Review of Crossed Swords; a History of the Pakistan Army

The following review was written by Major Amin in 2008. Things have changed since then and the Russians and Chinese are now said to be on board with Pakistan’s Taliban plan. We will see. But as usual, an acerbic but well informed review from Major Amin..

17 March, 2012 Crossed Swords-Shuja Nawaz Reviewed by Major Agha H Amin (Retired) September 2008 

Crossed Swords , Pakistan,Its Army,and the Wars Within-Shuja Nawaz , Oxford University Press,Pakistan , 2008 700 pages; 13 black and white photographs, 6 maps; ISBN13: 978-0-19-547660-6ISBN10: 0-19-547660-3

Crossed Swords is the latest addition to the list of books dealing with Pakistan Army . Written with an eye on the Western audience by a Pakistani who has settled in USA the book is a welcome addition to books on Pakistan Army.It contains some new sources and some new information .Unfortunately most of the information is anecdotal and the narrators are extolling their own performance. 

The author’s viewpoint is somewhat subjective as he is a brother of one of the ex chiefs of Pakistan Army General Asif Nawaz. The book contains some factual errors , some possibly typing errors,expected from Oxford University Press Pakistan which has a reputation of doing this.Some errors are however historical and factual and were entirely avoidable.On page 8 3rd Light Cavalry of Meerut fame is written as 3rd Light Infantry and on page 9 becomes 3rd Light Cavalry.On page 22 Ayub Khan is placed in Assam regiment though Ayub’s battalion officer Joginder Singh specifically stated that Ayub Khan was in Chamar Regiment in WW Two.On page 426 Naseerullah Khan Babar is promoted to lieutenant general and similar fate befalls Major General Sarfaraz Khan on page 223. 13 Lancers becomes 13 Cavalry on page 305.On page 470 he changes the ethnicity of Sardar Balakh Sher Mazari a Baloch Seraiki by calling him a Punjabi , an honour that no Baloch would like to have. A far more serious error Shuja makes while discussing the ethnic composition of Pakistan Army on page 570.He states that Sindhis and Baluchis are 15 percent of Pakistan Army.This is a serious distortion of history.The term Muslim Sindhi and Baluchi abbreviated to MS&B was given to
Ranghar/Kaimkhani/Khanzada Rajput recruitment in Pakistan Army in 1950s.The aim was to rationalise the recruitment of Ranghars in Pakistan Army. Later the usuper Zia in order to appease the Sindhis created the Sindh Regiment but Sindhis as far as my research reveals are far less than Ranghars/Kaimkhanis/Khanzada Rajputs in the army.The Ranghars are a significant class in fightig arms, being at least 35 % of armour and distinct from Punjabis.The Baloch are hardly represented in the army.As a matter of fact the Pakistan Army has such a reputation in Balochistan that no Baloch would like to join it.All thanks to General Musharraf,Zia and ZA Bhuttos policies. 

These are expected errors and more so from Oxford University Press Pakistan known for changing authors photograph with those of their uncles on jackets of books as they did with Colonel M.Y Effendi in his book Punjab Cavalry published by Oxford University Press in 2007.The old prince narrated to me the sad story when I met him and was also quite cheesed off by the fact that the princess running Oxford Pakistan is too arrogant to meet any author or to even discuss anything on the telephone. It is significant to note that so disgusted did Effendi become with this Ameena Syed of Oxford that he withdrew his books rights from Oxford University Press Pakistan.Its possible that Effendis book was deliberately sabotaged by Ameena Syed as her brother brigadier Javed Hussian was with Effendi in the tank corps and both did not get along well.

The above errors are insignificant.However Shuja has made some asertions which can be classified as serious errors or even distortion of history.On page 71 he asserts that calling off of Operational Venus by Pakistan’s civilian government was one of the reasons why the 1947-48 war failed.I state this because the sub title of the chapter is ” Why the War Failed”.On the other hand he fails to point out the major fatal decision when the Pakistani government refused to allow the armoured cars of 11 PAVO Cavalry to assist the tribesmen in breaking through to Srinagar.Those who are not familiar should know that the main reason why the tribals failed to take Srinagar was because Indian armour counterattacked them and destroyed them at Shalateng. This fact was discussed by Brig A.A.K Chaudhry also in his book. The Operation Venus plan came much later.At that time the Indian Army was well established in Kashmir and well poised to meet any threat.

Very few participants of the Kashmir War have left any written accounts of their war experiences. General Iqbal who participated in the war and later on rose to the rank of full general and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, long after the Kashmir War made one very thought provoking remark about the Kashmir War in an article in the Pakistan Army Green Book 1992. This particular publication was sub titled ‘Year of the Senior Field Commanders’. Iqbal wrote; ‘During 1948 Kashmir Operations I saw one senior officer sitting miles behind the frontline and counting availability of mules and rations. He had relegated the fighting to a senior battalion commander . 
In 1963 once Major General Fazal I Muqueem Khan in his book The Story of Pakistan Army .Fazal thus wrote; ‘To the Army’s horror, Pakistan during her greatest hour of triumph in Kashmir agreed to accept the ceasefire…it was difficult to understand why Pakistan let that opportunity pass. Was it assumed weakness; or as a result of pressing advice; or from misplaced chivalry towards an unfriendly neighbour in distress? Whatever the reason,Pakistan’s reluctance to accept the risks of continuing the war,cost her Kashmir at that time. It was a risk worth taking.” But note that the Pakistani attack force collected for Operation Venus consisted of about six infantry battalions and two armoured regiments. To oppose this the Indians had two infantry brigades (50 Para Brigade and 80 Infantry Brigade) .In addition there were two armoured regiments in the same area i.e. Central India Horse and the Deccan Horse . In addition the Indians also possessed more than 10 other armoured regiments which were not in Kashmir but in Punjab or Western UP and could move to Kashmir. We shall see in 1965 how Pakistani armour functioned and the reader can keep that as a yardstick in order to appreciate how Pakistani armour and infantry would have behaved in Operation Venus; had it ever been launched! Fazal does not explain how the capture Of Beri Pattan bridge would have led to complete collapse of Indian hold over Kashmir, apart from temporary severing of the line of communication to Poonch. Greater part of the Central India Horse was at Nowshera close to Beri Pattan while Deccan Horse in Chamb-Akhnur area was also within striking range and the battle would have been a hotly contested affair! 
Shaukat Riza did not take the extreme viewpoint similar to Fazal’s when he wrote his book on Pakistan Army.He merely said that ‘On December 30 both sides saw the wisdom of cease-fire’. Lately in an article General K.M Arif adopted a more rational viewpoint, when he stated that the Kashmir War of 1948 was mismanaged simply because Pakistan was not in a position to fight it successfully summing it up by stating ; ‘It is too hazardous a risk to fight a war on ad hoc basis’.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that Pakistan was in a favourable position to win the Kashmir War at least till the first week of November. Mr Jinnah exhibited great Coup de Oeil when he ordered Gracey to employ two brigades and advance with one brigade each towards Jammu and Srinagar. But Mr Jinnah was unlucky in possessing no one like Patel and his Prime Minister and his entire Cabinet proved to be an undoubted failure at least as a war cabinet!
Mr Jinnah’s decision not to have a Pakistani C in C, although taken in the best interest of the country and the Army as Mr Jinnah saw it, ensured that the British acting C in C procedurally blocked the execution of Mr Jinnah’s orders in October to attack Kashmir. Pakistan was unlucky in having a man like Iskandar Mirza at the Ministry of Defence.Mirza did not advise Mr Jinnah correctly and the fact that he had hardly served in the Army and did not understand military affairs further ensured that Mr Jinnah and the Prime Minister remained as ignorant as they were about military affairs as they were when they were in high school. 

But again, it is incorrect to criticise Liaqat for Operation Venus since in December 1948 the Indian position was much more secure than in 1947.Liaqat can be criticised for not ever visiting Kashmir while the war was on and for not standing by Mr Jinnah in pressurising Gracey in October 1947 to order the Army to attack Kashmir.Had a Pakistani C in C been appointed even in December or in March 1948 the Indians may not have held on to Poonch- Nowshera area at least. Had Major Masud been allowed with his armoured cars on Domel-Baramula Road despite Ghazanfar Ali and Sher Khan’s objections;Srinagar may have been captured by the Tribesmen by first week of November 1947. The Indians were lucky in having comparatively more regular army officers who led from the front as is evident from higher officer casualties among Indian Army officers above the rank of captain vis a vis the Pakistan Army. 

The treatment of 1857 is also very superficial.The author states that of the Bengal Army which rebelled, some 80 % were Purbias (page.7) , but fails to point out that the vast majority of cavalry which led the rebellion notably at Meerut i.e 3rd Light Cavalry which actually captured Delhi was Muslim and mostly Ranghar Muslim.His use of the term British for the pre 1858 period is also factually incorrect as India till 1858 was ruled by the English East India Company using mostly its private Bengal Army ,Madras Army,Bombay Army , its private European regiments and some regiments on rent from British Army to conquer entire India. In his discussion of Martial Races Theory the author totally ignores the fact that Punjab Loyalty in 1857 to the British was one of the main reasons why martial races theory was evolved.This is a simple point noted even by British writers like Philip Mason.The author also fails to note the politically important fact that the English East India Company’s army was the knight in shining armour which saved the Muslims of Punjab and settled areas of present Pashtun NWFP from the Sikhs who were using Muslim Mosques as stables and gunpowder magazines and plastering their walls with cowdung. Perhaps this fact does not suit the “martial races” who were ruled by a 10 % minority (the Sikhs) in the Punjab and settled Pashtun areas (for more than four decades in Punjab and some two decades in modern NWFP’s settled districts). 
The author talks about martial races theory and thinks that martial races theory was all about Punjab and Frontier as it is now but perhaps does not know that one of martial races theory’s most famous exponent Major General Macmunn regarded the Khanzada Rajputs of Firozpur Jhirka as the finest fighting race in India. The author also fails to note that the Sikhs were in majority in the fighting arms till First World War and were reduced to a minority by being replaced with Punjabi Muslims after First World War because the Punjabi Muslims were regarded as phenomenally loyal, even against Muslims, by the British.Thus the author conveniently ignores two important developments of WW1 i.e the Singapore rebellion of 5th Light Infantry by Ranghar Muslims and the tribal Pashtun mutinies against British as a result of which tribal Pashtun recruitment was reduced to the gain of Punjabi Muslims. 

In his discussion of Ayub Khan the author totally ignores allegations about Ayub’s tactical timidity in Burma.This incident was discussed by three writers of the time; Major General Joginder Singh of Indian Army who was Ayub’s battalion mate , Sardar Shaukat Hayat who was an ex Indian Army officer and Major General Sher Ali Khan.In an article Brigadier Nur Hussain a reliable authority did state that Ayub Khan was close to General Gracey because they drank together. The authors discussion of old officers is also partial.On page 31 he notes that Brigadier Gul Mawaz got an MC , a medal which many earned but fails to note that Major General Akbar Khan won a DSO which is higher in scale than MC.On page 33 he states that ” Akbar Khan who gained notoriety in Kashmir …..” .Akbar Khan was the pioneer of Kashmir war but Shuja thinks that he was notorious! A strange assertion. Mr Jinnah’s historic decision of creating two infantry battalions of Bengalis is also not at all discussed by the author.It may be noted that Ayub Khan refused to expand the East Bengal Regiment till 1966 as a result of which the Bengalis were further alienated for not being given the due share in the armed forces.this decision was reversed by Yahya Khan in 1966 but by then it was too little too late.

The authors analysis of the origin of the officer corps is also superficial.He fails to note the 50 % ranker quota that the British kept for Indian rankers in the officers selected for IMA Dehra Dun in order to keep the Indian officer corps slavish and backward. The author does note the fact that Pakistani SSG captured Indian War Plan on Samba Kathua road before the war actually started but fails to note the fact that it was Pakistan’s Military Intelligence led by Director Military Intelligence Brigadier Irshad who refused to give any serious thought to this discovery and dismissed it as an Indian ruse! This was revealed to this scribe in an interview by Major General Naseerullah Khan Babar in March 2001.

The most serious distortion of history committed by Mr Shuja Nawaz is on page 226 when he gives the credit of 25 Cavalry’s action of 8th September 1965 at Gadgor to Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik.The authority he quotes is Farouk Adam , then a very junior officer and not in 24 Brigade Headquarter. It must be clarified that a good military historian or analyst’s prime motivation in all writing has been to endeavour to write “what men did” rather than what “they ought ideally to have done” or what “someone later with the benefit of hindsight tried to portray , what they had done”. Thus the analysis of Chawinda Battle done with pure loyalty to service without any inter arm rivalry or nationalistic motivation. Pure and unadulterated military history filtered dispassionately separating fact from fiction and myth from reality. History as
Frederick the Great once said can be well written only in a free country and ours has been continuously under civil or military dictators since 1958. I maintain as one great master of English prose said that “all history so far as it is not supported by contemporary evidence is romance”! Battle of Chawinda was thus not romance! What many in this country wrote and was outwardly military history was essentially “Romance”! Inspiring, superhuman but a myth promiscuously mixed with reality!Chance plays a key role in battle and at Chawinda chance played a very important role! Nisar, when he deployed 25 Cavalry did not know what was in front of him ! KK Singh Commander 1st Indian Brigade also did not know what was in front of him! This mutual ignorance saved Pakistan on that crucial day ! Later heroes were created! I repeat “Heroes were created” ! The hero had to be from the Salt Range however ! At least Shuja Nawaz wants it this way ! What were the key facts? Most important tangible fact was “casualties” ! These were deliberately hidden since these would have let the cat out of the bag! Everyone would have discovered who really fought and who got gallantry awards on parochial,regimental or old boy links! How many were killed in the biggest military blunder “Operation Gibraltar”! This is Top Secret ! How many infantry men died at Chawinda? Again no mention of any figures! The real
motivation here is not national interest but to preserve or more important to “guard reputations” 

Now lets talk about the broad front deployment that Shuja Nawaz refers to .There is no doubt that the “broad front deployment” was done by Nisar and Nisar alone and Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik had no role in it. It is another matter that Nisar also did not know what was in front of him. It was like Jutland when both contending fleets were running towards each other at express train speed. Why Nisar behaved as he did and what actually happened even today is hard to understand, whatever anyone may claim now with the benefit of hindsight! Shuja Nawaz here in his 600 page book offers no tangible proof that the actions of 25 Cavalry had anything to do with what Brig A.A Malik told Nisar. Nisar was told to “do something” as clearly stated by an authority no less than Pakistan Army’s official historian Major General Shaukat Riza, apparently not from Jhelum or from North of Chenab by a twist of fate. There is no doubt that Nisar did something without the least clue of what was in front of him. The important thing is that Nisar did something rather than getting paralysed into inertia and inaction! The “Do Something” order by Brig A.A Malik to Lt Col Nisar CO 25 Cavalry should not have been glorified to something higher by Shuja Nawaz simply on authority of an article written by a person who was a company 2IC in an infantry battalion of 24 Brigade and that too only in 1992.This is a serious historical failing.At least in a military historian but is the Oxford University Press Pakistan run by professionals? One may ask Colonel M.Y Effendi. The fact that Abdul Ali Malik was a close relative of Shuja Nawaz’s wife makes this distortion a distortion par excellence. The same words of Brig A.A Malik ” Do Something” were repeated by Nisar in his article published in Pakistan Army Journal in 1997. Perhaps Shuja Nawaz did not read all the accounts of direct participants.Perfectly excusable as he is based in USA.But not good military history certainly.The fact is that the 25 Cavalry on 8th September 1965 was functioning in a vacuum.Brig A.A Malik had no clue about armour warfare and Nisar had no higher armour headquarter to guide him.. 24 Brigade had two infantry units, one which had been overrun and dispersed on 8th September i.e 3 FF and 2 Punjab which was at Chawinda. The crucial action took place at Gadgor few miles north of Chawinda in which 25 Cavalry faced the entire Indian 1st Armoured Division. This was an extraordinary situation and Nisar acted on his own best judgement since Malik had abdicated to Nisar by stating that he should “do something”. It is another thing that Nisar also did not know what was in front of him and acted boldly and unconventionally. Had he known what was in front of him he may have been paralysed by inertia and inaction! But this is speculation and some part of history always remains unfathomed and hidden! Nisar acted through sheer reflex and deployed his unit in an impromptu manner. The fire fight which took place at Gadgor between 0900 hours and 1200 hours was a pure tank versus tank affair. 25 Cavalry versus two leading tank regiments of Indian 1st Armoured Division! Thus the Indian Armoured Corps historian stated “The Armoured Brigade had been blocked by two squadrons of Pattons and in the first encounter had lost more tanks than the enemy had…the worst consequence of the days battle was its paralysing effect on the minds of the higher commanders. It took them another 48 hours to contemplate the next move. This interval gave Pakistanis time to deploy their 6th Armoured Division…in fact the golden opportunity that fate had offered to the 1st Armoured Division to make worthwhile gains had been irretrievably lost” (Refers-Pages-393- 394-History of Indian Armoured Corps-Gurcharan Singh Sandhu-Vision Books-Delhi-1990). Thus the Indians acknowledged “This regiment’s (25 Cavalry) performance was certainly creditable because it alone stood between the 1st Indian Armoured division and its objective, the MRL canal”.(Refers-Page-395-Ibid). This is not the only source.Major Shamshad a direct participant has already stated on record that SJs were awarded to some officers for an attack in which not a single man was killed on both sides! Here he refers to Major Farouk Adam.
This reminds me of an incident in armour school Nowshera in 1991.I was an instructor in Tactical Wing.The Senior Instructor incharge of the Young Officers Tactical course asked us , ” Should we give an Alpha Grade” . My lone reply was that no Sir , since Armour School gives Alpha to sons of generals only .This was a norm then .The Infantry School where I did the junior tactical course but later on it started giving alphas after 1985 to oblige some sons of generals.But that is how Pakistan Army is. The historical fact remains that 25 Cavalry was part of 24 Brigade but all that Nisar its CO did on the crucial 8th September at Gadgor was based on his own judgement. On 9th and 10th September no fighting took place as Indians had withdrawn their armoured division to the crossroads. On 10th September, 6 Armoured Division took over and 24 Brigade was a part of 6 Armoured Division. On 8th September there was a vacuum and Nisar acted in a sitaution which can be classified as one characterised by “absence of clear and precise orders”! Shaukat Riza’s book is basically a compilation of existing facts. It has historical value since Riza was allowed access to official records.Shaukat had no axe to grind . Shuja Nawaz by his own confession is a close relative of A.A Malik. Shuja also forgets Brig A.A Malik’s request to withdraw when Indian tanks had crossed the railway line on 16th September and occupied Buttur Dograndi and Sodreke. This fact was brought to light not by the much criticised Shaukat Riza but by the then GSO-2 of 6 Armoured Division Major (later General K.M
19. Arif), first more bluntly in Pakistan Army Green Book-1993 and again a little tactfully in his recently published book Khaki Shadows. Thus no connection with 3 FF, an infantry unit which as far as I know suffered more casualties than any other infantry unit at Chawinda. 3 FF fought admirably but was launched thoughtlessly as brought out by Major Shamshad in his letter published in Sept 2001 DJ and consequently suffered enormous casualties at Sodreke-Buttur Dograndi area. Shamshad was the tank troop leader in support of 3 FF when it disastrously attacked Buttur Dograndi. In opinion of Shamshad, the attack had failed not due to any fault of 3 FF but because of poor planning by Commander 24 Brigade. Even at formation level Chawinda was not a big battle in terms of casualties since the Indian 1 Corps suffered less casualties than 11 Indian Corps in Ravi Sutlej Corridor. A.A Maliks poorly planned counterattacks leading to bloody casualties for Pakistan Army were also discussed by Major General Fazal i Muqeem in his book on 1971 war. pakistans.html 

On page 233 while discussing the main Pakistani offensive in Khem Karan, the author fails to point out that the Pakistanis had a 7 to 1 superiority in tanks and yet they failed. Further he fails to point out the fact that major failure of Pakistani 1st Armoured Division occurred in the 4th Brigade where its commander Brigadier Bashir ordered its tank regiments every night to return to leaguer at their start point every night thus abandoning all territory they had gained during the day. In the treatment of Chamb Operation of 1971 the most significant decision of Major General Eftikhar to switch from North to South is not discussed at all.This was one of the most landmark operational decisions in history of Pakistan Army.The author also fails to highlight the cowardly action of then Brigadier Rahimuddin Khan in not joining 111 Brigade on pretext of dealing with Shiekh Mujibs trial. Of course this great warrior later rose to full general in the Pakistan Army.

