Review: From the Ruins of Empire; The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia

This was a long rolling rant I wrote 5 years ago while reading Pankaj Mishra’s book “From The Ruins of Empire; The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia“. The format is that I commented as I read the book. So early parts are comments on early chapters and so on. Quotes from Pankaj are in bolded italics. I am reposting today after editing it a little because the topic came up once again.

Spoiler Alert. since the “review” is really a very long rolling rant, written as I read the book, some people may just want to know this one fact: this books is NOT about the intellectuals who remade Asia. That book would have to start with people like Aizawa in Japan, the first Asian nation to be “remade”, but that is one nation and one set of thinkers you will not find in this book. Why? because this book is not about Asia, its history or its renaissance, it is about post-liberal virtue signaling. For details, read on..

Introduction: After being told that everyone from Orhan Pamuk to Pakistani Ambassador (and liberal feminist Jinnahist icon) Sherry Rahman is in love with Pankaj Mishra’s new book I have finally started reading it.
I have only read 50 pages so far but it is beginning to set a certain tone. And its not a very encouraging one. I am not impressed. At all. So Far.

On  page 18 he says: the word Islam, describing the range of Muslim beliefs and  practices, was not used before the 19th century. 

This is then negated on the very next page by Mishra himself. The only explanation for this little nugget is that Pankaj knows his audience and will miss no opportunity to slide in some politically correct red meat for his audience. There is a vague sense “out there” in liberal academia that Islam is unfairly maligned as monolithic and even that the label itself may be “Islamophobic”. Pankaj wants to let people know that he has no such incorrect beliefs. It is a noble impulse and it recurs. A lot. Continue reading Review: From the Ruins of Empire; The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia

India-Pakistan people’s peace resolution: Throwing a pebble in the pond

Peace activists from India and Pakistan have circulated a resolution to support efforts for a durable peace between India and Pakistan. The full text of the resolution can be found at this link. The preamble states:

In the 70 years since independence and Partition, the people of India and Pakistan have seen too many conflicts and the loss of many valuable lives. Enough of the distrust and tensions. Those who suffer particularly are ordinary people denied visas and those in the conflict zones, especially women and children as well as fishermen who get routinely rounded up and arrested for violating the maritime boundary.
We condemn all forms of violence regardless of its objectives.
Deeply concerned at the current rise in animosity and antagonism between India and Pakistan, we urge both governments and their security establishments to take all steps possible towards improving relations..

The resolution has been signed by hundreds of prominent activists, journalists, intellectuals and peace-lovers from all over the world. Whenever such resolutions are circulated, they tend to get pigeon-holed as Leftist or Liberal and while popular within those domains, they are derided as fairy-tales by those who like to think of themselves as more “realistic”. I would submit that this is unfortunate.. I think all realists should support the DEMAND for peace. While there are powerful lobbies that are genuinely un-interested in peace (and would PREFER to settle matters by force) on both sides (the situation is not necessarily symmetrical, as I have pointed out in the past, the Indian establishment, and even their Right Wing, is willing to make peace on current borders, Pakistan is the anti-status quo state), “realists” do not support war in principle, they support it because they think “the other side leaves us no choice”. I submit that those who believe this should have no problem with such a resolution: to ask for peace is not the same as asking for surrender. In the cold war, both Russia and the US made it a point to stress that THEY wanted peace, it was the other side that was not cooperating sincerely. I would appeal to all my “realist” friends to get with the program and at least do this much: joint the demand for peace. Put the onus for it’s failure on the other country. Don’t be the one asking for war as the preferred step.
Who knows, It may even work.

The Warburtons; An Anglo-Afghan-Indian Dynasty

From Dr Hamid Hussain (received as PDF and converted, kindly excuse any formatting issues)



Hamid Hussain

The story of the Warburtons began with a love affair in the middle of a war, that spanned two cultures and led  to the  founding   of  a distinguished and flamboyant dynasty spanning several generations.

Robert  Warburton,  the  founder  of  this extraordinary  family,  was  born  8 March in  Garryhinch , Ireland .  He  joined  the  Bengal  Artillery  in  1831 ,  was  commissioned   in the 6th Regiment of that distinguished formation, later moving to the 5th Regiment. The Warburton’s story begins with the First Afghan War of  1839-42.  When the deposed Afghan  ruler Shah Shuja recovered  his  throne with  British  and  Indian  bayonets,  Warburton  raised and  commanded  the ‘ King’s  Own Artillery ‘  in the shah’s army.
Once the British were  ensconced  in  Kabul,  Warburton  met  and  fell  in  love  with  Shah Jahan Begum. Shah Jahan Begum,  who  was  born  in  1813,  was  the  daughter  of  Adul  Rahim Khan, a Popalzai Durrani noble. She was  married  to  Sardar  Faiz  Talab  Khan. Who served at the court of Amir Dost Muhammad Khan, and they had a  son  in  1840.  Later  that  year, she fell in love with Warburton, and after securing  divorce, she  married  the  English officer in November 1840  .  The couple was married  according to  Muslim  law; the ceremony was conducted by Qazi Fatehullah. The Mahar, a dowry promise d by the groom, was the astounding  sum  of  600,000  Rupees.  Guests  at  the  marriage  included  Sir  Alexander  Burnes, Lt. John Leigh Stuart  and  Lt.  Charles  Howard  Jenkins.  Three  Muslim  officers,  Subedars Abdullah  Khan,  Mir  Haji  and Sirdar   Khan,  signed  as  witnesses  to the union.
The young couple  had  little time to  enjoy  their  new  happiness.  The  British  position in Afghanistan  began  to deteriorate, and the army was driven  from  Kabul  and  destroyed as it struggled southwards. Warburton was handed over as hostage to one of the Afghan insurgent leaders, Mohammad Akbar Khan, in December 1841 along with five other officers: Capts. Airey, Conolly, Drummond, Walsh and Webb.
Warburton along with a number of other English hostages was sent north to Bamian when an East India Company relief force retook Kabul. Saleh Muhammad Khan commanded the force detailed to escort the prisoners to Bamian.  Saleh had an exciting career. He was Subedar of the 6th Regiment of Shah Shuja’s infantry, which had been commanded by Captain Perin Hopkins, who was killed in Jalalabad in January 1842. When the  British were driven from Kabul, Saleh Muhammad deserted with  his  company  to  Dost  Muhammad. A short time  later an  English  prisoner, George  Lawrence (brother of Henry and  John), called Muhammad by his name and old rank. Saleh Muhammad replied: “Lawrence Sahib, I am a general now, so you must now style me “General'”.
As the returning EIC forces drove back the Afghans, Saleh Muhammad again switched sides when his English prisoners made an offer he could not refuse. He was guarantee a pension for life of a thousand rupees a month with an additional 20,000 rupees to be paid as soon as the prisoners reached Kabul. The next morning, Saleh Muhammad raised a ‘flag of defiance’ above the fort announcing his revolt against Akbar Khan. It was perfectly in line with Afghan tradition. The freed English officers promptly set up a new governor of Bamian district, and two Hazara chiefs tendered their allegiance to the new administration. But the British withdrew from Afghanistan shortly thereafter and Dost Muhammad Khan returned to power’.
Robert Warburton returned to India after his release. He was commanding the 19th brigade of the Royal Artillery at Peshawar where he died in November 1863 at the age of 51. He is buried at the Christian cemetery  near Tehkal Bala in Peshawar.
Saleh Muhammad followed the British to India, and settled in Ludhiana. a city that had become a favoured refuge for Afghans lucky enough to keep their heads after losing in one or other of the bloody power games on the chessboard of Afghan politics. In 1857, he raised and commanded a mounted contingent to aid the British when their rule was challenged by the revolt of the Bengal   army.  The force consisted of some 130 Afghans, Punjabi Muslim  and Sikhs. It was later incorporated into Skinner’s Horse, and his brother Fateh Muhammad was appointed Risaldar.
Warburton and his Afghan bride had a son who  was also named Robert. He was born in a Ghilzai fort between Jagdullak and Gandamak when his mother was on the run from Afghan insurgents after the British retreated from Kabul. A number of Afghan women had married British officers. and they were a special target for the insurgents. In one case, an eighteen year old Afghan girl who  had married a British officer was burned alive and the throats of all her servants were slit.  Shah Jahan Begum was sheltered by relatives and well-wishers in  various 
towns, villages and hamlets. Finally, she escaped in disguise and reached
Peshawar in 1843, where she was joined by her two sons. 

Robert’s early education was at a school in Mussoorrie before he was sent to England and entered Kensington Grammar school. He attended Woolwich and was commissioned in the Royal Artillery in December 1861. He served with F Battery of the 19th Artillery Brigade, which his father had commanded. He also served with the 21st  Punjab Infantry in the Abyssinia campaign in 1868 and the 15 Ludhiana Sikhs before transferring to the Political Department. 
He was Assistant Commissioner of Peshawar and Mardan before being appointed Political Officer of the Khyber in 1879. During the Second Afghan War, Warburton serve as political officer of the Jalalabad Valley Field Force. He was fluent in Pushtu and Persian and his linguistic skills and Afghan heritage gave him a special status when dealing with tribesmen.
The Khyber Jazailchis were raised byCapt. Gilbert Gaisford in 1878 as a paramilitary force to police the famous pass. Warburton later took over the force. His right hand  man  was  the  legendary
Honorary Colonel Muhammad Aslam Khan. Aslam was from the royal Saddozai family of Afghanistan. He started his career as risaldar with the 5th Bengal Cavalry in the I857 mutiny.
The two men transformed the force into the famous Khyber Rifles. Regular troops were withdrawn, and the Khyber Rifles became the guardians of the pass. Under its watchful eye, law and order in large swathes around the Khyber was far superior to that in many settled areas. When Warburton left his post on May I0, 1897 due to ill-health, hundreds of Afridis crowded the platform of Peshawar railway station to say goodbye to a man they regarded as a friend. In the autumn of 1897, there was a general uprising among the Khyber tribes, and  Warburton  was  recalled.  He had complete faith in the Afridis and traveled around the Khyber accompanied by just four orderlies of the Khyber Rifles.
When British forces entered the Afridi heartland in the Tirah, and burned the tribesmen’s homes as retribution, Warburton told a group of old Afridis that it was beyond his power to prevent the destruction. With tears in their eyes, the grey beards of the Afridi jirga or council replied. “Never mind, Sahib, whatever happens we are earnestly praying that you may not be injured in this campaign Warburton died in England and is buried in Brompton Cemetery in London.
Robert Warburton ‘s daughter, Marie, married Lt. Col. James Richard Birch of the Cheshire Regiment. Their son, Lt. Col. James Robert Birch joined his father’s regiment. In 1933, thirty-five years after Warburton’s retirement, a huge crowd of Afridis showed up at Landi Kotal railway station just before the arrival of a troop train carrying the Ist Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. The tribesmen had heard that Warburton’s grandson was an officer in the battalion and had come to see him.
The famous exploits of Robert Warburton on the North West Frontier were matched by the career of his Afghan step-brother. Shah Jahan Begum’s son by her first marriage, Jahan Dad Khan, was adopted by the first Robert Warburton. The boy was baptized John Paul Warburton, and educated  at the Roman Catholic school at Agra. He joined the Punjab Police in 1864, and during a long career served at Kamal, Ludhiana, Muzzaffargarh and  Ambala, eventually  retiring as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Railway Police. After leaving British service, he served as Inspector General of Patiala State Police.
John Warburton became a legend for his remarkable detective work and relentless pursuit of robbers. Locals, struggling with pronouncing his name, called him “Button Sahib’. He was given many difficult cases because he spoke Pushtu and Persian and possessed an innate understanding of local attitudes and customs. In one case, a band of Pathan thieves repeatedly evaded capture. The case was assigned to ‘Button Sahib’ and he arrested most the gang members  and broke up the ring.
Like his step-father, John Warburton was smitten by love in unusual circumstances. ln 1863, while out exercising one morning, he saw a young woman being attacked by a mad dog. He intervened and rescued her. The woman was Mary Meakins. a beautiful 21-year-old widow with three children She had married Ensign William Philip Meakins at the age of fourteen. Meakins had died of cholera, and Mary was Iiving with her parents. John married Mary at Ludhiana, where he lived with his mother, who was attended by her own retinue of Afghan servants. The Afghan widow was proud of her royal lineage, and made sure that everybody understood her station.
In later years, John was allotted land near Lahore for his services, and the town that grew up in the area was named Warburton.   He  built a  house  and a garden  there. Later, a railway station was constructed for the town bearing the name Warburton. After retirement,  he lived at Gilbert House in the hill station of Kasauli. He was out riding in October 1919 when he fell from his horse; a broken rib punctured his lung and he later died. Edmund Candler wrote an obituary hailing the former police man, saying: ·’he went through life with  a  brave heart and clean hands”.
John  had  two  sons  (Robert and Arthur, and four daughters (Durani, Lizzie, Minna and Muriel). His son Arthur served with the  Burma Police. His grandson Julian Durani  Warbrton ( 1894-1936) a!so joined the Punjab PoIice, where he had a distinguished career, winning  the King’s Police medal and the OBE. He died at the young age of 41 . His wife Lucy Farrant joined the Intelligence Bureau as a cipher officer.
The Warburtons, with their Anglo-Indian   heritage.  illustrate   how  the  barriers of race could  sometimes  be  overcome  in British India. Few Anglo-Indian families achieved  so much.
*  * *
Further reading:
Colonel Sir Robert
Warburton. Eighteen years in Khyber 1879-1898 (Lahore: Sang-e- meel
Publications 2007, Reprint of 1900 Edition)
G. D. Martineau. Controller
of Devils:
Life of John Paul Warburton. C.J.E. of The Punjab Police  (Privately  Published)
Hamid  Hussain.
The  Romance  of Soldiering –  Experience 
of  Colonial  India.  Defence
Journal, October 2002
Wing Commander® Sardar Ahmad Shah Jan
Saddozai. Saddozai: Saddozai
Kings & Vaziers
of Afghanistan (Peshawar: Public
Arts Press), 2007

