The Ram Mandir Verdict in India. From Dr Hamid Hussain

From Dr Hamid Hussain. Dr Hamid is what might be described as a “secular” or “liberal” Muslim. These are his personal thoughts on the Ram Mandir judgement.

11 November 2019

 Someone had sent me excerpts of Spinoza’s God a day before the Indian supreme court verdict.  I was pondering over those words when I was asked about my comments.  Following was the result and all credit goes to Spinoza.

“If you are desirous of obtaining a great name, of becoming the founder of a sect or establishment, be completely mad; but be sure that your madness corresponds with the turn and temper of your age.  Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagances, and to not forget to be excessively opinionated and obstinate.  It is certainly possible that you may get hanged; but if you escape hanging, you will have altars erected to you”.   Voltaire (1698-1778)

 Regards,

Hamid

 Babri Mosque Verdict

Hamid Hussain

 “The toughest kind of forgiveness is self-forgiveness and the road that leads to it is a lonely one but is also where mad meets the divine”.  (1) 

On November 09, 2019, Indian Supreme Court announced its judgment about the long standing dispute between Hindus and Muslims about a religious site in Ayodhya. Muslims claim that a mosque has been at this place since sixteenth century.  Hindus claim that it was built on the site of a Hindu temple.  The place has been locked since 1949 for fear of threat to public order.  On 06 December 1992, a Hindu mob demolished the mosque resulting in riots that resulted in death of over 2000 people.  After a three decades court battle, court awarded the site to Hindus to build a temple explaining that the sixteenth century mosque was built on the ruins of a Hindu temple. Continue reading “The Ram Mandir Verdict in India. From Dr Hamid Hussain”

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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”

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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”

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Pebbles dropped in the Brownpundits pond

a bumpy ride from the void, geographically and legally envisioned, via strategy to complexity and fiction, winding up in Rushdie territory with his Quichotte

Just a few odds and ends that spark, I suppose, evens and beginnings.

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The Mandarin, The rocky road to reconciliation in Australia

the British declare Australia terra nullius, a place belonging to no one. The land is most definitely not a ‘null’, but the doctrine of terra nullius is a convenient legal cover for theft on a colossal scale.

Terra nullius — is that the legal equivalent of a cartographer’s here there be dragons?

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Also a nullius matter?

Moot for real or mootness as gamesmanship?” the legendary Supreme Court correspondent Linda Greenhouse asked in The New York Times.

That’s from Garrett Epps, ‘The Supreme Court Is Not Well. And the People Know It.’ in the Atlantic.

A moot law is a null law, surely. But though both are fascinating, neither one addresses the viod plenum which so interests me. Still..

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Continuing my meander through one level of abstraction above regular reality..

WOTR, THE GREAT DUALITY AND THE FUTURE OF THE ARMY: DOES TECHNOLOGY FAVOR THE OFFENSIVE OR DEFENSIVE?

In war, firepower favors the defensive and maneuver favors the offensive.

Hm. Assuming this is common knowledge, having two doctrines is one thing — but how many generals have two mindsets, and can switch between them as appropriate. I’m hoping some of our strategy buffs will weigh in here. This is abstract enough to catch my eye, but war is gritty enough that even strategic thinking comes with trench mud and blood attached.

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A Brexit madman or master bluffer? What’s behind Boris Johnson’s suspension of UK Parliament

Game theory – the study of strategy and decision making – offers some clues. In the language of game theory, Johnson faces a serious “credibility” problem. He needs to convince the various players in the Brexit game – including the EU as a whole, Ireland, MPs in the House of Commons, the public and businesses – that he will indeed have the UK leave the EU, if need be, without a deal in place, on the October deadline.

Currently, many of these players do not truly believe that he would – perhaps informed by the inaction of the government of Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, or the high stakes involved of leaving without a deal.

Hm, a governmental void as strategy.

That excerpt offers a neat illustration of why human decision-making is so complex and, by extension, fallible

It also illustrates the utility of a HipBone-variant game board for carrying the voices of multiple stakeholders in mind at once — a polyphony (multiple voices) in counterpoint (point counter point) —

Time, clipping the wings of possibility, increases tension at a decision fork where, as another Channel News Asia article also notes, Britain is in its “deepest crisis in living memory”.

Okay:

Complexity? the national and international interests, personal interests, thoughts, and feelings of all participants, as above. How good is Boris Johnson at evaluating all those influences?

