The Shias of Kashmir

From our regular contributor, Dr Hamid Hussain. 

In my last piece about Kashmir, I briefly mentioned Shia factor in Kashmir in current context and Ahmadi factor in historical context.  Many otherwise well informed individuals admitted that they had little idea about these.  Others with more direct interaction with Kashmir issue asked questions and this is in response to these exchanges.  Enjoy if you are bored of black and white narratives on the subject and interested in ‘fifty shades of grey’.

Hamid

Shia of Kashmir

Hamid Hussain

Shia of Kashmir has a unique history.  There were two groups of Shias who migrated to Kashmir from present day Iran and Iraq in fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  One group escaped persecution and other were missionaries.  Some artisan classes also joined these groups.   Local conversion due to efforts of missionaries increased Shia numbers.  In Gilgit-Baltistan area with geographic links to Badakhshan province of Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Ismaili missionaries were successful in small pockets while mainstream Ath’na Asha’ari (followers of twelve Imams) missionaries were successful in areas that are now part of Indian Controlled Kashmir (ICK).  Separation of Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan Controlled Kashmir (PCK) which is ethnically and linguistically different from Kashmiris left no significant Shia population in PCK.

In ICK, there are about one million Shia out of a total Muslim population of 8.5 million.  Shia are geographically and politically separated in ICK.  Sparsely populated Ladakh which is now separated from Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) as Union territory has equal numbers of Buddhists and Muslims.  In Kargil area, ninety percent of Muslim population is Shia numbering about 125’000.  There are small numbers of Sunnis in Drass area.  Remainder Shia population is concentrated in the Valley. Continue reading “The Shias of Kashmir”

Film Review: Drone

Film review from Major Aghan Humayun Amin. (Spoilers ahead)

DRONES 

REVIEW ESSAY 

Last night I watched a movie named “ Drone” with immense interest. 

Drones have been a major part of my research since 2006 when I personally and closely saw some drone strikes while serving as a consultant in Afghanistan and Pakistan. My main client were Canadians and to be specific SNC Lavalin , at that time Canada’s largest consulting company and worlds fifth largest. The movies director is a Canadian citizen which multiplied my interest as Canada sometimes moves opposite United States and has been doing so with varied levels since loyalists fled to Canada after the rebellion of the American Colonies. 

The first issue with this movie which could be very hard hitting and a block buster is that it misses the small details , which is a case of lack of common sense and sweeping judgements which were entirely avoidable. 

The first image failure occurred when while claiming to depict Pakistans wild west Waziristan region the area filmed and shown was Pakistans biggest city Karachi. To deliver the most unkindest cut of all as Shakespeare would have described it , the first shot titled Waziristan shows sky scraper buildings in Karachi rather than mud houses and totally opposite images for which Waziristan is famous and known.  Continue reading “Film Review: Drone”

Film Review: Berlin Falling

Review from Major Agha Humayun Amin.  I am sure some of Major Amin’s observations will invite comment 🙂

I was very keen to watch this movie and watching it was a big disappointment.

While the movie is low budget , budget by no means could have reduced it from reaching the stature of greatness if the man who made the movie was more intellectually dishonest !

The entire historic context of this movie is drastically flawed and fallacious.
The movie conveys a German military in Afghanistan that committed serious war crimes , whereas my personal observations having constructed five clinics in Kunduz in 2004-5 and having been involved in CASA 1000 survey passing through Kunduz province where German military was deployed , leads me to the irrevocable and unflinching conclusion that the German military in Kunduz was the most humane military outfit in entire NATO or non NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan.

Now this was entirely avoidable had the author carefully studied the history of German military record in Afghanistan.

As one who lived in Kabul and travelled extensively I found that Afghans loved no foreign country more dearly than Germany who they lovingly referred to as ”ALMAAN” and Turkey.

The reason was simple ! Both these states simply refused to enter areas where the public was hostile to NATO presence. While it is another issue that the German governments reasons for not doing so were based on pure and simple lack of moral courage or strategic resolution , in not annoying the large Muslim population of Germany , the result was positive, at least in terms of human rights. Continue reading “Film Review: Berlin Falling”

Kashmir, Analysis by Dr Hamid Husain

From our regular contributor and well respected Military historian Dr Hamid Husain

Following was outcome of exchanges with some informed individuals from both sides of the border about Kashmir.  I was educated & enlightened. It is just a glimpse on my part about possible scenarios.  It is first of a two part; second part deals with the legal aspect of the issue as Constitution bench of Indian Supreme Court has taken up the case.

“Borders are scratched across the hearts of men

By strangers with a calm, judicial pen

 And when the borders bleed we watch with dread

The lines of ink along the map turn red”

                                                               Marya Mannes

Regards,

Hamid

Paradise Lost – Kashmir at Crossroads

Hamid Hussain

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent; but it takes a touch of genius and lots of courage to move something in the opposite direction.”    Albert Einstein

On 05 August 2019, newly elected government of India announced change in Kashmir status. President issued an order under Article 370 superseding a previous Presidential Order of 1954 thus removing restrictions on application of Constitution of India in the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).  This also removed Article 35 A that gave special status to residents of J&K. In addition, J&K was divided into two Union territories with separation of Ladakh.

Currently, three countries control parts of the territory that was once princely state of Kashmir during the Raj.  Indian Controlled Kashmir (ICK) is fifty five percent of the territory, Pakistan Controlled Kashmir (PCK) is thirty five percent and Chinese Controlled Kashmir (CCK) is fifteen percent. There is no conflict at Indian-Chinese border in Kashmir called Line of Actual Control (LAC) and there has been no border incident in the last fifty years.  I recall the only incident of military history several years ago when tempers escalated at that border, the soldiers simply threw stones at each other. The story of Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan is totally different.