Islam is Breaking the Back of the Liberal Democratic Consensus

PS: Dr Abid sent in a revised version, so I have over-written the original post.
The following post was sent in by Dr Abdul Majeed Abid in response to my recent blog post regarding Islam and liberal world order.  (I personally think that loyalty to country, even to an empire not our own, can be successfully created, but it takes an unusually dominant host culture or empire to carry it off for now; and in the future, who knows what shape loyalties and identities will eventually take, but that is a story for another day. Dr Abid’s comments follow).
From Dr Abdul Majeed Abid:
Islam, it may be, really IS the the rock on which the Western Liberal Democratic Consensus is breaking..

Recent events
in Turkey
and the political situation
in France
are indicators of a future where the modern democratic project
fails where an interaction with Islam is concerned. A Democratically elected (quibbles
aside) government in Turkey used the tool of democracy to give up on
itself (it was not as simple as that, but this is one of the
easier inferences). Khaled Ahmed has written in one of his pieces that Muslims
don’t really ‘get’ Democracy. Turkey has seen a hundred-year long ‘struggle’
for the government between Kemalist/Secularist forces (be they Mustafa Kemal’s
party CHP or the military) and Islamist/Neo-Ottoman forces (starting from
Nacmeddin Erbakan to Tayyip Erdogan) and the Islamists seem to have scored a
decisive victory. With its Kurdish-majority south-eastern part up in arms, ISIS
knocking on its doors and millions of refugees roaming the cities, Turkey can
easily be branded the ‘New Pakistan’. Pakistan, lest we forget, was made to
escape from a democracy where Muslims would remain as a permanent

France, a nation proud of its unique
national character, faltered when it came to dealing with Muslims. Starting in
the 1970s, the principle of Laïcité, the bedrock of French society for the last
century, has faced critical examination because of Muslims and their failure to
completely integrate in a majority Christian nation.
From the article about Giles Kepel linked

“ In September last year, a landmark survey
commissioned by the Montaigne Institute found that 28 percent of French Muslims
had adopted values “clearly opposed to the values of the republic,” with a
mix of “authoritarian” and “secessionist” views, including support for polygamy
and the niqab, or full-face veil, and opposition to laws enforcing secularism

The identity crisis that Muslims have felt in France, in Britain, in Belgium,
in Germany, has not been fully understood or dealt with by the concerned
societies. So you get ‘home-grown’ terrorists in Britain, Germany, France and
Belgium killing people indiscriminately, turning on the very states that have
provided them a social security net and a place to live (and what most
people in Pakistan would give up for getting a chance to spend their lives in
Western Europe, living on taxpayers’ dime). Muslims in these countries have
refused to assimilate partially or completely, threatening the whole edifice of

 The threat of such issues arising in United
States has become a rallying cry for right-wing politicians and media. And I
kind of understand where that fear (even though it is mostly irrational in the US context) is coming from.
When I see a black burka-clad woman in Times Square or a full-on Shuttlecock Burka lady in
Houston, I myself get afraid, and not for myself, but for ‘Fellow Americans’.
In the last few months, I have had to provide answers, to the best of my
knowledge, about Islam and Muslims, from West Virginia to Miami and Houston,
basically everywhere that I went and talked to people (including Ayn Rand fans,
non-believers and a few people from India). I see it as a failure of
assimilation, even in the United States (where the situation is far better than
Western Europe). Be it the ‘grooming’ gangs or honor killings in Britain or
Female Genital Mutation in the United States, far too many Muslims have demonstrated an
aversion to participation in a liberal democratic order. From Syed Qutb to Afia
Siddiqi, the story from this subset of Muslims is similar. “We don’t like you, despite your kindness towards
us and when we get the opportunity, we will do our best to harm you”       

 One of the questions about Islam that
troubled me the most during my interaction with Americans of different
backgrounds was the concept of Jihad and Islamism. People claimed that in the last seventy years, the only religious ideology that has been used
(by various people, for various purposes, more on that later in the post) to
indiscriminately kill people en masse is the ideology of Jihad. Be it Al-Qaeda,
Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Terrorist groups in Kashmir, TTP
in Pakistan or ISIS in the Middle East and the rest of the world, the leitmotif
that binds all of these violent organisations has been the concept of Jihad and
the claim that Islam ‘deserves’ to be a dominant religion in the world. The claim is that there are hardly any Christian or Jewish or
Hindu militias hunting down people basis on religion (Thoughts: Myanmar’s Buddhist monks
and India’s ‘Beef vigilantes’ are an exception? What about states cleansing their enemies? Somegody is bound to bring up Israel, rightly or wrongly? Was communism a religion? Is the difference one of degree or type?).
Nuances exist, but still, this ideology which is often
described as ‘Militant Islam’ in the United States, is a threat to humanity at
present. In my view (and based on my personal interactions with Muslims from
various countries), the problem is not just with these terrorist organizations
carrying out beheadings and massacres, the problem lies in the minds of a
‘silent’ majority that inadvertently or partly justifies their actions. You don’t have to
be a card-carrying Al Qaeda member to be a fellow traveler. When you
support an ‘Islamic’ system of government in your country (as multiple polls in
the wider Muslim world have established), you are demanding a softer version of the same thing that
ISIS is vying for. What if you are a highly educated person spending most of
your time in the ‘West’ (like Aafia Siddiqi or Faisal Shahzad) and you still
harbor this ideology (that Islam deserves to be the dominant religion in the
world and ‘sacrifices’ have to be made in that regard)? In that case, defeating ISIS or Al
Qaeda is not going to solve the ideological problem. How and when do you truly
defeat an ideology?     
PS. The concept of ‘Jihad’ (the killing
other people type, which is the most commonly used meaning of it, even if many
Muslims now understand the need to deny that) has been utilized in the past by colonial powers for their
own purposes. The list of leaders/countries invoking ‘Jihad’ includes General
, Chiang
, Stalin,
Mussolini, Churchill,
French during WWI
,  the US
War Department during WWII
, the Japanese
during WWII
, more recently, the ‘Afghan War’ that was bankrolled by the CIA.
These people realized that Muslims can be roused for any cause by using the
call of ‘Jihad’. Thus we find both sides in a conflict trying to recruit
Muslims for their cause.   
(Special thanks to Umar, @cybertosser on
twitter for the links on Jihad).

Pakistan: Managing the Coalition Business

Managing the Coalition

by Dr Hamid Hussain
intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent; but it
takes a touch of genius and lots of courage to move something in the opposite
Government of Pakistan
announced that it has given a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to recently
retired Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General ® Raheel Sharif to head the Saudi
led coalition. It just put to end the rumor mill swirling around for more than
a year.  However, to date, neither Pakistan government nor General ®
Raheel Sharif has put forward any clarification about the terms of agreement
between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on this subject, nature of the military
organization, its objectives, role of its head and the compensation package
associated with the job. There may be some good reasons that government of
Pakistan thinks this is in Pakistan’s interest but it needs to present its
case.  The lack of transparency in important policy decisions only
increases the cynicism of general public.