Shuja also gives no thought in his worthy analysis to Pakistan Army’s launching a pre-emptive attack on India in September 1971.This if done in the words of Indian Commander Western Command General Candeth would have thrown all Indian plans to attack East Pakistan to the winds . (Refers-The Western Front -Candeth). In the chapter dealing with Z.A Bhutto Shuja does not discuss the cadrisation plan proposed by ZA Bhutto and his tasking of Pakistan Army’s Military Operations Directorate to implement it. This plan if implemented would have reduced the standing army in size and enabled the Pakistani government to spend more money on training.This plan was scrapped by Zia in 1977. 

On page 477 he states that ” Abbasi was the man who had been removed from his command in the Kargil area of Kashmir…………after having undertaken an unauthorized and costly foray into Indian held territory in 1990‿.Now this comes straight from a man who repeatedly claims nearly total access to all direct participants. Now the facts of the above situation. Poor General Abbasi had done nothing in Kargil. First the use of the word Kargil by Shuja Nawaz is unwarranted and irrelevant and above all totally out of context! Abbasi’s command was not just Kargil only but a much larger area i.e. the entire Northern Areas of Pakistan. Second the foray he Shuja refers to was not launched in 1990 but in 1992 when Shuja Nawaz’s very own brother was the army chief! Third the foray was not as unauthorized as claimed by Nawaz. Abbasi was commanding the FCNA, part of 10 Corps Rawalpindi and his corps commander Lieutenant General G.M Malik,a man of extreme ambition had a tacit understanding with Abbasi that in case he succeeds he was a part of the team and if Abbasi failed G.M did not know about the attack ! A very typical and known phenomenon in all armies, organizations and bureaucracies all over the world. Fourthly poor Abassi’s unauthorized foray was not in Kargil but in Siachen an area far away from Kargil. Lastly Abbasi had been packed off to the FCNA in late 1990 a time when snow made any foray in Kargil or Siachen impossible. This happened once Abbasi expressed disagreement with the then corps commander 4 Corps Lahore Alam Jan Mehsud.The incident was narrated by this scribe to then Brigadier Salahuddin Tirmizi (later lieutenant general).Alam Jan thought that Abbasi should be posted to FCNA where he could catharsize his spirit of Jihad on those snowy rocky icy pinnacles of Siachen Glacier. Catharsize he did, with disastrous and bloody results in 1992., but not 1990 as this “privy to inside sources in the army” claims. And that too when his brother was army chief.A sad reflection on how an operation was mounted by an overzealous divisional commander, with secret authorization of his direct superior corps commander, while keeping a so called professional army chief in absolute darkness ! A sad but logical end to the career of Abbasi who was a more upright and internally motivated general officer and shoulders above most of the general officers that I saw in my army service. Shuja Nawaz repeats the above assertion again on page.509 when he states that “among the many attempts to gain advantage at Kargil was a failed attempt in 1990 by……Major General Zaheer ul Islam Abbasi. On the same page again Shuja once again repeats the same totally incorrect assertion “without clearance from the army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg, Abbasi launched an attack on the LOC. Poor Beg the target practicing range of Shuja Nawaz had no connection with Abbasi’s ill fated attack in 1992 ! Beg had retired in August 1991. 

Burhanuddin Rabbani promoted or demoted to Mullah Burhanuddin Rabbani by Shuja Nawaz on page.479 was the president of Afghanistan in 1992 and not “subsequent to 1994” as stated by Shuja. In footnote.2 on page.502 Shuja Nawaz has forcibly thrust the honour of being Chief of Staff 12 Corps on General Kakar, when he states that Kakar served as Chief of Staff of 12 Corps at Quetta under Rahimuddin (famous for not joining his command in Chamb in 1971 thus making his then commanding general Major General Eftikhar state that he would court martial this man after the war. To Rahimuddin’s good luck Eftikhar embraced martyrdom in the war and Rahimuddin survived).This is a factual error as 12 Corps at Quetta did not exist at that time. This corps was raised somewhere in 1985 when Rahimuddin was already the chairman joint chiefs. In the same footnote Shuja Nawaz states that Kakar was wounded at Chawinda in 1965 war .When the 1965 war started Kakar was at intelligence school in Murree.This assertion of Kakar being wounded, while possible, is questionable .Its possible that Kakar joined his unit in later part of the war. 

On page.508 Nawaz states that “one of the first actions in 1948 Kashmir war was the securing of Kargil heights by Pakistani forces.This is a serious factual error. The first major action of the 1947-48 Kashmir war was the attack on Muzaffarabad in October 1947 and the seizing of heights near Kargil happened much later in May 1948 by the Eskimo Force of Gilgit Scouts under Captain Shah Khan (later an air force officer).As a matter of fact Kargil itself was captured by the Gilgit Scouts and they had then captured Zojila Pass and advanced across it. But all this happened much later after October 1947. 

Good in details, written from the relative calm and safety of USA, this book possibly written with good intentions, got lost in the woods of details and failed to present the broad picture. Many Bhagwans of military history reviewed it and failed to find any fault with it! On page 471 Shuja glorifies General Kakar for having no liking for politics.He ignores the fact that Kakar was not groomed for higher ranks and was promoted because of ethnic biases.Simply because a Pashtun president was comfortable with a harmless compatriot.He also fails to note that General Kakar acted against Nawaz Sharif not because Kakar was a democrat but simply because he feared Nawaz as a threat to his chair of army chief. General Musharraf has himself acknowledged in his book that General Kakar was parochial and was favouring Pashtun officers.No compliment to an army chief who is supposed to be a much bigger man.No wonder that Kakar had been packed off to a backwater in Quetta by General Baig. Becoming chief was something that a man of Kakar’s mediocre intellect could never have imagined but this happened only because of party baazi in the army and the fact that Ghulam Ishaq Khan wanted a Pashtun brother. Fair enough in a backward and tribal medieval society like Pakistan ! It is my conviction based on a deep study of that period,that if Kakar would have been the army chief in 1996 and 1997 General Musharraf or any non Pashtun officer would never have become the army chief ! Why ? Simply because Musharraf was not a Pashtun ! Here it must be noted that Jahangir Karamat, Kakar’s successor was miles above Kakar in intellect as well as professionalism.Though a Punjabi he was not from the more parochial tract of area between Chenab and Indus and thus a man with a broader outlook. Its a tragedy of the Pakistan Army that he became a victim of a conspiracy made successful by his own brother officers in ISI , that too because there was that parochial net during that time between the then prime minister and the boss of the prime inter service security agency. The author lauds caretaker premier Moin Qureshi’s role in making the state bank independent but forgets Qureshi’s most controversial release of advance to Bayinder Turkey for Islamabad Peshawar Motorway while also stating that this project was uneconomical.This gained nothing but total loss for Pakistan as Bayinder repatriated many million dollars without doing anything and later successfully sued Pakistan for huge damages in International Court of Justice at Hague. 

On page 480 Shuja extols Talibans wild west justice in hanging Afghan President Dr Najeeb but fails to note the allegation that Pakistani agencies were suspected to be behind the assassination of Mulla Borjan, the most popular and independent leader of the Taliban. On page 481 Shuja quotes Benazir to prove that General Kakar was a brilliant strategist.What did Benazir know about strategy and what strategy did Kakar ever successfully execute other than removing a Punjabi Kashmiri prime minister against decision of supreme court just to assist a fellow Pashtun president? What is Shuja trying to prove . In discussing tenure of General Jahagir Karamat Shuja ignores totally the Ukrainian tank deal commissions. Nawaz Sharif the then prime minister tasked ISI to launch an investigation. Major General Zulfiqar then in ISI was tasked to investigate. He went to Ukraine and Azerbaijan and compliled a thick volume on the whole transaction and commissions taken.This was used by Nawaz later and was one of the reasons why Karamat quickly stepped down.The information was given by a staff officer from Corps of Engineers of major rank with DG ISI of that time and confirmed by an Intelligence Bureau officer. It is strange that Shuja Nawaz who seems to know everyone who matters fails to discuss this serious issue.Or perhaps he succumbed to the conspiracy of silence. Karamat was betrayed by his brother officers and that too just out of selfish motives to please the then prime minister.Not out of any national motives. 

As an officer who served from 1981 to 1988 how would I sum up the Pakistan Army. 1981 to 1983 a cheap emphasis on being good Muslim, growing a beard to get a good report from Zia. Further Zia used religion to get dollars.This was the basic motivation. Beg’s time saw for the first time a tradition of some criticism being accepted.An effort was made to introduce the culture of intellectual honesty in the army. Asif Nawaz time saw emphasis on starch but no change in the army.We did not see any professional change in Asif Nawaz’s time other than introduction of peak cap in the uniform! Kakar’s time saw parochialism par excellence with a chief at the head who used to count cherries in his garden and was upset when some guards ate some.( This first hand account was given to me in Okara in June 1993 when Kakar was the army chief and at the height of his power by a Lieutenant Colonel Feroz , an officer from FF Regiment , whose unit provided Kakars guard while he was a corps commander in Quetta). A petty man elevated to the highest rank.No wonder he was non political because in the heart of his hearts he must have thanked his stars that he became a four star general.An authority no less than General Musharraf has stated in his book that KAKAR WAS PAROCHIAL . In this case Musharraf has hit the nail right on the head.

Karamat I did not see in service and did not serve with so I cannot comment but is reported to be a mild man. Musharraf as I saw him as a major general was flashy,extrovert,egoistic but dynamic.The present army from what I learn from serving officers is again business as usual.Nothing much to write about.The agencies of course play the usual games for money and for their own naukri and Islam being misused for operational reasons. The most serious criticism of Shuja’s analysis is in treatment of Islamic fundamentalism in the army. Shuja on page 585 consoles the audience of his book that Islamic fundamentalism is still not a threat in Pakistan Army. Shuja ignores the more dangerous fact that the army has misused Islam as a slogan to mobilise the populace to achieve its narrow institutional agenda.This is more dangerous than being Islamist.Now this policy may go out of control. Right from Zia in 1977 the army generals used Islam as a slogan to fight a proxy war in Indian Kashmir and Afghanistan.Events may prove that this would be the undoing of Pakistan as it stands in its present form.Now Pakistan is perceived in the west as part of the problem and not the solution.Particularly its army and intelligence agencies are seen as the heart of the problem.India is continuously preparing for a war although a low intensity one and no solution has been achieved in Kashmir.Afghanistan is increasingly hostile and a strange but logical Indian-Russian-Iranian-NATO un-declared strategic alliance has come into place in Afghanistan against Pakistan.All these are serious developments.The coming ten years may vindicate this assertion. The Pakistan Army and its generals may be remembered in history as one of the reasons for Balkanisation of Pakistan.Not a good omen for Pakistan.The army’s involvement in Pakistan’s politics and government is now a serious reason of imbalance for Pakistan’s political system.No hope appears in sight as we hear rumours that the agencies are still active in destabilising Pakistan’s own elected government. Shuja has burnt his midnight oil.He has compiled and collected all the facts in a nice way but his analysis has been shallow.We expected something far more profound than this.600 pages written in vain.
28. AFGHANISTAN-A-WRITERS-PERCEPTIONS-FROM-2001-TO-2011 leadership 1757-to-1971-PRINTING-ENABLED-Do-acknowledge-to-the-author College-Quetta-Citadel-Journal Pakistani-Generals STRATEGIC-AND-OPERATIONAL-ANALYSIS-BY-A-H-AMIN-THIS-BOOK- CAN-BE-PRINTED-FROM-THIS-SITE

Martial Races Theory. Myths and Consequences

Major Agha H Amin (retired)

About the Author: Agha H. Amin , Retired Tank corps major. His writings were published in Pakistan Armys prime journals , Pakistan Army Journal and Citadel Journal of Command and Staff College Quetta. Wrote The Essential Clausewitz in 1993, Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59 in 1998 , Pakistan Army till 1965 in 1999 ,Development of Taliban Factions in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2010) ,Taliban War in Afghanistan (2009). Served as Assistant Editor of Defence Journal ,Executive Editor of globe and Founder Editor of Journal of Afghanistan Studies . An associate of the think tanks ORBAT and Alexandrian Defense group. Carried out various oil and gas and power transmission line surveys in West Asia. Editor in Chief of monthly Intelligence Review and monthly Military and Security Review. Heads the think tank Centre for study of Intelligence Operations established in early 2010.
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Myths ,Distortions and Misconceptions of Indo Pak History-Part One
A Chapter of the book The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59 by Agha.H.Amin
(note: this post is from a transcript of the first chapter of the book. Formatting was an issue and if you want to see the whole thing, see here: )

The sepoy war of 1857 gave birth to a new theory in India. This theory was floated in the late nineteenth century: that the races living in the north west part of India i.e. present northern regions of Pakistan and parts of Indian Punjab were the “Martial Races of India”! This theory was partly (but as shown below, only partly) based on the “Punjab and Frontier” loyalty factor of 1857. Its most serious proponent was Lord Roberts, the British C-in-C in India (563).

When I joined the army in 1981 I observed that many of the officers and soldiers serving in Pakistan Army were convinced that the races or castes living in the area between Chenab and Indus Rivers were especially “martial”. Some Pathans originating from the NWFP were also regarded as junior partners of these martial races!
Most of the invasions of India took place originating from areas north of Khyber Pass or west of Quetta i.e. Persia etc. Then the Mughals after 1526 recruited from Hindu Rajputs, Muslim Pathans, Muslim Rajputs, some Muslim Punjabis and Muslim Baloch, but the preference was given to trans-Indus races, mostly Pathans or Persian speaking, or to Hindu Rajputs. The EEIC (English East India Company) since it made its entry from the east had no choice but to recruit from Oudh, parts of Bihar, North West Provinces Madras Bombay Central India etc. In the earlier part of this work we have seen that using a predominantly Hindu army recruited from the Gangetic plain and led by British officers, the pre-1857 Bengal Army defeated all races of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan etc. A small contingent of the Bombay Army (made up mostly of Hindu Marhattas) quickly made Persia behave! A couple of Bengal Army Regiments reinforced by an odd European regiment successfully defended Kandahar and Jallalabad against vastly superior forces.
But the rebellion of 1857 changed British perceptions about Indian people and keeping in view the political reliability as well as the administrative convenience factor the British decided to recruit mostly from the north west i.e. Punjab and Frontier provinces of India plus the Gurkhas from Nepal. This change started from 1857 but became significant only around 1895. But loyalty and reliability were not the only factors, because the Madras and Bombay Armies had also stayed loyal. Partly based on the personal biases of Lord Roberts, and under his influence of some other British senior officers, the recruitment policy was changed.

Initially, following 1857 the British adopted the policy of non-reliance on any particular race and even the Punjabi Muslims and the Pathans who had remained loyal were mixed with other castes and religious communities, with only the Gurkhas and certain Muzhbi Sikh Regiments grouped together. An experiment of having pure Muslim or pure Hindu Rajput regiments was started from 1893 but abandoned by 1919, keeping in view the mutinies of 5th Light Infantry and 15 Lancers at Singapore /Mesopotamia.

Singapore Mutineers being shot. The Ranghar Muslims of 5th Light Infantry were superior in stature to any Indian soldiers who were mercenaries of British. Among Pashtuns their greatness was matched by Wazirs, Mehsuds, Afridis and Alizais who rebelled against the British in First World War.

The Bengal and Bombay Armies march through Bolan Pass to attack Kandahar in the First Afghan War

In the 1880 and 1890s it was widely believed that the Indian army was supposed to face the Russian threat originating from Central Asia. It was thus said that the Bombay or Madras soldiers who were shorter in height and smaller in physique were not fit for mountain warfare in India’s north west (564). Charles Chenevix Trench an Indian Army British Officer and a respectable military historian has given a reason for the British bias against east of Jumna and South Indian races. He says in his book on the Indian Army that “Reasons for preferring northerners were largely racial. To Kipling’s contemporaries, the taller and fairer a native, the better man he was likely to be. He looked more impressive on parade, he might be physically stronger, he would surely be braver and more loyal than the down country men. There was a general preference for the wild over the half educated native as being less addicted to unwholesome political thinking”. Charles Chenevix Trench went further in explaining this British bias, he said “Brahmins had been prominent in the Mutiny, and their diet and prejudices though somewhat illogical by stating as following: “The Madrasi soldier was smallish, blackish and rather low caste. The Mahratta was also in origin of no very high caste, and smallish to hoot. The fact that his grandfather had held India to ransom did not make him more acceptable to the Indian Army ” (567).

It must be noted that the first Afghan war was fought by a largely Hindu army. Whatever the initial British failures, the British won the First Afghan war, giving Afghanistan such a mauling that the Afghans dared not attack India in 1857 when the British were really highly vulnerable. It would be false and erroneous, however, to assume that the British immediately changed the class composition of the Indian Army (Bengal Army in particular) in the years following 1857. In this regard the British quality of patience and subtlety in terms of long-term thinking is admirable. They still continued recruitment from the areas around Delhi and east of Jumna; which had played a major role in the rebellion. The real shift and bias in British policy was a slower process; and had little connection with any war fought by a still largely Hindu majority and Hindustani heavy Bengal Army as evident in terms of 1885 statistics; in the period between 1880 and 1914.

Lord Roberts

The major factor in the anti-Hindustani/anti-Maratha/anti-Madrasi bias was the influence of Lord Roberts who remained the C-in-C of Madras Army and more importantly that of Bengal Army from 28 Nov 1885 to 7th April 1893 (568). Lord Roberts who was one of the principal fathers of martial races theory Robert played on the fears of Russian threat to India and succeeded in convincing the Viceroy and India Office to significantly change the class composition of the Bengal Army from a mixed affair to a largely Punjabised army dominated by Punjabi Muslims followed by Sikh Pathans and Gurkhas. Thus the “Martial Races Theory” had its origin in the mind of Lord Roberts and was not based on any significant and convincing conclusions deducted from war performance; and by this I mean comparative war performance of Hindu versus Muslim or Hindustani/Madrasi versus Punjabi/Pathan. Political reliability, however, became more serious as a factor as education increased in areas east of Jumna following 1857; by virtue of a deliberate British policy to educate Indians starting from 1857 when the three universities of Calcutta Bombay and Madras were established. Thus statistics show a major change in British recruitment policy in the period from 1885 to 1914 (569):- Composition of British Indian Army in 1885

Companies Percentage
Gurkha 53 26.63
Dogra Hindu 18 9.04
Other Hindu 56 26.63
Rajput Hindu 47 23.61
Brahmin Hindu 25 12.56
Total Hindu 199
Punjabi Muslims 25 32.89
Hindustani Muslims 36 47.36
Pathan Muslims 15 19.73
Total Muslim 76 21.59
Sikhs 77
Total Hindu 199 56.3
Total Muslim 76 21.59
Sikhs 77 21.87
Grand Total 352 100

Ethnically this came to the following Regional strength in terms of numbers of “Infantry Companies:– PUNJABI HINDUSTANI GURKHA/HILL MEN PATHANS Punjabi Muslims- 25 Muslims- 36 Gurkha- 53 Settled Area- 10 Dogra- 18 Hindu Brahmans – 25 Nefa Hill Men – 9 Tribal Area- 5 Sikhs- 77 Hindu Rajput – 47 Assamese – 3 Other Hindu – 44 Total- 120 Total- 152 Total- 65 Total- 15 34.09% 43.18% 18.46% 4.26%

Further another major change took place in 1895. The three armies i.e. in Bengal Madras and Bombay armies were amalgamated. The percentage of ethnic Madrases and Mahrattas from Bombay was systematically reduced as a strict matter of policy(570). Henry Lawrence one of the eminent Lawrence Brothers made a very subtle remark in late 1840s. He said “Courage goes much by opinion; and many a man behaves as a hero or a coward, according as he considers he is expected to behave. Once two Roman Legions held Britain, now as many Britons might hold Italy” (571).

