Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wishing the reader a happy and prosperous 2009!

See No Evil, Just Do It

From here:

Pakistan Sees No Evil

You've got to love the Pakistani government's sense of humor, which is so vividly on display with its official position on Ajmal Amir Kasab, the surviving terrorist involved in the execution of the Mumbai terror assault.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied that Kasab is even a Pakistani, let alone a member of the Inter-Services Intelligence-backed Lashkar-e-Taiba. Even President Asif Ali Zardari, in an interview with the BBC said there is no proof Kasab is a Pakistani. "Have you seen any evidence to that effect. I have definitely not seen any real evidence to that effect," Zardari told the BBC in mid-December.

More than one month after the Mumbai attack, Pakistani National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani waffles on the issue of Kasab's nationality. "Could be," Durrani said when asked if Kasab was a Pakistani citizen. "I am not saying more than that because we don't have, I hate to say this we don't have proof."

But Pakistan has been given proof of Kasab's nationality. Kasab himself admitted he is from Pakistan and submitted a request for consular access. The request is "under review." Kasab's father and neighbors were interviewed by Pakistani television and news outlets and confirmed he was indeed from Pakistan. His own father identified him and provided a nearly identical account of his son's background as Kasab gave to Indian intelligence. "This is the truth," Kasab's father told a Pakistani news outlet. "I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal."

Pakistan's response was to cordon the village, remove Kasab's family from their home and move someone else in, and force the townspeople to retract their statements. That's humor, Pakistani style. But nuclear-armed India doesn’t think it is funny.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Islam Bibi - 4

Foreword: why the interest?
1. The mythologization of the story - no matter who is mythologizing it - is extremely interesting in its own right.
2. The justification that is made for jihad is also interesting.
3. We have the February 1947 incident which was an attempt to raise rebellion over a similar issue - return of an abducted Sikh woman to compare with.

Here is yet another version:

Faqir Epi's real name was Mirza Ali Khan. His father's name was Arsala Khan and Muhammad Ayaz Khan was his fore father. He was born in 1897 in Kirta - a small village situated near Kajhori Fort. He belonged to the family of Mada Khel Wazir's.

In February 1937 a young Pathan tribesman kidnapped a Hindu girl from a village in Bannu District. They fled to Waziristan where the girl embraced Islam and took the name of Islam Bibi, before marrying the boy; this was duly celebrated by the tribal Jirga according to their rituals. The British Resident of Waziristan and the Brigade Commander Bannu applied strong political pressure on the Torikhel and Madda Khel Waziris for the release of the Hindu girl. Next morning two companies of Tochi Scouts surrounded the village holding Islam Bibi, and a flight of fully armed RAF Audaxes circled overhead in a show of force. The tribal elders acceded to the Political Agent's plea to allow Islam Bibi to declare her decision in front of a Jirga comprising both sides. Before such a Jirga could be arranged, however, the Deputy Commissioner of Bannu, with the concurrence of the NWFP Government, somehow managed to whisk Islam Bibi and her parents away into the interior of the Punjab.


with references:
  1. Note on the Faqir of Ipi, 24 June 1937, War Office 208/773.
  2. Ibid.; Activities in Khaisora Valley. Foreign Office 371/20313-20314;
    Activities of the Faqir of Ipi: Indian Office Records L/P&S/12/3236-3237, 3192-3193, 3249, 3217-3219;
    Waziristan 1933-1938: War Office 106/5446, Foreign Office 371/24766;
    see also ELLIOTT, op. cit., 271-289;
    A. SWINSON, North-West Frontier. People and Events 1839-1947 (London 1967), 327-332;
    G. N. MOLESWORTH, Curfew on Olympus (London 1965), 115-120.

Islam Bibi - 3

Here is version 3 from someone who I believe is temporal from

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

faqir of ipi

The Faqir of Ipi

"Cherchez la femme," say the French to indicate that behind every great man is always a woman. No one would have thought that this would be true even about the Faqir of Ipi, but apparently it is. Though not in the sense that the French mean.

The name of Mirza Ali Khan, the Faqir of Ipi, conjures up memories of the Frontier's long and eventful fight against the British. It inspires both awe and respect - the mysterious man in the mountains whom few had seen, but who kept the might of the British Empire at bay.

Despite their propaganda to paint him as a charlatan and a religious bigot, the British feared him. He kept them on their toes for many years, and they were ever-vigilant to catch the elusive man who had acquired a reputation to match that of the fictional Scarlet Pimpernel. Against his sword and antiquated rifle, they brought in their cannons and even military aircraft, but he was neither subdued nor did they manage to get anywhere near his hideout in the caves of Gurwekht in North Waziristan.

Not that a woman was solely responsible for launching the Faqir of Ipi on his anti-British adventure. That would be too romantic, and, under the circumstances, too naive and simplistic to believe. He was, of course, imbued with a tremendous feeling of independence, and he found the presence of the infidel rulers galling to his free spirit as a Pukhtoon. But a woman did play a part in provoking him into a life of rebellion against the European rulers.

She was a Hindu girl who came to be known as Islam Bibi. She was born Ram Kori, the daughter of Mewa Ram and Mansa Devi, a couple living in a village in Bannu district. When she was 16, she fell in love with Noor Ali Shah, a youthful Syed of Bannu. Noor Ali was equally infatuated, and the two married after she converted to Islam and took on the name of Islam Bibi.

It seems that Mewa Ram was reconciled to this religious revolt in his family, but his wife and his father-in-law, Milap Chand, made a complaint before the Deputy Commissioner that Ram Kori's conversion had been forcibly brought about and that she should be recovered and restored to the family. The DC started proceedings and Noor Ali was charged with kidnapping a Hindu girl. Islam Bibi stated in court that she had embraced Islam of her own free will and that the marriage had taken place with her consent.

Despite these averments, she was sent back to her parents because she was found to be a minor and thus not entitled to take the vital decisions about conversion and matrimony. Her parents promptly whisked her away to a town in Punjab, where, after a ceremony to convert her back to Hinduism, she was made to marry a young Hindu man.

This episode, as it were, aroused the whole of North Waziristan and the adjoining areas into anger and indignation. This feeling was taken up by the already rebellious Pukhtoons as blatant interference by the British in a matter that pertained to an essentially religious affair of the Muslims. Since this could not be tolerated, a call for Jihad was given by the mullahs. Mirza Ali Khan had been brought up on a religious education and had taken instruction in a variety of Islamic madressahs. He had been deeply influenced by the earlier calls for Jihad made by famous mullahs, and his father had been a die-hard foe of the British. He thus inherited the noble virtues of love of liberty and self-rule. The Islam Bibi affair was like putting a lighted match in a cask of gunpowder.

After this episode, which aroused so much of the Frontier to militant action against the British, the Faqir of Ipi never relaxed. He waged a relentless war against them, killing hundreds of their men and losing hundreds of his own companions in innumerable skirmishes and even pitched battles. It was not just guerrilla fighting in the mountains. The Faqir ran a printing press in his caves in Gurwekht, and copies of his news-sheet managed to reach people in the settled areas and Peshawar. Efforts were also made by him to upgrade his weaponry, and gunsmiths from the Punjab, long settled in the Frontier, cast new cannon for him.