Kashmir is more of an ideological element between two countries.  Both sides have a psychological entanglement where the raison d’etre of both countries is linked with it.  India views continued control of Kashmir as vindication of its stand that Hindus and Muslims are not two separate nations and that is why a Muslim majority state is part of Indian union.  Pakistan contests this narrative and see India’s control of Kashmir as challenging the very idea of Pakistan based on ‘two nation theory’.  Both sides are intelligent enough to recognize the old dictum that ‘possession is the nine-tenth of the law’. Rhetoric aside, in real politic, both countries are fully aware that LOC is now a de facto border, and no one can force a military solution of the problem.  When there is an interlude of peace between two countries, public opinion is in favor of compromise.  However, with every crisis, jingoism runs supreme on both sides of the border.

India

‘Nationhood is rooted in rites of violence we all prefer to forget’.  Quoted in Karl Meyer & Shareen B. Brysac’s King Makers

India’s recent efforts to remove special status of Kashmir is to fully integrate the state in Indian union with the hope that this will end separatism in ICK.  Unique circumstances of Kashmir at the time of partition in 1947 necessitated a compromise.  Article 270 of Indian constitution gave Kashmir a special status where Indian constitution was exempted from the state in governance of the state.  In the last seventy years, 94 of the 97 entries of the Union List and 260 of the 395 articles of the constitution were extended to Kashmir.  Ironically, it was all done through Article 370 as this was the only ‘tunnel’ through which center could act in Kashmir.  The result is that in practical terms Article 370 had ceased to provide any special concessions to Kashmiris.  More important is Article 35 A that was inserted by a Presidential Order in 1954 as a compromise between Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Kashmiri leader Shaikh Abdullah.  This clause gave the authority to state government to define ‘permanent resident of the state’.  A Dogra rule era law of 1927 that prohibited acquisition of land in Kashmir by an outsider was incorporated in Constitution of J& K in 1956 that closed the door for acquisition of land by outsiders. Now only a permanent resident of the state was eligible for land acquisition, government jobs and scholarship in state educational institutions. Article 370 was a psychological and 35 A practical anchor of special status of Kashmir. Continue reading “Kashmir, Analysis by Dr Hamid Husain”

Review: The Anarchy, by William Dalrymple

I had earlier posted a short version of this review, to which many people objected that it was not really a review, just a short rant. Major Amin has now sent a longer version. I hope this will satisfy some of the critics…

The Anarchy-
William Dalrymple

Book Review

By Major Agha H Amin

Dalrymple is not a serious historian but a highly skilled jester who plays to the gallery. He makes many factual errors in his book and frequently gets carried away by emotions. promiscuously mixing facts with fiction.

On page 12 there is a small typing error placing third mysore war victory of Cornwallis in 1782 rather than 1792:

In describing Aurangzeb on page 13 Dalrymple misses the most essential fact that it was the Hindu Maratha Insurgency that laid the foundation of the decline and fall of the Mughal Empire. In this regard, other groups such as the Rajputs etc were mickey mouse players; the real hero of Hindu resurgence was Sivaji.

Dalrymple describes Mohammad Shah in very derogatory terms,  but fails to
note that under his shaky tenure the Mughals still defeated Ahmad Shah Abdali at Sirhind in 1748.

The battle of Buxar took place in 1764 and not in 1765 as Mr Dalrymple states on page-16.

On page 60 Dalrymple fallaciously states that Bhonsle was incharge of Orrissa whereas the Bhonsla citadel was many hundred miles from Orrissa to the west in  Nagpur.

Dalrymple is addicted to fantasies (playing to the gallery), thus he projects the Mughals as the height of civilization while these so called civilized Mughals in 1719 publicly tortured Banda Bahadur’s five year old son, gouging out his heart while the child was alive and shoving it in his fathers mouth !

Nadir Shah did not invade Afghanistan in 1739 but in 1738 via Helmand, a long way from Delhi, but our brilliant and careless writer states he did so in 1739.

Dalyrmple totally misses one of the great  betrayals in Indian history at Karnal, where Nadir Shah of Persia on the prompting of Nawab of Avadh Saadat Khan decided to pillage and plunder Delhi after an initial agreement to return to Persia after being paid a relatively small fine.

Dalrymple spents great energy on vilifying the company for the famine of Bengal of 1770, but fails to reconcile the fact that a far greater famine broke out in Bengal under the British crown. In general, jis treatment of events reeks
of extreme polemics and subjectivism.

Even worse is his treatment of military events, for example in describing the First Anglo Mysore war he glorifies Hyder Ali but fails to note that he lost in several pitched battles against Colonel Smith and won the war only because of lack of cavalry by the company as well as the extreme corruption of  various company officials.

Dalrymples treatment of military history in general  is atrocious. For example,  in discussing the Second Anglo Mysore War he only discusses one battle (Pollilore) but totally ignores the fact that Hyder Ali was repeatedly defeated
at Porto Novo , Sholingur etc by Sir Eyre Coote.

Dalrymple totally ignores the fact that while the company lost one battle in 1780, the war continued till 1784 and was inconclusive in spite of Hyder Ali’s superior cavalry and the company’s corruption.

Dalyrmples use of historical facts is generally one sided and extremely biased. This is not a one-off, but a pattern. He cherry picks and higlights what fits his narrative, ignoring or downplaying what does not.

Ahmad Shah Abdali never went to Delhi in 1762 so Dalrymples claim that he ousted Imad ul Mulk in 1762 is incorrect (page-259 ).

By and large the book is a repetition of well known facts of British Indian history, framed tendentiously to fit his narrative. Basically Dalrymple has wasted a book in vain as it brings out nothing new. His whole conclusion about the company and the title of the book “Anarchy” is extremely questionable and
debatable. Firstly the English East India Company did not cause anarchy in India as Dalrymple repeatedly tries to prove. India was already in a state of complete anarchy when the British company became a serious player. They took advantage of this anarchy, they did not cause it.