Sir Henry Lawrence

Even many Britishers knew that there were no martial races. But Robert remains the culprit for having introduced a bias in recruitment. A bias which became a policy and has had a negative fact at least in the political situation in Pakistan in the post-1947 scenario. The theory of martial races was tested and convincingly disproved in the First World War. The Mahrattas who had been dismissed as non-martial before First World War performed well during the First World War. In this regard particularly prominent was the battle performance as a unit of the 103, 110 and 117 Mahrattas at Kut al Amara against the Turks. At Sharqat the 114 Mahrattas with just three British officers played a decisive role in the defeat of the Turks (572). In any case a major change took place in the class composition of the Indian Army which is evident from the class composition of Indian Army in 1914 573:- a. Infantry:-(Total Companies-1096) 1. 431 Companies- Wholly Punjabi. 2. 221 Companies-Paltry Punjabi b. Cavalry:- (Total 155 Squadrons) 1. 95.5 Squadrons- Wholly Punjabi
10. 2. 47.5 Squadrons-Partly Punjabi.  Despite this preponderance, the non-Punjabi Hindu Gurkhas and Hindu Garhwalis did well in the Indian Army in WWI. e.g. theoretically at least the Punjabi Muslims who were the largest community in the fighting arms should have won the maximum number of VCs, but this did not happen. The intention behind the whole argument is to prove that bravery has little connection with race or religion.

The theory of “Martial Races” influenced the post-1947 Pakistani Politics in a negative way. The new state was a federation composed of five nationalities. The army due to pre-1947 British policy was largely Punjabi. It was perceived by Sind, Baluchistan and East Pakistan largely as a Punjabi show in which the Pathans were junior partners. The army officers of that period were convinced that they were a martial race and the Hindus of the Indian Army were cowards. This myth was largely disproved in 1965 when despite having more sophisticated equipment, numerical preponderance in tanks and the element of surprise the Pakistan Armoured Division miserably failed at Khem Karn merely due to poor and irresolute leadership at the brigade and divisional level to a complete extent and even regimental level to a partial extent. Meanwhile the army employment in Baluchistan in 1950s made the Baluch think that little if any had changed since 1947. The officer from Potohar with limited grey matter perceived the Muslim Baloch as a foreigner as much as the British pre-1947 officer had thought. This was not the fault of the Punjabis as such, but the result of a British policy introduced during the period  Usurping of power while leading the largely Punjabi based army by Ayub Khan increased the East-West divide. Things in Pakistani politics were then judged on ethnic lines. The on ground realities were different. Ayub was not a Punjabi but later in 1971 the Bengali Muslims blamed the Punjabis for all their maladies! In reality the Punjabis being leaderless were manipulated by both Ayub and Yahya! Bhutto who played a major role in persuading Yahya to launch the military action was a Sindhi!

A complete tank regiment of Pakistan Army along with most of the officers was captured by the Indians at Khem Karan in 1965 1857-(1910).

General Yahya Khan

General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan’s trigger happy use of excessive military force in 1971 precipitated a war which led to the creation of Bangladesh. It appears that the Two Nation Theory had ceased to exist in the killing fields of East Bengal in 1971. But why was the army so actively participating in the genocide? The same Britishers who were so active in criticising the Pakistani atrocities in 1971 had as a matter of fact created this machine following 1857 based on antiquated and irrational ideas of Robert in the post-1880 period. The disease started in 1857 when the British reaped the harvest of the policy of divide and rule when they employed the Gurkha against Indian, and within India the Punjabi (whether Sikh or Muslim) against the Hindustani. The Gurkha against the Punjabi. The Jallianwalla massacre in which Gurkha troops fired on the public meeting comprising Punjabi civilians in 1919 was a good example of the fact that the British did not love the Punjabis, but were merely using them. The Punjabis started learning this from 1919 but by the time the awareness was growing the Britishers were already winding up. The most glaring example of the policy of selective recruitment was in the old NWFP region of pre- 1947 India. Here the British deployed one Pathan against another. Sometimes from the same tribe and sometimes from the other. Sometimes the Turi Shia(574) against the non-Shia Wazirs or Mahsuds or Afridis.

RAF planes bomb Waziristan

The post-1947 rulers of Pakistan, instead of remedying a basically illogical recruitment policy which had no logical basis became its victim. Thus whenever army was used in a province other than Punjab it was perceived as “Punjab against Sindh” or “Punjab against Bengal” or “Punjab against Baluchistan”! The rulers were merely the instruments of a pre-1947 policy. The army outside Punjab was trigger happy because it was fighting in a foreign land. For short-term purposes this policy is viable but for how long? In the long-term it will only lead to creation of more Bangladeshes? The British divided us by their negative policies both in India and in Pakistan. In Pakistan the problem became more serious because the military usurpers were not interested in changing the recruiting policy. The same trend continues and it seems that little has been learnt from the 1971 tragedy. There are two unique shipwrecks lying at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal. One is the shipwreck of the “Martial Races Theory”, the other is the ship of the “Two Nation Theory”!

Once Pakistan was created in 1947 an endeavour at the official level was made to advance and prove a theory that Hindus and Muslims were two nations ever since the first Muslim conqueror landed in India in 711 A.D. I feel that the creation of Pakistan as an independent Muslim state in 1947 was the result of a conscious realisation among the Muslims of Indo-Pak sub-continent mostly in the post-1937 period about the necessity for an independent Muslim state in India. Till 1857 as we have seen the Hindus who were the majority accepted the Muslim political ambitions at least in Northern India. The post-1857 period saw a deliberate British policy of divide and rule. This policy as we have seen not only pitched the Muslims against Hindus but created divisions even among the Muslims. The Hindustani Muslim versus Punjabi Muslim rift has very clear cut origins in the post-1857 British policy., Firstly they conquered the Punjab and Frontier with a predominantly Hindustani army comprising some 75% up Hindus and some 25% Hindustani Muslims. Subsequently when largely the Hindustanis turned against the British, they very cleverly manipulated a largely Punjabi based army against the treacherous Hindustanis. They established a negative precedent by using Punjabi Muslim Pathan and Sikh troops in Sind during the Hur uprising. In 1919 they used Gurkhas at Jallianwala to give the South of Chenab Punjabi Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus a taste of hot lead. Dyre’s action convinced the too pragmatic Punjabis about the gross futility of martyrdom! The British cannot be blamed since their prime interest and; rightly so was to preserve their empire! The “Two Nation Theory” was not in existence in 1857. Muslims fought loyally for the British at Delhi in 1857 against a largely Muslim city led by a Muslim King. More Hindu Bengal Army sepoys fought at Delhi for the Rebel cause than Hindu troops in the British force attacking Delhi. In 1846 and in 1849 a largely Hindu majority army was used to destroy the independent country of Sikhs. Even among Hindus there were sharp divisions like the Mahratta Bombay Army fighting against a largely Hindustani army led by a Marhatta, Tantia Topi. The Madras Hindu of the Madras Army fighting against the Hindustani or Purbeah Hindu infantry man of the Bengal Army in Central India.

Theories cannot create nations or hold them together. Such theories are only the results of naive spinster-like imaginations of pedantic Indo-Pak professors teaching Indian history in Canadian or American universities! Today a ridiculous argument is presented to justify the partition by citing the figures of casualties during transfer of population. These historians forget that Russians who were all one race and belonged to one Christian sect killed some ten million Russians in the Russian Civil war (575) just because of the funny theory propounded by Karl Marx. Actually cleverly manipulated theories have divided nations regardless of religion more than uniting them.

Thus, in the Spanish Civil War some 600,000 (576) Spaniards were killed merely because one Spaniard believed in the socialist theory while the other was an anti-Republican! The Two Nation Theory did not protect the Muslim Bengali from being slaughtered by the Muslim Punjabi or the Muslim Pathan. It did not help the Baloch in 1974-76. It did not keep peace in Sindh in 1986 or in 1992 or 1995 or even today. The problem of Pakistan is that there is too much theory and too little practice and little effort has been made to rid the country of the pre-1947 cynical British policies whose harm a prophetic philosopher like Karl Marx could see as early as 1857. The civil servant or soldier of today’s Pakistan behaves like a British ICS or like Brigadier Dyer of pre- 1947 era. Although qualitatively the standard of both civil and military officials is poorer than the British, many ways in which they perceive the populace are similar.

The non-Bengali or non-Sindhi civil servant in Sindh or previously in pre-1971 East Pakistan viewed the local Sindhi or Bengali as a despicable native! In March 1971 the Dacca University massacre of the students was as vehemently approved in Punjab, as Dyers Jallianwalla Bagh massacre of 1919 in Britain! The North of Chenab Rangers inspector or soldier behaves just like the Sikh soldier or any other Punjab irregular soldier whether Pathan or Muslim roaming in the deserted streets of post-20 September 1857 Delhi city. The soldier on internal duty in interior of Sindh behaves in a manner remarkably similar to the British Indian Army soldier in 1940s during the Hur uprising. A judge of the highest court in Pakistan notes that there was uniform precedence and similarity in the behaviour and verdict of Supreme Court judges in dealing with petitions of dismissed Prime Ministers belonging to Sindh! The Pakistani Muslim judge of today is as much a loyalist to the status quo as his pre-1947 predecessors. Subconsciously Punjab loyalty of 1857 is the pattern to be followed even today. “Loyalty pays” is the unwritten law followed by judges, civil servants, army officers, journalists, etc.!!

Dhaka 1971

The British divided us into Hindu-Muslim or Sikh-Muslim or Punjabi Muslim-Hindustani Muslim or into Pathan- Punjabi or Afridi versus Turi or Pathan versus Baloch once they left in 1947. They divided us into Shia-Muslim when they used the Shia Turi tribesmen against Sunni tribesmen. The Britishers are very intelligent and brave people but their approach towards other nations is highly cynical and Machiavellian.

Brigadier General Dyer

Brigadier General Dyer,  the British Hero of Jallianwala was observing the following whose implications few Indian Muslims realised in 1918, Dyer thus stated”, it will be remembered that the Hazaras are Shias, hence their eagerness to blot out as many of the Sunni Sarhadis, per man as they could manage (577)”. Dyer was writing about his employment of the Hazara Shias of Quetta against the Sunni, Iranian, Baloch, tribes of Iranian Baluchistan against whom the British Indian government had sent an expedition to Persian Baluchistan during the First World War. Brigadier General Dyer used Hazaras like this devastatingly against Iranian Baloch in 1915-16 just because they regarded Sunnis as non believers and vice versa !

The Americans who are richer materially but a little naive intellectually at least in their State Department realized the strength of Shia sect only in 1979!! It is instructive to note that the first major British administrative decision after 1857 was placing Delhi and the area under the government of Punjab. This was a deliberate administrative manoeuvre aimed at increasing the Hindustani- Punjabi divide. The Punjabis were told that this was punishment to people of Delhi and the Muslim Ranghars for having participated in the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 and a reward to the people of Punjab for the Punjab loyalty in 1857! What actually happened was that the Muslim majority in Punjab was reduced because of this measure from some 61% to 57%578 and also forced a culturally different Ranghars Muslim community to travel all the way to Lahore for settlement of their matters relating to the provincial government and provincial high court in Lahore. The people of Delhi also had to travel all the way to Lahore from 1858 to 1911. The injustice done by this decision was remedied only once the present Indian State was created.

Armwise Analysis of The Rebel Sepoys
The trouble started with the infantry but was contained with the successful disarming of the sepoy units in Calcutta and surrounding area. The significant move which led to the transformation of the series of mutiny into a full fledged political military rebellion aimed at ousting the English East India Company from India and achieving independence was, however, started by the cavalry. The role of cavalry as leaders can thus be seen :– a) The 3rd Light Cavalry’s rebellion at Meerut on 10 May 1857 and its lighting move to Delhi and the seizure of Delhi on 11 May 1857 was a coup de’tat and an outstanding example of initiative and courage. Had the Pakistani or Indian armour commanders possessed even 50% of this elan they would have been on the Amritsor Jallandhar Road bridge on the Beas River or in Gujranwala in case of the Indians in 1965 war! The British through some remarkable feat of military genetic engineering created a system which encouraged mediocre Indians to become officers! Perhaps even British generalship with few exceptions has always been mediocre! b) The decisive rebellion at Cawnpore was initiated and led by the 2nd light cavalry on 4th of June 1857. c) The rebellion at Sialkot was initiated and led by 9th Light Cavalry in July 1857. d) The 7th Light Cavalry played a leading role in the rebellion at Lucknow in June, 1857. e) The 1st Light Cavalry led to rebellion at Mhow and at Nimaeh in Central India and Rajputana. It must be noted that some 75% of the Bengal Regular Cavalry was Ranghar Muslim or Hindustani Muslim from the districts around Delhi. Thus the Muslims were the leaders in all the major rebellions whereas the bulk of infantry was Oudh, Hindu, Rajput or Brahman and these actively joined the predominantly Muslim cavalry in the rebellion. Concentration of predominantly Hindu infantry regiments at Delhi and Cawnpore illustrates that till 1857 the Hindus still regarded Muslims as the natural leaders. The role of artillery was crucial during the rebellion. The native artillery was a comparatively highly developed arm in 1857. It played a crucial role in the defence of Delhi and Lucknow. Two out of the total four horse troops of the Bengal Army artillery rebelled in 1857. Six out of the total 18 batteries of the Bengal Army also rebelled in 1857. Subedar Bakht Khan the famous sepoy leader was from Horse artillery and had served in the First Afghan War and in the Sikh Wars. The post-1857 reorganisation of the Indian Army resulted in abolition of native artillery on security grounds. Thus after 1857 the only Indian artillery retained were few insignificant mountain batteries. G.G.O. of 1861 dearly laid down that: “resolved henceforward with few exceptions as may be rendered necessary by local considerations, there shall be no Native Artillery” (579). Most of the infantry regiments of the Bengal Army also joined the rebellion. Just 11 of the 73 Regular Infantry Regiments of the Bengal Army survived the rebellion (580). Sikh artillery played havoc with British at Chillianwallah in January 1849.

Status of 1857 in Pakistan
In Pakistan this rebellion has by and large been largely ignored. Unlike India in 1857 no centenary celebrations took place in Pakistan. No governmental effort of any significance was made in Pakistan to study the rebellion. The reasons are obvious. The areas which comprised Pakistan both East and West were loyal to the British and actually Punjab and Frontier played a decisive role in providing cannon fodder to the British in suppressing the rebellion. Why this happened has been discussed under the heading “Punjab Loyalty”. Tribes of the Ravi especially the Kharrals and Fatianas did actually actively participate in the rebellion which was very creditable, keeping in view the fact that they had no representation in the EEIC army unlike the Hindustanis or the Punjabi Mussulman and Pathan soldiers of the North of Chenab river region. But the Kharrals and Abbasis were two glorious but isolated exceptions in Punjab. The grandfather of Liaqat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan played an active role in protecting the British line of communication in the Karnal area. Ancestors of Malik Feroze Noon another Prime Minister of Pakistan rendered active service in assisting the EEIC forces during the siege of Delhi. The ancestors of Sir Sikandar Hayat and Sardar Shaukat Hayat two prominent Punjabi Muslim leaders were actively represented at the British camp opposite Delhi. Sikander Hayat’s grandfather was junior native aide de camp with the indomitable Nicholson. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan the leader of UP Muslims in particular and Indian Muslims in general in the post-1857 period rendered active service in loyally assisting the British cause in Bijnor in 1857. The Nawabs of Rampur, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Loharu, Pataudi etc. were all loyal and staunch to the British cause during 1857. The Nawab of Loharu actually told Blunt an Englishman who visited India during the Viceroyalty of Lord Ripon that “What he did not like about the mutiny was that most of them were Hindus” (581)! This is funny coming from a man whose ancestors served Hindu rulers. Those who do not know the background of this Mickey Mouse little state will be surprised to know that its founders owed their rise to loyal service under the Hindu Mahrattas. Subsequently these men transferred their allegiance to another Hindu i.e. Raja of Alwar (582)! The rebellion thus was largely ignored in Pakistan. Lip service was paid in history text books but only a limited attention was devoted to the event.

In the late 1980s and 1990s another tendency has surfaced. Many intellectuals have actually openly declared the Punjab loyalty to the British as correct and have devoted a considerable energy in vilifying and criticising the Hindustani Muslims as villains of 1857. Manzoor Ahmad Manzoor has written a book titled “The Pakistan Problem — Historical Backwardness of Punjab and Consolidation of Pakistan” published in 1993 by Frontier Post Publications Lahore. Manzoor Ahmad Manzoor has vehemently defended Punjab loyalty in this book. This is understandable and justified and as we have seen in the analysis of the “Punjab Loyalty Aspect”, there were reasons why Punjab remained loyal. Every action in history of a region has a background. Unfortunately Manzoor Ahmad Manzoor has avoided discussing the Sikh movement in greater detail. A dispassionate analysis of Punjab history convincingly proves that the most redeeming and reassuring part of Punjab history was the Sikh Guerrilla war against the Mughals and Afghans and the subsequent establishment of Punjab as a strong state by Ranjit Singh. Manzoor Ahmad Manzoor, however, in his hostility to Hindustani Muslims has lost sight of that scholarly balance which may have been the hallmark of his otherwise reasonable work of reinterpretation of modern Punjab history. He has, however, failed to offer a viable solution to the fact that centrifugal tendencies are on the rise in Pakistan. The other provinces of Pakistan are not viewing Punjab in as positive a light as they should have merely because of the fact that the province has failed to provide a leadership which is commensurate with the political representation, resources and potential of the province. A historian has to be forthright and even blunt but sheer ethnic hostility degrades a historical work to the level of a propaganda leaflet! How can historians remain historians when they start criticising Liaqat Ali Khan just because he was a Hindustani Muslim? The man may be criticised for being indecisive and incompetent in constitution making or in being a sycophant but to criticise him using labels like Urdas and Urdu vis reduce a historian’s level to that of a commercial writer who merely wants to sell his books to one particular province. Similarly Hindustani Muslims spend considerable energy in slightly deflating Iqbal’s role. The major problem of today’s Pakistan is lack of mutual understanding. The different ethnic regions must learn to respect and understand each other rather than despising each other. In this regard Manzoor’s opinion about the Hindustani Mussulmans who constitute some 20 to 25% of the population is extremely adverse. The Hindustani Muslims also suffer from an unfounded superiority complex which does not endear them to any of Pakistan’s other four nationalities. On the other hand the Punjabis have to get rid of the “Martial Races superiority complex”. The army has to be made more broad based so that its soldiers are not trigger happy in any region whether it is Karachi, Baluchistan or Northern Area. The politician must become responsible and adventurism in intelligence agencies which has destroyed the country’s foreign policy as well as internal political stability must be curbed. The Urdu speaking people should remember that a century ago UP was as afraid of open competitive examinations as the comparatively backward provinces of Pakistan. 100 years ago no one in India could compete with the Hindu Bengalis in competitive examinations! If the Urdu speaking populace of UP has a higher literacy level than other people it is merely because the EEIC annexed their area long before Sikh Punjab or Talpur Sind! The Punjabis also must remember that 150 years ago a mere 10% Sikhs ruled them and they became a so-called martial race only after 1857! A very deliberate effort is required to frame a sound policy to interpret the country’s history on rational lines. At the moment history is the most distorted and abused subject in the country’s educational institutions.