Even after the British left in August 1947, the Faqir could not reconcile himself to the free Muslim government, and till his death in 1962, continued to disregard it with active patronage from the then Afghan government, which was inimical to Pakistan. His role after independence is controversial. It is defended by some and deprecated by others. My purpose is not to analyze that role or whitewash or condemn the Faqir. It is only to show how the public feeling generated in the Frontier by a Hindu girl's marriage to a Muslim contributed to turn Mirza Ali Khan into the Faqir of Ipi, the most hated and feared enemy of the British in the subcontinent.

As for Islam Bibi herself, nothing is known of her new life as a reclaimed Hindu in Hoshiarpur. But something can be told about her lover and ex-husband, Noor Ali Shah. He had been convicted of "abducting" a minor girl and sentenced to three years of rigorous imprisonment. Apparently he obtained his release after 18 months, and, immediately on coming out of jail, was married off by his family.

He is reported to have spent about a year or two with his new bride, but then the yearning for his tempestuous love affair with Islam Bibi overcame his new domestic existence. One day, he quietly left home never to return. Maybe he is still looking for his lost love in Hoshiarpur in Indian Punjab. Who knows? But he was never heard from again.

Islam Bibi - 2

Here from google cache from a now-defunct page is a heavily detailed version of the Islam Bibi story:

The Tragic Case of Islam Bibi - March 1936

In the beginning of 1936, one Hindu girl namely Ram Kour (also known as Ram Kouri) of Village Jhandu Khel Bannu, fell in love with one Amir Noor Ali Shah (also known as Amir Noor), a Sayyed from the same village. The affections between them were so deep that on the night of 4 th/ 5 th March 1936 , Ram Kour eloped with Amir Noor Ali Shah to village Puk Ismail Khel, Surrani, and took shelter at the house of Noor Ali Shah's maternal uncle. On the same day, i.e. on 5 th March 1936 , Ram Kour went to the village mosque of Puk Ismail Khel and embraced Islam at the hands of Moulvi Sakhi Din Shah. Their Nikah immediately followed it. Two persons namely Nimble and Mir Ali Khan lambardar of the village were witnesses to the Nikah ceremony. They both remained there at the house of Amir Noor Ali Shah's maternal uncle for a few days. In the meantime, Mansa Devi, the mother of Ram Kour, registered an FIR at Domel Police Station alleging Amir Noor Ali Shah etc. for abducting the girl. The SHO of the police station did not take abrupt action as he had confirmed through his own resources that the girl had eloped with Amir Noor Ali Shah at her own free will.
Amir Abdullah Shah, the elder brother of Amir Noor Ali Shah started negotiations with the mother and uncle of the girl and dissuaded them from pursuing the case in the court of law. Both the parties reached an understanding that if the girl was returned to her mother, the case would be withdrawn. Subsequently, an agreement was signed between Amir Abdullah Shah and Mansa Devi and it was mutually agreed upon that Amir Abdullah Shah would return the girl to her mother, on 23 rd March 1936 . Accordingly, when Amir Abdullah Shah asked the willingness of Ram Kour (then known with Islamic name of Marjana alias Islam Bibi), the girl flatly refused to go to her parents and told Amir Abdullah Shah;

“I would prefer to die if I am not with my husband; I, under no circumstances will go back to my parents or reconvert to Hinduism".

Amir Noor Ali Shah also stood by her and Amir Abdullah Shah had no option other than to support Amir Noor Ali Shah and Islam Bibi and face the consequences. Accordingly, he did not return the girl to her mother and persuaded Amir Noor Ali Shah to take Islam Bibi to South Waziristan and cross the border to Afghanistan where he would be safe from the clutches of the British law.
Amir Noor Ali Shah and Islam Bibi decided to leave for Tank, on 24th March 1936 . Mst. Jamala, the stepmother of Noor Ali Shah, along with her minor son Qamar Ali Shah (aged 3½ years), also got ready to go with them. In the meantime, on 24th morning, the mother of Islam Bibi made a report at City Police Station Bannu for the recovery of her girl. Amir Noor Ali Shah, Ram Kour alias Islam Bibi, Mst. Jamala with her minor son Qamar Ali Shah and their relative namely Haleem Khan, got into a car (which was hired by them up to Tank) at a place 1½ miles away from Bannu City on Bannu-D.I.Khan Road. When the car reached Ghoriwala Police Station, it was stopped and searched by a police party. They and all other occupants in the car were arrested and brought to City Police Station Bannu. The same evening Noor Ali Shah, Islam Bibi etc were sent to jail.