 It is no secret that
current Saudi led coalition is engaged in only one conflict and that is in the
civil war in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a power struggle
and Saudi led coalition is part of this struggle. Iran is using its own
military assets as well as arming and training sectarian militias for different
theaters.  On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and
Qatar are arming their own militias to oppose Iran in the same theatres. Iran
has recruited many Afghan and Pakistani Shia who are fighting in Syria. 
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has put together its own potpourri of Sunnis
from Arab lands, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia for fighting in many
conflict zones.  Everyone now has a dog in the fight that makes any
concerted effort of reconciliation almost impossible. The main engine of
activity in Riyadh and Tehran is the fear and hatred of the ‘other’ rather than
any well thought out operational plan for an agreed upon national interest.
Both countries are equally responsible for destructive policies totally
oblivious to the human cost.
It is now clear that
current Pakistan army brass led by General Qamar Javed Bajwa has given its
blessing to Raheel’s appointment.  If the agreement is only about Raheel’s
appointment then any negative fallout can be limited to Raheel personally and
country can put some kind of a firewall. Raheel can enjoy a three year
lucrative contract with a few free pilgrimages as a bonus and everyone will
forget about the episode.  The unknown part is whether Pakistan army
General Head Quarters (GHQ) also agreed to sending Pakistani troops.  If
they have also agreed to sending troops to Saudi Arabia then Pakistan army and
government cannot escape the negative fallout if and when it occurs.  My
own feeling is that Pakistan has agreed to send troops.
 In December 2015,
when Saudi Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman
announced the formation of Saudi led alliance, Pakistan parliament passed a
unanimous resolution against Pakistan’s participation in alliance. Saudis were
outraged and privately they expressed their anger to both civilian and military
leadership.  Saudis have been doling out generous financial packages to
both civilian and military rulers.  In addition, in mutual infighting
among Pakistani power brokers, Saudis have bailed out both Nawaz Sharif and
General ® Pervez Musharraf arranging for safe and comfortable exiles.  Saudis
have a very low opinion of Pakistanis and they were outraged at Pakistan’s foot
dragging considering it a betrayal. This had a sobering effect on Pakistani
civil and military leadership and they carefully walked back.
Pakistan’s relationship
with Saudi Arabia is wide ranging.  Saudi Arabia has infused cash into
Pakistan’s faltering economy from time to time, provided oil at a special
discount rate and Pakistani expatriates in Saudi Arabia send large amount of
remittances back home. Pakistan has provided military trainers in the past and
in return Saudi Arabia underwrote many military items. In 2004, President
George Bush asked Saudi ambassador and close friend Price Bandar Bin Sultan for
help.  He told Bandar that it will take a long time to get approval from
Congress for the sale of helicopters to Pakistan. Bandar got approval from
Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and Saudis paid $235 million for twenty
four Bell helicopters destined for Pakistan.  (Bob Woodward.  State
of Denial). 
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia being in United States orbit of influence
also agree on major geo-political policy issues.
In contrast, Pakistan’s
relationship with Iran is very limited with only small scale trade between two
countries. There is no convergence of interests between two countries as Iran
has problems with Unites States for over three decades and Pakistan has a
different take on many Iranian priorities. However, Pakistan shares border with
Iran.  With this background in mind, one can understand the dilemma of Pakistani
civilian and military leaders when Saudis asked them to stand up and be
counted. If they wanted, Pakistanis could have used unanimous parliament
decision against joining the coalition in Yemen as a cover to try to wriggle
out by agreeing to send only some training and support elements.  Even in
best of the circumstances, this was a hard task but then there was no will on
part of Pakistani decision makers.
Like any decision, there
is a credit side of the ledger and a debit side.  If Pakistan has also
agreed to send troops, the minimum number will be at least a brigade and
possibly a division size force.  On credit side, at personal level,
soldiers deployed to Saudi Arabia will get a generous package something similar
to what they receive for United Nations peace keeping missions.  On
national level, Pakistan will likely receive a compensation package that could
be $1-2 billion per year.  However, this will be contingent upon
deployment of combat troops.  On debit side, Pakistan will invariably get
involved in the wider sectarian conflict to some extent.  Already, the
sectarian gulf inside Pakistan got a little bit more widened with announcement
of General ® Raheel Sharif’s appointment. The discussion on the subject is
mostly along sectarian lines.  Pakistan does not have direct border or any
other significant interest in Yemen therefore there is no risk of direct major
damage or acute crisis.  However, there will be some complications if
international and regional players up the ante. 
Like any simmering
conflict, many aspects of Yemen conflict are not clear yet.  United States
under new administration is reviewing its Yemen file.  Trump
administration is entangled in domestic controversies, allegations and
investigations that are sucking most of the oxygen.  Foreign and military
policy is not clear but indications are not auspicious. Trump’s national
security team with the possible exception of National Security Advisor General
H. R. McMaster is solidly anti-Iran.  Secretary of Defence James Mattis
has ordered the review of Yemen policy and it will likely be completed in a
month (The Washington Post, March 26, 2017). 
In the last few months of
Obama administration, Washington not only vetoed many Saudi and Emirati
requests about deeper involvement but significantly downgraded intelligence and
operational cooperation.  It also stopped shipment of precision-guided
munitions to Saudi Arabia in view of rising civilian casualties from air
strikes.  Trump administration has lifted the ban on shipment of precision-guided
munitions to Saudi Arabia and provided better optics for Middle East players by
inviting Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, Egyptian President
Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah to the White
House.  Trump administration is currently working on bringing together a
five country military alliance to quarantine Iran. The members of this club
include Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
Israel will provide only intelligence and technical assistance while Arab
members will provide boots on the ground.  (The Wall Street Journal,
15 February 2017).
Egypt and Jordan have very
close and long standing relationship with Israeli security apparatus and both
countries facilitated Saudi rapprochement with Israel. Saudis are cautiously
pulling the curtain away. Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al
Faisal met two retired Israeli generals with intelligence background. 
Major General Amos Yadlin is former head of Israeli Military Intelligence (Aman)
and Major General Yaakov Amidror is former head of research department of
Israeli Military Intelligence. In the summer of 2016, former Saudi Major
General with intelligence experience Dr. Anwar Eshki led a delegation of Saudi
businessmen and academics to Israel. He met Foreign Ministry Director General
Dore Gold and military coordinator of Palestinian territories Major General
Yoav Mordechai.  There is nothing wrong in breaking the ice and starting
some working relations with Israel. However, in current context it will be seen
by Arab public in a very negative light resulting in many public relations
problems for Saudi Arabia. Saudis want a broader coalition of Sunni Muslim
countries even if majority of the members are sleeping partners to be able to
sell the project to a sceptic public.
The final verdict in
Washington will be based on risks of deeper involvement of U.S. troops in case
Saudi led coalition falters during a major operation especially amphibious
landing.  The other concern will be distraction from main U.S. mission in
Yemen that is fighting al-Qaeda and Yemeni franchise of Daesh (Islamic
Currently, Yemen conflict
is in a state of stalemate.  If Trump administration decides to push back
against Iran, then a low cost powerful message to Tehran can be via
Yemen.  In that case, project of taking back the crucial port of Hodeida
will be the first item on the agenda.  Hodeida is the port on western Red
Sea coast of Yemen.  It is a crucial supply route for Houthi/Saleh
coalition that is fighting other Yemeni groups and is the target of Saudi led
coalition. Emiratis and Saudis asked Obama administration for increased U.S.
involvement including Special Forces and logistics for large scale amphibious
landings that was declined.  If Trump administration goes for active
involvement in Yemen then close cooperation in capture of Hodeida is an
attractive option.  This may also help in jump starting more inland gains
especially capture of important city of Taiz.
Emirati troops have
surprised many military observers by fighting well and successful amphibious
landings at Aden and Mukalla. It is due to good training by Australian former
Special Forces operatives as well as a brigade consisting of Latin American
former Special Forces soldiers.  However, Emirati troops are too small in
numbers and small Gulf sheikhdoms cannot sustain prolonged deployment or high
casualty rates.  It is here that Saudi led coalition needs Pakistani
troops and potential complications for Pakistan.  If Pakistani troops are
only deployed along Saudi-Yemeni border and they suffer casualties from rocket
attacks, this can be sold to Pakistani public as martyrs for the defense of
holy places.  However, if Pakistani troops are used inside Yemen where in
all probability Saudis want them then it will be a difficult sell. 
However, I don’t see any large scale protests against it in view of army’s
control of the narrative and civilian leadership fully supportive.  In
fact, Saudis may unilaterally activate their own friends inside Pakistan (many
sectarian outfits have ideological affinity with austere Saudi version with
deep antipathy towards Shia while others such as Hafiz Saeed & Company have
received generous financial packages) by organizing demonstrations portraying
Pakistan’s involvement as defense of holy places.
If the scenario unfolds
this way, Tehran will face a dilemma.  If they also decide to up the ante,
their only option is to provide Houthi-Saleh coalition with maritime mines to
cause panic at the choking point of Bab al Mandab that carries most
commercial traffic from Red sea to Arabian sea.  This can internationally
isolate Tehran as international community will not like any hindrance of
commercial traffic.  A less costly option may be to use remote controlled
boat based attacks on coalition military ships on Red Sea coast.  If
Tehran decides to increase costs for Saudi Arabia and provide Houthi/Saleh
coalition with longer range rockets that can have serious re-percussions. 
Attacks on areas closer to holy places will inflame Sunni passions putting
Tehran in a very difficult situation.  Tehran’s interests in Syria, Iraq
and Lebanon are more strategic in nature while Yemen is a side show. 
Tehran may decide to concede in Yemen to protect interests in other important areas. 
However, it may still provide rebels with enough short range rockets to inflict
a certain degree of pain to Saudis especially along Yemeni border. 
Iran and Pakistan have
serious differences on many issues.  There is an environment of deep
mistrust and suspicion.  In 2007-10, extremist Sunni Jundullah
group was operating from Pakistani Baluchistan and was involved in some
devastating attacks on Iranian targets in Seistan-Baluchistan province. 
In view of close cooperation between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during that time period, Iranians
believed that Pakistan was involved in this adventure.  This was not
true.  Later, it was disclosed that Israelis made contact with Jundullah
in London posing as American agents carrying American diplomatic
documents.  After this revelation, U.S.-Israeli relations were strained
and incoming Obama administration significantly downgraded Israeli-U.S.
intelligence cooperation. (Foreign Policy, January 2012).  Pakistan
had to go an extra mile and worked overtime to apprehend Jundullah
operatives and handed them over to Tehran to convince Iranians that they were
not in the game.  There was some improvement in relations but in March
2016, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was visiting Pakistan, he was
embarrassed.  The arrest of Indian intelligence operative Kulbhushan Yadav
in Baluchistan when he was coming from Iranian port city of Chahbahar was made
public and General Raheel Sharif then Chief of Army Staff (COAS) read Rouhani
the riot act. Army’s spokesperson dutifully contradicted Rouhani’s statement at
a press conference and tweeted the text of conversation while Rouhani was still
in Pakistan. This has not been done to even a visiting rival Indian high level dignitary. 
Iranians were furious as they had brought a large delegation including several
cabinet members for wide ranging engagements.  They left with the
impression that Pakistan army had done this at the behest of Saudi
Arabia.  This incident brought Iran-Pakistan relations to another
low-point.  Now with the hindsight, we know that Raheel was negotiating
his post-retirement lucrative employment package with Saudis at that time, it
puts a question mark whether he did this to earn few ‘brownie points’ from
Iranians are no boy scouts
and they will look after their own interests.  Osama Bin Ladin’s family
members were kept for safe keeping in Iran.  Now looking at the time line
after Bin Ladin’s killing, it is clear that in 2010 Iran exchanged Bin Ladin’s
family members for its intelligence operative Heshmatollah Atterzadeh.  He
was working under the cover of commercial attaché at Iranian consulate in
Peshawar from where he was abducted by al-Qaeda operatives and kept in
Pakistan’s tribal areas.  Tehran didn’t bother to inform Pakistanis even
after the exchange was done.  Leader of Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansur was
travelling on a Pakistani passport with an Iranian visa and coming from Iran
when a drone sent him packing back to his creator.  He was surely not
going for a holiday trip to Iran.  Pakistan’s involvement in Saudi led
coalition will add to this existing deep mistrust. From economic point of view,
there is not much between Iran and Pakistan and an angry Iran will simply
further downgrade economic ties.  However, everyone knows how to play the
game.  If you are unhappy with Pakistan then simply enhance your relations
with Afghanistan and India.  It is now certain that Iran’s cooperation
with Afghanistan and India will expand and it may result in clash with
Pakistani interests.  Tehran will also increase its contacts with
Pakistani Shia players as it will find a fertile ground of resentment against
the state and its policies.  There is clear risk that Tehran will try to
cultivate its intelligence assets inside Pakistani security apparatus for
situational awareness.  This in turn will put extra load on an already
overstretched Pakistani intelligence apparatus for counter-intelligence. 
Coalition especially a
military coalition is a tricky business.  North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) with seventy years history, enormous resources and
unrivalled diplomatic cover has failed in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Mutual
incriminations, huge wastage of resources and uncertain benefits from a decade
long involvement in foreign adventure by a well-established and well-resourced
entity like NATO should make every sane person to pause and reflect.  If
General Raheel Sharif thinks that he can pull this thing up while serving as an
employee of a royal ego like Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, then he needs serious
counselling. In case he is not aware, Saudi Arabia has declared Hezbollah a
terrorist organization, Egypt has declared Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist
entity and Turkey has labelled its own former mentor Gulen movement a
terrorist organization. You don’t need a military staff college course on your
resume to understand the dilemma.
It is important for
Pakistani elite and general public to understand that if someone is giving them
financial aid as well as bailing them out in their personal woes then payback
is an essential element of this arrangement.  They may have to then make
decisions that may not be in Pakistan’s long term interests. This has been a
pattern of Pakistani-U.S. relations and now Pakistan is expanding on this theme
with its relationships with Saudi Arabia and China going on the same
‘The desire to gain an
immediate selfish advantage always imperils their ultimate interests.  If
they recognize this fact, they usually recognize it too late’.
  Reinhold Niebuhr

Hamid Hussain

Review: Age of Anger. Pankaj Mishra

Postscript: Having been told this is a rant, not a review, I have decided to add this disclaimer: it IS a rant. And no, it is not personal. I have never met Pankaj and for all I know he is probably a very nice guy. This is not so much about him as about the postliberal Eurocentric elite in general. That he writes this for them and they love him for it makes me use him as a focus for my criticism. Someday, if i have the discipline and/or the time, I should write a long-form essay and not make it about him but about the worldview in general. Until then, he gets to stand in for the lot of them. But it is NOT personal. 