The 25 years of military rule have played a very negative part in this regard. A serious and devoted response is required to correct this deplorable state of affairs. In the first years of independence two groups of ICS officers started this process by giving all the credit to Aligarh or Lahore! Only one out of seven rebels of 1857 was a Muslim whether a Ranghar from Delhi Division or an east of Jamna Hindustani Muslim. Some four to five out of ten natives fighting for the British against the rebels were Muslims, either Punjabi or Pathan. This demolishes the connection that anyone in Pakistan may like to imagine between the rebellion and the “Two Nation Theory” or with the majority of races or ethnic groups in today’s Pakistan with the whole affair! The leadership of the rebellion thanks to the Light Cavalry regiments who took the lead in all major outbreaks at Meerut, Mhow, Sialkot, Cawnpore Lucknow, Jallandhar, Jhansi Neemuch was no doubt Muslim but only Hindustani Muslim or Ranghars from Delhi territory who do not even today identify themselves in any way with Punjabi Muslims. The same Ranghars who were a thorn in the eye of many politicians in 1947-48 since they were changing the constituency composition of many feudals in rural Punjab or Sindh! Whose camps in Sahiwal district were fired upon so as to discourage them from settling in as compact a way as they wanted.

What conclusions should be formed. The fact that the EEIC liberated the Punjabi Muslims from Sikhs and was the principal benefactor of Punjab should be acknowledged! The maximum damage done to Punjabi Muslims came from the Sikhs and Afghans. The leadership deficiency in Punjabi Muslims can be directly traced to the Mughal discriminatory policies. There is another myth in many circles in today’s Pakistan that the British did not trust Muslims in the army after 1857. The major component of the Indian Army in world war one in the fighting arms was Muslim. This dismisses and dismantles this ridiculous myth also. The majority of these were Muslims which constitute Pakistanis majority. There is another myth that the Muslims were more martial. If they were more martial then keeping in view their number in the fighting arms they should have won more Victoria Crosses than they actually did, but this never happened! There is another typically Pakistani myth that there were no all Muslim units. Many respectable Senior Generals who are writers also and other scholars writing their Ph.D. theses advanced this ridiculous myth. Even Cohen while writing
his history of Pakistan army committed this gross factual error.

Actual facts are as following:- a. The British trusted the Muslims. They successfully employed “All Pathan Muslim” units to economically punish the tribal areas Pathans very successfully from the 1880s right till 1947. Mark the words, “All Pathan” troops under an “all Pathan” JCOs! They knew the mercenary capabilities of at least the Muslims. b. Even in regular Bengal Army Infantry they trusted even the Muslims and particularly the Hindustani Muslims and Ranghars to allow creation of “All Muslim” and mind you “All Hindustani Muslim/Ranghar” Infantry Regiments. This is 1890-93 they converted the following “Bengal Native Infantry Regiments” and Bombay Pioneer units into “All Muslim” Regiments583:- (1) 5th Bengal Native Infantry (Ranghars and Hindustani Muslims) in April 1893.584 (2) 12th “ “ “ (Punjabi and Pathan Muslims) in April 1893.585 (3) 17th “ “ “ (Ranghars and Hindustani Muslims) in April 1893.586 (4) 18th “ “ “ (Ranghars and Hindustani Muslims) April 1893.587 (5) 33rd Bengal Native Light Infantry (Punjabi Muslims) in December 1890 588 (6) 40th Bengal Native Light Infantry (Pathan Muslims) in January 1892. 589 (7) 106th Hazara Pioneers (Pure Hazara Mongol Shia Muslim Unit) 590

What happened in the first world war to 5th Bengal Native Infantry, then known as 5th Light Infantry stationed at Singapore! The Regiment having four companies of Hindustani Muslims and four companies of Ranghar Muslims mutinied on 15th February 1915, killed their officers and were masters of Singapore for three days till their mutiny was crushed on 18 February 1915 (591)! After First World War they stopped trusting not only Muslims but all communities in India. c. In the cavalry they had all Muslim regiments like the skinners Horse (All Hindustani) and 15 Lancers till 1919. There is too much talk of Khilafat Movement in today’s Pakistan. The fact that Iqbal the philosopher of the Nation was more interested in Knighthood than the Turks is conveniently ignored. The fact that the 85 percent Indian Army units were involved in fighting against the Muslim Turk negates the theory that there was much of sympathy for the Muslim Turks in the Punjabi Muslim troops at least, who constituted some 75% of all Muslim troops fighting against the Turks. The only major rebellion/resistance against fighting the Turks was witnessed in the following cases:- a. The 15th Lancers composed of Dera Ismail Khan Pathans in Mesopotamia.
b. The Pathan platoons of 130 Infantry 592
c. The Ranghar Muslims of 5th Light Infantry who mutinied because they mistakenly thought that they were marked to be despatched to Mesopotamia or Egypt to fight against the Turks.
d. Jemadar Mir Mast Afridi the indomitable Tirah Afridi who so much sympathised with the Turks that he defeated the Germans in France with 14 other Afridi Pathans on the night of 3rd /4th March 1915 and came all the way back to Tirah to fight against the British 593.
e. Not a single Unionist leader who joined the Muslim League in 1946 participated in the 1919 agitation against the British in Punjab which was largely a Sikh or Punjabi Hindu dominated show. Amritser and not Lahore was the leader in the 1919 agitation!
Many Afridi Pathans deserted from the 40th Pathans to the German lines in France and East Africa (594).

The figures of Indian army illustrate that major part of Indian Army in World War One was deployed against the Turks 595:-
a. Against Germans-138,000 or 14.69%
b. Against Turks – 801,000 or 85.30%

Dangerous and highly erroneous conclusions have been drawn from the British Indian military history in Indo-Pak in general and Pakistan in particular! The latter was witnessed in the writers personal insignificant capacity! The Pakistan Army is the best army in the world! In the two world wars the Indian Army consisting of mostly Muslim Punjabi troops from Jhelum and Chakwal saved the British Empire! The ISI is the best intelligence agency in the world! The fact that it failed to discover location of the Indian Armoured Division in 1965 and the fact that Indians came 35 miles inside our territory in 1984 without the intelligence finding it out and which they still occupy today are perhaps regarded as feathers in the cap of the intelligence bosses! The fact that Afghanistan has landed into the biggest chaos in its history due to our pedantic intelligence agency is an event which posterity shall remember with reverence and respect! Ethnic nationalities who demand constitutional
rights are Indian agents! Human rights activists are Jewish agents! Anyone who questions the ruling Junta or the army or its quixotic intelligence agencies is a “terrorist”! The patriots are only in certain Martial Doabs and nowhere else! In the favoured Doabs also only obscurantists believing in certain medieval theories are in favour. The rest is fiction, a RAW agent or a Zionist agent etc. etc.

British Casualties in 1857 The highest number of casualties were suffered in the siege of Delhi. The casualties at Delhi exceeded the combined casualties in all the other following campaigns of 1857:-
a) Havelock’s campaign from date of leaving Allahabad to the first relief of Lucknow in September 1857.
b) Outram’s subsequent defence of Lucknow Residency enlarged position from September 1857 till relieved by Sir Colin Campbell in November 1857.
c) Sir Colin Campbell’s relief of Lucknow in November 1857.
d) Outram’s defence of Alambagh position South of Lucknow city from November 1857 to March 1858.
e) Windham’s defence of Cawnpore.
f) The complete Central India Campaign of Sir Hugh rose.
g) The siege and final capture of Lucknow by Sir Colin Campbell in March 1858.
h) Whitlock’s campaign from first to last in Central India.

It is interesting to note that all the combined total casualties of all the above mentioned campaigns do not come to within 200 of the total casualties sustained by the Delhi Field Force. The total casualties suffered by the Delhi Field Force were 3837 and the total casualties suffered in all other campaigns previously mentioned were less than 3637596! BRITISH CASUALTIES IN SOME BATTLES IN INDIA BATTLE TOTAL STRENGTH KILLED WOUNDED & Missing TOTAL KILLED % Age WOUNDED % Age TOTAL % Age Opponent ASSAYE 598 1803 4500 428 1156 1584 9.51 25.68 35.20 Mahratta Hindu + Mercenaries LASWARI 599 1803 6000 172 653 825 2.86 10.88 13.75 ” MIANI 6001843 1800 62 194 256 3.44 1077 14.22 Baloch Muslims MUDKI 601 1845 12350 215 657 872 1.74 5.32 7.06 Punjab Sikhs FEROZSHAH6021845 16700 720 2157 2877 4.31 12.91 17.22 Punjab- Sikhs SOBRAON 603 1846 16000 321 2064 2385 2.00 12.90 14.90 ” CHILLIANA 604WALA- 1849 13000 602 1755 2357 4.63 13.50 18.13 ” GUJRAT 6051849 2000 96 710 806 0.48 3.55 4.03 ” JALALABAD6061841- 42 2000 Less than 50 2.5 Afghan Muslims DELHI 607 1857 9366 922 2845 3837 10.59 30.37 40.96 Hindustani Muslims Ranghars & Hind LUCKNOW6081858 19771 127 608 735 0.64 3.08 3.72 ” AMBEYLA 609 1863 9000 908 1009 Hindustani Muslims GHAZNI 6101839 7800 17 165 182 0.20 2.32 2.33 Afghan Muslims

Percentage wise the British suffered more casualties at the siege of Delhi than in the siege of Sevastopol in the Crimean War of 1854-56 which was one of the bloodiest sieges in the history of the British Army. The total British casualties at Delhi were 40.96 of the total force whereas those at the siege of Sevastopol were 14.36 of the total force 597. The above mentioned clearly illustrates that Delhi ranges at the top among all battles fought in India by the British in terms of casualties suffered. Michael Edwardes has discovered another very interesting fact about the casualties of the
24. British. According to Michael Edwardes during the actual fighting some 2034 white officers and men were killed, but no fewer than 8,987 died because of heat stroke cholera etc.611.

563 Roberts while describing the battles of the Second Afghan War in his book Forty One year in India made many references to the fighting qualities of various races in India dubbing the Bombay Army as one which could not be composed of the best fighting races of India (Pages-24 to 98-Forty One Years in India-Volume II-Op Cit). Under Roberts tenure as C-in-C the class composition of Indian Army was changed from largely Hindustani Hindu to Punjabi Muslim Sikh Dogra and Pathan (Page-346-Philip Mason-Op cit). As per Roberts the races from Punjab were more martial than all other races of India. Thus the Madras Army was for all purpose reduced to a Punjabised Army with very few Madrasis from 1885 onwards when Roberts became C-in-C Bengal Army and thus C-in-C India. Similarly the recruitment of Marathas from Bombay was also severely reduced (Pages-346, 347 & 348-Philip Mason-Op Cit).
564 Pages-12 & 13-The Indian Army and the King’s Enemies-1900-1947-Charles Chenevix Trench-Thames and Hudson-London-1988. 565 Page-11-Op Cit. 566 Ibid. 567 Pages-11 & 12-Ibid. 568 Page-534-Lieut Gen S.L Menezes-Op Cit. 569G.G.O Dated 20 January 1883-Reproduced by Lieut F.G Cardew-Pages-405, 406 & 407- Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit. 570Pages-349,350, 360 & 361-Philip Mason-Op Cit. 571Page-104-Quoted by T. A Heathcote-The Indian Army-T.A Heathcote-Op Cit. 572 Pages-89 & 90-C.C trench-Op Cit and Page-439-Philip Mason-Op Cit. 573 Pages- 51 to 58-India and World War One – Edited by S.D Pradhan-Columbia University-178. 574 Pages-12, 13, 35, 72, 73, 74 & 75- The Frontier Scouts — Charles Chenevix Trench-Oxford University Press-Oxford-1986. 575Page-988-Hitler and Stalin-Alan Bullock-Alfred. A Knopf-New York-1992. 576 Ibid. 577Page-184-Raiders of the Sarhad —Brigadier General R.E.H Dyer-H.F & G Witherby -326 High Holborn-London-1921. 578 Calculated from district — wise statistics of Punjab population as given on pages-58, volume- Two-Pages-62, 63 & 65-Volume-three- of The Partition of Punjab (Four Volumes) -National Documentation Centre-Lahore-1983. 579 Page-20 – The History of the Indian Mountain Artillery – Brigadier General C. A. L Graham-Aldershot-Ale and Polden- 1957. 580Page-78-Chapter Ten-Indian Infantry Colours-Op Cit. These were 21 NI, 31 NI, 32 NI, 33 NI, 42 NI, 43 NI, 47 NI, 59 NI, 63 NI, 65 NI & NI. Three Regular Infantry Regiments which did not openly rebel but showed positive signs of rebellion were disbanded.These were the 4t h NI, 58 NI and 73 NI (Page-110-The Armies of India-Op Cit). 581 Page-68-India under Ripon, a Private Diary -Wilfred Scawen Blunt-London-1909. 582 Page-478-Punjab Chiefs-Volume Two-Op Cit. 583 Page-428-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit. 584 Page-4-60-Ibid. 585 Page-461-Ibid. 586 Page-462-Ibid. 587 Ibid. 588 Page-464-Ibid. 589 Page-466-Ibid. 590 Pages-185 & 186-The Armies of India-Op Cit. 591 Pages-278 & 279-Lieut Gen S. L Menezes-Op Cit. 592 Page-427-Philip Mason-Op Cit. 593 Page-77-The Frontier Force Rifles-Op cit and Page-425 Philip Mason-Op Cit. 594Pages-110 to 140 – the role of the Indian Army in World War One – S.N Saxena-New Delhi-1987. 596 Pages-150 & 151 – The Indian Mutiny-Volume One-G.W Forrest-Op Cit. 597 Page-151-Ibid. 598 Page-176-Wellington’s Campaigns in India-Intelligence Branch Army-India-Superintendent Government Printing India-Calcutta-1908 and Page-955-Henry Beveridge-Volume-II-Op Cit. 599 Pages-87 & 88-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit and Page-169-The Battle Book-Op Cit. 600 Pages-196 & 197-Ibid. 601Pages-207-Ibid and Page-609-Henry Beveridge-Volume-III-Op Cit. 602Page-61-Henry Beveridge-Vol-III-Op Cit-Page-210-Klieut F. G Cardew-Op Cit. These were sub-divided as:- 39 British Officers Killed, 17 Native Officers Killed, and 664 Men Killed making a total of 720 All Ranks Killed. The break down of Wounded/Missing was as following:- British Officers-82, Native Officers-19, Men- 1,677 i.e. Total Wounded-1,778. In addition 379 Men were missing who in all probability were killed. In the statistics cited above those reported as missing have been included in Wounded. 603Pages -218 and 219 -Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit. 604Pages-127 & 128-S.S Thorburn-Op Cit. Pages-216 & 217-The Sikhs and the Sikh Wars-Op Cit. Page- 450-J.W Fortescue-Vol-XII-Op Cit. Thorburn places the British-Indian strength at men. Fortescue forever magnifying the odds against the British placed Gough’s strength at 12,000 men. In this case I have selected the middle figure of S.S Thorburn and followed the casualty figure given by Cardew (Page-234-Lieut F.G Cardew-Op Cit). 605Page-464-J.W Fortescue-Vol-XI-Op Cit and Page-240-F. G Cardew-Op Cit. Henry Beveridge put the British strength at 25,000 (Page-651- Henry Beveridge-Vol-III-Op Cit)Since Thorburn also put the British strength at 20,000 (Page-143-S.S Thorburn-Op Cit) the figure advanced by Fortescule has been accepted as correct. 606Page-146-The Battle Book-Op Cit. Page-184-Lieut F. G Cardew-Op Cit. Cardew placed the available strength when Jalalabad was relieved at 1,500. 607 Pages-150, 151, 152 & 153-History of Indian Mutiny-Volume One-G.W Forrest-Op Cit. 608 Pages-283 & 284-Lieut F. G Cardew-Op Cit. The Strength of 19,771 is taken from Strength Return as earlier referred in Forrest’s Selections from Letters Despatches and Other State Papers. Fortescue placed the British strength at 18,277 all ranks excluding General Franks 4th Division (Foot Note-Page-338-J.W Fortescue-Vol-XIII-Op Cit). 609Pages-654 & 655-Appendix-Four- Record of the Expeditions against North West Frontier Tribes – Lieutenant Colonel W.H Pages &
25. Lieutenant A.H Mason-First Published-1873-Revised Edition-1884-Whiting & Company Limited-London-1884. 610Pages-80, 81, 82, 84 & 85-J.W Fortescue-Volume-XII-Op Cit. 611 Page-209-Battles of the Indian Mutiny-Op Cit

General Raheel Sharif in Saudi Arabia

All The King’s Men 

Dr Hamid Hussain

“We don’t do operations.  We don’t know how.  All we know how to do is write checks”.  Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Turki al-Feisal to Mark Anderson, CIA Directorate of Operations, Near East Division  (1)

 Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif retired on 29 November 2016 handing over command to General Qamar Javed Bajwa.   Four weeks later, Saudi Arabia sent a special plane to Lahore to bring Raheel for a meeting in Saudi Arabia.  Even before his retirement, rumors have been circulating that he will be given some role in ongoing conflict in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia has cobbled together a thirty nine Muslim (all Sunni) nation coalition.  This is mainly a paper organization with majority of member nations not even sleeping partners.  All major military operations are conducted by Saudi Forces with sprinkling from Emirati and Egyptian forces.

 In summary, Yemen crisis emerged when in a fracturing state, Shia backed Houthi rebels took control of large swaths of the territory and finally overran the capital.  This was a disastrous move by a Zaidi Shia minority in a country divided along several lines.  This coincided with the death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and installation of a new King and re-alignments within the Saudi royal family (inner competition and rivalries among Royal family members is a whole different arena and I have done some work a while ago on the subject).  Saudi Arabia was already involved in Syria where majority Sunni rebel forces of all colors are fighting the minority Shia Alawi regime of President Bashar Asad.  In Yemen, a change of power dynamics on their doorsteps with Shia rebel forces getting an upper hand rattled new Saudi regime.  King Salman bin Abdul Aziz’s favorite son, Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Muhammad bin Salman was the architect of the new aggressive posture and fully supported by Crown Prince and Interior Minister Muhammad bin Nayaf.  This resulted in an aggressive air campaign that devastated large swaths of urban centers.  Criticism from mounting civilian casualties and no end in sight resulted in second thoughts.  Operations were dialed down and Muhammad bin Salman made the right decision of quickly getting out of the limelight.

In my view, in the absence of direct channels of communications, Tehran and Riyadh usually overreact to each other’s moves.  This was one such case where Saudis over-reacted and embarked on a dangerous escalation (Naval blockade, air campaign and ground offensives mainly by Saudi and Emirati forces is a separate story).  Now, Saudi Arabia has two choices in Yemen.  The less risky approach is to accept a de facto partition of the country resulting in support of Yemeni partisans and less direct involvement of Saudi forces.  The high risk approach is to double down and try to push opposition through direct military means that entails increased involvement of Saudi forces. Saudis are mulling over their options and have not yet made the final decision. In my view, for a variety of internal, regional and international factors, Saudis will likely go for former option and conflict will be a protracted one.