Delhi was sacked more than 40 times between 1737 and 1800 by non British  forces, but Dalrymple is blind to this as it does not fit the narrative he wants to project. All the bad things he sees are only to be found in English East India Company. This will no doubt delight his nationalistic (or guilt-ridden English) readers, but it is a very questionable framing of 18the century Indian history.

His military knowledge is myopic and he constantly distorts military history and uses bits and pieces to prove or disprove as he wills at whim.

As a matter of fact the company restored order in India .The first three universities in Indian history were founded at Calcutta ,Madras and Bombay in 1856-57 by the Company. Outmoded customs such as widow burning , infanticide etc were abolished by the company. A hereditary class of feudal lords was created by Lord Cornwallis in 1792 as a result of which political
stability was introduced and strengthened in India. The company had many reformers, philanthropists and utilitarians but Dalrymple in his irrational hatred is blind to all these people.To Dalrymple all that British East India Company did
was bad and he has an extremely jaundiced and twisted vision, not an objective view of history.

Dalrymple gives no weightage to the fact that British parliament and system prosecuted Clive and Warren Hastings and tried to regulate company rule in India. They were not angels, but they were not the uniquely villainous source of all evils in India. Above all Dalrymple forgets that without the driving spirit of corporate enterprise of the company the British would never have conquered India. While personal interest has constantly dominated human conduct in history , whether it was a company or a state , Dalrymple wears coloured glasses and his perception is cloudy as well as confused.

Finally, my most serious issue with Dalrymple is his overly simplistic sweeping judgements. The Mughals for example were as big opportunists and greedy rulers as the company.They were a small group of adventurers, kicked out of central Asia, who captured India or north India just like the British company because of superior military tactics. If you look at Mughal contributions you find a few grand monuments such as the Taj Mahal or Shalimar Bagh in Lahore! Whereas the British company gave India , irrigation , universities, a
sound military system , a system of governance and  a class of  hereditary feudals who made the system more stable, relative to the times.

Another point that Dalrymple totally misses is that the company saved the Indian Muslim elite from total political extinction . The Muslims were practically nobodies by 1800. Delhi was ruled by the Marathas, Badshahi mosque of Lahore was a horse stable and a powder magazine! The Marathas
and Sikhs totally dominated north India! But a knight in shining armour comes and saves the Indian Muslim elite. It was Lake who saved the Muslims of Delhi from extinction! Hugh Gough saved the Muslims of Lahore and Peshawar! But Dalrymple misses out all these things.

Dalrymples most serious failure is that greed and avarice is not a British company failing but a human failing and all Indian rulers were guilty of this just as much as the EIC. Dalrymple fails to appreciate that Indians gladly
fought against Indians under the company because the company paid salaries in time !

Dalyrmple fails to note that British company]s triumphs were triumphs of organization, such as when Lieutenant Flint repeatedly defeated Tipu Sultan with a 100 % Indian force at Wandewash.Dalrymple fails to appreciate that
India was conquered by an organizationally superior company using 80 % Indian manpower! Why Indians followed them if they were as plainly evil as Dalrymple believes or wants us to believe !

And finally, Dalrymple fails to relate this past to what happened after the British left. Pakistan, where I live, is one of the most corrupt states in the
world .Pakistans tax officials of the so called FBR are 1 billion times more corrupt than the English East India Company could be in their wildest dreams. Parochialism is such that in todays Pakistan the entire ruling establishment consists of few districts and few castes of North Punjab and small parts of Sindh!

Characters like Dalrymple thrive on emotional manipulation which is why Dalrymple needs to be questioned and refuted!

Book Review: The Anarchy (William Dalrymple)

A longer version of this review is now up at this link.

A short review from Major Amin. I have not yet read the book, but Dalrymple’s recent books have an increasing tendency to play to the gallery. I would not descirbe this as “irrational hatred” (see review below), it is entirely rational. He knows his audience and frames his books to pander to that audience. He is a good writer and is not ignorant, but his books are spoiled by his urge to frame his story in ways that will appeal to his audience (educated Indians who are happy to hear bad things about the EIC and Westerners who want to appear virtuous). Again, I have not read this book, but his other recent books and interviews all exhibit this tendency..

The Anarchy-Dalrymple– Book Review

The Anarchy-Dalrymple Book Review

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335881689_The_Anarchy-Dalrymple_Book_Review

Firstly English East India Company did not cause anarchy in India as Dalrymple repeatedly tries to prove.

India was in complete anarchy when the British company became a serious player.

Delhi was sacked more than 40 times between 1737 and 1800 by non British forcces, but Dalrymple is blind to this hard fact. All the bad things he sees are only to be found in English East India Company.

His military knowledge is myopic and he constantly distorts military history and uses bits and pieces to prove or disprove as he wills at whim.

As a matter of fact the company restored order in India .First three universities in Indian history were founded at Calcutta ,Madras and Bombay in 1856-57.

Outmoded customs like widow burning , infanticide etc were abolished by the company.

A hereditary class of feudal was created by Lord Cornwallis in 1792 as a result of which political stability was introduced and strengthened in India.

The company had many reformers, philanthropists and utilitarians but Dalrymple in his irrational hatred is blind to all these people.

To Dalrymple all that British East India Company did was bad and he has an extremely jaundiced and twisted vision.

Dalrymple gives no weightage to the fact that British parliament and system prosecuted Clive and Warren Hastings and tried to regulate India.

Above all Dalrymple forgets that without the driving spirit of corporate enterprise of the company the British would never have conquered India.

While personal interest has constantly dominated human conduct in history , whether it was a company or a state , Dalrymple wears coloured glasses and his perception is cloudy as well as confused.