The conversion of Ram Kour to Islam and getting married to a Muslim was proclaimed throughout Bannu. Hindu communities favoured Mansa Devi whereas Muslim community stood by the side of Islam Bibi. The Hindu community was led by Kanwar Bhan Bagai, Kanwar Rai and the Hindu lawyers, whereas, Muslim community was led by Faqir Abul Hassan, Nawab Zafar Khan Marwat and Muslim lawyers. Communal riots between Hindu and Muslim were expected to rise. Hence, FC and army troops were made alert in Bannu. The Hindu community extended all possible support to the Hindu Lawyers, i.e. Chaman Lal, Melawa Ram, Hukam Chand and Ladha Ram. Whereas, the Muslim community supported Mohammad Jan Khan (Bar-at-law), Mohammad Nawaz Khan Kundi Advocate, Habibullah Khan Meena Khel Advocate, Maqsood Jan Khan Mira Khel Advocate, Sardar Luthfullah Khan Pleader and Eid Akber Shah Advocate, in pursuing the case in the court. 7th April 1936 was fixed as the date of hearing in the court of I.D.Scott, Assistant Commissioner Bannu.
On 6th April 1936 , a large crowd of about 2,000 Muslims gathered outside the bungalow of Captain E. H. Cobb, Deputy Commissioner Bannu, raising slogans of `Allah-o-Akber' `Islam Zinda Bad'. They demanded the return of Islam Bibi to the Muslim community. Till sunset, they took siege of his bungalow but dispersed with a unanimous decision that on the following day, the bungalow of DC would be encircled again. On the same day, an application was submitted to DC Bannu by some Muslim notables of Bannu through the Defence Council comprising of lawyers namely Luthfullah Khan, Maqsood Jan Khan, Habibullah Khan and Mohammad Jan Khan, stating that Ram Kour had converted to Islam hence she should be given in the custody of some responsible Muslim notable. They further demanded that the case of Islam Bibi should be transferred from the court of Mr I.D. Scott and Captain E. H. Cobb, the Deputy Commissioner, should himself carry out the trial as the District Magistrate.
On 7th April 1936, just an hour before the beginning of trial, another application was submitted to DC Bannu by four Muslim religious leaders of Bannu, namely Moulvi Mohammad Aslam of Village Shahbaz Azmat Khel, Qari Abdul Ghaffar, Moulvi Mohammad Ayub of Village Bazar Ahmed Khan and Mullah Mir Kazim of Village Jhandu Khel. In this second application, they had requested that Islam Bibi should be kept in the custody of any Muslim notable since she had been placed in the custody of Dr. Benjamin (a Christian lady). On the same day, I.D Scott, Assistant Commissioner Bannu, instituted the court and proceedings in the case (case No.1/2 of 1936) started. When the court was in progress, a letter was received by DC Bannu, from the Faqir of Shewa, North Waziristan , apprising him of the dangerous consequences that might arise if the case would not be decided according to Shariyah. A large crowd of Muslims was also trying to reach the District Courts Bannu on the day of hearing but the Frontier Constabulary closed all the roads leading to the court premises. None, except the Muslims and Hindu lawyers, the District Court servants, the prosecution and the defence witnesses in the case, were allowed to enter the court premises. Islam Bibi was brought to the court in a van, in the custody of a large police party. No serious incident occurred. However, the District Administration felt very tense atmosphere in the District. The same day, Home Member Sir George Cunningham and Khan Bahadur Rana Tala Mohammad Khan Commandant FC, reached Bannu and in the afternoon called for the Muslim notables of Bannu so as to dissuade them from interference in the case. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Bannu handed over the control of the city to the Army. A squadron of light tanks took position on all the vital points inside Bannu City . A show of force of army units was also carried on main roads of Bannu city, followed by imposition of Section 144 in District Bannu for an indefinite period.
The Deputy Commissioner Bannu issued instructions to the Assistant Commissioner Bannu to carry out day to day proceeding of the case and then submit the complete proceedings to him before 20th April 1936 . He also looked into the application that was submitted to him by the Muslim notables and informed both the communities that after the completion of the proceedings, he would himself issue the judgement in the case. Accordingly, Mr. I.D. Scott completed the proceedings by 15th April 1936 . Captain E. H. Cobb went through all the proceeding and then at the request of the Muslim community decided to re-examine Islam Bibi since her statement carried weight on the case.
Deputy Commissioner Bannu, Captain E. H. Cobb, after analysing the tensed atmosphere in Bannu, issued court orders that during the trial, Islam Bibi should be retained in jail, in the public interest. On 29th April, 1936 , he himself went to Bannu Jail to record her statement in the presence of some Muslim and Hindu notables of District Bannu.
In her statement, Islam Bibi told the court that she had embraced Islam at her own and would not go back to her mother. She wished to return to Amir Noor Ali Shah. The statement was read over to her in vernacular that she signed as correct. Deputy Commissioner, after recording of her statement, issued an order that since she did not wish to go back to her mother hence she should be sent to the house of Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan, Member legislative Council and Honourary ADM, a trustworthy and most respectable person of Village Bazar Ahmed Khan. At a later stage of the trial, the proceedings were carried out in the bungalow of Deputy Commissioner Bannu. On the day of decision by the court, Islam Bibi was brought to the court by Taj Ali Khan s/o Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan in his car.

The court gave decision in words to the following effect.

“It has been conclusively proved by the Prosecution witnesses that Mst. Ram Kour alias Islam Bibi was a minor girl of 15 years 4 months and 8 days on March 5 th, the date on which she was kidnapped from the lawful custody of her mother without her permission, as she will attain the age of 16 years on October 27 th, 1936, having been born on October 27 th, 1920. There is only the evidence of the minor girl that she went of her own free will being in love with Amir Noor Ali Shah accused. The question of the minor's attitude however is immaterial to the charge under Section 363 I.P.Code if the minor is kidnapped without the consent of her lawful guardian. I find him guilty of the charge and I convict him accordingly under section 363 I.P.C and sentence him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 2 years.

Amir Noor Ali Shah has also been charged under section 368 I.P. Code. I am therefore of the opinion that the charge under Section 368 I.P.Code has been proved and I convict him accordingly of this charge and order that he shall undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 2 years.
Makhar accused has been charged under section 363 I.P.Code. The charge has been conclusively proved and I accordingly convict him of the charge under section 363 I.P. Code and sentence him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years.
Mst. Jamala is charged under section 368 I. P. Code. I therefore sentence her to pay a fine of Rupees fifty.
Amir Abdullah Shah accused has been charged under sec: 368 I.P.Code. I find the accused guilty of the charge under 368 I.P.Code. I, therefore, convict the accused of the charge and sentence him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years.
Amir Abdullah Shah accused has also been charged under sections section 368 & 420 I. P. Code. I, accordingly sentence him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years; the sentence to run with the sentence given under section 368 I.P.Code.
Halim Khan accused has been charged under section 368 I.P.Code. I find the accused guilty and sentence him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of one year.

Dated 25-4-1936 Captain E. H. Cobb

After the announcement of the judgement of the court, Islam Bibi was escorted to the house of Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan for safe custody till further orders, whereas Amir Noor Ali Shah, Makhar and Amir Abdullah Shah were transported to Haripur Jail, Hazara.
Late on, when all petitions at the Court of Civil Judge Bannu as well as subsequently at the court of Judicial Commissioner Peshawar were dismissed in favour of Mansa Devi, Captain E. H. Cobb, alongsith Superintendent of Police Bannu and 200 policemen, went to Village Bazar Ahmed Khan on the night of 20 th / 21 st August 1936, and laid a siege to it from all sides. No one was allowed to leave the village. Commander Bannu Brigade was also made alert to deal with any unforeseen situation arising during the takeover of the girl from the house of Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan. At 10:00 p.m. Deputy Commissioner Captain E. H. Cobb and Superintendent of Police Bannu knocked at the house of Khan Bahadur Ghulam Haider Khan, who along with his son Taj Ali Khan, came out of the house and were taken aback seeing such a big police force with the Deputy Commissioner who told him that the girl should be handed over to the Superintendent of Police Bannu on the spot without any confrontation by him or his men otherwise the entire village would face dire consequences. The girl was handed over to the police party after half an hour without resistance.
Soon after Islam Bibi was recovered from the house of K.B Ghulam Haidar Khan, she was handed over to her mother (Mst. Mansa Devi) and uncle (Harnam Das) at the bungalow of Deputy Commissioner Bannu. Kanwar Bhan Baghai, a leading Hindu and famous transporter of Bannu, took Islam Bibi, her mother and uncle to Hoshiarpur in his personal car on the same night.

Mr. Taj Ali Khan did not leave the matter and went to Hoshiarpur to contact Islam Bibi when a commission was detailed by the Civil Court Bannu to take statement of the girl since it was stated before the court by the Hindu notables that Islam Bibi had re-coverted to Hinduism and didnot want to be returned to Amir Noor Ali Shah. However, the girl who was produced before the commsion at Hoshiarpur was not Islam Bibi and some other girl who pretended to be Islam Bibi had appeared before the Commission. This was seriously objected by Mr. Taj Ali Khan and Mst. Jamala who told the commission that the girl was someone else and not Islam Bibi. However, they returned to Bannu unsuccessful. They told the Bannuchi notables at Bannu that Islam Bibi did try to contact Malik Taj Ali Khan but the Hindu community didnot let her do that.