Pankaj Mishra is a British-Indian writer and public intellectual who currently lives between London and Mashobra and writes regularly for publications like the NY Times and the NYRB. He started his career as a promising literary critic (Naipaul was initially impressed) but soon switched to “native informant” mode, presenting and interpreting what he described as the angst, atomization, envy and ressentiment of newly emerging and fitfully modernizing India; a phenomenon that other elite commentators and foreign visitors were presumably failing to notice. He then expanded this theme to all of Asia and has finally graduated to interpreting the  Metropole to the metropolitans themselves. This could have been a somewhat risky move, since Western reviewers who received his reports about the darker nations relatively uncritically, might well know enough about their home turf to become critical. But by and large, that has not happened; reviews have generally been favorable.

This is not one of those favorable reviews.

I found the book  tendentious, shallow and repetitive, with quotes and facts cherry-picked from across his vast (but chronologically limited and highly Eurocentric) reading list, full of unfounded assumptions and opinions that are casually passed off with an “as everyone knows” air in practically every paragraph.

The book begins with a brief account of D’Annunzio’s occupation of Fiume in 1919. This relatively obscure episode is sprinkled with cherry-picked quotes and while the facts are mostly true, their significance is asserted rather than proven. This pattern is followed throughout the book; vast historical claims (e.g. that modernity led ultimately, not just transiently, to more immiseration in Europe; “First manifested in 19th century Europe – Bursts of technological innovation and growth offset by systemic exploitation and widespread immiseration“) are casually asserted as if they are already known and accepted by all sane-thinking people. There is no systematic description of what happened economically, socially or culturally in Europe (or elsewhere) in the last 200 years, and no data is ever offered to support any claims, but since these claims (sometimes stated, frequently just hinted at) are almost all prevalent (if only vaguely and without systematic evidence) in postmodern liberal European (and Westernized Desi) circles, so the book gets a pass in those circles; but the fact is that if you stop and dig into any random claim, the tone and the details will not pass muster.

It could be objected that this is not the point of the book. As Pankaj himself puts it:

This books is not offered as an intellectual history; and it cannot even pose, given its brevity, as a single narrative of the orign and diffusion of ideas and ideologies that assimilates teh many cultural and political developments of the previous two centuries. Rather, it explores a particular climate  of ideas, a structure of feeling, and cognitive disposition, from teh age of Rousseau to our own age of anger

He goes on to say “It tries to show how an ethic of individual and collective empowerment spread itself over the world, as much through resentful imitation as coercion, causing severe dislocations, social maladjustment and political upheaval.

Marx said it better but this is not bad either. But unlike Marx, who offered a diagnosis and then a prescription (right or wrong), Pankaj goes on to dig through 200 years of (mostly European) intellectual history to find quotes and episodes that bewail this process of destruction of the old in action; but he never offers a diagnosis of why human beings and human societies created modernity in the first place (after all, even Europeans, or rather Anglo-Americans, who appear in this book as the only people who actually do things instead of just reacting to things being done to them, are also humans); nor does he offer any ideas about what an alternative may look like. What he does add to the diagnosis of some of the authors he quotes is a relentless focus on ressentiment as the quintessential human emotion; the secret sauce that explains everything that Pankaj does not like about the world today, from Trump and Modi to Erdogan and, somewhat surprisingly, the New York Review of Books (“a major intellectual periodical of Anglo-America“).

Resentment and envy drive everything in Pankaj-world. Herder and Fichte, for example, are “young provincials in Germany.. who simmered with resentment against a metropolitan civilization of slick movers and shakers that seemed to deny them a rooted and authentic existence”. This motif is repeated with variations throughout the book. Everyone (except the Anglo-Americans of course) is endlessly burning with resentment and hates who they are. It almost makes one wonder if the book is really about Pankaj digging through 200 years of intellectual history to find his own mirror image everywhere? But this would be to psychologize, and one should try to avoid that, even if Pankaj never does.

Perhaps all this would be fine if he was suitably humble about his own limitations, but of course, he is no such thing. There is a consistent tone of “I have discovered what all of you fools missed” throughout the book. That tone is grating, partly because what he has discovered is not very original, and partly because it is by no means certain that his assessment of the Enlightenment and its major thinkers is the correct assessment. I think it likely that the specialist who specializes in any thinker cited in this book will disagree with the flippant generalizations and cherry-picked quotes, but given that this treatment is being meted out to dozens of thinkers from across the globe and the specialist knows only his own, he may not realize that Pankaj is equally shallow about all of them. For example, he sums up Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Voltaire and Kant in one go with the dismissive “the universal commercial society of self-interested rational individuals that was originally advocated by such Enlightenment thinkers as Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Voltaire and Kant”; is this really a fair and reasonable summary of all that those subtle and profound thinkers wrote and thought? I think it is certainly part of what they said, but Pankaj has no use for their other insights. What he needs for his purposes is the code words “commercial, self-interested, rational”. He knows these will do their magic within his (superficially anti-capitalist) audience, and he is probably right.

Of course, doubts and misgivings about modernity have been the subject of countless works ever since the terms were invented. In fact, the reason Rousseau, Nietzsche and company are one of the two groups who dominate the quote-mining in this book (terrorists and anarchists are the other) is precisely because they did produce works that questioned and critiqued many Enlightenment assumptions. Pankaj, with his focus on resentment and envy is, if anything, a much more limited and shallow version of their work. This may sound harsh, but this book is really little more than a disorganized dictionary of selected (sometimes misleadingly so) quotations and sweeping generalizations about writers who generally thought deeper and harder than Pankaj does. So my suggestion, dear reader, is, why not read them?

Which brings us to another problem with this book; its complete lack of interest in all human history before 1688 and in all civilizations except the European civilization of the last 200 years. Again, one may say that they are not the subject of the book, but the problem goes deeper than that. Not only are they not the subject of the book, it seems that they are not of interest to Pankaj at all. He never shows any interest (or awareness) of humans as biological beings, evolved over millennia, with instincts, drives and abilities shaped by that evolution far more than they can ever be shaped by “modernity”, whatever that may be. He is not interested in 10,000 years of human cultural evolution or in the vast literature on the evolution of political order. And he seems to regard all non-European (or perhaps non-Anglo-American) civilizations as interchangeable place holders for “tradition”, trammeled under the boot of modernity. That China and the Chinese, for example, may not be exact counterparts of his native India, and may even be a civilization that regards itself (justifiably) as a world-leader, a source of many “modern” ideas, fully capable (and desirous) of joining the modern world on its own terms. But these are not notions to be found in Pankaj-land. To him, all non-Europeans are simply interchangeable primitives; “traditional” people driven by resentment and envy and, more to the point, doomed to fakery, imitation and disappointment.

Finally, there is the issue of conscious (or unconscious?) manipulation of facts and anecdotes to fit his agenda.  Pankaj seems to know the prejudices and vague preconceptions of his postmodern Eurocentric audience, and he never misses a chance to push their buttons, even if it requires some subtle alteration of events. A few random quotes will illustrate this tendency:

Turkeys Erdogan to India’s Modi, France’s Le Pen and America’s Donald Trump, have tapped into the simmering reserviors of cynicism, boredom and discontent”. Discontent, yes, but cynicism and boredom? Other than sounding good to his audience, how much sense does this really make?

Speaking of the 1990s “The Dalai Lama appeared in Apple’s “Think different” advertisements and it seemed only a matter of time before Tibet, too, would be free”.  Did it? really? to whom? The only reason this sentence appealed to him is because it presses the right buttons. The Dalai Lama, check. Evil corporation Apple, check. Advertisement, check. Sheeple being fooled yet again, check. It is a theme, and it recurs.

He casually claims that the first televised beheading occurred “in 2004, (just as broadband began to arrive in middle-class homes) in Iraq, of a Western hostage dressed in an orange Guantanomo jumpsuit“.  This is another classic example of Pankaj in action. It is hard to believe that he has not heard (or did not learn while Googling) that the televised beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl happened two years earlier in 2002; but that beheading was in Pakistan, involved Jew-hatred and did not include an orange Guantanomo jumpsuit. So it doesnt really evoke instant anti-imperialist memes in the way the Iraq invasion and Guantanomo jumpsuits do, so the example chosen has to be Iraq in 2004. And the “broadband arriving in middle class homes” is the cherry on the subliminal messaging cake. This is a minor point, but it is worth noting that even in the case of minor points, the rhetorical needs of Pankaj’s overall project are going to be paramount. The reader has to be on his guard.

only on the rarest occasions in recent decades has it been acknowledged that the history of modernization is largely one of carnage and bedlam rather than peaceful convergence” . First of all, it is by no means certain that this history is “largely one of carnage and bedlam”, but among those who think this is true, this has been the fashionable view for decades. Pankaj does not get to announce this as new news to the in-crowd.

Wrought by the West’s transition to industrial capitalism and mass politics..“. We know he is against capitalism. Perhaps against industry as well. But is he also against mass politics? Pankaj will not say “the people” are ignorant, easily manipulated fools, but he is never too far from implying exactly that. It would be hugely interesting if he went deeper into this topic and reached some philosophically interesting (and perhaps even controversial) conclusions (aristocratic ones? under that “man of the people from Jhansi” exterior?) but this is another reason I am not a fan of his books. You get the party line, and nothing but the party line. The message is in fact NEVER controversial or new or shocking. it is exactly tailored to fit current postliberal fashions and where those fashions are internally contradictory, Pankaj will not venture. Sad!

By the way, he thinks Pope Francis is the “most convincing and influential public intellectual today”. Convincing? to whom? and MOST influential??

When it comes to Islam, he is even more predictable and safe. The following, for example, is a fairly typical example of clueless Euroliberal apologetics, and Pankaj may even know better, but he knows what buttons to push, so here it is.

(Osama and Zarqawi, not to speak of Al-Baghdadi, who has a PhD in Islamic studies, do in fact know a lot about the Islam of their ancestors. that the foot soldiers don’t know the theological details is neither here nor there; foot soldiers of other ideologies don’t know either)

He is not always wrong. In fact he is frequently perfectly correct, but in a trite and almost trivial way. For example, he says (correctly in my view) that “those routinely evoking a woldwide clash of civilizations in which Islam is pitted against the West, and religion against reason, are not able to explain many political, social and environmental ills”. Yes, but to hear him say it, you would think everyone except Pankaj thinks this is the case. But in fact, hardly any liberal commentators see this as the main explanatory framework for the world today. Debunking this to a liberal audience (and there is no other audience for this book) seems like the easiest of easy shots, not worth wasting 350 pages. But that is the problem with the book: in the end, it is just dumbed down propaganda, preaching to the converted, telling then what they already believed, but making them feel like they are participating in the unmasking of some deep and meaningful secret. This formula surely works as a way to sell books and get good reviews. But for anyone interested in new information or deeper insights, it is a waste of time.  What Scruton said about Foucault’s “The order of things” (“an artful book.. a work not of philosophy but of rhetoric”) applies to this book too. Which is unfortunate. Pankaj is obviously intelligent and very widely read. He could do something more interesting than just artfully massaging the fashionable prejudices of his class and his audience.

Besides, while he hates this “soul-killing world of mediocrity and cowardice” he is also a Westernized liberal (or post-liberal) who cannot possibly stand alongside, say, the extreme Hindu or Islamic radical who says exactly the same things. To him, those people are justified in their rebellion (though he is not at all sympathetic to the Hindu variety, relatively gentle on the Islamist variety, and most forgiving of the Leftist variety, because of the particular politics of his own peer group) but at the same time he cannot really advocate any “return to traditional mores” because of course, those mores are patriarchal, heirarchical, transphobic etc etc.. Knowing this and knowing his audience, he never goes too far into this problem. But the problem is very real. If modernity is evil, then why not the premodern? And if that too is “problematic”, then we have a bigger human issue on our hands and all this handwaving has done nothing to bring us one step closer to a solution.

PS: a couple of other random screenshots

“Man..can no longer connect cause to effect”. OK, but that implies a return to very ancient isolation. Is that the solution? maybe it is, but you won’t hear more about it from Pankaj. He presses the button, makes you feel deep, and moves on.

The book is full of this sort of elevated pseudo-discourse..