Last Will of Guru Gobind and Emperor Aurangzeb

From @parikramah ‘s blog, some comments on the last will and testament of Guru Gobind and Emperor Aurangzeb.  (I am mostly interested in the two wills and posted those here.. if you are interested in the dharmic vs adharmic discussion you can to to the link above for the full post)

Fatehnamah – A Tale of two Wills

Guru Gobind had earlier written in the Zafarnama

چه ها شد که چون بچگان کشته چار
که باقی بماند است پیچیده مار
che ha shod keh chon bachegaan koshteh chaar
keh baaqi bemaand ast peycheedeh maar

“What happened that you have killed four children (my sons, the sahibzadas)? For the coiled snake (in the form of my Khalsa) still remains…”

It is interesting that the Ten Gurus of Sikhism spanned an epoch of India’s recent history that coincided with the Moghal dynasty. Guru Nanak was imprisoned by the invader Babur, the first Moghal. And Guru Gobind Singh faced off with Aurangzeb, who died rather pathetically shortly thereafter. The Last Guru was called Sacha Patshah (The True Emperor) by Indians at that time, while Aurangzeb isn’t.

It is just 24 verses, the Guru boldly declares the facts of time, and is still advising and admonishing Aurangzeb. Its remarkable that, having just escaped against overwhelming odds from a siege and assassination attempt, the Guru was able to write – in verse no less! – to his persecutor and the murderer of his father and sons, with words of wisdom and warning. He was still willing to meet with the old Moghal and accept his apologies. There can be no doubt who is Guru here.

به نام خداوند تیغ و تبر
خداوند تیر و سنان سپر
be naam e khodaavand e tegh o tabar / khodaavand e teer o sanaan o separ!

1. In the Name of the Lord of the sword and shield! Lord of arrow, battleaxe and spear!

خداوند مردان جنگ آزما
خداوند اسپان پا در هوا
khodaavand e mardaan e jang-aazmaa / khodaavand e aspaan paa dar havaa!

2. Lord of those men that try the test of battle! Lord of their horses that fly through the air!

همان کو ترا پادشاهی بداد
بما دولت دین پناهی بداد
hamaan koo toraa paadshaahi bedaad / bemaa dowlat e deen-panaahi bedaad!

3. The same Lord that granted you a material kingdom, To me He entrusted the protection of the Dharma.

ترا ترک تازی با مکر و ریا
مرا چاره سازی با صدق و صفا
toraa Tork-Taazi ba makr o riyaa / maraa chaareh-saazi ba sedq o safaa!

4. Whereas you engaged in plunder by deceit and hypocrisy, To me was left the responsibility of creating the Way of truth and purity!

[Note: The word Tork-Taazi, which literally means “Turk-Arab” in Farsi, but is a term used to mean plunder and vandalism, pillage and rape in that language.]

نه زیبد ترا نام اورنگزیب
ز اورنگزیبان نه یابد فریب
na zeebad toraa naam e Aurangzeb / ze aurangzeebaan na yaabad fareeb!

5. The name “Aurangzeb” does not befit you, Since one doesn’t find fraud in that which is supposed to bring “honor to the throne”!

تسبیحات از شجه و رشته بیش
کزان دانه سازی وزان دام خویش
tasbeehat az shojeh o reshteye beesh / kazaan daaneh saazi vazaan daam e kheesh!

6. Your rosary is nothing more than tangled beads and thread, With every movement of your beads you only expand your snare of entanglements!

[Note: Here the Guru is referring to the test of sanity of will and purpose. It is an inferred fact that Aurangzeb would have not been able to experience any peace and bliss in his tasbeeh (japa), even if he carried one wherever he went. He may have clung to it for a sense of security, but there was no immediate experience of bliss in it, nor any clarity and ability gained from it. For Aurangzeb, the Holy Name was a co-dependency. For the Guru, it was a relationship based on pan-determinism.

A dharmaarthic system should foster pan-determinism between individual contributors, not co-dependency on or between elites and subjects.]

تو خاک پدر را با کردار زشت
با خون برادر بدادی سرشت
to khaak e pedar ra ba kerdaar e zesht / ba khoon e baraadar bedaadi seresht!

7. Your nature and disposition is from your grisly deeds, Moulded by the dust of your father and the blood of your brothers.

وزان خانه خام کردی بنا
برای در دولت خویش را
vazaan khaaneye khaam kardi banaa / baraaye dar e dowlat e kheesh ra!

8. And from that (by imprisoning your father and murdering your brothers) you have laid a weak foundation for your kingdom.

من اکنون با افضال پرش اکال
کنم ز آب آهن چنان برشگال
man aknoon ba afzaal e Purush e Akaal / konam ze aab e aahan chonaan barshgaal

9. “Now by the grace of the Eternal Oversoul (Akaal Purush), I have made the water of steel (Amrit for my warriors) which will fall upon you like a torrent.”

که هرگز از آن چاردیوار شوم
نشانی نماند بر این پاک بوم
ke hargiz az aan chaardeevaar e shoom / neshaani namaanad bar een paak boom!

10. And with this torrent your sinister castle will vanish from this holy land without a trace!

ز کوه دکن تشنه کام آمدی
ز میوار هم تلخ جام آمدی
ze kooh e dakkan teshneh-kaam aamadi / ze mewaar ham talkh e jaam aamadi

11. You came thirsty (defeated) from the mountains of Deccan; the Rajputs of Mewar have also made you drink the bitter cup (of defeat).

[Note: Throughout the ten-generation span of the Gurus, they took a pan-Indic view in terms of political and social mobilization, and even the panj-piare came from all parts and strata of society. In ideological and spiritual terms, they took a global view, as Guru Nanak did.]

بر این سو چون اکنون نگاهت رود
که آن تلخی و تشنگی ات رود
bar een soo chon aknoon negaahat ravad / ke aan talkhi o teshnegee at ravad

12. Now you are casting your sight towards this side (the Punjab). Here also your thirst will remain unquenched.

چنان آتش زیر نعلت نهم
ز پنجاب آبت نه خوردن دهم
chonaan aatash e zeer n’al at naham / ze panjaab aabat na khordan daham

13. I will put fire under your feet when you come to the Punjab and I will not let you even drink water here.

چه شد گر شغال با مکر و ریا
همین کشت دو بچه شیر را ؟
che shod gar shaghaal ba makr o riyaa / hameen kosht do bacheye sher ra?