In August 1937, some of the Hindu notables were heard saying that Ram Kour alias Islam Bibi could not sustain further physical tortures at the hands of the Hindus; and when all efforts to re-convert her to Hinduism had failed, she was poisoned to death by the Hindus at Hoshiarpur. The Hindus cremated her dead body. Her love story has become a part of the folk songs of Bannu and she would be remembered by the Bannucis for her valour and love for the religion of Islam as well as her faithfulness towards her husband. These events followed the rise of the Faqir of Ipi against the British Raj; the story of whose valour and struggle against the British has been enumerated in the succedding paragraphs.
In 1945, Amir Noor Ali Shah left Bannu, to search for Islam Bibi; hoping that she might be alive. He did not return. His whereabouts are not known. It is believed that had been in tomb of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (in India ) as Mujawar. He never contacted his brothers or relatives. He would be over 90 years of age if still alive.

(The above story, including the proceedings of the court, has been given in detail by Jahangir Khan Sikandri on 28 pages in his book and here only a brief of the whole story has been presented.)

Islam Bibi

Islam Bibi as per Wikipedia: in this version Islam Bibi was a Hindu girl, who eloped with her Muslim lover, and converted to Islam. However, because she was a minor, she was ultimately returned to her parents; her lover went to jail for kidnapping a minor. Her case led the Faqir of Ipi, Mirza Ali Khan, to declare jihad against the British in 1936.

However (and these are notes I've added to Wikipedia and am putting here, for further research whenever I next pass the university library) -

This work, available on The Origins of Conflict in Afghanistan By Jeffery J. Roberts Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003 ISBN 0275978788, 9780275978785

provides a rather different synopsis. Quote: "The worst outbreak of insurrection in the history of the NWFP plagued Wazirstan in the late 1930s, when Haji Mirza Ali Khan, the infamous "fakir of Ipi", led his followers in a guerrilla campaign. The war originated in the so-called "Islam Bibi" incident of 1936. Following a Sikh attack on a mosque in Lahore, Wazir tribesmen abducted a Hindu girl in Bannu, forced her to convert and marry a Muslim, and renamed her Islam Bibi. Her original husband brought the case to court, where the jury ignored hostile protestors and favored him, ultimately reuniting the couple. The faqir, whose hatred for the British was enormous, seized the incident. Citing the irrevocability of Muslim conversion, he called for jihad. He raised a lashkar and engaged British forces even before the trial had concluded."

In the footnotes, Roberts notes that "Rittenberg presents a curiously different story, in which the girl eloped with a Muslim lover, took the name Islam Bibi, and her parents regained custody of her.

It appears that there has been some myth-making over this incident. However, in February 1947, there was a similar incident in which a Sikh woman was abducted, converted, but ultimately reunited with her husband. Quote: "A case that was to gain considerable notoriety was the forcible conversion to Islam of a pregnant Sikh girl who was also coerced into marrying one of the gang members reponsible for the murder of her husband. As a result, the Sikh evacuees threatened not to return to their homes, a move that was bound to slow down any reversion to normal conditions.... To silence the critics, she was produced before the district magistrate where she swore she wanted to rejoin her faith. To squash wild rumors that this was false and that she was being coerced, the premier had invited Abdul Qaiyum and other League leaders to hear her testimony. Even though persuaded of the truth, they refused to yield the political high ground they now occupied. Khan Sahib, they charged, was not behaving as a true Muslim. Having allowed his own daughter to marry a non-Muslim (her husband, Jaswant Singh, who was a pilot in the Royal Indian Air Force, was actually an Indian Christian, not a Hindu, as the League charged) he was now privy to a Muslim girl reverting to her Sikh faith!" (Parshotam Mehra, The North-West Frontier Drama, 1945–1947.)

--- Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam By Zahid Hussain Published by I.B.Tauris, 2007 ISBN 1845112660, 9781845112660 220 pages

also available on says this:

"In 1937, the tribesmen rose in rebellion against the British forces, in response to a call for jihad by the Faqir of Ipi, a tribal leader who exercised both religious and temporal powers. The tribal insurrection started after the British forces engineered the escape of a Hindu girl kidnapped by a young Pashtun and taken to Waziristan. The girl had reportedly converted to Islam and taken the name of Islam Bibi before marrying the boy. The British authorities somehow managed to whisk away the girl and the incident was taken as an unforgivable insult to the tribal elders. Fiercely hostile to British rule, the Faqir of Ipi whose real name was Mirza Ali Khan, made an impassioned call for holy war."

Note, the "Transfer of Power" papers has nothing first hand on the Faqir of Ipi, but says in a footnote that the appeals court restored Islam Bibi to her parents.

PS Roberts' citation is as follows:
37. Mitchell, Sir George Cunningham, pp 60-61; Miller, Khyber, pp. 357-358;
Dupree, AUFS, 1/4, p.17; Barton, India's North-West Frontier, pp. 17, 90, 99, 176-
177, 186, 245, 225. Forty to fifty thousand troops were needed to occupy a territory
one third the size of Switzerland. Rittenberg presents a curiously different story, in
which the girl eloped with a Muslim lover, took the name Islam Bibi, and her parents
regained custody of her (Ethnicity, p. 160, citing Official History of Operations on
the Northwest Frontier of India, 1936-1937, Delhi, 1943).

LeT indoctrination

From here:
....Dr. Rubina Saigol of Action Aid Pakistan has expressed her disgust at the teachings of the jihadist outfit that had tried to show a softer face to the world immediately after the Mumbai attacks by inviting journalists to its headquarters in Muridke, Punjab....

...Saigol posted her views on a progressive Pakistani public yahoogroups emailing list called SPN, with nearly 5,000 members. She was responding to the views of another liberal Pakistani editor, Omar R. Quraishi, editorial page editor of largest circulation English newspaper The News International.

In his article, Quraishi wrote: "Regrettably, this tendency to act superior than the rest of the world, ignore one's own warts and what not and to blame the rest of the world for all that ills the Islamic world is something that is found in many ordinary Pakistanis as well. Whether they have been influenced by organisations such as the JuD or whether the organisations have been influenced by the society that they have grown up in is not the issue but rather that the value system and worldview of the JuD and the LeT is in fact something that a lot of Pakistanis share -- particularly the view that a Hindu/Zionist/ American conspiracy of sorts has been put in motion to annihilate the Muslim world."

....Saigol concurring with Quraishi's view on Jamaat ud Daawa gave some glaring examples from textbooks "that they distribute to their students and which are not available openly in the market." She added the books are published by Jamaat ud Daawa press and are given to students free of charge.

"The Mullahs [Islamic cleric] say that the books are meant to 'inspire' and to inculcate a truly Islamic spirit among students and to enable them to view Islam as a complete way of life, rather than as a set of rituals," Saigol said. "Through these textbooks children are given inspirational ideas and introduced to the objectives of Islam as seen by the Mullah. They are thus introduced the glorious Muslim past to inspire them to violence to re-create the past."