 Now the equation of multiple conflicts in Middle East is squarely along sectarian lines.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are fully engaged in an all out proxy war spanning over a number of countries (the sectarian poison now reaching to the very souls of some communities is another little noticed dirty secret).  Both countries are equally responsible for a dangerous course without realizing extreme vulnerability of their own societies.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are presiding over fairly oppressive regimes in their own countries. On both sides, it started from deep suspicion followed by deep mistrust and now leading to outright hatred.  In this environment, genuine security interests get distorted at cognitive level resulting in flawed decision making. One of the major factors in Saudi decision making process was the fear that if Shia Houthi rebels are able to consolidate, then Iran will deploy long range missiles on Yemeni soil.  This will give Iran a foothold on Arabian Peninsula for the first time and able to directly target major Saudi cities.  This is just one example of the real dilemma for Tehran and Riyadh.  Now both regimes are presenting themselves as guardians of their respective sects and bulwark against the encroaching ‘other’ to resist any change at home.

 In such a complex and potentially volatile situation what are the re-percussions of appointment of a former Pakistan army chief in any capacity on Saudi soil with a lucrative benefit package underwritten by Saudi government? General Raheel Sharif is the only Pakistani army chief who left office with very high approval ratings.  There is genuine respect and admiration for his conduct among all segments of the society.  In army, he is respected for giving the final go ahead for North Waziristan operation and civilians give him the credit of taking back the initiative from terrorists.  Targeting criminal elements of political Mafiosi in the port city of Karachi was also lauded by general public.  If he decides to join the Saudi led coalition efforts many questions will be raised including taking a second look at his decisions while he was in office.

 –          Serving and retired Pakistani army officers work in United Nations framework in different conflict zones.  It is a well recognized and properly regulated role under the auspices of army’s General Head Quarters (GHQ).  Anything outside this framework is an unchartered territory.
–          There is also history of serving Pakistani officers working in Saudi Arabia in the framework of bilateral agreements and process was directly controlled by GHQ.
 –          When Raheel was army chief, it was the collective decision of army and civilian government that Pakistan will not join Saudi led coalition.  This was in line with general public opinion where all major political parties and independent media strongly advocated for staying away from the fires of Middle East.  In my view this almost general consensus of the society was the main factor that forced government to stay neutral despite very close personal and family relations of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with Saudi royal family.  Saudis were furious but later calmed down.  If he joins now then he will be working directly against the stated policy of his own country and army that was taken under his own command.  He has to explain what has changed now that he wants to be part of Saudi coalition.

–          The question will be raised about the motivation.  We all know that Raheel is not of religious bent and has no sectarian bias.   The only reason will be a very lucrative package offered by Saudi Arabia.  This will be linked with his decision not to push for his own extension as COAS (although many still believe that he tried to get one). It will be fair to ask that rather than retiring on a grade 22 pension, he wants an executive package even if offered by foreigners. Debt ridden poor Pakistani nation pays a very lucrative severance package to its army chief including prime residential, commercial and agricultural lands that is suffice to support him in his retirement and his next one or two generations.  It is more than adequate compensation for their services especially when it is compared with the benefit package offered to the army chiefs of neighboring India and Bangladesh.

–          The next question will be did he enter in this discussion about his future role with Saudi government while he was COAS and if yes did he inform his government?

 –          What can be his role?  He will be hired and paid by Saudi Arabia and not any neutral entity or a party that has no direct conflict of interest with the outcome.  His role will be essentially promoting and implementing official Saudi policy.  This leads to next question of whether he will be involved on military or diplomatic front or both.  Let’s dissect that.  If he will be involved on military front, obviously he will not be wearing Saudi army uniform.  His role could only be that of a military advisor.  What qualifications he has to fulfill this military advisor role?  He is an infantry officer who saw his force take back large swath of territory captured by militants in a totally different strategic and operational environment.  Success was due to combination of factors including a re-organized and re-trained army led by highly motivated junior and mid-level officers, highly professional input from senior commanders and planning by an excellent General Staff branch led by one of the most respected officer.  Raheel deserves the credit for some of his bold decisions.  Pakistani experience has no semblance with events on ground in Yemen.  He is not known for his intellectual brilliance where a scholar soldier can think beyond his own horizons and can give strategic insight in a different conflict.  Military operations are conducted by Saudi forces with their own chain of command.  They are not bound to follow recommendations of a non-Saudi advisor.  There is very high likelihood of friction between a foreign advisor and host government as well as local military commanders.   In such cases, advisor gets frustrated as no one is listening to his advice.  On the other hand, if anything goes wrong i.e. large scale civilian casualties, the advisor will share the blame even if no one is heeding to his advice.

If he is assigned a role on diplomatic front what can he offer? He is a retired general with no special skills for any diplomatic task.  As he will be employee of Saudi government, therefore he can only project his employer’s national interest and not as a mediator.  If he is tasked by United Nations or Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) then he can have some credibility to act as a mediator.  In any case, we must remember that Pakistan army chiefs make on the list of influential persons of Time magazine only because they hold the baton.  Once you hand over the baton, you have no regional or international role.  My suggestion is that after hanging boots, Pakistani generals should focus on improving their golf game rather than venturing into unknown territories.

–          It is no secret that Pakistani civilians have been fighting on the killing fields of Iraq and Syria on both sides of the conflict.  Iran and Saudi Arabia have recruited Pakistani youths to be sacrificed on the altar of sectarianism.  As no serious research has been done therefore we don’t know the numbers.  Even if numbers are small it adds fuel to the sectarian fire inside Pakistan.  A former Pakistan army chief joining one party no matter in what capacity will invariably arouse anger among other partisans. If this door is opened, then will Pakistan also accept the notion that a Shia Lieutenant General who retires as Corps Commander and four weeks later hired by Iranian government as its defense advisor in Syria. Food for thought.

–          How Pakistan army brass will see Raheel’s appointment?  It is stated policy of Pakistan and collective decision of Pakistan army that Pakistan should stay away from the Yemen conflict.  This means that he will have no support from Pakistan and his role will be essentially as an employee of Saudi Arabia.  My own feeling is that Raheel’s visit was planned early but was delayed so that new army chief can have some input about the issue.  It is a known fact that Bajwa was not Raheel’s choice just as Raheel was not Kayani’s choice.  Bajwa brought in his own team quickly.  Bajwa was busy taking control of his institution and bringing his own team therefore Raheel issue was down the list.  Bajwa visited Saudi Arabia and although we don’t know what transpired between him and Saudi royal family but one can assume that Raheel’s role came up for discussion.  If Bajwa has vetoed this proposal for a variety of reasons then Saudis will re-think.  They will listen to a Pakistani army chief with baton rather than the one without it.  In this case, Saudis may modify their proposal and offer Raheel such a deal that he cannot accept it and everything fades away.  The other possibility is that they give him a consolation prize with an office, chauffer driven car and even a Gulfstream jet to fly around for one or two years but no real role in the game.  That will not be a good position for Raheel to get into. One the other hand, after listening to the Saudi position and expectations, Raheel may himself decide that it is not good for him or his country and walks away.  This will be the best case scenario.

–          In recent past, there has been lot of resentment among junior army officers where senior army officers immediately after hanging the boots take a flight abroad and stay for extended period of time in some cases courtesy of foreign rulers.  It is fair to ask the question that in what capacity they are working especially after serving at very high and sensitive positions where they are privy to state secrets?  This matter is more serious than the so called Memo Gate scandal when an ambassador was dragged on coals for his alleged indiscretions.

Pakistan needs friendly relations with Saudi Arabia in view of economic and other interests.  In view of trouble on both eastern and western borders, Pakistan also needs a working relationship with Iran.  It is not in Pakistan’s interest to have troubled relations with either Saudi Arabia or Iran.  Pakistan has to walk on a delicate line so that they are not entangled in Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalry as it is not good for Pakistan’s health.  The ‘bang’ part of Saudi led operations is completed and now it has entered in a stalemate and ‘dirty’ phase.  Any involvement of a senior retired army officer from a foreign country at this stage will only soil his own clothes.  

In summary, if Raheel accepts Saudi offer, the only benefit is a generous personal financial package with no meaningful contribution towards Yemen crisis and a lot of uncomfortable questions rising about him as well as complications for Pakistan and its army.  He retired on a very high note and he will be remembered by history how he faded away and not by balance in his bank account.

The Bokhari Brothers and Lionell Fielden

December 25, 2016
This summer on a visit to the
grave of Patras Bokhari, I spent some quite time at his grave.  I
reflected about the lives of two Bokhari brothers and an amazing character of his
times Lionell Fielden.  This piece was the outcome of that exercise. 
 Good time to pay tribute on the death anniversary month of December of AS
Bokhari and birth anniversary month of January of ZA Bokhari. 
Shah Bokhari and Zulfiqar Ali Bokhari were scions of Peshawar.  Both
brothers were very talented, had multiple interests and excelled in their
chosen fields.  Bokhari brothers are associated with the history of
broadcasting in India. 
service in India was started in July 1927 as a private and amateur venture when
Bombay radio station was established.  This was the birth of Indian
Broadcasting Company (IBC) about seven months after establishment of British
Broadcasting Company (BBC).  This private venture ended in a failure and
company was liquidated in 1930. 
August 1935, Lionell Fielden arrived in India on loan from BBC to start Indian
broadcasting.  When radio arrived in India, no one knew about the
importance of this new invention. In 1935, Marconi Company offered a radio
transmitter and fifty radio sets to Indian government but no one was interested
in it.  Central government asked provincial governments if anyone was
interested in the offer.  Governor of North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P.)
Sir Ralph Griffith accepted the offer.  He chose a young recent Oxford
graduate Muhammad Aslam Khan Khattak in-charge of this project.  Later,
Fielden organized Indian broadcasting on a professional level and soon radio
became the main instrument of information and entertainment.

Shah Bokhari (25 October 1898 – 05 December 1958)
Shah Bokhari was educationist, writer, broadcaster and a diplomat.  He was
born in a lower middle class family in Peshawar city. He completed his early education
in Peshawar.  He learned English by reading old English newspapers
collected from soldiers stationed in Peshawar.  After completing his
maters in English from prestigious Government College Lahore, he started
teaching at his alma mater. He went to Cambridge and returned back to
Government College.  In 1936, he was offered the job of Deputy Controller
Broadcasting of All India Radio in New Delhi.  In 1940, he became the
Controller (in 1943, the designation was changed to Director General) and served
at this post until 1947.  In Delhi, towering personalities of the time
were frequent visitors to his house.  Ahmed’s guest list included
Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Abul Kalam Azad, Zakir Hussain and Faiz Ahmad
Faiz.  In 1947, he became principal of Government College Lahore. His
residence in Lahore attracted famous writers and poets. M.D. Taseer, Imtiaz Ali
Taj, Sufi Tabassum and Ghulam Abbas frequently visited his house in
Lahore.  In 1951, he was appointed Pakistan’s permanent representative to
United Nations (UN). In 1954, he became Under Secretary Information at UN and
served at this position until his death in 1958. His simple small house in New
York was full of books and he had a wide circle of friends from diplomatic and
literary society. 

Shah and American poet Robert Frost (Picture from Website about Ahmad Shah
is buried at Kensico cemetery at Valhalla New York.  This summer when I
visited his grave, I was gratified that he could not be buried at a better
place.  He is buried at a picture perfect serene place and surrounded by
graves of numerous artists.  Many stage, television and film actors, opera
singers, writers and poets including famous composer Sergei Rachmaninoff are buried
at Kensico cemetery. On his tombstone are inscribed words of his American poet
friend Robert Frost, “Nature within her innermost self divides to trouble
man with having to take sides from iron tools and weapons’

Bokhari’s grave at Kensico cemetery New York.  Photograph by Hamid
Hussain, 14 August 2016.
wrote Urdu prose with pen name of Patras Bokhari and is known by his pen
name.  He published a small collection of short stories but it was a
masterpiece and gave him a place in the ranks of famous Urdu writers.
Ali Bokhari  (01 January 1904 – 12 July 1975)
Ali Bokhari popularly known as Z. A. Bokhari was younger brother of Ahmad
Shah.  He was the rebellious one and didn’t attend college.  He
completed oriental courses of munshi fazil and adeeb alim
He was employed in the office of board of examiners in oriental languages of
General Staff branch at army headquarter at Simla. Board of examiners evaluated
British officers who completed native language courses.  In Simla, Bokhari
became friend of ADC to Governor of Punjab.  When Lionell Fielden came to
India to start broadcasting, this ADC referred Bokhari to him.  Lionell
appointed him assistant station director at Delhi. In 1937, Bokhari went to
England for training.  In 1940 Malcolm Darling of BBC hired Bokhari at the
recommendation of Fielden.  Bokhari was in charge of Indian section of the
eastern service of BBC in London.  He covered Second World War in Europe
and returned to India in December 1944 to become station director at
Calcutta.  After independence in 1947, he served a long career in
broadcasting in Pakistan.  He served as director general of Radio
Pakistan.  In 1967 he became general manager of Karachi television
station. He was also a poet and also wrote a book on classical music. 

A. Bokhari as BBC Home Guards at Bedford College, 1941. (Picture from Imperial
War Museum).
Fielden had great influence on the lives of both brothers.  Fielden is an amazing
character for his time period.  He was member of British aristocracy, a
relative of Viceroy Lord Linlithgow and personal friend of British Prime
Minister Stanley Baldwin.  He was raised on a Surrey family estate and
educated at Eaton but became rebel at a very early age. He was closely
associated with E. M. Forster and J. R. Ackerly.  His experience in First
World War when he fought at Gallipoli made lasting impression on him.  He
was intelligent enough to see the gross negligence of military high command and
developed disdain for authority.  He passed the civil service examination
but was so irked by his interview at Foreign Office that he denounced the
Balfour Declaration and told his interviewers that Britain had sold out the
Palestinian Arabs to Jews.  In 1927, he landed at BBC when it was
established.  In 1935, he came to India on loan from BBC to start
broadcasting service in India.  He was an outsider and frequently clashed
with authority.  He settled in Italy where he was involved in renovating
old buildings damaged during Second World War.  He died in 1974 in Italy.
was lot of speculation about relationship between Lionell Fielden and his young
Indian protégés.  The relationship was not a normal superior and
subordinate or even a friend.  Lionell was a homosexual and though he
admitted this fact later in his memoirs, there was enough evidence from his
behavior that this subject was talk of social circles in India and
London.  Lionell was member of a group of young British men and women disillusioned
with the slaughter of First World War.  Many were writers, intellectuals
and a number of these men and women were homosexuals.  It is an open
question whether they were naturally inclined or this was one of the symptoms
of rebellion against an established order.  Official British circles and
traditional aristocratic elites called these folks having ‘loose morals’. 
In India, Indian police special branch was keeping a tab on Fielden.  One
police official brought some intercepted letters to show to Fielden what was
being talked about him.  True to his character, Fielden refused to look at
the letters stating that it was inappropriate to look at private
is important to understand social conditions of India in 1930s to comprehend
why Fielden generated controversy both among British and Indians.  British
interaction with Indians was mainly in official context.  There was not
much social mingling between two communities although there may be few
exceptions.  British would unwind only in the presence of fellow
countrymen at exclusive civil and military clubs.  Fielden crashed on the
scene breaking all the rules.  He avoided British social circle and
interacted with Indians of different social backgrounds.  Indians had not
interacted with British in such informal, friendly and relaxed
environment.  Many Indians developed genuine respect and admiration for
Fielden even if there was no sexual aspect to the relations. Official British
circle was aghast at Fielden’s non-adherence to social norms as well as
personal indiscretions. 
also faced criticism from Indian circles.  Fielden had personal relations
with Congress leaders and polarized politics of the time meant that some Muslim
League leaders were critical of his work.  Fielden had surrounded himself
with newly educated urban Muslim youth.  These young men saw Persianized
manners of old Mughal court and Urdu as a refined cultural heritage.  This
prominence of Urdu in emerging broadcasting arena aroused anger of Hindu
nationalists who saw old Indian Hindu cultural heritage as true beacon for
emerging nationalist India.  They constantly criticized Fielden for giving
preference to Urdu as the expense of old Sanskrit arts and literature.
Fielden’s five year stay in India was full of all these clashes at different
Bokhari’s own memoirs in Urdu provide enough evidence that he had special
relationship with Fielden.  Bokhari was close to Fielden and took care of
his personal chores and in charge of his household.  Bokhari went to meet
Fielden at Cecil Hotel in Delhi for the interview. He narrates his first
meeting with Fielden that when he entered the room, Fielden was naked only in
his underwear.  Fielden told him that it was too hot and that he should
also take off his coat. Bokhari states that ‘this meeting was like love on
first sight’ and that ‘after few minutes it felt like we knew each other for
long period of time’. Fielden hired Z.A. Bokhari but Bokhari’s boss a Colonel
at army headquarters at Simla refused to let him go to Delhi.  Fielden
wrote to Viceroy Lord Willington to remove all hurdles and brought Bokhari to
Delhi.  Fielden then took Bokhari to his house and summoned his own tailor
to measure Bokhari and ordered six suits for him.  When Bokhari went to
London for training, Fielden’s tailor in London stitched Bokhari’s suits. 
Bokhari describes Fielden’s dress on his first day of work ‘silk pants, half
sleeve open collar see through shirt’.  Bokhari was seriously injured
after a fall in a blind well.  When he woke up, he saw his room filled
with flowers and Fielden crying.  Later, Fielden took him to the hill
station of Almora to recuperate where they spent a lot of time together and in
the company of famous scientist Boshi Sen.  Bokhari writes about that time
together at Almora that ‘my heart was attracted towards Fielden like a
magnet’.  Fielden had gout problem and Bokhari narrates that while in
London at one time Fielden suggested to him that ‘let’s resign and settle down
in an Italian city’.  

hired a number of young and handsome Indian men in their early twenties when he
came to India to start broadcasting service.  Fielden in his autobiography
recounts the disappointment when faced with choosing his personal bearer from
two old men.  He wrote, ‘Had I not pictured to myself something so vastly
different?  Slim, intelligent youth, with eyes of gazelles, worshipping me
with silence but so effective service’? In his memoirs, Z.A. Bokhari describes
the physical features of his colleagues.  He calls Sajjad Sarwar Niazi
‘dashing’ and goes on to describe him having ‘fair skin, sharp features and
thin rose petal like lips’.  Israr-ul-Haq Mejaz is described as having
‘long black hair, salty complexion and thin waist’.  Agha Ashraf (grandson
of famous Urdu writer Maulana Muhammad Hussain Azad) had ‘salty complexion and
white teeth that were blinding the vision’. These are unusual expressions for
male colleagues and suggest special attraction. 

Aslam Khan Khattak who was in-charge of first radio transmission project in
N.W.F.P. narrated in his memoirs that he was offered the post of deputy
director general in Delhi under Fielden.  He states that ‘I went to Delhi
for a look and found the people, who had taken over broadcasting, nauseating’. 
He didn’t elaborate what he found ‘nauseating’ but he may be referring to
twenty something youths in matching silk suits surrounding Fielden. 
Khattak instead opted for Indian foreign commercial service.