14. What is so great if a jackal kills two cubs of a tiger by deceit and cunning?

چون شیر ژیان زنده ماند همی
ز تو انتقام ستاند همی
chon sher e zhiyaan zendeh maanad hamee / ze to enteqaam setaanad hamee!

15. Since that formidable tiger is still alive, he will definitely extract revenge on you!

نه دیگر گرایم با نام خدا ات
که دیدم خدا و کلام خدا ات
na deegar garaayam ba naam e khodaat / ke deedam khodaa va kalaam e khodaat!

16. I no longer trust you or your ‘God’ since I have now seen your ‘God’ as well as his Word.

با سوگند تو اعتبار نه ماند
مرا جز با شمشیر کار نه ماند
ba saugand e to e’tebaar na maanad / maraa joz ba shamsheer kaar na maanad

17. I do not trust your oaths any more and now there is no other way for me except to take up the sword.

توی گرگ باران کشیده اگر
نهم نیز شیر ظ دام بدر
tuye gorg e baaraan kesheedeh agar / naham neez sher ze daam bedar

18. If you are an old fox, I, too, will keep my tigers out of your snare.

اگر باز گفت و شنیدت با ماست
نمایم ترا جاده پاک و راست
agar baaz goft o shoneedat ba maast / namaayam toraa jaadeye paak o raast

19. If you come to me for detailed and frank talks, I shall show you the path of purity and truthfulness.

به میدان دو لشکر صف آرایی شوند
ز دوری به هم آشکارا شوند
be maidaan do lashkar saf-araee shavand / ze doori be ham aashkaaraa shavand

20. Let the forces from both sides array in the battlefield at such a distance that they are visible to each other.

میان هر دو ماند دو فرسنگ راه
جون آراسته گردد این رزمگاه
miyaan e har do maanad do farsang e raah / chon aaraasteh gardad een razm-gaah

21. The battle field should be arranged decoratively in such a manner that both the forces should be separated by a reasonable distance (of two furlongs).

از آن پس در آن ارصه کارزار
من آیم به نزد تو با دو سوار
az aan pas dar aan arseye kaarzaar / man aayam be nazd e to ba do savaar

22. Then I will advance in the battle field for combat with your forces along with two of my riders.

تو از ناز و نعمت ثمر خورده
ز جنگی جوانان نه بر خورده
to az naaz o ne’mat samar khordeh / ze jangi javaanaan na bar khordeh

23. So far you have been enjoying the fruits of a cosy and comfortable life but haven’t yet collided with fierce warriors (in the battle field).

به میدان بیا خود با تیغ و تبر
مکن خلق خلاق زیر و زبر
be maidaan biyaa khod ba tegh o tabar / makon khalq e khalaaq zir o zebar

24. Now come into the battle field with your weapons and stop tormenting the people who are the creation of the Lord.

According to internal Moghal reports, Aurangzeb was old and senile by this time. He had been a fratricidal bigot who acted on the encouragement of a jealous priesthood hardened by ethnic and theological differences. Apparently, he could not tell the difference between Dharma and Adharma, and so his sense of duty was imbued with this lack of ethical discrimination. He dies in the hope of redemption, and had even apologized and invited the Guru to come see him on his deathbed. Here is his last will and testament (link):

“Praise to be God and blessing on those servants [of Him] who have become sanctified and have given satisfaction [to Him]. I have some [instructions to leave as my] last will and testament:

FIRST – on behalf of this sinner sunk in iniquity [i.e. myself] cover [with an offering of cloth and capital] the holy tomb of Hasan (on him be peace), because those who are drowned in the ocean of sin have no other protection except seeking refuge with that Portal of Mercy and Forgiveness.

SECOND – Four Rupees and two annas, out of the price of the caps sewn by me, are with Aia Bega, the mahaldar. Take the amount and spend it on the shroud of this helpness creature. Three hundred and five Rupees, from the wages of copying the Quran, are in my purse for personal expense. Distribute them to the faqirs on the day of my death.

THIRD – Take the remaining necessaries [of my funeral] from the agent of Prince Alijah; as he is the nearest heir among my sons, and on him lies the responsibility for the lawful or unlawful [practices at my funeral]; this helpless person (i.e. Aurangzeb) is not answerable for them, because the dead are in the hands of the survivors.

FOURTH – Bury this wanderer in the Valley of Deviation from the Right Path with his head bare, because every ruined sinner who is conducted bare-headed before the Grand Emperor (i.e. God), is sure to be an object of mercy.

FIFTH – Cover the top of the coffin on my bier with the coarse white cloth gazi. Avoid the spreading of a canopy and uncanonical innovations like [processions of] musicians and the celebration of the Prophet’s Nativity (maulud)

SIXTH – It is proper for the ruler of the kingdom (i.e. my heir) to treat kindly the helpless servants who in the train of this shameless creature [Aurangzeb] have been roving in the deserts and wilderness [of the Deccan]. Even if any manifest fault is committed by them, give them in return for it gracious forgiveness and benign overlooking [of the fault].

[SEVENTH, EIGHT, NINTH – His assessment of the Irani, Turani, and the Saiyid nobles and his advice how to treat them keeping in mind their qualities and weaknesses.]

TENTH – As far as possible the ruler of a kingdom should not spare himself from moving about; he should avoid staying in one place, which outwardly gives him repose but in effect brings on a thousand calamities and troubles.

ELEVENTH – Never trust your sons, nor treat them during your lifetime in an intimate manner, because, if the Emperor Shah Jahan had not treated Dara Shukoh in this manner, his affairs would not have come to such a sorry pass. Ever keep in view the saying, ‘The words of a king are barren’.

