larger Afghan cities were put on the chopping block by the Taliban’s offensive. There is a wave of anti-Shia mobilisation across the region and I suspect that it also might have something to do with the expanded, multi-ethnic Taliban mobilisation in the north of Afghanistan. As these provinces border the ex-Soviet Central Asian states, and ISIS school-shooter sectarianism has had salience in many places where Muslims were previously considered un-radicalised or nominally secular, I suspect Taliban lines might not be a bad place for Central Asian, Afghan or even Pakistani potential ISIS recruits to flee.

As news of more fighting came in, the reports of Herat and Kandahar in the north-west and south of the country respectively, being surrounded and attacked threw whatever strategic calculus the great powers thought they had in Afghanistan, into the bin.

The updates from panicked civilians about the Taliban attacks killed whatever illusions about America having a semi-peaceful withdrawal from Afghanistan, or Pakistan smoothly sliding a re-furbished Taliban into power in Kabul, might have been harboured by the countries that have sponsored destructive wars in that nation since the eighties. The distressed calls, postings, video reports of Afghan citizens, especially educated women trapped in these cities, came flooding out. No one was crying but everyone was deadly serious.

Simultaneously, clips of refugees flooding out of captured cities, camps of the displaced going up in Kabul and where the government stood were broadcast. Among the wretched sights was the Afghan military vehicles zooming out of cities and from among people they were supposed to defend were broadcast as afternoon turned to evening, and then night fell.

The west, south and north of Afghanistan are out of that government’s hand. Kabul is boxed in. If you look at the map above, it’s sitting in the open jaws of Taliban controlled territory.

The BBC generally has the best maps, and frankly the best and most accurate, un-sentimental coverage on the rout in Afghanistan of the Kabul government. Hey, I guess after four disastrous wars into a country, they end up knowing their stuff. The second best coverage is by Al Jazeera, which also sobered up once it stopped sourcing its maps from neo-conservative American outfits, and ditched a sort of mawkish patronising tone for the Afghans.

 

As for America’s intelligence reports, which we started Thursday with – they have achieved the typical notoriety of stupidity that American intelligence reports are known for. By nightfall, the American bureaucrats had, in typical CYA fashion, re-assessed their estimate down to 30 days. That feels optimistic.

As reports come in of Afghan business interests trying to wrap up and send their equipment, personnel and capital out of the country, and the various state and private banks withdrawing funds to forward abroad, it becomes clear that the Kabul government, especially the career of one President Ashraf Ghani, is very over. At least at the prospect of anything beyond 2021.

What happens to the rest of the Kabul government is anyone’s guess. I don’t know if the Taliban have much to worry about “holding” their territory if part of their offensive was contacting Afghan defence forces commanders and asking them to stop fighting/withdraw or switch sides. A government counter-offensive seems highly unlikely, especially with the hollow, broken Afghan Army that has been described by Major Amin. If the Taliban went in for the kill against the government, then they would win and also be saddled with a lot of prisoners, many extremely high value ones as well as seas of refugees and an isolated country. I suspect they might be willing to live with that. You can visit the link below to see Pashtana Durrani describe the consequences of the Taliban taking over her city.

How soon will the end happen? The fall of Kabul, the closing of the Taliban’s jaws on what is left of Afghanistan’s government, that is now in the Taliban’s hands.

______________________________________________________

You can see the original post at https://these-long-wars.blogspot.com/2021/08/30-days-thats-excuse-to-run-consulate.html

You can support my Patreon at patreon.com/theselongwars

I will be posting more regularly now.

What Happened to the Afghan Army?

From Major Amin. As time goes on, we will no doubt see more information about how the USA “lost Afghanistan”. At the level of American PR/media the blame will mostly fall on Pakistan for now, since there is a lot of truth in it and it gets the clowns who run the state dept and the pentagon off the hook (or so they think) but in time the details about how the US mismanaged its project will also become prominent.. this is one of them. (To some extent it is a structural issue.. Americans live so far above/away from Afghan (or even Pakistani) reality.. well intentioned ones have no framework that remotely resembles situation on the ground, ill intentioned ones only want to make money or have fun killing gooks)

WHAT HAPPENED TO  AFGHAN NATIONAL ARMY 

Major A.H Amin (Retired) 

what happened to afghan national army 

  • August 2021 
  • DOI: 
  • 10.13140/RG.2.2.14621.44004
  • Project: 
  • Military History
  • Agha H Amin

Arm chair strategists are taking  great delight in criticizing Afghan  Army for collapsing in face of so  called Taliban onslaught. 

