Judicial Jitters in Pakistan, continued..

Two pieces from Dr Hamid Hussain on the higher judiciary in Pakistan. Well worth a read. Third piece is awaited.

What follows was written by Dr Hussain. 

Societies in general are becoming polarized and Pakistan is no exception. In times when main source of information is tweets, face book posts and a vlog by a youtuber, no one has the time or inclination to try to get information. Everyone picks his own set of facts that fits into his pre-conceived idea.  Facts are not shaping the opinion but it is the other way around where facts are adjusted to one’s opinion.

Judiciary has emerged as an important player in the power play. In the last few months, I have made an attempt to write about the subject that was a new ground for me.  I got educated and enlightened by many well informed folks.  This is first of the three part series on the subject matter.  Only for those interested in the background of unfolding events.

“Neither to laugh; nor cry

Just to understand”        Spinoza

Hamid Continue reading Judicial Jitters in Pakistan, continued..

Major Amin on the current crisis, May 2023

Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

In this episode I talk to Major Amin, well knows to our listeners. Just a short chat about what is going on.

Pakistan Crisis: The Arrest of Imran Khan

Another Browncast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

In this episode I talk to Maneesh about the latest crisis in Pakistan. We start with a little background and then discuss what is happening right now and what we may expect in the future. Comments welcome.


I promised to link some good articles:

Best summary of how we got to this point: What Imran Khan’s Ascent did to Pakistan 

Good as always from Dr Mohammed Taqi (@mazdaki on twitter) https://thewire.in/south-asia/imran-khans-arrest-will-exacerbate-pakistans-multi-system-meltdown

Probably the best news and analysis show on Pakistani TV these days (as in well prepared, logical, usually objective) is Shahzeb Khanzada. 

The corps commander’s peacock

Soldier Sahibs-Review

I reviewed this book for the Pakistani magazine “Herald” 22 years ago. We had a podcast about the East India company yeseterday and it reminded me of this book, so I dug up my old review (posted unedited):

Soldier Sahibs is an old-fashioned and unapologetically imperialist book. And writer Charles Allen makes sure you know what you are getting into by giving it the flagrantly politically incorrect subtitle: The Daring Adventurers Who Tamed India’s Northwest Frontier. But imperialist does not necessarily mean inaccurate and Allen has taken a good deal of trouble to get his facts right. The book claims to tell “The astonishing story of a brotherhood of young men who together laid claim to the most notorious frontier in the world, India’s North-West Frontier,
which today forms the volatile boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
The men in question include John Nicholson, Harry Lumsden (founder of the Guides), Herbert Edwardes, William Hodson, James Abbot and Neville Chamberlain. Protégés of Sir Henry Lawrence, these men were responsible for laying the foundations of British rule in the Punjab and the Northwest Frontier. The author’s intent is to tell the story of these young men and through their adventures, give the reader an idea of how the British conquered – or, as he would prefer, “pacified” – the ‘wild’ Northwest Frontier of India.
But while Soldier Sahibs gives a very readable account of the adventures of these (surprisingly) young men, it is not possible to piece together the broader history of those times from his book. Why the British were here in the first place and what were the factors that made a small island in Europe more powerful than any kingdom in India do not form any part of Allen’s concerns. Nor does he waste much time explaining the situation in the Punjab or of the East India Company at that time. In fact, the author does not even provide a map of the vast area over which his protagonists established their rule. If you are totally at sea about those times, then you may have to read a few other books to fully appreciate the goings-on in this one. But if you are one of those enthusiasts who cannot get enough of the Raj, the mutiny and all that jazz, then you will definitely enjoy this book. Its written in authentic ‘Flashman’ style, with wit and verve and loads of ‘local color’. Continue reading Soldier Sahibs-Review

Major Amin on the Current Crisis in Pakistan

A lot of our regular listeners have been asking for Major Amin’s views on the current crisis in Pakistan. We are fortunate that he shared his views today and gave a short summary of the political history of Pakistan, the current crisis and especially the role of the army and the impact its mishandling has had on its image.

You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

Major Amin – Brown Pundits

Science in Ancient India (aka “Hindu Science”)


A couple of days ago i saw a tweet from @theliverdr on twitter that made fun of some recent initiative to add Ayurvedic medicine to the medical school curriculum. I don’t know what they will teach and how useful it will be in practice (as a boomer of Pakistani origin my first thought is that expectations should be low, at least initially), but I thought the summary dismissal of the entire corpus of knowledge is also unscientific and tweeted out the tweets pasted above.