TWELFTH – The main pillar of government is to be well informed in the news of the kingdom. Negligence for a single moment becomes the cause of disgrace for long years. The escape of the wretch Shiva took place through [my] carelessness, and I have to labour hard [against the Marathas] to the end of my life, [as the result of it].

Twelve is blessed [among numbers]. I have concluded with twelve directions. (Verse).
“If you learn [the lesson], a kiss on your wisdom.

If you neglect it, then alas! alas!”

Ahkam-i-Alamgir, (Eng. Tr. J.N. Sarkar, Text in Ir. Ms. 8b-10a).

There is another will of Aurangzeb in India Office Library MS.1344 p.49b (Sarkar, Aurangzeb, Vol.V, 201). Its chief interest lies in the suggested method of partitioning the empire among his three surviving sons.

Continue reading “Last Will of Guru Gobind and Emperor Aurangzeb”

Chandrayaan 2; if at first you don’t succeed..

… try, try again

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is the crown jewel of India’s applied science and engineering institutions, having developed reliable satellite launching capabilities as well the ability to pull off “first world” space missions of great complexity and ingenuity. After a string of recent successes, including the innovative Mangalyaan mission to Mars, the agency planned to land on the South polar region of the moon and use a locally developed rover (Pragyan) to explore the lunar surface and carry out various experiments. This mission (Chandrayaan 2) was initially conceived as a joint mission with Russia and was approved by the UPA govt led by Dr Manmohan Singh in 2008. The Russians later dropped out of the project (they were mainly responsible for developing the landing vehicle that would travel from the orbiter in lunar orbit down to the lunar surface), so ISRO decided to go ahead with the mission on their own. Given ISRO’s recent successes and the rising tide of Indian Nationalism (and the generally science-illiterate level of Indian media) the mission generated intense hype within India, but with very little communication to the general public of the extremely difficult technical challenges that have to be overcome to successfully land a vehicle on the moon (and the significant risk of failure, even in the best run missions).

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Unfortunately, the Vikram Lander did run into trouble and appears to have crashed onto the moon after something went wrong in the last stages of its descent to the lunar surface. Given the complexity of the technological challenges (first and foremost, the fact that it is too far from the earth to be controlled by ground engineers on earth, it has to do the job autonomously) this is not a totally unexpected outcome (per my technology-literate fellow blogger @kaeshour the probability of success was 40%). As the saying goes, “space is hard” , failures unfortunately happen with some regularity and have happened in every space program. Still, it was heartbreaking to see the disappointment on the face of the ISRO scientists as the lander lost contact with the earth and a nation of over a billion people faced deep disappointment after tremendous hype had been built up around the mission. (as an aside, the mission is far from a complete failure. The lunar orbiter is in orbit around the moon, conducting experiments as intended and will continue to do so for many years. It remains to be seen if anything is still functional on the lander)

ISRO itself is a very professional organization and will no doubt continue its stellar work, but even the hype around the mission does not have to end in disappointment and disillusionment. Instead it is likely that the last minute loss will itself become a vehicle for “soft power” phenomena including everything from a greater interest in science and engineering to a paradoxical renewal of national pride and unity (e.g. someone on my twitter feed described the video of PM Modi hugging a weeping ISRO chairman as a boost to Indian asabiya; I can see why that may be so). The loss was followed by messages of support and appreciation for the fact that India could conceive, create and almost successfully carry out a mission of such complexity and difficulty (the exception being the science minister of Pakistan, who managed to set new records of boorishness and idiocy in his twitter feed)

Be that as it may, the topic of the Indian space program always brings up a few recurrent critical memes, and this setback may see a few of those resurface as well. One is the question of whether a poor country such as India should be spending money on a space program. The other is a relatively new one: that the “Hindu Nationalist” government of Narendra Modi uses space achievements as a means to boost “toxic nationalism”. As is usually the case, the two memes have merged in some cases to create what one may call the “New York Times style guide to writing about the Indian space program” (though to be fair in its latest article the NYT has managed to soften the “poor Indians wasting money on space” theme and devoted only one sentence to Mr Modi’s “muscular nationalism”). How valid are these criticisms?

The first one can be broken down into questions: 1. What good is a space program? and 2. How much should country X spend on a space program?

Q1 is easy to answer. A space program is not some sort of purely symbolic act of “conspicuous consumption”. Space is now an industry worth 100s of billions of dollars, with vast applications in communications, mapping, scientific research, military use, entertainment, etc. It is not like a statue or a monument whose only worth comes from its symbolism (and even that is something all human societies do, as an essential component of “soft power” and the building of group identity, etc). There is no question about the fact that earth orbit applications are now a routine part of our economic and scientific life, so there can be no question about the fact that someone needs to have a space program, though everyone may not be in a position to participate. Further out (the moon, mars, the sun, and beyond) the question becomes a little trickier, but quite apart from spinoff engineering applications (not trivial in itself), the purely scientific merit of these efforts is considerable. There is a very real (but very hard to quantify and analyze) human urge to know, to explore, to do what has never been done. It is this urge that has led humans from the African savannah  to the moon and beyond and whatever some naysayers may say about it, it is a part of human nature, and it not a trivial part. Nerds across the world will not need convincing on this account, but it extends beyond the nerdsphere and is really a part of all of us and I see no reason to deny it.