Bokhari with Risaldar Major Muhammad Ashraf Khan IOM, IDSM of RIASC  in
England 1940
Bokhari was an educationalist, broadcaster, writer and diplomat.  Z. A.
Bokhari was an amateur theatre actor, poet and broadcaster. Bokhari brothers
were a very talented duo who excelled in their chosen fields and left a mark on
the pages of history of India and Pakistan.
  • Z. A.
    Bokhari.  Sarguzhust (in Urdu). English translation of
    extracts used in the article is by the author.
  • Khalid
    Ahmed.  Pakistan Behind the Ideological Mask (Lahore:
    Vanguard), 2001
  • Raza
    Rumi.  Reclaiming the Legacy of ZA Bokhari.  The Friday Times,
    14 October 2014
  • Joselyn
    Zivin.  Bent: A Colonial Subversive and Indian Broadcasting.  Past
    and Present
    , No: 162 (February 1999), pp. 195-220
  • Lionell
    Fielden.  Natural Bent (London: Andre Deutsch), 1960
  • Kanchan
    Kumar.  Mixed Signals.  Economic and Political Weekly,
    May 31, 2003
  • Mohammad
    Aslam Khan Khattak.  A Pathan Odyssey (Karachi: Oxford
    University Press, 2004), p. 32)

December 23, 2016

PIA’s Black Goat Sacrifice

Genesis 8:21. And the LORD smelled a sweet smell; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

A few days ago a PIA ATR-42 aircraft crashed while on a routine flight; as a result, all ATR aircraft were grounded while PIA carried out some tests and made sure they were good to fly. Having conducted whatever testing PIA engineering considered necessary (and I have no doubt they did whatever testing is standard in the industry; they are a well established airline with many competent engineers), they resumed flight operations. But the engineering department at Islamabad international airport felt they should take some extra precautions before they sent off their first flight. They decided to sacrifice a black goat to ask for Allah’s blessings on this occasion. Pictures of this (necessarily blood-stained) ceremony went viral on the internet and excited considerable interest.

Westernized Pakistanis (and Indians for that matter) were almost universally derisive about the event. Some common themes included:

1. That this is rank superstition and shows us in a bad light, as it seems that PIA is relying on superstitious mumbo-jumbo instead of good engineering practice. 
2. That while quasi-religious or religious rituals (even this one) maybe OK for someone to do in his or her private life, a state owned corporation should not be indulging in them. 
3. That it looks gross and unsanitary and is a horrible image to put out there. 
And so on. 
There was also some comment from orthodox Muslims saying that sacrificing a black goat is “not our tradition” and is a form of “bidaa” (innovation); there was some discussion that this is a Hindu practice and not “really Islamic”
I had the following thoughts on this and wonder if people have any comments. 
1. We are obviously not the only people who perform some rituals to obtain divine favor, good luck or simply honor tradition, on such occasions. As the following pictures make clear, this kind of thing is nearly universal and most societies seem to have some rituals that are performed when any new or hazardous undertaking is begun. Airlines may not always perform any complicated ritual when clearing a fleet for operations, but it all seems to depend on how routine you feel your undertaking happens to be. In this case, PIA seems to have felt it was important enough. You can disagree with that, but it is not totally outside the realm of normal human practice to ask for divine favor at such a time. 

2. Nor is the shedding of blood that far outside traditional practice. Mary and Joseph offered two doves (Luke 2:21-24) for the birth of the prince of peace. Muslims offer two sheep for the birth of a boy and one for a girl (Sunan Abu Dawood 2836). If the clearance of an aircraft for flight sounds a bit less significant, consider that the hadith literature includes a hadith about the holy prophet advising a man to sacrifice a sheep to help get rid of head lice (the man was also advised to shave his head, so the sheep was NOT the only intervention) (Sahih Bokhari 71:604) . And of course, we sacrifice millions of animals on Eid every year. And of course, there are goat sacrifices (and chickens, and other animals) in Shaktist Hinduism and the horse sacrifice was a famous part of ancient Indo-European religion.

So, while many people may consider animal sacrifice outdated or cruel, it it neither uncommon, nor outdated, certainly not for Muslims (considering how many animals are sacrificed every year for various reasons).

3. I take it as a given that we all agree that rituals per se are an important part of any shared culture and no culture can really exist without any rituals. Whether a particular ritual is good or bad is another discussion.

4. So I propose that the opposition to this particular ritual really reflects something else about our culture. That it is not, in fact, a culture where there is wide agreement about what constitutes our culture. No culture has universal agreement on such things, and all cultures are hybrids and are constantly in transition, but ours is perhaps more so than most. Are we Indians? Ex-Hindus who retain some Hindu features? Arabs (or rather, neo-Arabs)? Westerners? Something else entirely?

When the PIA engineers sacrificed this goat, they thought they were doing something well established and even standard in our culture: i.e. sacrificing a black goat to ward off bad luck. They felt so easy about this that they did it in public and probably made videos and took pictures as they did it with no fear that they will be ridiculed and insulted for doing so. They turned out to be wrong (i.e. they were widely ridiculed). Now, there can be no doubt about the fact that many people in Pakistan do think sacrificing a black goat to ward off evil is not a bad idea. The ex-president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, is said to have sacrificed one every day of his presidency (and it worked, he completed his term). But equally clearly, there are many neo-orthodox Muslims who are convinced that his is, in its origins, a Hindu ritual (they may be right). These orthodox Muslims clearly do not approve of it. And then there are many Westernized Pakistanis (whether “moderate Muslim”, secretly atheist, semi-secretly agnostic or vigorously rationalist) who find this superstitious, distasteful and even laughable.

I am not too concerned in this post with “who is right”, but mostly with just bringing it up that we have very sharp divisions on this topic. If President Obama pardons a Turkey or Queen Elizabeth smashes a bottle on the Royal Navy’s few remaining ships, almost nobody finds it objectionable. Even rationalists will go along with it as a “harmless ritual”. Our culture is more conflicted. And when it comes to animal sacrifice, things start to get even more complicated. In a Muslim country, this is not yet a topic on which there can be strong public disapproval of ALL animal sacrifice as such; the practice is too firmly supported by classical Islam for anyone to risk a blasphemy or apostasy charge by going too far in their opposition, whatever their private feelings. But it is increasingly likely that animal sacrifices outside of Aqeeqa and Eid (two occasions on which the classical Islamic position is crystal clear, so no opposition can go too far) will become increasingly controversial. Those (like sacrificing a black goat) that can be accused of pagan roots will become less and less likely in official settings, though private use will likely continue for generations.
What do you think?

Is Islam the rock on which the liberal order broke?

(Triggered by this article about “Global Democracy in Danger“)

Back in 1992, Fukuyama wrote his (much maligned, frequently misunderstood) book about the End of History and had this to say:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such…. That is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

People jumped on Fukuyama for all sorts of reasons, but I don’t remember any broad feeling that the Western liberal project had failed. Its most visible Western critics at that time tended to be postmarxists and postmodernists, whose entire existence (from their university appointments to every detail of their lives) was itself an appendage of Western liberal democracy and had no meaning or safe existence outside of that system; and whose real-life ability to bring down Western liberalism was insignificant (i.e., if and when it falls, it will not fall to these clowns).

Another kind of opposition came from the “Confucian authoritarians” (or postmarxist fascists, or whatever you want to call them) in China (and in smal but influential exemplars, like Singapore). But while these groups had power and economic success, they had no great legitimizing ideology. They are may appear to be winning as long as they provide more and more goods to more and more of their people. But even while they do so, these same people are watching “Friends”, picking up liberal memes and dreaming of making Shanghai “better than Manhattan”. It is hard to them as a coherent alternative ideology. It was far more common (even WITHIN those systems) to think of them as authoritarian way stations on the long winding road to Western style “mature” liberal democracy and capitalism.

Some Right-wing opposition did come from people who rejected Western liberalism more deeply on religious or cultural-nationalist grounds. But currents like Great Russian Fascism or scattered illiberal Western ideologies (from the “almost inside the Overton Window” Pat Buchanan to Christian identity folks and a few hundred actual fascists) tended to be fringe affairs, or at least they were treated as such by most public intellectuals and the media. Triumphant liberal ideology had internal divisions and weaknesses (including the above-mentioned defection of many university trained intellectuals to postmodern/postcolonial/critical theory crap) and lacunae, but apparently, no serious competitor; The way of thinking that puts humanity, rationality, freedom and the free individual at the center of the world; and which includes memes (not necessarily unique to it, not necessarily derived from first principles, but aggregating in a recognizable meme-complex) like legal equality, secularism, democracy and human rights, was so dominant, it was taken for granted.  These were the legitimizing ideas that all modern states at least paid lip service to. Democratic socialism is just a variant of this dominant post-enlightenment meme complex; even Marxist socialism is a variant of the same complex (Marxist revolutionaries, for example, idealized the same memes of equality, liberty and rights, but claimed that mainstream liberal Democracy failed to match its ideals and was a sham, a betrayal of these very ideals, and so on).

The place where this whole meme-complex really hit a solid rock was in the Islamic world. It was not immediately apparent that this was so. Many Western post-enlightenment ideals were popular among the Westernized intellectuals of the postcolonial Muslim world. But the grip (and even the personal commitment) of these intellectuals was shallow. This was not easily visible to liberal contemporaries (and of course, to Muslim liberals themselves; it is doubtful whether someone like Jinnah ever really understood the illiberal nature of his demand for Pakistan for example). The difference between Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals,whether in the third world or the first, if it was noticed at all, was seen as one of degree; i.e. Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals both had older loyalties, ideas and identities that belied their liberal ideals, and any apparent difference was a difference of degree…but as it is easier to see now, the difference of degree was always in the same direction, and in fact, it was significant enough that it could be described as a qualitative difference; not just a quantitative one. But this was not the common intellectual view (and exceptions like Samuel Huntington just proved the rule, with their “problematic” status in mainstream discourse)

THIS challenge in fact proved most difficult for Western liberalism to process; the fact that large numbers (probably clear majorities) of Muslims simply did not accept the most fundamental assumptions of the post-enlightenment Western liberal worldview was hard to see because it was so hard to imagine. This was such an alien thought (especially to those on the Left side of the liberal spectrum) that it was repeatedly obfuscated under other categories (“poverty” , “colonialism”, etc). It was not seen because it seemed to undermine the universal validity of the whole liberal project. Better to not see it…But it continued to be inconveniently resistant to liberalism… And as events and examples multiplied, they evoked rethinking in other groups. Ultimately, the emperor started looking ragged, if not completely naked.  

One striking problem, for example, was the resistance of Muslim populations to joining the mainstream in countries they migrated to. SOME resistance to assimilation is certainly not unique and has been exhibited by many groups of immigrants, but it does seem that Muslim resistance remains greater than that exhibited by contemporary Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist migrants. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but when the same thing happens again and again, people start looking for explanations. Unfortunately, not necessarily for good explanations..). 

Anyway, the point is that as Muslim resistance refused to go away, all the other alternatives to late-Western liberalism (many of them much stronger in material terms than any Muslim country or party) like Great Russian Nationalism and its Orthodox Christian backstop, Chinese nationalism with Confucian and fascist characteristics, nascent Japanese nationalism, Hardcore Hindutva in India; all of them became stronger because Islam had already wedged the door open and thrown open the possibility that the liberal project itself may be incoherent; may be hollow at the core; may not map to the real world; and may even be dangerous to non-Muslim groups who try to stick to it..

In short, here is the thesis question for the day:

If  and when modern humanism and liberalism (broadly defined) crashes and burns (who knows, it may not), will future historians look back and say that Islam was the rock on which it first and decisively broke?

Is Islam the kid who asked about the emperor’s clothes with such naive determination and clarity, and such stubborn unwillingness to accept “the facts”.. that it opened the way to the future? (which looks suspiciously like the illiberal past)..

Inquiring minds want to know.

(100s of nuances are left unexplored in this very tentative and very over-simplified post. Argument and events may clarfiy).

PostScript 1: One quick note: I used the “emperor’s new clothes” analogy deliberately. The point is not that some extremely powerful force called Islam single-handedly sabotaged the late-Westsern liberal order all by itself; or that free-market capitalism and Western democracy was about to put a chicken in every pot if Islam had not resisted… The point is that the system may have been threatened by failure because of its internal contradictions and its own limitations anyway (as a friend put it: “just to be clear liberal order is broken because it doesnt take cognizance of the fact that humanity is broken“. Maybe, maybe not) but whatever deficiencies existed WITHIN liberalism, Islam forced them into the open…and it did so in such a way that it put the whole project in doubt in OTHER minds as well, leading to a vicious cycle of internal doubt, further decay, bad solutions, more doubt, more decay.. 

And I take it for granted that every order has defects, but not all possible histories lead to the defects being exposed and the system crashing down. In a way, civilization is about the “soft landing” of various defects; their quiet or not-so-quiet removal and replacement while faith in the overall system still holds.. And so on… The failure to “account for Islam” (for what Shadi Hamid may call “Islamic exceptionalism”) exposed the liberal order to other critics and other doubts. These doubts can reinforce each other, there can be self-fulfilling prophecies of inevitable conflict and violence..until Humpty Dumpty has a great fall.

I still hope this is not the case. That we will have a soft landing, not another world war and an age of revolutions. Because if the system falls apart, it will not be pretty; the interlude will be painful and nasty and brutish and not so short. Still, the fact is, it may fall; history is not over.

I also want to point out that I do not share the Islamists own optimism about their coming triumph. A great reordering and a general war may be here. But if it is, it is likely it will be nasty and violent and most of the dead will be Muslims. Maybe there will even be a “scramble for Africa”, as more capable powers divide up the Middle East. The great Sunni hopes (Pakistan, Turkey, Saudia) all seem shaky and none of them may be in a position to establish order if the empire falls.  In short, the collapse of the neo-liberal world order will have its winners and losers, but too many Muslims may end up as losers.

Of course, I could be wrong. I hope I am. We will see.

See some tweets around this topic here

Postscript 2: MANY people have raised the objection that Islam is really not that strong a force in the world, cannot defeat the West, etc. My second attempt at clarification follows:

That was not my point at all. As I tried to explain in the postscript, my thesis is not that Islam will defeat Liberalism. The thought process was more like this:

1.The weaknesses/incoherence/decay of the liberal world order are mostly internal to it. They may be simply a matter of the inevitable decay and corruption of any highly successful civilization (what may be called “catastrophic success”). Or they may be due to some blind spots in the world view, some failure to map adequately to human nature.  Whatever they are, they not caused by Islam.
e.g. the liberal order failed in Cambodia (as it did in many other places) without Islam playing any role, but that failure did not lead to any sudden collapse in self-confidence within the metropole, or even in widespread realization by those outside the liberal order that the emperor may be weaker than she looks)

2. But Islam/Muslims are a large enough phenomenon that their failure to line up and join the party, their almost naive refusal to accept the brutal facts (that they are weak, that the liberal order is very mighty, that the washing machines and iphones come from the modern world and everyone wants those, so how could large populations possibly consciously opt for alternatives that do not prioritize washing machines?) is harder to sweep under the rug. They are not killing the liberal order (at least not yet, probably never), they are making its blind spots visible to many others who can do more serious damage.
They are creating doubt in the minds of the citizenry, but even more so, in the minds of the clerisy itself. Of course, the clerisy tries/tends to ignore or obfuscate the problem. “It is about poverty”. “It is a reaction to microaggressions”. “It is a revolt against imperialism or colonialism”. And so on. As it is, all these explanations (except maybe the microaggressions crap) have some truth to them. But not enough truth. Something else is also going on. It may be that human beings are not the convenience-maximizing homo economicus we assumed. Or they are not naturally egalitarian when it come to gender. Or whatever..the particular doubts engendered vary from person to person and group to group.. But the recurrent eruptions of events that do not compute undermines confidence in the software.

3. As the doubts spread, they lead to a search for alternative software. “Maybe the racists were right”. “Maybe the religious revivalists were right”. “Maybe the cultural nationalists were right”. Maybe even that ignorant conman from Queens is right.. Whatever, the point is, the liberal order is losing the confidence of its own people. This can become a self-reinforcing downward spiral.

By the way, the alternatives being considered are NOT necessarily correct. That is part of the point. The liberal order could fail, not because its failure was inevitable or because its enemies are better, but because it lost asabiya, coherence, confidence, public support, shared delusion. Something like that.

4. Future historians look back at WW3 (I am just making this up, it may not be WW3, it may just be a lot of decentralized violence and decay, whatever, let your imagination run wild)
Anyway, these imaginary future historians look back the fall of the Western enlightenment project, and one of them says “hey, you know, I think Islam was the rock on which this ship floundered. Not militarily or economically defeated by Islam, but exposed by Islam. Shown to be naked. 

5. Finally, I remain convinced that this is not the end. It is just another turn of the spiral. The enlightenment will be back. Ideologies not centered on man, on this world, on rationality, on empiricism, will not take over the world. But the mess of 2032 will be a topic of study. And the role of Islam in undermining confidence in the first matrix will be a topic of study.

6. This is supposed to be a kind of thought experiment. To be put out there to get feedback. To start a debate. To learn something. I hope. Not as the literal true description of the coming mess of 2032 and its aftermath. More like a tiny effort to figure out what is going on, as our honorable President likes to say. ?

Lt Gen SK Sinha

From our regular contributor, Dr Hamid Hussain

Lieutenant General ® Srinivas Kumar Sinha (January 1926 – 17 November 2016)
Hamid Hussain

Lieutenant General ® Srinivas Kumar (S. K.) Sinha passed away on 17 November 2016.  He was member of a generation of Indian officers who joined Indian army during the Raj. He spent a long and successful army career and after retirement spent three decades writing about military affairs.

Sinha was born in a prominent family in Gaya, Bihar.  His grandfather Alakh Kumar (A. K.) Sinha served a long and illustrious career in police service.  He was the first Indian police officer to serve as Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Bihar.  Sinha’s father, Mithilesh Kumar (M. K.) Sinha also joined police service and rose to the rank of Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Bihar.  In 1946, M. K. Sinha was one of the two Indians to serve in Intelligence Bureau (IB).  The second Indian was G. Ahmad who later headed IB in Pakistan.  S. K. Sinha decided to join army during the tail end of the Second World War.  The early influence was from his father’s two orderlies.  Rahmat Shah and Babu Jan had served as cavalry sowars during First World War and Sinha learned about army life and stories of war in his early childhood from them.  His paternal uncle N. K. Sinha (later Colonel) was an army officer and this may have influenced Sinha to join army.  He joined Officer’s Training School (OTS) in Belgaum in 1944 and granted emergency commission on 10 December 1944.  After jungle training with 7/9 Jat Regiment, he was posted to 6/9 Jat Regiment in Burma. He embarked on a troopship at Calcutta that was taking a draft of 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment (now 6 FF of Pakistan army).  When he reached Rangoon, 6/9 Jat Regiment had gone back to India for a short relief.  He stayed with 4/12 FFR for about two weeks until 6/9 Jat Regiment returned to Burma.  He served with Punjabi Muslim company of 6/9 Jat Regiment.  War ended soon and Sinha found himself guarding Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Sinha’s emergency commission was regularized after the war and he spent next few years in different staff positions at the rank of captain. In 1950, he came back to regimental life when he was posted to 3/4th Gorkha Rifles.  After completing his staff college course, he joined 3/5th Gorkha Rifles. He went to England for Joint Services Staff College (JSSC) course and on his return appointed Commanding Officer (CO) of 3/5th Gorkha Rifles. He commanded 71 Mountain Brigade at Brigadier rank and GOC of 23 Mountain Division at Major General rank only for about a year when he was appointed Director Military Intelligence (DMI).  He was appointed GOC of 10th Infantry Division in 1976.  He was promoted to Lieutenant General rank and served as Adjutant General (AG), GOC of the Strike Corps at Chandimandar, GOC-in-C of Western Command and finally Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS).