My point was not so much about what the Indian medical system will actually end up teaching. It was more a philosophical point that we should not dismiss the products of an ancient and sophisticated culture summarily; there is likely to be real knowledge that is captured in it, but the framework is very different (and “pre-scientific”) and will need “translation”. As an example I mentioned Ida, Pingala and Sukhmun Naadis, channels in which energy supposedly flows along our spine. Modern science recognizes no such channels, but that does not mean that the lore built up around this theory is all valueless. Methods to manipulate these channels can still work even if the channels do not exist, but even beyond that we know less than is advertised, and it is conceivable that we will discover elements in biology that we will then recognize as being the modern (and presumably far more scientific) equivalents of whatever observations and theories the ancients had along these lines. But having tweeted this out, I also know that I know very little about Ayurveda, my thoughts were just on “general principles”. So I asked a few friends if they had a good article introducing ayurveda or ancient Indian science in general.

Lo and behold, I was sent a large document that has been written by a blogger who goes by the name “Manasataramgini“. Acharya ji (since he is anonymous, this title will have to do) is a Hindu nationalist who blogs at manasataramgini.wordpress.com and many of whose writings will no doubt be grounds for cancellation in left-liberal circles, but he is also a very serious and competent scientist, and an intellectual with very deep knowledge of Sanskrit and ancient Indian lore. It is a 51 page document, but it seems to me that this is worth posting on the internet. People can draw their own conclusions 🙂

A review of Hindu Science

The entire document is at the above link. I am posting a couple of excerpts from the intro and the text as screenshots, but it is really easier to read at the above link (but since I know how lazy I am when reading blog posts, I am posting some screenshots.. note that similar early scientific speculations by the Greeks are treated as “the beginning of science”).


Review: The Map and the Scissors by Amit Majmudar

Amit Majmudar, a Gujrati from Ohio (he is the poet laureate of Ohio and if you have not read his poetry, do look it up, he is good) already wrote one novel about partition (called, appropriately enough, partition) but as he says in the epilogue, his views continue to evolve and another book was needed. And what a book it is; a riveting page-turner that tells the story of partition through the parallel lives of Jinnah and Gandhi, all wrapped up in very tight and carefully thought out writing, with quotes from Plutarch, the Gita and other works used as needed.

Amit has done his research and the novel is rich in historic detail and apt anecdotes. Some dialog has obviously been imagined, but wherever possible the words they speak are the words various histories and memoirs have already recorded. What emerges is a very striking portrait of two very different Gujratis who, for better AND for worse, determined the fate of British India and of the largest population group in the world (Indians in united India would exceed the population of China by hundreds of millions). Jinnah is the hugely talented and ambitious anglicized lawyer who became the most successful barrister in India before entering politics. An upper crust “brown Englishman”, he has great success politicking within the new Indian elite, but is sidelined by the rise of Gandhi and his popular politics (deftly captured in a scene where the newly arrived Gandhi is invited to a meeting of the Gujrati association which Jinnah chairs; after Jinnah has finished his perfectly modulated English speech, Gandhi opts to speak in Gujrati and the crowd goes wild. A taste of things to come.

Jinnah gradually sours on the idea of united India and is reborn as the messenger of Muslim separatism and the father of Pakistan. Gandhi has a slower start as a lawyer, but in South Africa he has found a new vocation: mahatma or great soul. Unlike Jinnah, he has world historical and prophet-level ambitions, and his impact is huge, yet he also fails at the most important task he set himself (winning independence for a united and spiritually elevated India), while Jinnah gets his moth-eaten Pakistan, but then he also gets to say “My God, what have I done?” when he sees the carnage unleashed by his campaign. Gandhi heads towards his meeting with Godse, while Jinnah’s tuberculosis finally finishes him while he lies in a hot ambulance that has broken down on the main road in Karachi. Amit is a poet and he brings a poetic touch to these events; the description may be brief, but it covers a LOT of ground.

The book also does a fine job of bringing Fatima Jinnah out of the shadows. She is the “white wolf” by Jinnah’s side, Pakistan’s virgin mother. There are many excellent books about partition, but almost none pay enough attention to Fati. Amit rectifies that error. Short but telling descriptions introduce all the other main characters of this tragedy, from Nehru and Patel to Liaqat and Suharwardy and Mountbatten and Edwina. And while it is not a very thick book, it manages to fit in almost every important event that happened along the way. Jallianwala bagh, the salt march, the Pakistan resolution, Direct Action, partition riots, it is all there, and while the coverage is not very detailed, a lot of thought has been put into every vignette, so they convey a lot more than you might expect at first glance. Unfortunately this tight pacing and compact descriptions also mean that the reader is expected to have a general idea of what went on and some of the clever literary maneuvers are best appreciated when you already know something about the events in question. Still, even those without prior knowledge will get most of it, while knowing more already will help you appreciate it more. Well worth a read.