Q2 is trickier, but the first thing to keep in mind is that nation states are aggregate entities and a large country with many poor people still possesses far more resources at govt level than a small country with rich people. Pakistan has a space program, but Lichtenstein does not, even though on a per capita basis Lichtendstein is orders of magnitude richer than Pakistan. Costa Rica is better off than Brazil, but Brazil has a space program and Costa Rica does not. This is natural and perfectly expected. India is a country with far too many poor people, but it is also a HUGE country, with a 2.5 trillion dollar economy. It can afford a space program. How much it should spend on that program is open to debate, but it is hard to say that it spends too much at this time. People will go further and say the most ridiculous things about this; i remember reading an article somewhere many years ago where the writer asked if 10,000 (or whatever) engineers and scientists at ISRO would not be better employed building toilets in a country with so much open defecation. This is so silly it does not need to be discussed much further (anyone who seriously thinks the engineers of ISRO could be sent to build toilets in Indian villages, and that this would be a good use of their talents, is not someone you want to waste time debating; leaving aside the fact that building these toilets is already a huge project in India and does not need help form ISRO), but we can agree that how much gets spend on ISRO is a valid debate. My own view is that it is, if anything, not enough, but others can have different opinions. Whatever opinion they have, it would be useful to look at this not in isolation as “ISRO vs Toilets” but as just one component in a huge Indian national budget, in which huge chunks are wasted on items much less useful (practically and symbolically) than ISRO.

The criticism that space projects are a way to promote “jingoistic nationalism” may have some merit to it, but not much. We can (I hope) agree on the everyday usefulness of the broader space program, but high risk moonshots and trips to Mars have less immediate practical returns; so it can be argued that the scientific research projects (which are sometimes of no immediate economic benefit) should be left to richer nations to pursue. But there is a huge “soft power” aspect of this and the most important returns may not be the jingoistic nationalism ones (though these obviously exist as well). In a country like India, these events play a huge (but hard to quantify?) role in promoting scientific literacy, the image of working women,  a culture of engineering excellence, innovation and creativity. That alone would be worth the price of such a mission (in this case, under 200 million dollars, i.e. 2-3 Rafale aircraft?). But coming to the nationalism issue, what is really being said here is that the writer does not approve of this particular nationalism. I doubt if even one Marxist-Leninist in the world failed to feel pride and joy at the launch of Sputnik. I am confident that none of them wrote op-eds asking why Russia is investing billions in space when so many of their own citizens cannot even afford their own one room apartment. The question is really about whether the writer likes the Modi govt (or India as a whole) or not. Now there are good reasons to be critical of the BJP govt in India, but my point is that 1. this is about India, Indian science and Indian pride and does not have to be about the Modi govt. 2. The “soft power” benefits of this particular project (science awareness and ambitions in India, higher standards for Indian engineering, science, organization and institutions) are more than just “muscular nationalism”. 3. “Muscular nationalism” itself is a feature of this world of nation states. Russia, America, China, Pakistan, everyone does it. The hippie in me is wary of all of them, but no more wary of the Indian variety than any other. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. People who do not criticize Russian, Chinese, American or XYZ space programs being used as nationalist symbols should apply the same standards to India, nothing more, nothing less. That means those who are critical of ALL these programs (and such people exist and are frequently sincere and well meaning people) should carry on, everyone else can shut up.

Personally, I think it was a great effort and much of it succeeded (that orbiter is still going around the moon, and will be for years to come); unfortunately the lander failed, but such things happen. Better luck next time..

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One and the same be your resolve, and be your minds of one accord.
United be the thoughts of all, that all may happily agree. (Rig Veda, last mantra)

An Extension for General Bajwa

Commentary by Dr Hamid Hussain

30 August 2019
I fully understand limitations of retired senior officers.  We used to have some eccentric ones who would not care about consequences when advocating for the professionalism of their own institution.  Now, the silence is deafening.   Bless the British who instilled a sense of professionalism in officer corps that has taken a big hit in successor Indian and Pakistani armies. The most scathing criticism came from Lieutenant General Nathu Singh of Indian army who said, “I have not known a British officer who placed his own interests before his country’s, and I have hardly known any Indian officer who did not”.
It is left to some of us to bring mirror into the room; indeed, a heavy burden.  When I heard the announcement of General Bajwa’s extension, I recalled two couplets of Urdu poet Ahmad Faraz (for those who understand Urdu);
Ghurur-e-ja’an ko merey ya’ar baich detey hein​ (My friends sell the honor of their beloved)​
Qaba ki hirs mein dastar baich detey hein​ (​Just the way to get themselves a fancy dress, they wold sell their honor too)
Ye loog kiya hein, jo do cha’ar kwahishoon key liye​ 
Tama’am umar ka pindar baich detey hein
(After all who are these people​, who sell their life’s pride for a few crumbs)
Hamid

Extension Business

By Hamid Hussain

‘Power lies in the hands of those who control the means of violence.  It lies in the barrel of a gun, fired or silent’. 

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced three years extension of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.  This has nothing to do with national security.  Army Chief using the power of his institution to favor one political group to come to power and Imran Khan paying back the favor.  My view about extension has been very clear that it is very bad for the army as well as the country.  Maneuvers about extension usually start quite early and few months ago many interested in Pakistan army asked me this question.  I gave my view in the following paragraph written about two months ago:

“2019 looks more like 2007.  General Pervez Mussharraf had come under criticism from different quarters of society and in the process army’s reputation was sullied.  Change of command provided an exit.  General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani slowly consolidated his command by sidelining old guard and then convincing all players that army has turned a page.  The possible exit for army is change of command in November 2019.  However, personal interests of three key players; Prime Minister Imran Khan, army chief General Bajwa and DGISI Faiz Hamid now converge where extension of General Bajwa is being seriously considered.  1-3 year extension will serve all three parties. Bajwa to enjoy few more years of private jet and being the master gamekeeper at the national park.  Imran Khan will be seriously thinking about giving him an extension to make sure that an unknown factor does not come into equation.  Imran is faced with enormous challenges.  However, he has not been able to put his house in order.  Rising economic woes and diverse opposition groups coming closer can cause many headaches.  Having army brass in his corner is important to weather any storm.  He would prefer to continue with known entity than venture into unchartered territory.  In case of three years extension, Faiz will be among top contenders in 2022.  After 18-24 months as DGISI, Bajwa can appoint him Corps Commander to make him eligible for the top slot.  I’m not in favor of any extension but especially in case of Bajwa, negative fallout for army is manifold.  Army is seen no more as a neutral body and extreme polarization of Pakistani polity is now directly affecting army as institution.” 