After a long period of digestion, I’m willing to believe a novelist or TV showrunner might be able to capture the web of influences involved. But that’s after the fact, after the fork — after fatal decisions have been made. And we call them fatal both because they produce fatalities, and because the Fates, the Moirae spin them.

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For instance:

To face a people and catch its characteristics as if being confronted by just one person is practically impossible especially when the intention is to give an admonition… or suggest a way to govern it. It is much safer to rely on literature, on the way writers have represented her life, her way of being, the constant mobility of her reality and the variety present in the characters described.

That’s from an account of Sicily and its Mafia connections, but the novel offering access to the understanding of a people by means of the interplay of characters..?

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Meanwhile right here at Brownpundits..

Dr Hamid Hussain, An Extension for General Bajwa

: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”

That’s quite a tribute —

the master gamekeeper at the national park

Just for the phrasing..

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& finally:

somewhere between a pinball machine and a three-dimensional game of snakes and ladders

That’s not a description of goepolitical life in the Presidency of Trump, it’s praise for Salman Rushdie‘s upcoming novel
, upcoming my way at least, I hope, Quichotte

Enough!

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DoubleQuoting Myanmar and Assam..

It’s the first quote that carries the implication of genocide, but what of the rest?

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It’s not a joke, is it? Myanmar..

The United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention warns of certain indicators that “provide an environment conducive to the commission of atrocity crimes,” including “increased politicization of identity” and discriminatory “measures or legislation” targeting protected groups. In addition to certain prohibited acts, such as killing members of a group, genocidal States often use legal and administrative tools to facilitate the destruction of a targeted group “in whole or in part.”

In Myanmar, successive governments have implemented measures and legislation to erase Rohingya Muslims’ identity and rights, creating an enabling environment for genocide.

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It’s not a joke, is it? Assam..

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today expressed his concern over the publication of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) that may put large numbers of people in India’s north-eastern state of Assam at risk of becoming stateless.

It is too early to say what the nationality status of those left off the National Register, some 1.9 million according to the authorities, may ultimately be. UNHCR is concerned, however, that many are at risk of statelessness if they do not possess another nationality.

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That’s a DoubleQuote — but it’s also pattern recognition, and the start of a possible concatenation of such quotes — a mala of urgencies.

BTW, it’s more than possible, as Myanmar >> Bangladesh migration illustrates, that mass migration across national borders may be a pragmatic alternative to genocide — but that threatens national sovereignty, doesn’t it?

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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”

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Obituary: Brigadier Nisar Ahmed SJ

From Dr Hamid Hussain. Perhaps not of general interest on this site, but worth preserving in any case. See details of Col Nisar’s critical (and courageous) action in 1965 are added below this obituary.

Obituary – Brigadier ® Nisar Ahmad Khan (28 March 1920 – 30 July 2019)

Hamid Hussain

Brigadier ® Nisar Ahmad Khan passed away on 30 July 2019 in Michigan; United States.  He was nick named ‘Kaka Nisar’.  A fine officer and gentleman who was instrumental in a very important holding action of armor in 1965 Indo-Pakistan War faded away into the fog of history.  He was born on 28 March 1920 at Bassi Pathana near Sirhind in Patiala state.  This Muslim Pathan colony was established during Mughal era.  This small Muslim enclave in a Sikh state provided soldiers to the Maharaja of Patiala.  Several generations of Nisar’s ancestors proudly served Patiala state. According to Maharaja Patiala Captain ® Amarindar Singh, Kaka Nisar was sixth generation of the family to serve Patiala state.  He followed the family tradition, joined Ist Patiala (Rajindra) Lancers and commissioned on 21 March 1943. Continue reading “Obituary: Brigadier Nisar Ahmed SJ”

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U.S.-Pakistan Re-Engagement; Hamid Hussain

From Dr Hamid Hussain

U.S.-Pakistan Re-Engagement

Hamid Hussain

 ‘Being a friend of the United States was like living on the banks of a great river.  The soil is wonderfully fertile, but every four or eight years the river changes course, and you may find yourself alone in a desert’.  General Muhammad Zia ul Haq to William Casey 1983 quoted in John E. Persico’s Casey: The Lives and Secrets of William J. Casey: From the OSS to the CIA.

 In July 2019, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and President Donald Trump met at White House that generated some headlines and as expected from every Trump encounter some controversy.  As expected, this news lasted less than twelve hours in United States and 4-5 days in Pakistan.  Life has gone back to normal.  Positive signs should be acknowledged but Pakistan should not be carried away by euphoria.  The good part is that civilian and army leadership does not have trust deficit and not undermining each other.  This alone is a breath of fresh air for Pakistan. Continue reading “U.S.-Pakistan Re-Engagement; Hamid Hussain”

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Beltway Bandits (Lobbyists and Middle East Policy), Dr Hamid Hussain

From Dr Hamid Hussain.