She said Jamaat ud Daawa argues that Muslims alone have right to rule the world and are allowed to kill infidels that stand in the way of Islam and this is being taught in textbooks used by the Jamaat ud Daawa.

Saigol said Daawa glorifies violence and hate and teaches the new version of alphabets in which children learn Bandook for Bai, Talwar for Tai, Tank for Ttai, jehaz for jeem and khanjar for khai, rocket for rai and tayyara for To-ay. [In English, all this will translate into G for gun, S for sword, T for tank, J for jet, K for knife, R for rocket and A for airplane.]

"In the Urdu textbook, children are told that infidels are cowards by nature and when a holy warrior attacks them, they scream with terror and fear," she said. "Mujahideen are glorified as being on a mission from Allah and they are superheroes that kill Hindus and make infidels cower in fear," she said, referring from the pages of the textbook.

She deplored games are organized around violence and killing and the children play with guns and learn to shoot at balloons, adding they play guerilla games of ambushing infidels, and in one story, a ten year old boy kills hundreds of Russians in Afghanistan .

She said poems and stories are taught about young boys that wage jihad and children read fictitious letters from jihadis killed in battle. “If I am killed in battle, celebrate”, reads one letter to a mother and sister in the seventh grade textbook, and then admonishes, “Make sure you conceal your body and never wear perfume.” Obscurantists among Muslims call this decadent and sexist practice hijab.

"India is presented as an enemy and Saudi Arabia as a best friend. Kashmir appears as Pakistani territory forcibly snatched by Hindus and Pakistan as a country created only for Muslims."

Saigol said children are instructed to mercilessly beat up non-Muslims and are told in the second grade textbook that every student should become a holy warrior and that they should be willing to lay down their lives for the great nuclear power that is Pakistan.

Quraishi notes: "Another (JuD) post is devoted to Mother's Day, or rather to equating it more or less with paganism. In fact, another post is on how Muslims should beware of doing actions that make them equal to kaafirs [infidels] -- such as celebrating their holy days and festivals. Also, it is clearly mentioned that non-Muslims are kaafirs and should not be even befriended."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Swat in Taliban's grasp

Previous stories on Swat:
Increasingly people in Swat see the Taliban and the Army as two sides of the same coin
Taliban closing girls' schools in Swat

Now this:
Taliban militants are beheading and burning their way through Pakistan's picturesque Swat Valley,....

Officials estimate that up to a third of Swat's 1.5 million people have left the area. Salah-ud-Din, who oversees relief efforts in Swat for the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated that 80 percent of the valley is now under Taliban control.

Given, e.g., half a million refugees, at some point Pakistan's army will have to be unequivocally against the Taliban, in which case it faces a civil war against an enemy it is currently permitting to be entrenched; or else it will have to declare itself to be with the Taliban, at which point it faces (less effectual) opposition from other sections of Pakistani society, and an international backlash. It cannot go along with the current two-faced approach indefinitely.

Something to note: See Document 29 here. As American intelligence notes: "Pakistan has lost every war it has ever fought." One should not be sanguine about the results of a confrontation between the Pakistani army and "the culprits that ...[they] helped to establish".

India offers 120K troops for Afghanistan?

Via BRF, this note: (please read the whole note there, only salient points are presented here:

India offers US 120,000 troops for Afghanistan

Our trusty correspondent, Mandeep Singh Bajwa, informed us this morning that India has offered to send 120,000 troops to Afghanistan. Naturally we asked Mandeep "are we being used by the Indians in a psyops game to put pressure on Pakistan?" Not that the Government of India knows we exist, but in all the movies about the media the Editor always asks if the paper is being played.

Mandeep's answer, paraphrased, was this: "I don't know at what level the offer has been made, but the Indian Army and Air Force are down to identifying specific units, formations, and squadrons..." - details, as we said, at Long War Journal - " well as discussing a specific name for force commander, plus working on the details of pre-deployment training, so this is a lot more elaborate than needed for a psyops game.'

This is both a very risky but a potentially very rewarding move. Re: feasibility - I presume Indian supply routes will run through Iran, and this will require Iranian cooperation.

Will Indian soldiers in Afghanistan be specially at risk? I don't know.

What does such a move do? It eases the political pressure on the Indian government to strike directly at Pakistan. In addition,
India neatly destroys Pakistan's strategic depth objective. The Indians have been wanting to get into the act in Afghanistan for several years, because they know a Taliban government means more fundamentalist pressure on Pakistan and thereby on India. But the Americans have been refusing India help for fear of offending the Pakistanis. For India to get into Afghanistan in force is to again change the paradigm of Indian-Pakistani relations as happened in 1971 when India split East Bengal from Pakistan. For the last almost 40 years India's efforts to marginalize Pakistan have been stymied. If the US accepts the Indian offer, India gains hugely.

My assessment - strategically brilliant, but doable only if the tactical downsides can be addressed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Friends of Al Qaeda in Europe

Though a little incoherent (to me) at a couple of places, Khaled Ahmed's essay, a book review, is worth reading.

Two lines, which make the point:

"The UK borrowed the hardline Islamists from France and the rest of Europe thinking it was acquiring “assets” for its Middle East policy."

"It got to a point where it was difficult to say if radical Islam got exported to Europe or got exported from Europe."

Pakistan's assessment of India's capability

Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, one of the principal Pakistani nuclear scientists, on Indian nuclear and missile capabilities compared to Pakistan's (youtube and translation provided by Shiv of BRF).

He wants the listeners to believe India can only strike accurately at targets 150-250 kilometers from its border.

Here is perhaps a more realistic take on India's missile capabilities.

Of course, the TV piece is intended for a Pakistani internal audience. It may be to provide reassurance to a nervous populace, but perhaps it spells a strange overconfidence and avoidance of reality by the people who run Pakistan.

You want to rely on their rationality?

1971 - a reminder

I posted the NYT's interview with Bruce Riedel yesterday, highlighting his anger at Musharraf ripping off the US of billions of dollars. Some would say that this was a problem specific to the Bush administration.

This reminder from 1971 - the rebellion in East Pakistan that led to the birth of Bangladesh - is to show that there are a bunch of recurring patterns in US foreign policy.

All quotes are from here and here, i.e., from US government archives.