We end where we began. We need to do something new. But what?

by the way, since Pankaj quotes Nietzsche on ressentiment, here is the original. Judge for yourself..


Review. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

From Dr Hamid Hussain. 
Recently came across a great book
about an officer and gentleman of a bygone era.  Quite a timely
reminder.  In the environment of general deteriorating standards of both
Pakistani and Indian societies, armed forces cannot  be removed from their
environment.  Many officers are simply foraging in the same pastures.
 A pause and looking at the conduct of upright officers and gentlemen may
provide a different set of role models for young officers.  Respect is
earned by the character and not by the amount of brass on one’s shoulders.
Enjoy the reading.
Marshal Sam Manekshaw: The Man and His Times by Brigadier ® Behram M. Panthaki
and Zenobia Panthaki
book by the husband and wife team provides a window to the personality of an officer
and genetleman Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.  Brigadier ® Behram Panthaki
served as ADC to Sam and Behram and Zanobia had a life long association with
Sam and his family.  This gives authors a unique vantage point.  They
have done an excellent job of introducing the readers to the human side of Sam.

Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw was the most popular soldier of
India.  He passed out from Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehra Dun in
1934 and commissioned in elite 4th Battalion of 12th
Frontier Force Regiment (4/12 FFR).  This battalion went through various
reorganizations through its one hundred and fifty years history.  It
started as 4th Sikh Local Infantry after First Sikh War in
1846.  In 1901, it became 4th Sikh Infantry and in 1903 became
54th Sikhs. In 1922 reorganization, it became 4th
Battalion of 12th Frontier Force Regiment.  In 1947, on
partition of India, battalion was assigned to Pakistan and in 1957
reorganization became  6th Frontier Force (FF) Regiment of
Pakistan army.   Battalion is nick named ‘Charwanjah’
referring to its old number 54. Battalion has the unique honor that an Indian
and a Pakistan army chief belonged to this battalion. Eighth Chief of Army
Staff of Indian army Sam Manekshaw (1969-1973) and fifteenth Chief of Army
Staff of Pakistan army General ® Raheel Sharif (2013-2016) of Pakistan army
were commissioned in charwanjah.
Second World War, Sam then a captain was leading Sikh company of 4/12 FFR in
Burma.  A small group of Japanese soldiers surprised the troops and
sneaked into the perimeter of the battalion at night.  This caused a panic
and a number of soldiers bolted from the scene.  Sam’s Sikhs firmly stayed
in their positions.  Sam had threatened them that he will personally
distribute ‘bangles’ if any of them moved from their position.  Later, in
one of the attacks on a Japanese position, Sam was severely wounded when seven
bullets of a Japanese machine gun hit him in his stomach.  His orderly
Sher Singh put Sam on his back and evacuated him to Regimental Aid Post where
Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) Captain G. M. Diwan tended to him.  Sam
was awarded Military Cross (MC).  Death was closely lurking around
him.  When Sam was being treated at a hospital at Pegu, Japanese planes
bombed the hospital and Sam’s bed was moved to the lawn. Severely wounded Sam
was moved to Mandalay and then to Rangoon.  Sam was on the last ship which
left Rangoon before Japanese overran it.  The ship was also bombed by
Japanese planes but Sam made it to Madras.  This association with the
battalion during combat and fighting some of the most difficult battles had a
lifelong impact on the young man.
had a special affection for the battalion despite it being allotted to rival
Pakistan.  In 1950s, his battalion mate Brigadier (later Lieutenant
General) Atiq ur Rahman nick named ‘Turk’ (4/12 FFR) was commanding a brigade
in Kohat that was brought to Lahore for internal security duties.  Turk
and another PIFFER Brigadier (later Lieutenant General) Bakhtiar Rana
(commissioned in 6/13 Frontier Force Rifles and now 1 FF of Pakistan army) went
to Ferozpur to visit Sam who was commanding 167th Brigade. Old
PIFFERS had a great time together reminiscing about their days together. 
In 1965, Sam was GOC-in-Chief of eastern command and he had another interesting
meeting with his paltan mate Major General Fazal Muqeem Khan (4/12 FFR)
who was GOC of Dacca based 14th Division. After 1965 war, a meeting
was arranged for the two commanders.  Sam landed at Dacca and after a warm
and brief welcome told Fazal ‘let’s go home to meet the Begum Sahiba’. 
Sam and Fazal left leaving their bewildered staff officers to sort out all the
mundane tasks of the meeting.
Sam was army chief, there was a standing order to all the staff, guards and
sentries that whenever an ex-serviceman of 4/12 FFR came to the army
headquarters, he should be brought to the chief no matter what chief was
doing.  In 1971 war when he was Indian army chief, he kept an eye on
performance of 4/12 FFR (now 6 FF) which was fighting from Pakistan’s
side.  His staff would notice a certain pride in his eyes when the
briefing officer would give some account of 4/12 FFR.  He commented to his
military assistant ‘I should like to see one of my 8th Gorkha
battalions fighting the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment’.  When Major Shabbir
Sharif of 6 FF got the highest gallantry award of Nishan-e-Haider
fighting from Pakistan side, Sam wrote to one of his old British Commanding
Officer (CO) of 4/12 FFR in England that he was so proud that an officer of ‘his
battalion’ got the honor although Sam’s forces were fighting against
Pakistan.  Another sign of his association was his love for local footwear
of North West Frontier Province; Peshawari chaplis.   Long
after he left the frontier, he preferred Peshawari chaplis when wearing
casual dress.  He also named one of his dogs PIFFER. 
provides details about Sam’s family and personal life in addition to highlights
of his professional career.  A large number of photographs from family
album never published before make it a wonderful pictorial catalogue of
evolution of a young cadet through various stages of his life.  While
looking at the photographs, one cannot ignore one thing and that is whenever
Sam is with other people, everyone is laughing.  Sam had a great sense of
humor and in most of these photographs, he is in his usual jovial and naughty
book is a timely reminder to young officers of Indian and Pakistan armies about
a generation of officers of a bygone era. It is a welcome addition to the work
done about Indian army officers. This work is different as it provides a window
to the human side of Sam. It should be in the library of anyone interested in
Indian army. 
Marshal Sam Manekshaw: The Man and his times by Brigadier Behram M. Panthaki
and Zenobia Panthaki  (New Delhi: Niyogi Books, 2014)

as Lieutenant Colonel standing next to Colonel (later Major General) Shahid
Hamid, 1946. Sam and Shahid were friends from staff college days. (
Picture courtesy of
Major General ® Syed Ali Hamid son of Major General ® Shahid Hamid)

Defence Journal, Aril 2017 

A Few Questions re Trumpistan..

Now that we are living in the age of Trump, I have a few random thoughts and questions and I hope some of you will answer with comments (here or on social media).

A. It seems to me that Trump (and his truly trusted advisers, Bannon, Coulter etc) were not just cynically using the “coming war with Islam”, they really truly believe that the United States (the most powerful nation on earth) is in a fight to the death with “Islamdom” (the weakest and least coherent “civilization” on the planet; well, maybe stronger than Hindu Rashtra, but not by much) and that Putin is their great ally in this world war, which otherwise teeters on the edge of being lost. This is the most economical explanation for their obsession with Putin and their hatred of fellow NATO allies (well, as long as you discount the golden shower tape as being a fantasy; otherwise that too is a pretty economical explanation).
This whole notion is a joke to the intelligence establishment, the great capitalist corporations, the Western European powers and yes, also to China and Russia; though some of them (Putin, maybe even China) have good reasons to encourage Bannonists on this path. Long before conquering Islamdom, Putin has more important things to do in the Baltics, Ukraine, Belarus, even Poland…
I would add as an aside that there are probably Hindus and Middle Eastern Christians who DO face a real battle with Islamists and who may regard him (and/or Bannon) as potential saviors. I think they are wrong (not because they face no threat from Islamists, but because their faith in Trump will prove to be a mistake) but that is an argument for another day. For now we are talking about the United States and the threats it realistically faces (or does not face). Also, some commentators below have pointed out that Western Civ does face very serious problems and the Democrats (or mainstream Republicans for that matter) seem to want to paper over the problems and continue with business as usual and so on. True. But again, that you have problem X, does not mean Y is the solution. An incompetent conman is not the answer
Anyway, here is the thing, IF the Western elites all shared the Bannonist view (even if it was wrong), the US would remain their leader, but given how little this view is shared in the world, it can only be carried forward by undermining existing elites and alliances. Bannon is probably ready for whatever that leads to, but even Trump may not be up for it. The rest of the Western elite is even less likely to join in. Yet, here we are. So my questions:

1. Can Trump and company establish control over the existing resources of the Western powers AND then use them to prosecute this war to the finish (whatever that means in their minds) OR

2. Can the old elites (the so-called deep state, though I dont think that is a good term for this loosely organized elite and their even looser ideological meme-cluster) manage to get rid of Trump without too much damage being done? OR

3. Will the infighting, incompetence and confusion proceed apace and where will that lead to in four years?

Anticipating some objections, I would add that:

1. I think Islamist insurgencies are real and reflect widespread desire for an “Islamic civilization” that is a coherent and powerful presence on the planet. But I dont think they have much of a chance of getting anywhere. See my article here for some background.

2. I think Muslim migrants in Europe are and will remain a headache for the host populations, but not an unmanageable one. The high point of airy-fairy European multiculturalism has long passed. Without electing any Wilders or Le Pens, the European states will still reduce Muslim immigration and will force (with varying success) increasing degrees of assimilation. They will be troubled, but they will not be over-run. They may overshoot in the other direction, but they will not be over-run. 

3. The Islamicate world will see much anti-American sentiment and some anti-American actions but more important will be wars on the borders. Some of the borders (Nigeria? Sudan? India??) may even see non-Muslim populations being overrun. And non-Muslim populations within Islamic states will continue to face major threats and maybe extinction in some cases. None of that will be enough to conquer Europe or invade America. And in the midst of all this, all major Islamic countries will remain dependent on outside powers (USA, China, Russia) or will face internal and border problems (Turkey) that will overwhelm any dream of leading the new caliphate. Bannonism and Coulterism are still a joke.

B. Those of you who supported Trump in the election on some single-issue, do you still hope he will achieve X or are you losing hope? and why (in either case)?

   The thought here is that several smart people I know supported Trump because they expected him to be great for one or two causes near and dear to their heart. For example, Zionists who thought he would be great for Israel; or small business people who thought whatever small business people think, and so on. For the Zionists, I guess the answer may well be yes, though I would lean towards the thought that Israel’s rosy outlook is due to the weakness of Israel’s adversaries, not due to any new strength provided by DJT. But anyway, for those who voted because they wanted X domestic policy, now that he is in power:

1. Will his mainstream Republican agenda (cutting taxes, cutting regulations, giving more to rich people, less to poor people, “unleashing business”, etc) still get enacted in spite of his personal incompetence? OR

2. Do you actually need a smart president to get things done? (those who think he IS a smart president can call in to infowars for some free airtime).

3. And even if it gets enacted, does this just set up for a bigger Democratic victory next time around? or are the Dems too far gone into La-la land (SJWs, etc) to be able to make a comeback?

Inquiring minds want to know..