Sinha was at the center of a controversy when government superseded him and appointed Arun Shridhar Vaidya (Deccan Horse) as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to succeed General K. V. Krishna Rao (2 Mahar Regiment).  Krishna Rao gave his version of the incident in his memoirs. He narrates that sometime before his retirement; Prime Minister Indira Gandhi called him and specifically asked him who should be his successor.  He asked for some time to review the files of senior officers.  He reviewed the files of officers and then recommended that Vaidya should succeed him. However, a careful evaluation of events of that time period raises many questions about this narrative.  Sinha and Rao were close friends for few decades.  Rao brought Sinha as Western Army Commander and according to Sinha told him that he would not only be taking over Western Command from him but also later take over from him in Delhi.  In January 1983, Sinha was brought to army headquarters as Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) to prepare him to take over from Rao.  Rao asked his Principle Staff Officers (PSOs) to work through Sinha so that he was in the picture.  Normal procedure is that COAS and VCOAS are not allowed to travel together outside of Delhi and one is to remain in the capital.  In May 1983, Rao asked for special permission to take Sinha for a special conference of senior officers on the grounds that next chief should be part of such discussion.  Rao even told Sinha that he should also hold similar conference next year after taking charge from Rao.  In mid May 1983, Rao’s daughter Lalita visited Sinha’s daughter Minnie in United States and told her that Sinha will be taking over from Rao.  Minnie called her father to congratulate him who responded that official decision has not been made.  At the end of May, government announced that GOC-in-C Eastern Command Lieutenant General A. S. Vaidya will succeed Rao.  This announcement surprised many in view of the tradition of adherence to seniority principle in Indian army.  S. K. Sinha put in his papers for pre-mature retirement on his supersession.

Vaidya was commissioned two months after Sinha. The argument for selection of Vaidya was that he had more combat experience than Sinha which was correct.  In Second World War, Sinha didn’t participate in combat and was guarding a POW camp, in 1947-48 Kashmir operations, he was serving as junior staff officer at Delhi and East Punjab command and during 1962 Indo-China war and he was instructor at Defence Services Staff College at Wellington. In 1965 war, Sinha was commanding 3/5th Gorkha Rifles in Calcutta far away from the theatre and in 1971 war, he was director of Pay Commission Cell of Adjutant General branch at army headquarters.  In 1971 war, Sinha asked COAS General Sam Manekshaw for a combat posting referring to an old association.  In 1946, Sam then Lieutenant Colonel was GSO-1, Major Yahya Khan (later General and President of Pakistan) was GSO-2 and Captain S. K. Sinha was GSO-3 at Military Operations (MO) directorate.  Sinha told Sam that ‘old G-1 is going to war with old G-2 and old G-3 is being left out’.  On the other hand, Vaidya commanded Deccan Horse in 1965 war winning MVC and commanded a brigade in 1971 war winning bar to MVC.  It was alleged that Vaidya was not medically fit as he had suffered a heart attack but Krishna Rao states that Vaidya was in A medical category. Some suggest that Sinha was not chosen by Indira Gandhi as he was not willing to launch an operation against Sikh militants.  Later, Sinha in an interview clarified that this was not the case but that he would have planned the operation differently.  As events unfolded later, Vaidya was COAS when army launched operation against Sikh militants in 1984.  In 1986, Sikh militants assassinated Vaidya who had just started to enjoy his retired life in Pune.  Sinha’s supersession gave him extra three decades of a very productive life.

In most countries selection of army chief is viewed as a prerogative of the government and one seldom hears about any controversy.  In India and Pakistan, there is lot of speculation and many a times controversies about the selection of army chief.  The normal promotion system in both armies is such that top five or six senior lieutenant generals are equally qualified for the post and it is the prerogative of the head of the government to choose any one.

After retirement, Sinha served as High Commissioner to Nepal and later governor of Assam and Jammu & Kashmir.  He wrote and lectured on military matters for few decades after his retirement.  He was well respected for his upright conduct and especially how gracefully he handled his own supersession.  There was lot of discussion in the media and even questions were raised in Parliament when he was superseded.  He gave a very short but appropriate statement that ‘I do not question the decision of the government.  I accept it.  I have decided to fade away from the army.  General Vaidya chosen to be the chief is a friend of mine and a competent general.  I am sure the Indian army will flourish under his able leadership’.  If any one lesson that senior officers of Indian and Pakistani armies can learn from the conduct of Sinha it is his conduct as an officer and a gentleman at the time of extreme disappointment in his life.  Rest in peace old soldier and he is now in good company of many proud Jats and Johnny Gorkhas who served honorably.


S. K. Sinha.  A Soldier Recalls (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers), 1992

Major General (R) V. K. Singh.  Leadership in The Indian Army (New Delhi: Sage Publications), 2005

K.V. Krishna Rao.  In The Service of the Nation – Reminiscences (New Delhi: Viking), 2001

Hamid Hussain
November 30, 2016

President Trump. The unknown unknowns..

First published at

Trump has been elected President. Having participated in a week-long social media freakout to deal with this shock (a fact I did not recognize about myself until a couple of days ago), I have some thoughts and I would like to put them out so that I can be enlightened by feedback. It is the only way to learn.

Very qualified people have written some good pieces already about the why and the how. I am posting links to them below, along with some random thoughts about the articles. They are not the whole story (what is?) but I think all these articles are must reads. My own comments are more like invitations to tell me off, or tell me more…

After these links and comments, I sum up my own thoughts and end with some questions.

You are still crying wolf. SlateStart Codex. (I don’t think Trump is particularly racist or sexist (relative to most 70 year old males, of any ethnicity) and he is obviously socially liberal compared to traditional Republicans. But the possibility is there that this shallow man (more or less socially liberal, a conman, ignorant) will be manipulated by his newfound advisers into disasters (initially abroad) that could have endless branching and mutating unintended consequences here and abroad. That could be a truly transformative crisis.. Racism and the rise of the KKK (real and imagined) are small potatoes compared to the storms that could potentially be unleashed in the world…Muslims, being intimately connected to the worldwide crisis in very direct ways, will likely face the consequences within the USA too; but the crucial point is that the whole shitstorm is likely to proceed along tracks that are occasionally parallel, but mostly completely unconnected with the identarian postmarxist postmodern worldview that dominates the elite Eurocentric Left today…Incidentally, if the ordure does hit the fan (I hope it does not, i hope the much maligned current world order survives or at least, has a soft landing), then Blacks and Latinos, like other citizens, will fight for America. I suspect that the fantasy worldview that emphasizes supranational and subnational identities well above national ones will prove very flimsy; flimsier even than “class solidarity” proved to be in the first world war…the elite Left’s freakout about the KKK and the coming age of Jim Crow is not completly wrong, but misses the biggest threats and their likely consequences. Which is not to say that no connection can be made between racism and the international order, but the race-obsessed post-truth glasses of the new postmarxist Left do get them into endless wrong turns and dead-ends in terms of priorities to be tackled.

I personally think Muslims are pretty much the only group who are actually likely to face government actions that will target entire groups for the real or imaginary behavior of some of them. And the mainstream Democratic party, the ACLU, Americans who believe in the  constitution and the rule of law, and fair-minded Republicans will all be needed by them in order to help protect them against excesses. In terms of race, minorities will likely face law-enforcement excesses (as they do today, but these could increase). Occasional public confrontations (some very nasty), as well as indirect effects, arguable effects and fake effects are all possible, but they are not the main plan, or the main threat.
Meanwhile, there is also a mainstream Republican majority that has many longstanding Republican projects ready to go (tax cuts for the rich, supreme court appointments, Medicare privatization, benefit cutbacks, more prisons and prosecutors, renewed marijuana enforcement?) that will be painful for poor people and excessively nice to rich people. But world changing crises, if any, are more likely to start abroad)

The End of Identity Liberalism. NYT (Mark Lilla) (the “prediction” tone of the headline is misleading. It is not going to end. It may not be in power in the federal or state governments, but this meme-complex is fully entrenched in universities and among liberal intellectuals and they will only double down now that Trump has won. EVERYONE is doubling down on their favorite agenda, these people will double down on theirs. And because fear is such a powerful motivator, they will get even more traction in their own constituency. In war, lines harden, people have to tribalize. We will have to line up with all the liberals talking about the “pefrormativity of Whiteness” and suchlike because they will be OUR tribe. We will have no choice. War has it’s rules.

Stephen Bannon Speaks (this is my own blog post, which has links to two long pieces about Stephen Bannon; he describes himself as wishing to be the Thomas Cromwell of the age. Leaving aside the minor detail that Thomas Cromwell was beheaded by the King he served, I see where he is coming from; Cromwell’s historic achievements were real and lasting. My impression (and I am not a historian, so I look forward to being corrected) is that he smashed and grabbed all the monasteries and materially ended the domination of the Catholic church in England. He improved the administration, promoted the Protestant reformation in England and left England a stronger kingdom than it was when he became its dominant minister… before he was finally beheaded by his beheading-friendly king. Not being a supporter of Trump, I hope Bannon is not 10% as successful or as talented as Cromwell was)

Image result for Bannon

Trump Country, and Trump Supporters (from Mother Jones) (the usual supporters of the modern Republican party: richer people, evangelicals, small business owners, all voted for Trump more or less as usual, this is about the new supporters he mobilized and the old supporters he mobilized for his candidacy versus traditional Republicans. It is well worth reading, a great work of ethnography.. though no attempt is made at drawing any deeper lessons. Since it was published in Mother Jones, the deeper lessons may be left-leaning for most readers, but I can also see people drawing the lessons Bannon is preaching (TBF, some of them are left wing too)..I suspect both (mainstream Left AND Bannonism) are likely to be wrong.  So we are still waiting for the pieces about what to do next. No one intelligent seems to think that Trump can fix their problem, so what happens next? Some people will say that there is no solution for a lot of these people…a callous way of putting it would be that they will die of poor health, drug abuse and violent crime, kept away from gated communities by armed guards and drones. But who will live in those communities and under what code of life will they live? Will most of humanity find a new and relatively comfortable equilibrium?  a better equilibrium? Or maybe there is no deeper pattern. One foot in front of the other…)

The Crisis of Liberalism. Ross Douthat. No comments. (It IS the New York Times, not a deep thinking website ? )

The Right Way to Resist Trump. NYT. Luigi Zingales. (This article is good, but it seems unlikely that the Democrats will be able to stay off super-elite liberal issues and freakouts. Trump’s own mistakes, infighting within his team, and the iron hand of the market (aka economics, a voodoo science about which nobody knows much) may ruin his administration so much that he will lose to whatever choice the Dems make next time, but I do have my doubts about the Democrats switching to some new “on-message” message that people like this columnist would approve of… During the campaign we heard about how Trump is easily manipulated into biting at every story that he should just leave well alone…well, that applies to the Democrats in spades. And Trump seems to know this and he will relentlessly use this fact to create fake controversies about some Broadway musical or some bathroom labeling issue, where the entire liberal media will be against him and the Nixonian silent majority will think “those liberal elites really ARE idiots” and so on….it will be a horrible four years (I still hope, not 8)

To sum up, I think we had a close election; one that the Democrats could have won, in spite of all of Trump’s newly mobilized voters because he also had such huge negatives. But as it is, they did not win. Relatively contingent events probably played a part in their loss (Comey), but that should not obscure the fact that something huge has happened on the Republican side. A trash-talking socially liberal outsider, with a reputation as a conman (or at a minimum, a shady businessman, which is pretty much the same thing) took over the Republican party in the face of near-total establishment disapproval and then generated enough excitement in his core constituency (disaffected White people, rich and poor)  to win a US general election. And he did this in spite of being rejected by almost every traditional newspaper and media outlet in the country (even at Fox, some hosts were ambivalent). And he did so with an unconventional campaign that relied on voter excitement and (frequently negative) media coverage rather than on the kind of professional political operation that has characterized all recent American presidential campaigns. This is an event worth paying attention to.

But having taken him seriously, we still have what his own chief strategist calls “a perfect vessel”, waiting to be filled. But with what? Partisan commentary almost necessarily has to try and freak-out their support base for or against the incoming administration, and may be grossly exaggerated. But there are some grounds for thinking it may not be business as usual. My preference is clearly for business as usual (because I tend towards the belief that change will happen anyway, but it is better if it happens slowly and imperceptibly; of course, this is not how providence sometimes operates, so real life can and does deviate from my personal desires) so I personally will be relatively at ease if Trump turns out to be mostly talk; relying on distractions and culture wars to keep his constituency from noticing that nothing has changed for the better in their life, in short, just another modestly corrupt Republican administration; consistent in serving the short-term interests of the “top 1%” , willing to damage the long term interests of America (and the world at large) if it means more profits in the short term, and more than likely, losing the next election. Hopefully without terminally tarnishing the dignity and gravitas of the office of President.
 It may turn out this way. Which will be unpleasant, but life will go on until the next election and then perhaps the next (modestly corrupt) Democratic administration. Such is the best case scenario. And I hope this less than exciting outcome does come to be.

But suppose it is not business as usual? Then I am looking for insights about two scenarios:

1. World War Z. The big changes will start abroad in this scenario, and most will probably be unintended. We will soon have a National security adviser who thinks that war against Islamism is the defining feature of the world today. Without getting into any long discussion of whether this is true or not, look at it this way: there is no competing Islamic civilization out there in terms of unity, material progress or military strength. Even if we imagine (as Islamists sometimes do) that superior fellow-feeling and social organization (a patriarchal but otherwise egalitarian religion, resistant to culture-destroying postmodern memes; their view, not mine) means that they win in the long term, even Islamists recognize that in the short or medium term this “victory” involves getting invaded by competing infidel powers with better artillery and missiles.

So let us imagine Flynn has his way. What would such a war look like? His views are frequently incoherent and it is by no means clear where they will end up. e.g. he seems to regard IRAN (not Pakistan, Turkey or Saudi Arabia, the big three Sunni hopes) as the main threat and regards Russia as both threat and ally. There is just no rational way to predict what happens next based on these reported views… The US would presumably want to smash any and all Islamic counties that don’t cooperate, but isn’t it then a given that China, Russia and the US would also compete against each other in this new “scramble for Africa” (the Muslim world being only one order of magnitude more capable than Africa, while the big three are several orders of magnitude more materially capable than any Muslim country)?  Who will line up on what side? Will it be mostly covert, low intensity warfare or will things spin out of control (the “scramble for Africa” being followed by World War One)? What about India? Japan? Latin America? The Baltics? Poland? Ukraine? This is a very complex system. Start a disturbance at a few critical points and the transitions can become totally unpredictable.
Think about it this way and it is easy to reach the comforting conclusion that this scenario is so nightmarish that “saner heads will prevail”. The current international order will survive. I certainly hope so, but then again, that is probably what many sane people thought in 1913. I look forward to your thoughts.

2. From Dawn to Decadence…to collapse?

The amazing rise of Western civilization and its steadily increasing dominance of the globe in the last 500 years have given it an aura of inevitability and permanence. Not in terms of particular nationalities (particular powers rise and fall), but in terms of intellectual paradigms and visions of reality. But alongside this dominance are well established currents of doubt, pessimism and rejection, from Ivan Illych to Dugin (and even, in a way, Bannon). I am not including the currently fashionable postmarxist postmodern current in Western universities, with its rejection of tradition, authority and “dead White males” and its glorification of identity politics and not so critical “critical studies”. This current seems just the next (last?) stage within the Western tradition itself; more a sign of its bankruptcy than the vision of an alternative (simply put, because it’s major themes seem to have such tangential,incidental, and minimal, contact with actual biology, history, culture or science). Anyway, without getting too far into this potentially book-length debate , suppose this really is terminal decadence, then what comes next?

The unknown unknowns get really interesting at that point.

I, of course, have no good idea about what comes next. But who does? I await your suggestions about reading material ?

Meanwhile, a few random videos that have little or no connection with one election and one president.. (the first one in particular does not imply complete agreement with his detailed views; mostly I posted it for his questions ? )

Stephen Bannon Speaks..

Postscript: There is another Bannon profile in (of all places) The Hollywood Reporter that is worth a look. The man is serious. And he thinks he is Thomas Cromwell. Which is interesting, because some of you may remember that Cromwell was beheaded. By Henry the VIIIth, the king he so loyally served.

Buzzfeed has an article that consists of the verbatim remarks of Stephen Bannon at a Vatican conference in 2014. Since this was pre-Trump, these are not filtered for the presidential campaign (though some of them may still be filtered the way all ideologues filter their public pronouncements keeping “the cause” in view).

These remarks are interesting. That he is totally committed to a global war with Islam is no surprise. But I urge you to read the rest. And comment. Some of you will no doubt agree with his elite-bashing (and/or his Islam bashing), but there is a lot more in there. And he is now senior adviser to the US president. The worldview is definitely at odds with prevailing Western opinion, but is it “thick enough” and does it overlap enough with reality to stand on its own? and what happens if you try to put it into effect?

What do you think?

I think he is wrong on several simple matters of fact, not just on ideology (which i find wrong in any case). The notion of a historic Judeo-Christian West that has stood as one against the Islamic tide for centuries is just bunk. Judeo is a new apellation and he knows it. Christendom, yes, Judeo-Christian, certainly not. Which makes you think that he may have some nasty surprises up his sleeve for the Jews. But since he is focused on first smashing the Islamic threat, he will probably be good to Israel, for now. Those Jews who regard weak-minded liberal Western Jews as traitors (or at least, as softies) may be happy to embrace him. For now. Like Stalin did with Hitler, both parties can think “I am using him, for now, to become stronger”. One party will of course turn out to be wrong. But all that is speculation. It may be that he is genuinely ignorant and really does think “Judeo-Christian civilization” has been bravely fighting Islam for 1400 years. We will see.. (Whatever his own inner beliefs, the Alt-Right he has promoted is not shy in its attitude towards Jews…if you check out the Alt-Right sites, you may find their obsession with ovens and trains less than reassuring).

His whole theory about the only right kind of capitalism being “Judeo-Christian” seems shaky to me as well (though in this case he may not know it; i.e. these may be his sincere beliefs) but I will let experts comment. In fact, the whole banks and crony capitalist issue I will leave to the better informed. I dont think that is the scary part.

The notion that “strong nations make good neighbors”is high grade, class A bullshit and he likely knows it, but who knows. He may not be that well informed. And his notion that Putin and the West can join hands in a grand White Christian alliance to first beat the shit out of Muslim barbarians is also bunk. Putin would much rather eat the Baltics, the Ukraine and maybe even Poland before he seriously starts any extermination campaign in the Stans.

China and Japan get no significant mention.

India gets approvingly cited for electing Modi, but in the greater scheme of things must surely prepare for Christianization if team Bannon wins the war (when push comes to shove, would you expect Bannon to stand with the Evangelicals or with Hindu nationalism? Do the math). Interin calculation is another matter. See Stalin and Hitler above. Some in India will no doubt see possibilities in the medium term. I don’t because I think this is a flaky worldview that will damage the USA and the current system and not build anything better. India still needs the current system to grow in. Thats just my opinion.

Overall, the current world system is to be trashed. In the melee that follows, what civilizations have the coherence and the strength to fight it out. And who wins? is a less violent reform possible? Is HE a less violent reformer?
I still hope (and even expect) that we will not go too far from the current (irredeemably corrupt?) system, but here you have it: the senior adviser to Donald Trump, President Elect. President Elect IN the current system.

Image result for Bannon

Chunks of his remarks pasted below. The original is at Buzzfeed. 

The remarks — beamed into a small conference room in a 15th-century marble palace in a secluded corner of the Vatican — were part of a 50-minute Q&A during a conference focused on poverty hosted by the Human Dignity Institute, which BuzzFeed News attended as part of its coverage of the rise of Europe’s religious right. The group was founded by Benjamin Harnwell, a longtime aide to Conservative member of the European Parliament Nirj Deva to promote a “Christian voice” in European politics. The group has ties to some of the most conservative factions inside the Catholic Church; Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the most vocal critics of Pope Francis who was ousted from a senior Vatican position in 2014, is chair of the group’s advisory board.

The transcript begins 90 seconds into the then-Breitbart News chairman’s remarks because microphone placement made the opening mostly unintelligible, but you can hear the whole recording at the bottom of the post.
Here is what he said, unedited: (Big chunks, but not all, you have to go to the site to read the full thing, i recommend you do, i had no time to focus on the best excerpts)

Steve Bannon: [World War I] triggered a century of barbaric — unparalleled in mankind’s history — virtually 180 to 200 million people were killed in the 20th century, and I believe that, you know, hundreds of years from now when they look back, we’re children of that: We’re children of that barbarity. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.