1. Remember Bush looking into Putin's eyes and seeing his soul?
Highlights from this briefing book include:

Details of the role that the China initiative and Nixon's friendship with Yahya (and dislike of Indira Gandhi) played in U.S. policymaking, leading to the tilting of U.S. policy towards Pakistan. This includes a Memorandum of Conversation (Document 13) in which Kissinger indicates to Ambassador Keating, "the President has a special feeling for President Yahya. One cannot make policy on that basis, but it is a fact of life." [Documents 9, 13, 17-21, 24-25]

2. Remember innumerable scandals about the illegal provisioning of arms?
Highlights from this briefing book include:

Details of U.S. support for military assistance to Pakistan from China, the Middle East, and even from the United States itself. Henry Kissinger's otherwise thorough account of the India-Pakistan crisis of 1971 in his memoir White House Years, omits the role the United States played in Pakistan's procurement of American fighter planes, perhaps because of the apparent illegality of shipping American military supplies to either India or Pakistan after the announced cutoff.(7) Of particular importance in this selection of documents is a series of transcripts of telephone conversations from December 4 and 16, 1971(Document 28) in which Kissinger and Nixon discuss, among other things, third-party transfers of fighter planes to Pakistan. Also of note is a cable from the Embassy in Iran dated December 29, 1971 (Document 44) which suggests that F-5 fighter aircraft, originally slated for Libya but which were being held in California, were flown to Pakistan via Iran. [23, 26, 28, 29, 33-45]

3. Remember the US support of brutal dictators, despite even its own State Department's protests?
Highlights from this briefing book include:

Cable traffic from the United States Consulate in Dacca revealing the brutal details of the genocide conducted in East Pakistan by the West Pakistani Martial Law Administration. In the infamous Blood telegram (Document 8), the Consulate in Dacca condemns the United States for failing "to denounce the suppression of democracy," for failing "to denounce atrocities," and for "bending over backwards to placate the West Pak[istan] dominated government and to lessen any deservedly negative international public relations impact against them." [Documents 1-8, 10-11, 26](6)

4. This next is unique as far as I know, in essence a willingness to risk World War III for a client state:
On December 10, Kissinger delicately encourages the Chinese to take action against India guaranteeing U.S. support if the Soviets retaliate: "if the People's Republic were to consider the situation on the Indian subcontinent a threat to security, and if it took measures to protect its security, the US would oppose efforts of others to interfere with the People's Republic."

And so the cycle continues. There is always an excuse and never a day of reckoning.

PS: I know the rationalization of the above will be that it was the time of the Cold War and international politics was very different, the greater interest of containing the Soviet Union subsumed all other interests, blah, blah, blah. But that is precisely why I presented #4. above. It puts the lie to it. The US was willing to risk having a hot, not cold, US-Soviet Union-China confrontation - where is the logic of the Cold War in that?

PPS: Even more remarkable if you consider the US reaction to the recent Russia-Georgia fracas; Georgia is being promoted as a NATO candidate, the US establishment, and not just the President loves the Georgian president, the US is much stronger relative Russia than in 1971, but the US will not risk a confrontation. Compare and contrast to #4 above.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Taking On The System

Taking On The System: Rules for Radical Change in A Digital Era
by Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (founder of

It is Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", except tailored for our times for the activist working within the legal bounds of the system. To achieve change we have to wrestle with entrenched elites who resist it. The Internet, cell phones, social networking on the net, and such have provided a new set of tools for the non-elite rabble that can be very effective if wielded correctly. The author provides a lot of how-to: outlining a principle and then illustrating it with recent real-life examples. The message is:
We live in a world where there's no reason anyone should whine or complain that they are being shut out of the system. The tools are available to mount credible challenges to even the most entrenched of powers. Such efforts will always lack resources and will mostly face well-funded deeply entrenched foes, but innovative tactics and smart use of money can carry the day....Perhaps most important, effective activism requires that those who have the heart and passion for it step out of their comfort zone and into the fire.

This is a must-read book, and not just for the reason that Kos's brand of activism is actually changing the political landscape in the US. That always elusive goal, of citizens actively engaged in their own governance seems more in reach than ever before.

I rate the book five stars out of five.

NYT on Bruce Riedel

Read the full article here.
He speaks angrily about what he calls a savvy campaign by Pakistan’s government under President Pervez Musharraf to fleece Washington for billions of dollars even as it allowed Al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan’s tribal lands.

“We had a partner that was double-dealing us,” he said during an interview in his house in a Washington suburb. “Anyone can be snookered and double-dealt. But after six years you have to start to figure it out.”

We've been saying it for years. This dates back to before 2005. (I first posted it July 2005.)

The same story from both sides

The Daily Pioneer, New Delhi:
Three elements in Pakistan — the Army, the Taliba-Al Qaeda combine and the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba — are all using each other. None of the three is in absolute control. This makes the Pakistani Army even more unpredictable. It also terrifies the Americans, who have held the belief, since the Cold War, that they understand and can somehow manage Rawalpindi’s top brass. That theory is now obsolete.

Indeed, each time the Tehreek-i-Taliban — the collective of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban groups, based in Pakistan’s tribal regions — announces that it will fight a potential Indian invasion shoulder-to-shoulder with the Pakistani Army, it actually enhances the global fear factor.

In the popular perception, the divide between Gen AP Kayani’s Army and its jihadi auxiliaries is being erased. This will make Washington, DC, far less trustful of the one institution in Pakistan that it thought was cynical but ultimately rational — the military.
(emphasis added)

The Daily Jang, Pakistan:
Pir Samiullah of Swat was reportedly encouraged by the army stationed in Swat to raise a lashkar against the Taliban. This invoked the rage of the Taliban who besieged him for days in his village. The army never showed up to help and finally he was killed. The Taliban exhumed his body and hung it in a public place for several hours.....What happened to Pir Samiullah's body is a dangerous symbolism, because to many people in Swat the disrespect to it was wilfully permitted by the Army. One person said: "The Army did not fire a single bullet while 300-400 of Taliban were firing at the Pir's supporters in Matta tehsil. When the Army knew that Taliban fighters had gathered in their hundreds, why didn't they take action?'

I have been in contact with a number of people from Swat, who complain that the Taliban terrorise and slaughter people and exhume dead bodies, but the Army is nowhere to protect them. They argued that the army is backing the Taliban. One person even said that the commander of the military operation in Swat sends Rs10 million every month to the Swat Taliban leader, Maulana Fazalullah, so he would not harm the army, and do whatever they want with the people and culture of Swat.

Many people who know the geography of the area believe that the military is capable of beating the Taliban by simply besieging their headquarters from three different directions--from the Matta and Madyan tehsil and from lower Dir. This will disrupt the Taliban's logistics and ultimately force them to surrender. The people of Matta had distributed sweets when the military arrived there.

Local residents complain that while the military has killed hundreds of civilians, it has killed only a few hardcore Taliban. The brother of a serving minister of the NWFP, who was in the police and was well-known for standing up to the Taliban, was killed in broad daylight in Mingora, and the perpetrators succeeded in escaping. How then can the people believe that the military is serious in its operation against the Taliban? The result is that an increasingly people in Swat see the Taliban and the Army as two sides of the same coin.
(emphasis added). (The article also has counterpoints from the army and a journalist, which switch the responsibility to the politicians.)

Joke of the Day

Ms Marvi Memon is a Pakistan Muslim League Member of the National Assembly, with a blog. It has some interesting spots, e.g., this report of her talk with Senator John Kerry.

Of course, some people are trying and succeeding in pulling her leg. Remember that comments on her blog are moderated.