PS: Trumpists may be very incompetent, but in a fight, its who is MORE incompetent. Exhibit A:

The INA (Indian National Army)

From Dr Hamid Hussain
Chapter of Indian Army: Indian National Army
National Army (INA) was formed during Second World War from Indian Prisoners of
Wars (POWs) captured by Japanese. Later, it was re-named Free Indian Army (FIA)
but it remained known by INA name.  Second World War saw rapid expansion
of Indian Army to participate in another global conflict.  On the eve of
Second World War, the strength of Indian army was 189’000.  During the
war, it expanded to 2.3 million men. On the eve of Second World War, there were
less than five hundred Indian commissioned officers and by the end of the war
there were 9540 Indian officers. Nine thousand Indian officers were Emergency
Commissioned Officers (ECOs) with only six months of training.
Malayan theatre, British command quickly collapsed under Japanese
assault.  More than 60’000 British and Indian officers and soldiers were
captured by Japanese. British officers were separated from Indian officers and
soldiers and kept in a separate camp.  A number of Indian officers and
soldiers joined INA.  Some volunteered for INA while others were coerced
to join it to avoid hardships of captivity. Japanese soldiers wrote new
chapters of barbarity for inhumane torture and execution of thousands of

motives for establishment of INA were different.  They didn’t envision any
significant role for INA in their grand strategy for Asia.  Japanese
military ethos was different where martial tradition was interwoven with racial
superiority and a divine monarchy.  Japanese soldiers very rarely
surrendered and fought on till death or committed suicide rather than
surrendering to the foe.  They had very little respect for any soldier who
surrendered.  In this environment, a racially inferior Indian soldier who
surrendered rather than dying for his cause put Indian POWs at a very low level
in Japanese eyes.  From practical military point of view, a soldier who
surrendered and now offered to fight his former comrades was viewed with
suspicion and Japanese were not ready to properly arm and equip such a lot as
there was no guarantee that if the tide turned again, they may also shift their
loyalty. Their main objective was to use INA for propaganda purposes and try to
infiltrate Indian army and cause disaffection and tamper with loyalty of Indian
troops. This was the main reason that only a handful of junior Japanese
officers were attached to INA project. British called them Japanese Inspired
Fifth Columnist (JIFSs).
were two distinct periods of INA.  First INA was formed under the auspices
of Indian Independence League (IIL) headed by Rash Behari Bose.  First INA
was organized in September 1942 and Captain Mohan Singh (1/14 Punjab Regiment)
was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC).  By the end of the year,
INA strength was about 17’000.  This force was organized as No: 1 Hind
Field Force into three brigades;
  • Gandhi
    Brigade commanded by INA Major H. S. Betar.
  • Nehru Brigade
    commanded by INA Major Inayat Jan Kiani (5/2 Punjab Regiment)
  • Azad Brigade
    commanded by INA Major Prakash Chand
special service group headed by Captain Taj Muhammad Khanzada (5/11 Sikh
Regiment), intelligence group headed by Captain Tajjammal Hussain and several
small Motor Transport (MT), engineer and medical support units were also
the first three months, main efforts were geared towards propaganda to enlist
more POWs for INA and some rudimentary training.  There was multipronged
friction between main players on the scene.  Several members of the
council of action had no confidence in President Rash Behari Bose.  IIL
and INA had serious differences with Japanese occupation authorities as
Japanese objectives were different.  Indo-Burmese animosity was also at
play.  Indian laborers and business interests were dominant in Burmese
economy.  Burmese resented this Indian presence and were openly
hostile.  Those Burmese who were now cooperating with Japanese wanted to
limit the influence of Indians.  On 8 December 1942, senior most INA
officer Naranjan Singh Gil (4/19 Hyderabad Regiment) was arrested by Japanese
and Mohan was helpless to do anything.  Mohan Singh sent a secret letter
to all formation commanders of INA that if he was arrested, INA would stand
dissolved.  He was arrested on 29 December and first INA ceased to exist
as a functional entity.  Mohan Singh was later moved to Sumatra and he
faded away from the scene.  After Japanese surrender, he was brought back
to India. 
February 1943, Rash Behari Bose after meeting with several officers and Non
Commissioned Officers (NCOs) reformed INA but under his own control.  A
committee worked on re-organization and in April, a new organization named
Directorate of Military Bureau (DMB) of IIL was established.  Lieutenant
Colonel J. K. Bhonsle (5/5th Mahratta Light Infantry) was appointed
Director DMB and several officers including Captain P. K. Sehgal (2/10 Baluch
Regiment), Captain Shah Nawaz Khan (1/14 Punjab Regiment), Lieutenant Colonel
A. D. Loganadan (Indian Medical Service), Captain Habib ur Rahman (1/14 Punjab
Regiment), Lieutenant J. C. Stracey (1/14 Punjab Regiment), Lieutenant Krishna
Murti, Captain Mata ul Mulk (2/15 Punjab Regiment), Captain K.P. Thimmaya (2/10
Baluch Regiment) and Major B. C. Allagappan (Indian Medical Service) were
assigned to head various departments of the bureau. Lt. Colonel A. C. Chatterji
(Indian Medical Service) and Captain Ehsan Qadir (5/2 Punjab Regiment) were
also given senior positions in IIL.
July 1943, Subhas Chandra Bose took the leadership role of IIL and renamed INA
as Azad Hind Fauj (Free Indian Army) in Singapore.  This was the
second INA.  Earlier, when Bose was in Germany, he had tried to enlist
Indian POWs.  There were about 15’000 Indian POWs captured on North
African front but only 800-1000 had been co-opted to join Free Indian Legion
(FIL).  The INA was now organized as No: 1 Division with four brigades;

  • Subhas
    Brigade commanded by Captain (INA Major General) Shah Nawaz (1/14 Punjab
  • Gandhi
    Brigade commanded by Captain (INA Lt. Colonel) Inayat Jan Kiani (5/2
    Punjab Regiment)
  • Azad Brigade
    commanded by Captain (INA Colonel) Gulzara Singh
  • Nehru brigade
    commanded by Captain (INA Colonel) Gurbakhash Singh Dhillon (1/14 Punjab