But the thing that got us out of it, the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people — whether it was French resistance fighters, whether it was the Polish resistance fighters, or it’s the young men from Kansas City or the Midwest who stormed the beaches of Normandy, commandos in England that fought with the Royal Air Force, that fought this great war, really the Judeo-Christian West versus atheists, right? The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal. It kind of organized and built the materials needed to support, whether it’s the Soviet Union, England, the United States, and eventually to take back continental Europe and to beat back a barbaric empire in the Far East.

That capitalism really generated tremendous wealth. And that wealth was really distributed among a middle class, a rising middle class, people who come from really working-class environments and created what we really call a Pax Americana. It was many, many years and decades of peace. And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.

“I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.”

And we’re at the end stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.

Now, what I mean by that specifically: I think that you’re seeing three kinds of converging tendencies: One is a form of capitalism that is taken away from the underlying spiritual and moral foundations of Christianity and, really, Judeo-Christian belief.

I see that every day. I’m a very practical, pragmatic capitalist. I was trained at Goldman Sachs, I went to Harvard Business School, I was as hard-nosed a capitalist as you get. I specialized in media, in investing in media companies, and it’s a very, very tough environment. And you’ve had a fairly good track record. So I don’t want this to kinda sound namby-pamby, “Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’ around capitalism.”

But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.
One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia. I believe it’s what Holy Father [Pope Francis] has seen for most of his life in places like Argentina, where you have this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, I’m a big believer in a lot of libertarianism. I have many many friends that’s a very big part of the conservative movement — whether it’s the UKIP movement in England, it’s many of the underpinnings of the populist movement in Europe, and particularly in the United States.

However, that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it to what I call the “enlightened capitalism” of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost — as many of the precepts of Marx — and that is a form of capitalism, particularly to a younger generation [that] they’re really finding quite attractive. And if they don’t see another alternative, it’s going to be an alternative that they gravitate to under this kind of rubric of “personal freedom.”

“Look at what’s happening in ISIS … look at the sophistication of which they’ve taken the tools of capitalism … at what they’ve done with Twitter and Facebook.”
The other tendency is an immense secularization of the West. And I know we’ve talked about secularization for a long time, but if you look at younger people, especially millennials under 30, the overwhelming drive of popular culture is to absolutely secularize this rising iteration.
Now that call converges with something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic, but we are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.

If you look at what’s happening in ISIS, which is the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, that is now currently forming the caliphate that is having a military drive on Baghdad, if you look at the sophistication of which they’ve taken the tools of capitalism. If you look at what they’ve done with Twitter and Facebook and modern ways to fundraise, and to use crowdsourcing to fund, besides all the access to weapons, over the last couple days they have had a radical program of taking kids and trying to turn them into bombers. They have driven 50,000 Christians out of a town near the Kurdish border. We have video that we’re putting up later today on Breitbart where they’ve took 50 hostages and thrown them off a cliff in Iraq.

That war is expanding and it’s metastasizing to sub-Saharan Africa. We have Boko Haram and other groups that will eventually partner with ISIS in this global war, and it is, unfortunately, something that we’re going to have to face, and we’re going to have to face very quickly.

So I think the discussion of, should we put a cap on wealth creation and distribution? It’s something that should be at the heart of every Christian that is a capitalist — “What is the purpose of whatever I’m doing with this wealth? What is the purpose of what I’m doing with the ability that God has given us, that divine providence has given us to actually be a creator of jobs and a creator of wealth?”
I think it really behooves all of us to really take a hard look and make sure that we are reinvesting that back into positive things. But also to make sure that we understand that we’re at the very beginning stages of a global conflict, and if we do not bind together as partners with others in other countries that this conflict is only going to metastasize.

They have a Twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a “river of blood” if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to Central Europe, it’s going to come to Western Europe, it’s going to come to the United Kingdom. And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.
“With all the baggage that those [right-wing] groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage, both ethnically and racially— but we think that will all be worked through with time.”
Benjamin Harnwell, Human Dignity Institute: Thank you, Steve. That was a fascinating, fascinating overview. I am particularly struck by your argument, then, that in fact, capitalism would spread around the world based on the Judeo-Christian foundation is, in fact, something that can create peace through peoples rather than antagonism, which is often a point not sufficiently appreciated. Before I turn behind me to take a question —

Bannon: One thing I want to make sure of, if you look at the leaders of capitalism at that time, when capitalism was I believe at its highest flower and spreading its benefits to most of mankind, almost all of those capitalists were strong believers in the Judeo-Christian West. They were either active participants in the Jewish faith, they were active participants in the Christians’ faith, and they took their beliefs, and the underpinnings of their beliefs was manifested in the work they did. And I think that’s incredibly important and something that would really become unmoored. I can see this on Wall Street today — I can see this with the securitization of everything is that, everything is looked at as a securitization opportunity. People are looked at as commodities. I don’t believe that our forefathers had that same belief.

Harnwell: Over the course of this conference we’ve heard from various points of view regarding alleviation of poverty. We’ve heard from the center-left perspective, we’ve heard from the socialist perspective, we’ve heard from the Christian democrat, if you will, perspective. What particularly interests me about your point of view Steve, to talk specifically about your work, Breitbart is very close to the tea party movement. So I’m just wondering whether you could tell me about if in the current flow of contemporary politics — first tell us a little bit about Breitbart, what the mission is, and then tell me about the reach that you have and then could you say a little bit about the current dynamic of what’s going on at the moment in the States.

Bannon: Outside of Fox News and the Drudge Report, we’re the third-largest conservative news site and, quite frankly, we have a bigger global reach than even Fox. And that’s why we’re expanding so much internationally.

Look, we believe — strongly — that there is a global tea party movement. We’ve seen that. We were the first group to get in and start reporting on things like UKIP and Front National and other center right. With all the baggage that those groups bring — and trust me, a lot of them bring a lot of baggage, both ethnically and racially — but we think that will all be worked through with time.
The central thing that binds that all together is a center-right populist movement of really the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. A group of kind of — we’re not conspiracy-theory guys, but there’s certainly — and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they’re going to dictate to everybody how the world’s going to be run.

 “Putin’s … very, very very intelligent. I can see this in the United States where he’s playing very strongly to social conservatives about his message about more traditional values, so I think it’s something that we have to be very much on guard of.”
Now, with that, we are strong capitalists. And we believe in the benefits of capitalism. And, particularly, the harder-nosed the capitalism, the better. However, like I said, there’s two strands of capitalism that we’re quite concerned about.

One is crony capitalism, or what we call state-controlled capitalism, and that’s the big thing the tea party is fighting in the United States, and really the tea party’s biggest fight is not with the left, because we’re not there yet. The biggest fight the tea party has today is just like UKIP. UKIP’s biggest fight is with the Conservative Party.
The tea party in the United States’ biggest fight is with the the Republican establishment, which is really a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules of how they’re going to comport themselves and how they’re going to run things. And, quite frankly, it’s the reason that the United States’ financial situation is so dire, particularly our balance sheet. We have virtually a hundred trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities. That is all because you’ve had this kind of crony capitalism in Washington, DC. The rise of Breitbart is directly tied to being the voice of that center-right opposition. And, quite frankly, we’re winning many, many victories.
On the social conservative side, we’re the voice of the anti-abortion movement, the voice of the traditional marriage movement, and I can tell you we’re winning victory after victory after victory. Things are turning around as people have a voice and have a platform of which they can use.

“That center-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India.”
And you’re seeing that whether that was UKIP and Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom, whether it’s these groups in the Low Countries in Europe, whether it’s in France, there’s a new tea party in Germany. The theme is all the same. And the theme is middle-class and working-class people — they’re saying, “Hey, I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked. I’m getting less benefits than I’m ever getting through this, I’m incurring less wealth myself, and I’m seeing a system of fat cats who say they’re conservative and say they back capitalist principles, but all they’re doing is binding with corporatists.” Right? Corporatists, to garner all the benefits for themselves.

And that center-right revolt is really a global revolt. I think you’re going to see it in Latin America, I think you’re going to see it in Asia, I think you’ve already seen it in India. Modi’s great victory was very much based on these Reaganesque principles, so I think this is a global revolt, and we are very fortunate and proud to be the news site that is reporting that throughout the world.

Bannon: It’s exactly the same. Currently, if you read The Economist, you read the Financial Times this week, you’ll see there’s a relatively obscure agency in the federal government that is engaged in a huge fight that may lead to a government shutdown. It’s called the Export-Import Bank. And for years, it was a bank that helped finance things that other banks wouldn’t do. And what’s happening over time is that it’s metastasized to be a cheap form of financing to General Electric and to Boeing and to other large corporations. You get this financing from other places if they wanted to, but they’re putting this onto the middle-class taxpayers to support this.

“I’m not an expert in this, but it seems that [right-wing parties] have had some aspects that may be anti-Semitic or racial … My point is that over time it all gets kind of washed out, right?”
And the tea party is using this as an example of the cronyism. General Electric and these major corporations that are in bed with the federal government are not what we’d consider free-enterprise capitalists. We’re backers of entrepreneurial capitalists. They’re not. They’re what we call corporatist. They want to have more and more monopolistic power and they’re doing that kind of convergence with big government. And so the fight here — and that’s why the media’s been very late to this party — but the fight you’re seeing is between entrepreneur capitalism, and the Aspen Institute is a tremendous supporter of, and the people like the corporatists that are closer to the people like we think in Beijing and Moscow than they are to the entrepreneurial capitalist spirit of the United States.
Harnwell: Thanks, Steve. I’m going to turn around now, as I’m sure we have some great questions from the floor. Who has the first question then?

Q….. from your point of view especially, your experience in the investment banking world — what concrete measures do you think they should be doing to combat, prevent this phenomenon? We know that various sums of money are used in all sorts of ways and they do have different initiatives, but in order to concretely counter this epidemic now, what are your thoughts?

“For Christians, and particularly for those who believe in the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West, I don’t believe that we should have a [financial] bailout.”
Bannon: That’s a great question. The 2008 crisis, I think the financial crisis — which, by the way, I don’t think we’ve come through — is really driven I believe by the greed, much of it driven by the greed of the investment banks. My old firm, Goldman Sachs — traditionally the best banks are leveraged 8:1. When we had the financial crisis in 2008, the investment banks were leveraged 35:1. Those rules had specifically been changed by a guy named Hank Paulson. He was secretary of Treasury. As chairman of Goldman Sachs, he had gone to Washington years before and asked for those changes. That made the banks not really investment banks, but made them hedge funds — and highly susceptible to changes in liquidity. And so the crisis of 2008 was, quite frankly, really never recovered from in the United States. It’s one of the reasons last quarter you saw 2.9% negative growth in a quarter. So the United States economy is in very, very tough shape.

And one of the reasons is that we’ve never really gone and dug down and sorted through the problems of 2008. Particularly the fact — think about it — not one criminal charge has ever been brought to any bank executive associated with 2008 crisis. And in fact, it gets worse. No bonuses and none of their equity was taken. So part of the prime drivers of the wealth that they took in the 15 years leading up to the crisis was not hit at all, and I think that’s one of the fuels of this populist revolt that we’re seeing as the tea party. So I think there are many, many measures, particularly about getting the banks on better footing, making them address all the liquid assets they have. I think you need a real clean-up of the banks balance sheets.


Questioner: Thank you.

Bannon: Great question.

Questioner: Hello, Mr. Bannon. I’m Mario Fantini, a Vermonter living in Vienna, Austria. You began describing some of the trends you’re seeing worldwide, very dangerous trends, worry trends. Another movement that I’ve been seeing grow and spread in Europe, unfortunately, is what can only be described as tribalist or neo-nativist movement — they call themselves Identitarians. These are mostly young, working-class, populist groups, and they’re teaching self-defense classes, but also they are arguing against — and quite effectively, I might add — against capitalism and global financial institutions, etc. How do we counteract this stuff? Because they’re appealing to a lot of young people at a very visceral level, especially with the ethnic and racial stuff.

Bannon: I didn’t hear the whole question, about the tribalist?

Questioner: Very simply put, there’s a growing movement among young people here in Europe, in France and in Austria and elsewhere, and they’re arguing very effectively against Wall Street institutions and they’re also appealing to people on an ethnic and racial level. And I was just wondering what you would recommend to counteract these movements, which are growing.

Bannon: One of the reasons that you can understand how they’re being fueled is that they’re not seeing the benefits of capitalism. I mean particularly — and I think it’s particularly more advanced in Europe than it is in the United States, but in the United States it’s getting pretty advanced — is that when you have this kind of crony capitalism, you have a different set of rules for the people that make the rules. It’s this partnership of big government and corporatists. I think it starts to fuel, particularly as you start to see negative job creation. If you go back, in fact, and look at the United States’ GDP, you look at a bunch of Europe. If you take out government spending, you know, we’ve had negative growth on a real basis for over a decade.

And that all trickles down to the man in the street. If you look at people’s lives, and particularly millennials, look at people under 30 — people under 30, there’s 50% really under employment of people in the United States, which is probably the most advanced economy in the West, and it gets worse in Europe.

And that’s what I think is fueling this populist revolt. Whether that revolt is in the midlands of England, or whether it’s in Middle America. And I think people are fed up with it.
And I think that’s why you’re seeing — when you read the media says, “tea party is losing, losing elections,” that is all BS. The elections we don’t win, we’re forcing those crony capitalists to come and admit that they’re not going to do this again. The whole narrative in Washington has been changed by this populist revolt that we call the grassroots of the tea party movement.
And it’s specifically because those bailouts were completely and totally unfair. It didn’t make those financial institutions any stronger, and it bailed out a bunch of people — by the way, and these are people that have all gone to Yale, and Harvard, they went to the finest institutions in the West. They should have known better.

And by the way: It’s all the institutions of the accounting firms, the law firms, the investment banks, the consulting firms, the elite of the elite, the educated elite, they understood what they were getting into, forcibly took all the benefits from it and then look to the government, went hat in hand to the government to be bailed out. And they’ve never been held accountable today. Trust me — they are going to be held accountable. You’re seeing this populist movement called the tea party in the United States.

“I certainly think secularism has sapped the strength of the Judeo-Christian West to defend its ideals, right?”

Bannon: Could you summarize that for me?

Harnwell: The first question was, you’d reference the Front National and UKIP as having elements that are tinged with the racial aspect amidst their voter profile, and the questioner was asking how you intend to deal with that aspect.

Bannon: I don’t believe I said UKIP in that. I was really talking about the parties on the continent, Front National and other European parties.

I’m not an expert in this, but it seems that they have had some aspects that may be anti-Semitic or racial. By the way, even in the tea party, we have a broad movement like this, and we’ve been criticized, and they try to make the tea party as being racist, etc., which it’s not. But there’s always elements who turn up at these things, whether it’s militia guys or whatever. Some that are fringe organizations. My point is that over time it all gets kind of washed out, right? People understand what pulls them together, and the people on the margins I think get marginalized more and more.
I believe that you’ll see this in the center-right populist movement in continental Europe. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with UKIP, and I can say to you that I’ve never seen anything at all with UKIP that even comes close to that. I think they’ve done a very good job of policing themselves to really make sure that people including the British National Front and others were not included in the party, and I think you’ve seen that also with tea party groups, where some people would show up and were kind of marginal members of the tea party, and the tea party did a great job of policing themselves early on. And I think that’s why when you hear charges of racism against the tea party, it doesn’t stick with the American people, because they really understand.

I think when you look at any kind of revolution — and this is a revolution — you always have some groups that are disparate. I think that will all burn away over time and you’ll see more of a mainstream center-right populist movement.

“Because at the end of the day, I think that Putin and his cronies are really a kleptocracy, that are really an imperialist power that want to expand.”

Question: Obviously, before the European elections the two parties had a clear link to Putin. If one of the representatives of the dangers of capitalism is the state involvement in capitalism, so, I see there, also Marine Le Pen campaigning in Moscow with Putin, and also UKIP strongly defending Russian positions in geopolitical terms.

Bannon: I think it’s a little bit more complicated. When Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he’s got an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian fascism. A lot of people that are traditionalists are attracted to that.
One of the reasons is that they believe that at least Putin is standing up for traditional institutions, and he’s trying to do it in a form of nationalism — and I think that people, particularly in certain countries, want to see the sovereignty for their country, they want to see nationalism for their country. They don’t believe in this kind of pan-European Union or they don’t believe in the centralized government in the United States. They’d rather see more of a states-based entity that the founders originally set up where freedoms were controlled at the local level.
I’m not justifying Vladimir Putin and the kleptocracy that he represents, because he eventually is the state capitalist of kleptocracy. However, we the Judeo-Christian West really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism — and I happen to think that the individual sovereignty of a country is a good thing and a strong thing. I think strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors, and that is really the building blocks that built Western Europe and the United States, and I think it’s what can see us forward.

You know, Putin’s been quite an interesting character. He’s also very, very, very intelligent. I can see this in the United States where he’s playing very strongly to social conservatives about his message about more traditional values, so I think it’s something that we have to be very much on guard of. Because at the end of the day, I think that Putin and his cronies are really a kleptocracy, that are really an imperialist power that want to expand. However, I really believe that in this current environment, where you’re facing a potential new caliphate that is very aggressive that is really a situation — I’m not saying we can put it on a back burner — but I think we have to deal with first things first.

Questioner: One of my questions has to do with how the West should be responding to radical Islam. How, specifically, should we as the West respond to Jihadism without losing our own soul? Because we can win the war and lose ourselves at the same time. How should the West respond to radical Islam and not lose itself in the process?

Bannon: From a perspective — this may be a little more militant than others. I think definitely you’re going to need an aspect that is [unintelligible]. I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam. And I realize there are other aspects that are not as militant and not as aggressive and that’s fine.
If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing. I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places… It bequeathed to use the great institution that is the church of the West.

Because it is a crisis, and it’s not going away. You don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is read the news every day, see what’s coming up, see what they’re putting on Twitter, what they’re putting on Facebook, see what’s on CNN, what’s on BBC. See what’s happening, and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions. It’s very easy to play to our baser instincts, and we can’t do that. But our forefathers didn’t do it either. And they were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind, so I think it’s incumbent on all of us to do what I call a gut check, to really think about what our role is in this battle that’s before us.

President Trump

How can you not say a few words 🙂

Some are just question (not rhetorical questions, I am genuinely curious about some of them)

1. Trump managed to convince rustbelt voters that they need to stick it to the system. They did.

2. But now that he will be President, what will his achievements be? Can he get more done than the existing establishment? it is conceivable, but it is not likely. These same voters may not back him next time around.

3. I am willing to buy some sort of Hayek-ian argument about what revives an economy, but Trump was not making that argument. In terms of economics, trade etc, what will he do that will revive the American rust-belt?

4. Which of the apocalyptic visions will come true? Will Russia get Ukraine and the Baltics? will Muslims in America get it worse than African-Americans? Will Trump nuke some country in the Middle East? and so on..

5. Trump has some instincts that are more humane than those of the Republican establishment. For example, he thinks poor people should not die on the streets and maybe they should get medicaid. But he will not be king. He will be president with the SAME Republican House and Senate as before, with a narrow electoral victory behind him. Why would he be able to somehow carry out a revolution? Isnt it more likely that he will mostly end up with the same corrupt, security-statist, police-prison-prosecutor based ripoff that the Republican half of the ruling elite have been practicing for years?

6. On the other hand, he WILL have some freedom to change things in foreign policy. Harder line against Muslims, almost certain. But will Russia get to expand its empire? What about China? India? Pakistan?

6. What lesson will the liberal elite learn from this? If any..

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Last picture dedicated to my millennial friends who thought Hillary is the Wall street candidate and at least if Donald wins, the rich will get a bit of their comeuppance 🙂