Dream part 1

Dream 2
Nehru, Patel, Gandhi

USA, China, Taiwan. A Fateful Triangle.

Following was part of conversations with few well-informed folks about the subject.


Fateful Triangle – China-United States & Taiwan

By Hamid Hussain

November 10, 2022

“Let China sleep; when she wakes, she will shake the world”.       Napoleon 1817

In the last two decades, United States and China have emerged as competitors for political and economic influence especially in the Indo-Pacific region. This has invariably influenced the military posture of both countries to secure economic gains. Most strategists are of the view that Taiwan will be the most likely cause of military conflict between China and United States. Continue reading USA, China, Taiwan. A Fateful Triangle.

The Survey of India

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Survey of India

Hamid Hussain

 “We travel not for trafficking alone.

By hotter winds our fiery hearts are fanned.

For lust of knowing what should not be known,

We take the Golden Road to Samarkand.” 

                                                                  James Elroy Flecker

 Eighteenth century India and its neighboring regions were an exotic place for outsiders and not much was known about the geography and people of this large swath of land. An odd traveler or explorer published the details of his perilous journey among strange and alien land and people for the home audience.  Arrival of East India Company (EIC) for trade and later territorial expansion brought modern scientific methods of exploration and mapping that filled up the empty spaces on maps. 

 During military operations, officers collected localized information about terrain, availability of supplies to support troops and animals and information about local population.  However, this information was localized and limited to military operation at hand.  Knowledge about land and people ruled by EIC rapidly expanded.  Over the years, a small group of extraordinary British and native explorers contributed to sciences of geography and anthropology. This was an area where political, administrative, military and spying arts freely intermingled.

 In eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, India’s frontiers were changing with territorial expansion of EIC.  In these decades, frontier moved from Oudh, Gangetic plains, Sindh and Punjab to Northwestern and Northeastern frontiers. In the context of defense of India, area of British influence also expanded to Tibet, Chinese and Russian Turkistan and Afghanistan.  The Royal Geographic Society (RGS) became the patron of the advancement of the field of geography on scientific grounds and published works of explorers of India and its neighborhood.

 In 1800, three separate surveys were started in India: Revenue, Topographical and Trigonometrical (later named Great Trigonometrical Survey – GTS).  In 1878, all three were amalgamated into a single Survey of India.  James Rannell (1742-1830), William Lambton (1756-1823), George Everest (1790-1866), Thomas George Montgomerie (1830-1878), Henry Trotter, William Johnson, James Walker, Colonel Frederick Bailey (1882-1967), Sir Thomas Hungerford Holdich, Godwin-Austin, Captain Francis Younghusband and others were exceptional individuals.  They were driven by a sense of adventure, exploration and duty.  They were highly committed individuals willing to suffer extreme hardships in strange and unknown lands. They instilled same spirit among their native assistants. Surveying in frontier areas was a dangerous task as locals correctly concluded that surveying was the steppingstone towards loss of their freedom.  There was an Afghan saying that “First comes one Englishman for shikar (hunting), then come two to draw a map, and then comes an army to take your land.  So, it is best to kill the first Englishman”. Continue reading The Survey of India

Pakistan 2022; Things fall apart?


Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

In this episode, Omar talks to Ambassador Kamran Shafi and Columnist Dr Mohammed Taqi about the current political crisis in Pakistan. We take our best guess on whether the army is falling apart or just having a hiccup.

Some background:

  1. NFP (nationalist-leftist columnist from Karachi) writes a pretty good summary of the Imran Khan experiment and how it fell apart. https://www.dawn.com/news/1719266/smokers-corner-the-self-destruction-of-imran-khan
  2. Former ISI chief Asad Durrani writes about the failure of Project Imran: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/the-army-took-a-back-seat-because-its-project-imran-khan-bombed-says-former-isi-chief-asad-durrani/articleshow/95305574.cms
  3. Mainstream Pakistani nationalist Mosharref Zaidi writes on this topic: https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1007665-november-29-and-pakistan-s-polycrisis

it is worth noting that I could not find a single recent good article by a pro-khan columnist. That is not his style. He has a simple message, and no details and no plan.

Brown Pundits