Photograph: 1:  1st Row (L to R): Lt Col Chatterjee, Lt Col
J K Bhonsle, Dr. Lakshmi Swaminathan, Chandra Bose, A. M. Sahay and S. A. Ayer.
2nd Row (L to R): Lt Col Gulzara Singh,
Lt Col Shah Nawaz Khan, Lt Col Aziz Ahmed, Lt Col M. Z. Kiani, Lt Col N. S.
Bhagat, Lt Col Ehsan Qadir and Lt Col Loganathan.
1 Division was sent to Assam front and two more divisions were also
formed.  No: 2 Division was at Rangoon while No: 3 Division consisting
mainly of civilians remained in Malaya.  A special service group was named
No: 1 Bahadur Group and commanded by INA Colonel Burhanuddin and No: 2 Bahadur
Group was commanded by INA Major Fateh Khan.  Intelligence group was under
the command of INA Colonel Shaukat Ali Malik (Ist Bahawalpur Infantry). By
early 1944, the second INA was 40’000 strong.  In February 1944, INA had
its first encounter with Indian army in Arakan campaign. Japanese used it
mainly to cause confusion among British Indian army and try to subvert the
loyalty of Indian troops.  No: 1 Division was withdrawn from Imphal front
in August 1944.  No: 2 Division was later launched on Burma front. 
In the context of Second World War, the military aspect of INA was just a
sideshow of a sideshow.  Real clash was between a million men strong
British 14th Army (Four Corps) and Japanese 15th
performance of INA was not significant due to a number of factors.  Total
of 750 INA men were killed in action, 1500 died of disease, 3000 surrendered or
deserted, 200 escaped to Siam and 9000 were captured after final Japanese
defeat.  In comparison, some Indian army battalions engaged in heavy
combat suffered more casualties than the whole INA.  In fact, 1/14 Punjab
Regiment before the surrender lost one hundred and forty soldiers and officers
killed in action.  Bose and many in INA believed that as soon as they made
contact with their Indian army colleagues, they would simply cross over and
join them.  This didn’t happen and Indian units fought very well against
INA.  Indian soldiers who were fighting INA considered them as
traitors.  There were several cases where INA soldiers were shot by Indian
army soldiers rather than being allowed to surrender.  This problem was
significant enough that British high command had to issue a special order to
Indian soldiers to prohibit this practice.
was disappointed at the performance of INA.  After hundreds of desertions,
he lashed out at INA officers stating that it was ‘the loose conduct, luxury
and corruption of the officers that had been responsible for the state of
morale in which desertions were possible.  The disaster had been a failure
of leadership’.  There is no question about Bose’s commitment to his
ideals.  He resigned from the coveted Indian Civil Service (ICS) position
and forced out of the leadership of Congress party as he didn’t compromise with
even Gandhi and Nehru; the icons of Indian leadership.  He escaped from
India via Afghanistan and dedicated his whole remaining life for armed struggle
for freedom.  His charismatic personality and charming manners won many
adherents among Indian POWs.  However, he was disappointed in INA project
as he didn’t get enough committed volunteers from POWs who had similar zeal for
the armed struggle. 
Indian officers who played a prominent role in INA wrote about their experience
in 1946 just before independence.  These accounts are confusing as these
officers tried to justify their actions but gave contradictory evidence about
what they actually believed in.  Captain Shah Nawaz Khan was serving with
the 10th training battalion of 14th Punjab Regiment at
Ferozpur when his own battalion embarked for Malaya.  He arrived in Malaya
on 29 January 1942, only two weeks before the surrender of British
forces.  He narrates in his autobiography that he felt let down as he was
not allowed to fight against Japanese.  He narrates about the surrender
order ‘I resented this order, especially when I felt that I had not been given
a fair chance to fight the enemy, and to have brought me to Singapore so late
in the fight, only to be ordered to lay down my arms, which I considered a
crime and an injustice to my honour as a soldier to lay down my arms and
also claims that during captivity he organized a block of Indian officers to
resist enrollment in INA.  He gives the following reasons for joining INA:
  • Giving protection
    and help to P.O.W.
  • To stop it
    being exploited by the Japanese
  • To sabotage
    and wreck it from within, the moment we felt that it would submit to
    Japanese exploitation.
claims that ‘personally I wished to get out of the I.N.A.’ but ‘I had committed
myself too far and could not retrace my steps ‘.  He claims that he worked
hard to keep rank and file out of INA.  He goes on to give the bizarre
argument that ‘I set about to find such men for the I.N.A. as would be willing
to fight the Japs if they were dishonest with us’.  He elaborates on this
theme by stating that ‘I also realized that if on going into India which was
probable due to poor British defences, the Japs were dishonest, I would be much
more useful to my country with a rifle in hand  in India, than as a P.O.W.
in Malaya’.  He also claimed that he advised Mohan Singh to disband INA
because Japanese were exploiting it.  In defense of awarding death sentence
to Sepoy Muhammad Hussain for desertion from INA, Shah Nawaz very eloquently
described that ‘if in spite of voluntarily joining the organization and
accepting its rules and regulations and given ample opportunities of staying
behind, away from the front, the man still insisted on betraying his country
and his comrades he well deserved the punishment he received’.  He didn’t
comprehend that the same rule applied to him when he deserted. 
May 1942, he joined first INA and in February 1943, he joined the second INA. 
Shah Nawaz in his statement during his court martial alluded to friction
between Indian officers.  Captain Mohan Singh was made commander of INA
and Shah Nawaz resented this fact.  He considered Mohan Singh an ‘average
officer’ and too junior.  There were many senior and more capable Indian
officers with 15-20 years service compared to only eight years service of Mohan
Singh.  He also considered Mohan weak and that ‘he would not be able to
cope with Japanese political intrigues’.  After Japanese defeat, Shah
Nawaz surrendered on 16 May 1945 to Second Lieutenant Tehel Singh of 2nd
Battalion of Ist Punjab Regiment. 
Prem Kumar Sehgal was commissioned in 1939 in 5th Battalion of 10th
Baluch Regiment.  This was an Indianized battalion but next year, he was
transferred to 2nd Battalion of 10th Baluch Regiment and
sailed with the battalion to Malaya.  He was captured by Japanese in
February 1942. He states that ‘I felt terribly let down by the British, who had
handed us over to the Japanese and told us to obey their orders same way as we
had been obeying the orders of the British’. 
gives bizarre reasons of joining the INA.  He claims that ‘if sincere and
patriotic officers kept out of it, it would be quite easy for the Japanese to
exploit their army’.  He narrates that ‘I finally made up my mind to join
the Indian National Army because I felt that the Japanese were absolutely
determined to go to India and if they were accompanied by a really strong
I.N.A. the Japanese would not be permitted to commit the same atrocities as
they had committed in Malaya and other countries in East Asia and also if they
did not honour their pledges regarding Indian independence, a well armed and
organized I.N.A. would be in a position to put up an armed opposition against
them’.  It was naïve on his part to believe that a victorious Japanese
army that had defeated the mighty British empire will be kept in check by a
handful of Indian officers and soldiers who were essentially going to India as
coat hangers of a military juggernaut.
mere Lieutenant of Indian army with less than three years of service under his
belt, Sehgal held some lofty positions in INA.  He started as Military
Secretary to Directorate of Military Bureau and then Assistant Chief of Staff,
Deputy Adjutant General, Commanding Officer of 5th Guerrilla
Regiment (later re-organized as 2nd Infantry Regiment) and ended up
as temporary GOC of 2nd Division of INA.  In April 1945, he
surrendered to 4th Battalion of 2nd Gurkha Rifles.
and Captains became Brigadiers and Major Generals and VCOs became Captains and
Majors in INA.  Most had the actual experience of commanding only a
platoon but now assigned to command battalions and brigades.  They neither
had the personal experience nor training for commanding higher
formations.  In addition, the formations existed mainly on paper with no
proper equipment and no logistical support to sustain combat operations. The
outcome was a foregone conclusion.  On first contact with their former
comrades of mainly Indian formations, INA disintegrated. 
Japanese defeat, former INA members were captured and interrogated.  3880
who were designated White were reinstated in the army without loss of seniority
and 13’000 Greys were discharged with the loss of pay during captivity but with
retention of pension.  6000 Blacks were scheduled for court martial but
only less than two dozen faced court martial.  Mohan Singh never faced the
court martial.  Later during INA trials, lead Defence Council, Sir
Bhulabhai Desai claimed that 23,000 volunteered to serve as combatants for
November 1945, court martial proceedings were held at Delhi against three INA
officers.  There were seven members of the General Court Martial presided
by Major General A. B. Blaxland.  Indian members of the General Court
Martial were Lieutenant Colonel Nasir Ali Khan (7 Rajput Regiment), Major
Pritam Singh (IAC) and Major Banwari Lal (15 Punjab Regiment).  Of three
members in waiting, two were Indian; Major S.S. Pandit (1/1 Punjab Regiment)
and Captain Gurdial Singh Randhawa (13th DCO Lancers). 
Congress had steadfastly opposed Bose and his INA.  However, now it
decided to take full political advantage of this crisis of the Raj. 
Congress provided seventeen top notch lawyers for the defense.  The list
included India’s top legal minds including three former justices of high
courts.  Main charges against three officers were waging war against the
King and in case of Shah Nawaz also abetment in murder by passing death
sentence to INA deserter solider.  Defence argued that when the struggle
for freedom reaches a stage where there is an organized government and
organized army, and then it must be accorded all rights, privileges and
immunities of a fighting army.  In case of capital punishment, defense
argued that these sentences were never carried out.  All three were
convicted and awarded various prison sentences.  Later, their sentences
were set aside by C-in-C due to enormous political pressure. 
July 1945, army conducted a survey of Indian soldiers and officers about
INA.  Field Security Section (FSS) and Criminal Investigation Department
(CID) conducted the survey.  In addition, regimental and battalion
adjutants were tasked to inquire about the feelings of Indian rank and file
about INA.  In general, the opinion was that INA was nationalist but they
had violated their oaths.  However, they should be treated differently and
not punished excessively.
sentencing of some INA personnel, Congress and Muslim League members of Central
Assembly demanded release of all INA prisoners.  Congress decision to
support INA officers was purely political.  It wanted to use the trial to
speed up British departure with the aim of getting the power without first
solving their problem with Muslim League.  An interview of one of the lead
counsel of defense Committee Asaf Ali with a former POW Captain Hari Badhwar of
3rd Cavalry clearly proves this point.  Asaf Ali told Badhwar
that based on all the facts he had learned, ‘if Congress were in power, it would
have no hesitation in removing all INA from the services’ and that ‘Congress
would not hesitate to put INA leaders on trail when they come to power’. 
Badhwar asked Asaf that now that they knew all the facts they should not
champion INA cause.  Asaf replied that they ‘dare not take that line’ as
they ‘would lose much ground in the country’.  Muslim League stance was
even worse.  It first stayed aloof from the trial but when it saw that
general public interest was aroused, it also jumped on the bandwagon. 
Muslim League decided to provide its own defense committee to one of the
accused Captain Abdur Rashid.  His defense gave the absurd argument that
he didn’t join to fight British.  He joined it to thwart the Hindu
conspiracy of ruling whole India at the exclusion of Muslims with the help of
Japanese.  After sentencing, Muslim League claimed that Rashid was victim
of religious discrimination. 
and Muslim League championed the cause of INA on their own terms but their
later actions proved that it was only for political gains and had nothing to do
with any specific principle.  Once in charge of government after
partition, neither Nehru nor Jinnah re-instated any INA officer.  In early
1948, Prime Minister Nehru consulted with three people about the INA
issue.   Lieutenant General Srinagesh, Major General J. N. Chaudhuri
and P.V.R. Rao of Defence Ministry were unanimous in their view that INA
personnel should not be re-instated in the army.  Nehru’s response was
that of a politician stating that ‘I disagree with your reasons but I agree
with your conclusions.’ 
ex-INA soldiers and officers became actively involved in militant Hindu and
Muslim organizations.  Some reports suggested that many incidents of
organized violence against civilian population during mutual bloodletting of
partition were committed by these ex-INA men.  Once breach of discipline
is tolerated and condoned then soldier is no better than a brigand. Ex-INA
found no future and drifted towards their respective political or religious
organizations. Many were responsible for participating in the killings of
unarmed and innocent civilians during partition holocaust. In Pakistan, many
ex-INA officers participated in 1947-48 Kashmir war. This operation was
conducted outside the normal chain of command of the army in a very immature
fashion with far reaching negative consequences.  Use of ex-INA soldiers
for Kashmir operations in 1947-48 had a negative effect on the discipline of
Pakistan army. Three years later, several officers were arrested for the
conspiracy to overthrow the civilian government.  Most of these officers
had participated in Kashmir operations.
POWs joined INA for a variety of reasons.  Rapid war time expansion of
Indian army meant that majority of soldiers and Indian officers were
inexperienced with few years and in many cases few months experience of
military service.  Surrender of large number of Indian and British
soldiers in Malaya was a bewildering experience for everyone.  Only few
officers joined INA from patriotic motives.  Most were either coerced or
joined INA to avoid hardships of captivity.  A large number of officers,
VCOs and other ranks remained loyal to their oath and suffered horribly. INA
consisted of POWs and there were very rare cases of actual desertion and almost
no case of active effort to cross over to the Japanese held areas to join
loyalty was a major factor of esprit de corps and if a regiment had a good set
of officers and VCOs, then it had good discipline during captivity.  This
factor was not lost on their captors and resistant officers and VCOs were put
in an ‘Officer’s Separation Camp’ to force them to join INA with the hope that
Other Ranks (ORs) will follow them.  If Indian officers and VCOs were steady,
then rank and file followed their example. 
Indian officers and VCOs of 3rd Cavalry set an example for the rest
of the regiment and it stayed out of INA.  Captain K. P. Dhargalkar,
Captain Hari Badhwar and Subedar Major Ismail Khan of 3rd Cavalry
set personal example and kept their men steady during captivity.  On the
other hand, 1/14 Punjab Regiment underwent several major changes in few years
that eroded regimental bond.  As process of Indianization, VCOs were
posted out and more senior Indian officers had been milked away for newly
raised war time battalions.  Battalion had only junior Indian commissioned
officers and no time tested VCOs to keep the soldiers steady.  First shock
of combat, quick collapse and surrender shattered the battalion and most of the
Indian officers and soldiers joined INA. 
Baluch Regiment was a non-Indianized battalion with British officers. 
Only three Indian officers not originally from the battalion were posted to the
battalion during the war.  Captain P.K. Sehgal with only two years of
service was transferred to the battalion just before the war.  Lieutenant
Burhanudin was the scion of the princely family of Chitral.  He was
serving with Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) and during the war attached to the
battalion.  Captain K. P. Thimayya was running his family’s plantation and
was a reserve officer.  He was posted to the battalion when war
started.  All three ICOs joined INA but they were not able to convince
fellow battalion mates.  In the absence of British officers, seasoned VCOs
kept the battalion steady during captivity and three ICOs were not successful
in convincing soldiers to join INA.  In the absence of British officers,
proud Punjabi Muslims, Pathans and Dogra VCOs and ORs remained loyal to their
numbers of 4/19 Hyderabad Regiment joined INA. This was an Indianized battalion
and not a happy one.  In 1940, battalion was in Singapore and old
Commanding Officer (CO) was transferred.  New British CO was unpopular and
had problems with officers and men.  British and Indian officers were not
on talking terms.  Uncontrolled drinking and brothel visits took the toll
on battalion’s discipline. Lieutenant Zahir udin was on a detached duty with a
company of Ahirs.  He was living with a German woman strongly suspected to
be a German spy. There was enough evidence that she was undermining the loyalty
of Ahirs.  Zahir was moved out of the battalion and Ahirs protested. 
CO asked for help and a Gordon Highlanders detachment disarmed Ahir guards,
removed all arms and surrounded the barracks.  It was tactful handling by
Thimayya that open mutiny was avoided and crisis was resolved.  However,
Thimayya asked for transfer and only two months before war, one of the most
effective and respected Indian officer was not with the battalion. It was no
surprise that many soldiers of the unhappy battalion joined INA during
captivity.  On the other hand 2/15 Punjab Regiment remained steady during
captivity.  Legendry Subedar Major Sher Dil Khan was the tower of strength
and in the absence of British officers held the battalion together during
captivity.  Subedar Makhmud Anwar was tortured to death for refusing to
join INA.  With the exception of few Sikhs, Punjabi Muslims, Jats, Sikhs
and Pathans (Khattaks) remained loyal to their oaths. 
story of INA is a little known chapter of Indian army.  Most
post-independence work on the subject is polemic with very little insight or in
depth analysis.  A rapidly expanding army with a large number of junior
officers and recruits was thrust in a global battlefield in the background of
political awareness of India. Sudden collapse of Malayan command with surrender
of thousands of soldiers en mass and removal of their British officers
bewildered everyone. INA was viewed as a life line thrown by their Japanese
captors and a number of officers and men joined it from different
motives.  In military terms, INA was not successful but it’s impact on
British civil and military decision making process indirectly provided stimulus
to the independence movement.
I.N.A. Heroes: Autobiographies of Major General Shah Nawaz, Colonel Prem K.
Sehgal & Colonel Gurbax Singh Dhillon of Azad Hind Fauj (Hero Publications:
Lahore), 1946
Singh Rawal.  I.N.A. Saga (Allahabad: New Literature), 1946
Defence Committee.  (Delhi: Delhi Printing Press), 1946
Mason.  A Matter of Honor (Norwich: Fletcher & Son Ltd.), 1974
of The Ist Battalion of 14th Punjab Regiment
.  (East
Sussex: The Naval and Military Press Ltd.), Reprint of 1946 Edition
Khan Durrani.  The Sixth Column (London: Cassel & Company),
General Sir Francis Tuker.  While Memory Serves (London: Cassell
& Company Ltd.), 1950
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Harper Press), 2010
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Cambridge University Press), 2014
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Oxford University Press), 1999 Paperback Edition of 1993 Edition.
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1918-1962 and Coup Prediction Theory.
PhD Thesis, University of London
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the Partition of India.
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Austin, May 1994
J. N. Chaudhury Lecture at Cambridge Trust, 5 May 1973.
February 2017

Major General Anant Singh Pathania MVC, MC

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Major General ® Syed Ali Hamid of Pakistan army wrote an excellent profile of MG Anant Singh Pathania.  Absolute delight for folks like me. My comments in red.

Great profile of an officer and gentleman. How could I resist as it opened so many windows of a bygone era. My few cents in red.  I’m circulating it to my list.