Here is the most ridiculous comment to pass her filter:
# smartypants Says:
December 26, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Dear Ms.Marvi,

Pakistan is blessed to have sincere and dedicated people who are tolerant to all religions. You need to use your blogs to publicize that how we in Pakistan treat our minorities, especially the Hindus. Most of the hindus in our society keep the bathrooms, toilets and streets clean for us and we muslims are very kind and give them our left over food instead of throwing it to dogs.

Let me give you a real life example. There was a stray Hindu family near my house in Pindi. The family consisted of a husband, a wife and 2 young girls. They didn’t have any house or proper clothes and were completely illiterate. My neighbour and I decided to remove the misery out of that family in line with our islamic principles. my neighbour decided to marry the Hindu mother and gave away the 2 children to his 70 year old uncle.

I don’t understand it, but the hindu father became so violent and started to curse and shout at us, spoiling the peace and quiet in the neighbourhood. We need to call the religious police to take him away.

At least the whole Hindu family is properly sheltered now and don’t have to scrape for food.

These generous nature is what Keeps Pakistan afloat and differentiates Islam from other religion.

Friday, December 26, 2008


So, poverty alone does not explain the social change. In fact, if poverty was the primary cause of religious extremism then the entire South Asian region would be ripe for extremism — be it any religion. - Ayesha Siddiqa in The Dawn

The Roots of Terrorism - continued

Fair, C. Christine (2007) 'The Educated Militants of Pakistan: Implications for Pakistan's Domestic Security', Contemporary South Asia, 16:1, 93-106
ABSTRACT This paper presents preliminary findings from a survey of 141 militant households in Pakistan, focusing on the background of slain militants in those households. The militants in the sample are well educated and are not predominantly emerging from Pakistan’s religious seminaries as is often suggested. This essay considers Pakistan’s policy options and constraints as Islamist militancy looms as Pakistan’s single most important security concern. Given that militant groups in Pakistan have been state-sponsored actors, militancy will not go away until Pakistan makes a strategic decision to abandon the use of proxies as tools of foreign policy. However, in recent years, many of these once proxies have turned against the state. Effective policy measures to contain these groups are likely to elude the Pakistani Government, posing
great risk to Pakistan, the region and the international community.

Notes: On reading the paper, you will find that "well-educated" means well-educated compared to the Pakistani average, as well as compared ot their immediate environment.

Quote: Respondents provided considerable information about the shaheed's education and work experience. On the main, the shaheed -- like the respondents -- are actually better educated than the average Pakistani. Only 6% had no formal education, 35% had some primary education but were not matriculates, 40% were matriculates but had not attained their intermediate degree (F.A.). 13% had their F.A. but not their B.A., and 6% had some sort of post-secondary education. In other words, some 58% of the shaheeds in sample were matriculates and of those many had obtained further education. When one considers that throughout all of Pakistan fewere than one in three males are matriculates, and when one considers further that the bulk of this sample was derived from the Northwest Frontier Province where educational attainment is among the lowest in Pakistan, the males in this sample are extremely well educated, again underscoring the need to interrogate common assumptions that Pakistan's militants are all uneducated, madaris products.

In addition to mainstream education, the survey also asked respondents about the shaheed's madrassah attendance. Overall, fewer than one in four shaheed had attended a madrassah (23%). Of the 33 shaheed that attended a madrassah, 13 attained a religious certificate (sanad). This represents about 9% of the overall sample, and 40% of all who attended a madrassah.

Interestingly, this better-educated-than-average men were also more-unemployed-than-average. But you should read the whole article.

Taliban ban to keep 40,000 girls from schools in Swat

Pakistani newspaper The Daily Times reports:

Taliban ban to keep 40,000 girls from schools in Swat

* Locals say they are helpless, have no option but to accede to Taliban pressure

By Daud Khattak

PESHAWAR: The future of around 40,000 girls in Swat is at stake following a Taliban ban on education for female students.

Shah Duran, the deputy of Swat-based Taliban cleric Fazlullah, has warned the administrations of government and private educational institutions to not enrol girls in schools.

The Taliban on Wednesday issued a deadline for January 15 for the ban to be implemented, following which they said they would bomb the buildings of schools allowing girls to study.

The Taliban have blown up more than 100 girls’ schools in Swat in the past 14 months.

Helpless: Locals say they are helpless and have no other option but to accede to the Taliban’s pressure as the government has failed to provide them with securuty.

.......According to figures provided by a Swat-based non-government organisation, Pakistan Coalitions for Education (PCE), Taliban have destroyed over 100 of the 490 primary schools for girls in Swat so far.

The destruction of schools and recent threats to teachers and students have forced over 50,000 girls out of schools, the PCE figures said.

Friday Nuggets

The Friday Times carries a section "Nuggets". Here's the latest courtesy BRF:

Ajmal Kasab trained in Mansehra and Muzaffarabad

According to Khabrain, Ajmal Amir Kasab, the one surviving terrorist who was arrested following the Mumbai attacks, said that he left his village in Okara after a fight with his father and was taken by Lashkar-e-Taiba to Muzaffarabad, Mansehra and Muridke and given terrorism training for 132 days. He and his group were given maps and instructions on how to act before being despatched in a boat from Karachi to a ship at sea named Al Husaini.

Hafiz Said is from Silanwali, Sargodha

According to Jang, Hafiz Muhammad Said, chief of the banned Jamatud Dawa, is from Tehsil Silanwali, Janubi Gamonwala village in Sargodha. He was born in 1950, the eldest of the three sons of Kamaluddin, an Ahle Hadith or Wahhabi leader of the village mosque. Said owns 10 acres of land in the village. His visits home once a year, to oversee the tillers, reportedly turn into a circus-like event.

Government is ‘buzdil’!

Quoted in Khabrain ex-interior minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said that after the consensus reached at the APC, the government had acted like a buzdil (coward) by taking action against Jamatud Dawa and Jaish Muhammad. He said it was time to stand up to India and defy the sanctions.

Ajmal Kasab abducted from Nepal

Quoted in daily Pakistan, Lahore lawyer CM Farooq disclosed that the Mumbai attackers were Pakistani Muslims whom the Indian agencies had kidnapped from Kathmandu many years ago. These Muslims had travelled from Pakistan on business visas. They were then used in the Mumbai plot. Later Nepal denied the claim by the Lahore lawyer.

Sher Afgan digs deep

Quoted in Khabrain ex-minister of PMLQ Sher Afgan said that America, India and Israel were after Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and wanted to get hold of them wherever they were kept. He said the war against terrorism was not Pakistan’s war and that Pakistan had to resist America’s pressure and keep its nuclear weapons in its own hands. He said the moment operations ended in the Tribal Areas terrorism, too, would come to an end, after which Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would be considered safe.

Unpleasant findings from Faridkot

Daily Jang reported that its team went to Faridkot in Okara to inquire whether Ajmal Amir Kasab, the terrorist caught in Mumbai, was an inhabitant of the village. At first the team was confronted with nothing but silence. Then more and more people started complaining that intelligence agencies were actively discouraging people from speaking the truth. President of the press club said if Ajmal was not from the village, there was no reason for the secret agencies to put pressure on the village? A villager then disclosed that Ajmal had disappeared only to return to show off his physical prowess and teach karate to the village children. People said the terrorists were not only bothering India but had made life hell for Pakistanis, too.