Last few years I have been working on horizontal and vertical spread of conflict in the Middle East.  This is first of the series looking at each player.  This one was the outcome of my own trips to Washington every few months to get some feel of beltway currents. I have no specific insight but want to provide some glimpses of the issues facing the region.

Hamid

Beltway Battles 

Hamid Hussain

“I have had lobbyists, and I have had some very good ones.  They could do anything.”  Donald Trump

In United States, domestic and foreign entities engage in lobbying at federal and state levels to promote their interests.  In the last few years, many Arab countries have increased their lobbying efforts in Washington to promote their interests.  In 2017, open conflict between Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain on the other has spilled over into international arenas. In Washington, these efforts are multi-faceted including marshalling support of large businesses, think tanks, universities, legislators and public policy influencers.  

The meteoric rise of a 30-year-old previously unknown royal family member to the dizzying height and sidelining of the old hands of Royal family in Saudi Arabia changed power dynamics inside the kingdom. This resulted in some competition even in Washington.  Crown Prince and interior minister Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef hired a lobbying firm run by a Trump campaign advisor Robert Stryk.  The firm was paid $5.4 million to make inroads into new administration.  However, in June 2017 when Muhammad Bin Nayef was removed from his positions and Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) elevated as Crown Prince, the deal ended.  MBS alienated many royal family members but for international image, he used others.  Old hand and once a long-time ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar Bin Sultan quickly changed his direction and lined up behind MBS.  During MBS visit to United States, Bandar was at hand to bring in his old contacts.  Bandar’s daughter Princess Reema provided the soft and feminine face for the new regime on international circuit defending royal family in Washington and Davos.  Full brother and close confidant of MBS Prince Khalid Bin Salman was appointed ambassador to Washington.  Saudi embassy chose an American raised and educated Saudi-American Fatima Baeshen as its spokeswoman.  She had previously worked at a pro Saudi think tank Arabia Foundation run by a former banker Ali Shihabi.  (Bloomberg Businessweek, 26 April 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-26/saudi-arabia-reboots-its-washington-lobbying-blitz) Continue reading “Beltway Bandits (Lobbyists and Middle East Policy), Dr Hamid Hussain”

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In memoriam: Brigadier (retd) Asad Munir.

From Dr Hamid Hussain. I would add that I interacted with Brigadier Munir on social media and found him always polite, inquisitive and open to many different points of view. We had talked about meeting the next time I was in Islamabad, but sadly that will not happen as Brig. Munir took his own life on March 15th (and blamed harassment by the National Accountability Bureau in a suicide note). Rest in peace. Very very sad news.

Brigadier ® Asad Munir

Hamid Hussain

 In early hours of March 15, 2019, Brigadier (R) Asad Munir committed suicide. In his suicide note, he mentioned harassment by National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Thus, extinguished the flicker of light of a fine officer and gentleman.  I have known Asad for about ten years when in 2009 he contacted me.  Few years ago, I spent a whole day with him at his apartment in Islamabad where he committed suicide. We periodically interacted and discussed issues of regional security. On my last visit to Pakistan in 2018, due to my hectic schedule, I could not meet him. 

 Asad joined Ist Special Short Course (SSC) of Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) and commissioned in 1972 in Baluch Regiment. He commanded an infantry Brigade where his division commander was General Pervez Musharraf.  The other brigade commander under Musharraf was late Major General Amir Faisal Alvi (Alvi was assassinated in Islamabad in November 2008).  Asad served as head of Military Intelligence (MI) of North West Frontier Province now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).  Asad was close to General Ehsan ul Haq then serving as Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI). In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, there was a major shuffle of senior brass.  Ehsan was brought in as Director General Inter Service Intelligence (DGISI).  Ehsan then brought Asad as head of ISI detachment of KPK.  In this capacity, Asad was instrumental in coordinating with Americans to catch fleeing al-Qaeda leaders.  After retirement, he served as member of Capital Development Authority (CDA) Islamabad and deputy director National Accountability Bureau (NAB).  He continued his efforts about reforms in tribal areas.  In early 2018, army chief met with a dozen Pashtun retired officers including Asad for their input about reforms in tribal areas.

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Continue reading “In memoriam: Brigadier (retd) Asad Munir.”

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