By Maj Gen Syed Ali Hamid (Retired)

The clan of Pathanias were originally Tomars from Rajasthan and for a while they ruled Delhi. They moved up north after being defeated by the Moguls and their name is an abbreviation of Prathishthana, the ancient name of Pathankot, which was the capital of the hill state of Nurpur. They have a proud record of service in the armies of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the State Forces of Jammu & Kashmir, the British India Army and the Indian Army. The clan boasts of one Vir Chakara and two Maha Vir Chakaras (the second highest gallantry award in India), and one of the recipients was Anant Singh Pathania who was twice decorated for bravery and retired as a major general.

He was born in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh in 1913, just two years before his father Lt Col Raghbir Singh Pathania, 2nd Jammu & Kashmir Rifles was killed in action while commanding the battalion in Jassin, Tanganyika. (Kashmir contributed one and a half battalion for Expeditionary Force B for East African campaign.  One complete battalion 2 J & K Rifles and half battalion (4 companies) 3 J & K Rifles.  Class composition of 2 J & K Rifles commanded by Lt. Colonel Raghbir Singh was 50% Muslims and 50% Gorkhas.  Class of composition of half the battalion of 3 J & K Rifles commanded by Lt. Colonel Durga Singh was 50% Dogra and 50% Gorkha. Raghbir Singh was killed at the head of his troops defending an outpost on 18 January 1915. State troops fought well but post was overrun next day.  Out of 135 Kashmir troops captured, 115 were wounded that tells a lot about the fight.)  His mother was the daughter of Gen Baj Singh, Kashmir Imperial Service Troops, a fine old soldier and gentleman who was always keen to be in the thickest of a fight. He was shot down next to Capt. Townshend, leading an assault during the Siege of Chitral, 1895. (Three battalions of Kashmir Rifles; 4, 5 & 6 were deployed in northern areas in 1895 campaign.  4 Kashmir Rifles commanded by Colonel Jagat Singh was at Gilgit and when Chitral was threatened, it was dispatched to Chitral. That old soldier General Baj Singh although not required went with the battalion to make sure that is was steady in a crisis.  Captain Townsend with 400 soldiers was besieged in the fort.  During a heavy attack a number of Kashmir troops were killed including Baj Singh and Major Bikham Singh of 4 Kashmir Rifles. Charles Verre FerrersTownsend was an interesting character and also present at the battle of Ombdurmam in Sudan.  He rose to become Major General and during Great War commanded 6 Division in Mesopotamia. After initial successes, his command was destroyed at the siege of Kut al Amara and he surrendered to Ottoman forces )  Anant Singh was raised under the tutelage of his grandfather Maj Gen, Sardar Bahadur, Nihal Singh Pathania, OBI, the C-in-C of Jammu & Kashmir Forces.

It was around this time that he was engaged to a lady whose family could boast of an equally strong military heritage. Her father, Col Bakshi Chand Katoch was awarded an IDSM in Mesopotamia when he was the Subedar Major of the 56th FFR. He was subsequently commissioned with the first batch of KCIOs from the Cadet College, Indore in Dec 1919.Maj Gen Akbar (Rangroot) who was PA-1, was also commissioned in the same batch. Her younger sister was married to Ghanshyam Singh who was in the last batch of KCIOs commissioned from Sandhurst in 1934 and was posted to 16th Cavalry. My father Maj Gen Syed Shahid Hamid was in the same batch.Her uncle (father’s younger brother) was Subedar Major Parbat Chand Katoch, the first Indian officer (VCO) to be awarded a MC in WW1. When all the British officers became casualties at Neuve Chapelle,  Prabhat Chand then just 30 years old, splendidly led the remnants of his regiment, none other than the 59th Royal Sind Rifles (Frontier Force), which in the reforms of 1921/22 would be renumbered as the 6/13thRFFR. Her grandfather was Sardar Bahadur, Honorary Captain Bidhi Chand, the first Subedar Major of 38thDogra (now 2 Dogra. The recruitment pattern during necessity of Great War is very interesting.  On the eve of Great War, infantry battalions consisted of eight companies. In 1915, a Jat K company and later two L & M companies of Garhwali Brahmins were added.  Later, during four company re-organization battalion had four Dogra Rajput companies but also retained K Jat and M Garhwali Brahmin companies.  In Second World War, other regiments with Dogra component also recruited new classes.  5th Probyn Horse recruited Dogra Brahmins and Baluch regiment Brahmins from non-Dogra areas. This added to administrative headache as in Probyn’s Horse instead of squadron mess for a single class troop messing had to be implemented as Brahmin Dogra would not eat with Rajput Dogra.) who held the appointment for 18 years till he retired in 1909.

His fiancés parents were keen to quickly tie the knot, since girls in their family wed as young as fourteen, but Anant’s battalion was fighting in Waziristan and he did not want to take a chance. The family agreed to wait. He joined his unit at Razmak along with his course mate, Bakhtiar Rana who was promoted to a three star rank in the Pakistan Army. Most of the Muslim officers that he served with in the battalion during this campaign including Shaukat Raza, Sher Khan, Nazir Ahmed, Akbar Khan and Muhammad Musa, would also rise to prominence in the Pakistan Army. When the campaign terminated in 1939, Anant Singh was detailed for the Junior Staff Course. By the time he returned to the battalion it had moved to Secunderabad as part of the newly raised 5th Indian Division. The formation was under equipped as it was foreseen that the British India Army would not fight a ‘first-class enemy’.  However whatever might have been said against the Italians, the Battle of Keren in Eritrea was one of the toughest engagements fought by the 5th Indian Division. To a large extent the division owed its success to the experience of a number of its battalions like the 6/13th RFFR who had operated on the North-West Frontier.

The division was shipped to East Africain Sep 1940. By the time the battle for Keren was fought in early 1941, Anant Singh had advanced to a temporary captain and was commanding a company. Keren is located on a plateau 4,300 ft above sea level and astride the only route that led to Asmara. A formidable barrier of bleak and jagged peaks guarded the approach through the narrow Dongolaas Gorge which took the road and railway up to the plateau. The initial attacks in Feb and early March by the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions on the mass of mountains which rose some 2,500 ft above the Happy Valley, met very limited success. The Italians were too well entrenched and from their excellent observation posts they could detect and engage every movement. Moreover, the physical effort of climbing through prickly bush, spear grass and rocks with no foothold, so exhausted the attackers burdened with equipment, weapons, ammunition etc. that on reaching the crests they were momentarily too exhausted to make further effort. That’s when the Italians counterattacked.

Ultimately the British commanders decided to force a passage by narrowing the frontage of the attack to just 3000 meters astride the gorge. A renewed effort by the 4th Indian Divisionon the left to capture Brig’s Peak and Sanchil again failed. However, a brigade of 5th Indian Division commanded by Frank Messervy managed to ascend a spur on the right and after some bitter fighting captured Dologolodoc Fort. That night the next brigade of which 6/13th RFFR was the reserve battalion passed through to assault Zeban and Falestoh. The attack was held-up halfway and early next morning, the flank of 3/2ndPunjab (the left forward battalion) was counterattacked. ‘B’ Company 6/13thRFFR commanded by Anant Singh was sent forward to assist in repulsing the Italians. The ground over which it had to pass was swept by machine gun fire from across the gorge but the company made a rush, captured forty Italians and held ground. Throughout the morning in temperatures touching 40°C and amidst heavy shelling, the rest of 6/13thcarried water, rations and ammunition up to the forward battalions. Its HQ was heavily shelled but with coolness and diligence, the adjutant Maj Sher Khan kept is operating efficiently. In spite of the best efforts of 6/13thRFFR and air supply mission,the Worcestershire Battalion on the right was critically short of ammunition and in the evening withdrew to a depression ahead of Fort Dologoroc.

As it was withdrawing, Anant’s company out on the left flank was heavily counterattackedby the better part of a battalion of Savoy Grenadiers who were among the finest troops the Italians had. In spite of losing a third of its strength the company gallantly held its ground. The history of the division records that the company commander ‘displayed magnificent courage and leadership in this action’. When the Italians succeeded in penetrating the centre of his sector, he led his company HQ and a few men whom he had collected to the counter attack and at the point of the bayonet pushed the Italians out from his company’s position.Though wounded in the face and both legs, Anant Singh was not prepared to be evacuated and only did so five hours later under orders. The command passed to his company officer, Lt. Sadiqullah. The Savoy Grenadiers rallied and launched another attack but the officer handled the situation very well. In the nick of time the company was reinforced by two platoons and Sadiqullah led a charge and again drove the Italians back at the point of the bayonet. For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty, Anant Singh was awarded a Military Cross. Young Lt. Sadiqulla was also awarded a MC in a subsequent battle but that is another story to be told.
(Lieutenant, later Brigadier Sadiqullah Khan Orakzai is another fine officer and gentleman of a bygone era. His family also has connection with proud Rajputs.  His father Roohullah Khan was inspector general of police of Alwar state.  Sadiqullah joined 6/13 FFR in ranks in 1932.  Commissioned from IMA Dehra Dun 1938 and won his MC with the battalion.  He was one of the first batches of Indian officers posted to frontier scouts.  He served with South Waziristan Scouts and Tochi Scouts.  Briefly commanded 2/13 FFR (now 8 FF) after partition. Ended his career as Inspector General Frontier Corps – IGFC. His son-in-law and grandson also commanded 8 FF.) 

Anant Singh returned to India to recover from his injuries. While in hospital, he was visited by Maj Gen Inskip who commanded 6/13th RFFR in Waziristan from 1932-34 and was now commanding the Rawalpindi District. Inskip had been awarded an MC in WW1 and he pinned a miniature of the medal on Anant’s shirt that had been presented to him by a Count. Anant confided to the general that he was still in possession of an Italian Lugar that he was grasping when evacuated from the frontline and the general replied “Keep your mouth shut and retain it as a memento”, which he did. It was rumoured that his leg had been amputated and his fiancés mother wanted to call off the wedding. Col Katoch was sent to the Pathankote Railway Station to meet Anant Singh (who was on his way to Jammu on medical leave) and confirm if the groom-to-be was whole and intact. That night two very drunk soldiers arrived home. The father-in law-to-be had pulled out a bottle of Scotch to celebrate and together they ‘killed’ it.

After a sojourn, Anant Singh returned to the front, this time to Burma and was the first Indian officer to hold the key appointment of a brigade major of an infantry brigade. At Independence, he opted to be transferred to the 1/5th Ghurkhas that had been part of the Punjab Frontier Force, and then commanded it in the First Kashmir War. In Nov 1948, the advance of the Indian Army through the Zojila Pass towards Drass and Kargil was held up, and the 1/5th Ghurkhawas tasked to clear the heights of Kumar and Ananton a ridge overlooking the Pindras Gorge. It was a hard fought battle and Anant Singh’s citation for MVC sates that ‘The success of this operation was due entirely to Lt. Col. Pathania’s personal recce of enemy defence. Throughout the recce stage and during the attack, this officer personally led his men.’

In 1949 Anant Singh was promoted brigadier. For the next ten years he held various command and staff appointments and was promoted major gen in 1959. While recently appointed as the Director General, National Cadet Corps in 1962, on a short notice of few hours, he was sent to command the 4th Mountain Division in NEFA. The debacle of the Indo-China War muddied the career and reputation of many officers of the Indian Army including Anant Singh who had so far a fine record of service. The General retired in early 1965 and the warrior breathed his last in Dharamsala on 19 Dec, 2007 at the age of 95 years. (Interestingly, his paltan mate Sadiqullah Khan also passed away at the ripe age of 99 in 2009. I’m sure Anant and Sadiqullah are enjoying each other’s company up there and looking down and smiling on the younger generation of PIFFERS).

Authors Note: I am immensely grateful to Vasu Pathania for having shared with me so much information, anecdotes and pictures related to his late father. My deepest thanks to Sushil Kumar for providing me the bio data as well as citations of the general as well as his relatives mentioned in this article. The major details of the Battle of Keren (including maps and images) have been extracted from ‘Ball of Fire’, the WW2 history of the 5th Indian Division.

Brown Pundits