“A little knowledge of philosophy ,  inclineth man towards atheism” as  the adage goes but , “depth in  philosophy bringeth back man to  God !” This is how I will describe  these novices and critics ! 

The first point to be noted is that  armies are not created by US firms  like Military Professional Human  Resources International in a decade but a long process  spanning centuries. 

The real Afghan Army with  traditions dating back to 1719 or  1747 was destroyed by joint US  Pakistan design about 1978-1992 when a proxy war was financed in  Afghanistan. 

Characters like Peter Tomsen went out of their way to destroy  the real Afghan Army between  1989 and 1992 , just because it  was viewed as Pro Soviet or Pro  Russian entity.

Afghanistan had no army between  1992 and 2001. 

In 2001 the USA initiated efforts to  create a new army but this  exercise had ulterior motives. First  the exercise was awarded to contractors which was the first  blunder. 

US myopia and petty mindset  was such that USSR trained pilots ,  available in thousands were not  reemployed as they were regarded as  Russian proxies !

While the USSR trained many  thousand Afghans in USSR and  Warsaw Pact states, US petty  parsimony and narrowmindedness  was such that hardly any Afghan  was taken to the USA for courses

Instead characters who no one  would employ in USA , and had no  options were in Afghanistan  training the Afghan Army. 

To give an example , the main  project supervisor of Schools and  Clinics program in Louis Burger  was a male nurse ! To entrust billion dollar construction projects  to a male nurse was ludicrous. 

My driver and many taxi drivers I  met were outstanding war pilots  trained for 5 years in USSR and  with combat flying experience  between 3000 hours to 15,000  hours ! 

Tanks were regarded as future  threat and armour was hardly  created or organised. 

The list is endless but will never be  investigated like Louis Burgers billion dollar failure published by  Washington Post as a “BUILDING  PLAN FULL OF CRACKS” , LATE  2005 ! 

The simple issue was security ! US  trainers were simply SCARED that  they would get shot in the back !  

SO THERE WAS HARDLY ANY  TRAINING !!! 

I saw some of these contractors in  Kabul when I was living about 110  metres from gate of Kabul  Compound or camp Eggers ! 

These characters were here to do  hole punching and make some  bucks and not to create an army. So the real spirit was missing . 

The USA preferred so called ex  Mujahids which was a bad idea

The best Afghan officers like Ulumi  etc were never taken in the loop  as they were considered pro  Russian. 

Many old Afghan Army officers  joined but these were sabotaged by the Mujahid Mafia who were a  collection of USA, Pakistan or so  many other state proxies who had  destroyed their own country  between 1978 and 1992 ! 

The unkindest cut was delivered  by this character Ashraf Ghani  who between 2014 and 2019  summarily removed 90 % of pre  1992 Afghan Army officers , thus  totally destroying the Afghan  Army !

The incompetent US staff in Kabul  did not oppose this most IDIOTIC  and FOOLISH step ! 

Or perhaps it was US design that  Afghan Army should collapse  quickly so that the Taliban are  back in power and then they can  be sorted out properly ! 

The collapse of Afghan Army has  to be seen in the context of the  fact that FIRST the USA and its  proxy states DESTROYED the REAL  AFGHAN ARMY in 1978-92 ! Then  the RECONSTRUCTION of AFGHAN ARMY by the USA was a SHALLOW  EXERCISE , MARRED by MASSIVE  CORRUPTION and a BAD TEAM . Lastly no army can be created in  20 years . FINALLY Ashraf Ghanis  Removal of the REAL AFGHAN  ARMY OFFICERS BETWEEN 2014  AND 2019 WAS THE DEATH  SENTENCE OF AFGHAN ARMY !

Audio of the same points:

Hindutva, Asabiya and Apostacy

This particular blogpost is triggered by the following thread

It has been fashionable for long to use historic Hindu pluralism as a defense against claims of rising intolerance. The above Twitter thread was spawned by comparisons (premature IMO) of Hindutva rage at Beef eating by “members of the one’s tribe” to the Islamic practice of Takfiri and apostasy. The fears of liberals like Dhume may be exaggerated, but the potential of Apostacy and Takfiri memes arising in Hindutva needs to be inspected.