General Bajwa did not just walk into Prime Minister’s office to demand an extension of his tenure.  This is done in a way where circumstances are created and messages from briefings and body language are conveyed.  It is not a secret that army brass has made a strategic decision to give two terms to Imran Khan and General Bajwa is a fan of Imran Khan.  It was not in Imran Khan’s interest to inject an unknown factor in the game by appointing a new army chief.  General Bajwa had put his own ducks in a row for this outcome by using promotions and postings of senior officers.  In his interactions with British and American interlocuters, Bajwa conveyed the point that he is the man for the hour.  The buzz word was ‘continuity’.  The promise to British was continued quite along the Line of Control (LOC) and to Americans full support to Doha process for the snake pit of Afghanistan.  These are policies of the institution and the right course in current circumstances, but a Chief can present it in a way where he can carve out something for himself (General Kayani in his more than a dozen bonhomie meetings with American Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and General Raheel actively working on his own post-retirement lucrative package are two recent examples).  There was possibility that former army chief General (R) Raheel Sharif would complete his three years of assignment in Saudi Arabia and General Bajwa could follow him with a very lucrative post-retirement contract.  This door was closed when Prince Muhammad Bin Salman gave Raheel a three years extension as we are in extension season.  Now the only option for ‘indispensible’ officer was extension. Continue reading “An Extension for General Bajwa”

Book Review: The 1965 War by Shaukat Riza

From Major Amin

  1. THE PAKISTAN ARMY –WAR 1965 MAJOR GENERAL SHAUKAT RIZA (RETD) –ARMY EDUCATION PRESS 1984-309 PAGES , MAPS AND PHOTOGRAPHS Reviewed by Major Agha H Amin (Retired)
  2. This book was the first official effort to record military history of 1965 war. Major General Shaukat Riza an artillery officer dabbled in military writing and had penned many articles and military papers etc. He was described as a soft spoken gentle man who did not take kindly to being ordered to carry out ruthless action against civilians thus his removal from 9 Divisions command in 1971 in East Pakistan. On the other hand Brigadier Amjad Chaudhry when I met him in 1977-78 described him as not getting along well with major general abrar in the staff college in 1967-68 while serving as chief instructor. In addition he had a long record of having served as an instructor at various army schools of instruction including the prestigious command and staff college. The first major attempt at writing the 1965 war history was made by Brigadier Amjad Ali Khan Chaudhry whose book on 1965 war was published in 1977. Shaukat Rizas book was officially sponsored and he was provided access to all records.
  3. However as all official publications are , the book was doctored and sanitized and the author did not enjoy the right to critical analysis. The book nevertheless has great value. First it contains almost all major orders of battles of all major formations . Second it gives a clear picture of major events of the war. Third it manages to give insights about some most decisive battles of the 1965 war. Most interesting battle of Gadgor where Shaukat Riza described how clueless the 24 Brigade commander was when the Indian 1st Armoured Division broke in and all he could say was “ Nisar, Do Something”.
  4. Brigadier Shaukat Riza’s analysis of Operation Grand Slam is also reasonably critical.  where he faults 12 Division with bad handling of artillery and dispersing artillery fire. He totally misses out how armour was divided by 12 Division on first day of the war thus leading to failure although B Squadron 11 Cavalry had reached Chhamb at Tawi River at 0830 Hours in the morning. However with regard to change of command it appears that major general shaukat riza was forced to give legitimacy to the post 1965 pakistan army whitewash, i.e that change of command of operation grand slam was pre planned and not a surprise as was mostly believed. His treatment of Pakistan Armys First Armoured Division attack is critical and incisive.He admits that whole 4 cavalry. was captured by the Indians .Further he admits that there was much exaggeration of enemy strength in the reporting of armoured division commanders at various levels. When he describes how various brigades of Pakistans 1st armoured division were ordered left and right away from the scene of attack he hints at a Pakistan Army general headquarters deeply afflicted and paralysed by supreme indecision, vacillation and irresolution.
  5. The maps of the book are weak in details of what actually happened merely showing topgraphic details while what formations actually did is left to the readers imagination. However when we received this book via the army book club in 1985-86 this was a revolutionary development as till that time censorship had deeply plagued the cause of military history in Pakistan. Much blame of the failure was passed to ZA Bhutto while Generals Ayub and Musa were presented as innocent bystander pure maidens !
  6. One must admit that the general was handicapped by too many cooks doctoring his book and practicing sycophancy with the usurper and dictator zia , at the height of his power. Even General Mc Chrystal confessed that his book was subjected to some kind of official censorship and sanitization. This is the cost of becoming generals in any army where a man has to compromise over many things . As Sir Francis Bacon brilliantly summed it up , men gain dignities through indignities.
  7.  Major General Saeeduz Zaman Janjua many times recounted how even General Asif Nawaz , although his close relative , had to be obsequious and flexible with his seniors , as a brigadier and major general , failing which he would not have been promoted. Particularly he recounted a situation where a very senior officers son was caught cheating in the Pakistan Military Academy and General Asif Nawaz had to stop at relegation while the minimum punishment was withdrawal from the academy. This is how the world moves and only those who compromise and submit climb high in the so called systems or hierarchies. A man with no war record but one who was all in all in Pakistan of 1984.A sad year like George Orwells book 1984.
  8.  The book ignores how badly Pakistan Army was organized with formations like 12 Division holding an area of responsibility occupied by some five Indian divisions. What stopped Ayub Khan from raising 5 more divisional headquarters in 12 Division area of responsibility. At least this book gave us some idea about what had happened and a skeleton structure to construct a more detailed picture. His two later books Pakistan Army 1947- 59 and Pakistan Army 1966-71 were also similarly handicapped by censorship and sanitization by the Pakistan Army GHQ but more of this in subsequent book reviews.

Continue reading “Book Review: The 1965 War by Shaukat Riza”