Historically, Hinduism (especially Brahmanical) had a concept similar to Takfiri. However, unlike Islam, this concept in Hinduism was mostly associated with Ritual purity and orthodoxy and rarely had political manifestations. I am naturally talking about social ostracization. This ostracization was not only limited to the Untouchables, but also to those Savarnas who went against the prevailing orthodoxies and customs. About this, we have a good number of examples in the Medieval period (especial Bhakti movement) but not many in the ancient period. Dr. Ambedkar in his book on Shudras claims that beef-eating was weaponized  (and hence political) by Brahmins to make the defeated Buddhists or Broken men “Untouchables”. As these claims are unsubstantiated or out of date with the current scholarship, it’s safe to assume Hinduism had no equivalent of political apostasy, unlike the Abrahamic faiths.

It is one thing to hound, oppress and kill the Other but to justify in-group political violence needs the emergence of concepts like Apostacy and blasphemy. However, it is important to note that the emergence of Apostacy in Islam cannot be understood without the concept of Asabiya (In group solidarity/ brotherhood) and the repercussions of the overthrow of the Ummayads by the Abbasids. Without strong Asabiya and its political implications, it is probable that strong defense mechanisms in Islam like Apostacy and blasphemy would not flourish. All cultures and systems which have strong Apostacy like memes tend to have strong Asabiya – even in non Abrahamic faiths, as such examples are rife in Medieval and Modern China. Closer to home, the secular Marxist-ish LTTE also came up with ideological justifications for hit jobs against Tamil “traitors”.

It must be noted that the Indian revolutionaries had by and large avoided the “traitoring” of the brother during its long years of fight against the British. Designs at assassinations of political moderates (like Gopal Gokhale) were almost always given up on principle. This was only to change with the biggest assassination of Modern India, that too under the guise of protecting India and particularly its Hindus. However, most of the Hindu population vehemently condemned the actions of Godse and co. Incidently this assasination also resulted in a huge setback to the attempts of developing an Asabiya which were gaining traction among the Hindus since the late 19th century.

However, the Hindutva of the 21st century, especially after the rise of the Modi and RSS is no longer a movement with insignificant Asabiya. Over a century ago, the greatest Indian leader of his time, Lokmanya Tilak had once said something along the lines of this – “What would the son of an Oil-presser do in the parliament ? Pass laws ?” Today such a person is not only THE leader of the nation, but also the Hindu Hriday Samrat. Changes in the fabric of Hinduism have been fantastic and Hindus have achieved some sort of Abasiya which they never had at any time. If the latest voting patterns show us anything, it’s that at least in national elections, Hindus are increasingly voting over caste lines in favor of a strong Hinduva leader. One of the cores of Hindu traditional society, the Varna system has changed much more in the last 100 years than it did at any such period in the last millenia.

At such a dynamic time in the history of Hindu society, claims of “over the past millenia” hold less water than they did even a few decades ago. There exist far more incentives to have strong Asabiya in modern democratic nation-states than ever before. As a result, it is only fair to extrapolate that far more incentives and mechanisms exist today which can select controls like Apostasy and Blasphemy to a degree. That doesn’t mean that Hindu(tva/ism) will become like Islam and India like Pakistan, both material and philosophical constraints will continue to prevent this IMO. But its not insane to expect the Apostasy and Blasphemy will NOT remain irrelevant in the Hindutva project. Especially given the sorry state of the Rule of Law in the country, it is not very paranoid to be vigilant about such trends. To what degree is this justified, we cannot comment today. Five years ago, I would have been more alarmed by the potential of such norms getting established given the killings of rationalists (Dabholkar and co), which took place in a span of 3-4 years. Even though these murders did not result in a spree of killings as many had feared they were a rude awakening nonetheless.

Hence I argue that to assume such norms would NOT take root in the coming decades with increasing Hindu Asabiya is unwarranted. And this can be argued only because the norms “over the past millennia” have changed drastically in the recent times.

Council in Support of the Resistance of Herat

Establishing “Council in Support of the Resistance of Herat”

Kabul-09 August 2021
As our beloved country burns in the flames of foreign invasion, and the ancient city of Herat has turned into a stronghold of honor and liberty, a number of Herat youths have come together in Kabul with much love for their homeland to form a support mechanism for a people’s resistance movement against foreign invasion in Herat. The name “Council in Support of the Resistance of Herat” has been agreed for this newly formed council.
The following were agreed in the session on August 9, 2021:
1) While appreciating and supporting the epic resistance by the People’s Resistance Movement of the Western Zone, and Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces, and also humble thanks to their efforts, sacrifices, and guiding the free and devout people of Afghanistan, especially the people of Herat;
2) Stressing on the important role and leadership of His Excellency Mohammad Ismaeel Khan at these crucial times for the future of the country and defending our land and honor;
3) Realizing the difficult times that the country is going through and stressing on collaboration, compassion, and companionship with the brave soldiers of our country, especially ANDSF, by the political parties and figures, social, political, media and religious institutions, women, businessmen, academics, doctors, and every individual citizen of the country;
4) Believing that the fate of Herat and the West Zone of the country is not separate from the rest of the country;
5) Calling on the central government to localize administrative and security institutions, and strengthen solidarity and coordination between the people’s resistance movement and ANDSF at national and provincial levels;
6) Emphasizing the core mandate of the Council for Integrating and Supporting People’s Resistance in Herat which includes strengthening solidarity, support, and coordination among influential figures and institutions in Kabul to assist people’s resistance movement and ANDSF in Herat and the West Zone;
7) Emphasizing on the responsibility of all citizens, and national, international, regional, provincial, and local institutions in further strengthening national unity and solidarity for defending national integrity of Afghanistan, as well as defending the lives, property, and honor of all citizens of Afghanistan, including Herat and the West Zone;
The Council in Support of the Resistance of Herat is established.

This council has a leadership board, and three functional committees (political, public relations, and fundraiser/financial support). Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta is elected as the president of the council unanimously.
More details about the council will be released soon. For more information, please contact Faridoon Azhand at:
WhatsApp: +93 (0) 797416062
Email: [email protected]
Continue reading Council in Support of the Resistance of Herat

An IPL for field hockey ?

Cricket and hockey, two traditional games of the English elite are now eclipsed completely by working class football in the UK. In an ironic twist of fate, these sports are now patronized primarily by the middle class in its former plantation colony India. Even more twisted, many urban elites in India have now embraced European football as a marker of a more globalized identity, in opposition to the more ‘desi’ cricket. The popularity and patronization of a sport in a group of people still has more to do with identity and politics than any inherent characteristic of the sport.

Newspaper readership in the UK, correlations with class, sport and cuisine. Football is more populist, catering to the more working class constituency on both sides of the political spectrum. Cricket is niche, still covered by very conservative newspapers catering to the elite. (Source: https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/32762-Who-reads-which-newspaper-in-Britain)

Unlike cricket, hockey has not become a global behemoth in terms of revenue and following. Can hockey enter the upper echelons of global team sports ? I think if the Indian government, interested business and sports bodies play their cards well, hockey can do this. The key could be an IPL style hockey league. The adjective IPL style should not be understood in a facile manner. The cricket IPL is no ordinary sports league. It operates in a sporting universe where the international game is the highest echelon, rather than commercial city based clubs. This compresses its playing time to just 8 weeks, but the league generates more than a billion dollars in revenues in that period. Revenue per game is $ 10 million, compared to the NFL’s $ 50 million. The IPL achieves these numbers with a league only 14 years old, from a country with 1/30th America’s per capita GDP.

The spectacular success of the IPL is a miracle, and a similar mini-miracle will be needed to sustain a hockey league. A dedicated playing window, so all the best players can play on a single platform. Teams in big markets like Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru to maximize revenues and publicity. Careful game timings and advertising to capitalize on a small but dedicated (and wealthy) fan following in the low countries and Germany. Since hockey as a sport has official status in India (in contrast to cricket), it can and should receive backing from the government. The Indian government can own a stake in the hockey IPL which it can relieve when the league is well established and profitable.

There are advantages hockey has vis-a-vis cricket in terms of playing time (1 hr vs 3 hrs) and its similarity to football in play and scoring. Of course, it is an established Olympic sport with strong men’s and women’s competitions. Hockey, along with soccer and cricket emphasizes skill and agility more than bulk and power, making it relatable in more geographies and demographics. The successful Olympics campaign will give birth to hockey stars who will rapidly gain a following in the sports star loving Indian public. Once well ensconced commercially in India, the game of hockey will garner the resources to promote itself further, just like cricket has.

Brown Pundits