Jamatud Dawa and education

According to Nawa-e-Waqt, the banning of Jamatud Dawa in Pakistan had deprived several hundred thousand children of education. The Dawa ran 160 schools and 52 madrassas in the country. It also ran four universities and eight hospitals. Al Rashid Trust and Al Akhtar Trust looked after the wounded and martyred in Kashmir and the Afghan wars. The latter had a large number of doctors attached to it.

Wisdom from Aslam Beg!

Quoted in Nawa-e-Waqt ex-army chief Aslam Beg said that the ban on Jamatud Dawa had been imposed to please America. Now the ban would be applied to Hamid Gul, too. The Mumbai attacks were staged to weaken Pakistan. Pakistan is now to be targeted but the country was made by people not by the army. India is telling America we will hit Pakistan with a missile and retreat. The Pakistanis will forget about it because that is the way they react to drone attacks.

Declare nuclear war!

Quoted in Khabrain, clerical leader Engineer Salimullah said that Pakistan should declare nuclear war against India. Fareed Paracha said that India was benefiting from the sharafat (politeness) of Pakistan. Raza Kazimi said that the government’s action against Jamatud Dawa had forced the nation to hang its head in shame.

CIA versus ISI

TV anchor and columnist Talat Hussain wrote in Express that a CIA officer had come to Pakistan with proof that the ISI was in cahoots with the Taliban rather than fighting against them. Earlier an America paper had accused the Pakistani army chief of having planned the attack on the Indian embassy in Afghanistan. The objective of all this is to bring Pakistan under pressure so that all its flaws and internal weaknesses come to the surface.

Nadira’s brother killed by rogue generals

Daily Jang quoted a British newspaper to reveal that one Major General Faisal Alavi was murdered in Islamabad after he wrote a letter to army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in which he named two generals who had cut deals with terrorists, namely, Baitullah Mehsud, after paying substantial amounts of money in return a withdrawal of attacks on Pakistani troops. Alavi was a brother of Nadira, a British Pakistani married to Nobel Laureate novelist VS Naipaul. The British journalist who filed the report was in possession of the letter Mr Faisal Alavi wrote to the Pakistani army chief. Jang asked a retired army officer to comment. He said the story represented nothing but propaganda against the Pakistan Army.

How Bhutto took off bandmaster’s dress

Columnist Tanvir Qaiser Shahid wrote in Express that he was told by celebrated columnist Abdul Qadir Hassan how he had once written a column describing Bhutto’s special party uniform as the dress of a bandmaster. Bhutto never wore the uniform after reading that column.

Ajmal Kasab not Pakistani!

Interior Secretary Kamal Shah was quoted by Nawa-e-Waqt as saying that India had futoor (bad intention) in its mind because it was accusing Ajmal Kasab of being from Pakistan. Yet the captured terrorist was not on the record of NADRA and did not possess a Pakistani ID card. According to Khabrain, India said that if Pakistan accepted Ajmal as its citizen, India could talk to Pakistan.

Pakistan should be brave!

Ex-general Abdul Qayyum who undermined the privatisation of the Karachi Steel Mill and brought down the Musharraf regime told Nawa-e-Waqt that China had not supported Pakistan over allegations of its involvement in the Mumbai attacks. In future, Iran and Saudi Arabia, too, are not expected to help. Hence Pakistan should be brave and fight alone. He said Benazir was killed because she had supported the lawyers’ movement.

Who is Qaafa?

According to Jang, when the terrorists were in Nariman House in Mumbai, they were constantly being exhorted by one Qaafa by telephone. The conversation was intercepted by the Indians who say Qaafa repeatedly told the attackers to stay awake. Had Qaafa not kept up their morale they would have given themselves up instead of giving themselves up to death. Qaafa’s calls were traced to a city in Sindh named Azizabad. Qaafa is a deputy of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi who, in turn, is the deputy of Hafiz Said.

PM’s car stolen?

Columnist Javed Chaudhry wrote in Express that a special car in which the PM travels when he comes to Lahore was stolen while it was parked in the city’s most secure zone after transporting the PM’s wife to the airport. He said the car was stolen and the police baghlain jhankti rahi (kept looking at the hair in its armpits).

Thursday, December 25, 2008


But there is no getting away from the fact that terror now runs through the veins of our country. - Kamila Hyat in a Op-Ed in Pakistani "The News"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Somehow I like this (misexposed, added 2 1/3 stops in Lightroom; The first exposure is f/8, 1/200 second, ISO 3200. The second exposure is f/4.5, 1/60 second, ISO 3200. I want to know how to get the first shot out of the camera.)
better than the correctly exposed

Merry Christmas!

Christmas lightsChristmas lightsChristmas lightsChristmas lightsChristmas lightsChristmas lights

1-800-WE BOMBS

News-item from The Dawn, Karachi, Pakistan:

Suicide bombers available
LAHORE, Dec 23: A suicide bomber can also be bought to settle personal scores, says the police investigation into the Bhakkar blast which left over two dozen people dead in August.

According to Crimes Investigation wing of the police, Waqas Hussain and his four accomplices had hired a suicide bomber and explosives expert from Wana to kill a former friend of his with whom he had a monetary dispute.


PS: The Bhakkar blast.

PPS: via the news monitors at BRF

PPPS: the full story as per the police investigation:
LAHORE: The Crimes Investigation Department on Tuesday claimed Tuesday to have arrested five people involved in a suicide attack on PML-N MNA {Member of the National Assembly} Rashid Akbar Niwani in Bhakkar on Aug 6.

At least 26 people were killed and several injured in the attack, including the MNA. According to police, suspect Waqas Hussain, and his accomplices Dr Nazar Hussain, Arif Khan, Muhammad Amjad and Saeed Amjad Abbas hired a suicide bomber and explosives expert from Wana to kill Ejaz Hussain, with whom he allegedly had a monetary dispute.

According to a police handout, Waqas Hussain and Ejaz Hussain, both residents of Bhakkar district, were fast friends. Waqas started a used-car business after borrowing Rs2.1 million from Ejaz, but could not establish himself and began to suffer losses. He handed over seven vehicles to Ejaz at different times to return the borrowed money, but Ejaz demanded another Rs5.4 million.

A dispute developed and both had cases registered against each other.

Ejaz finally took the dispute to Niwani and asked him to settle it. Niwani called both parties to his outhouse in the presence of local notables, listened to them and announced another sitting for Aug 6.

Waqas and his father Nazar Hussain went to their relative Arif Khan in Dera Ismail Khan and informed him about the situation. They decided to kill Ejaz in a suicide attack and Arif asked them to arrange money for the purpose.

Waqas, Nazar and Arif went to Tank where they met Jaan Muhammad Wazeer, a resident of Wana, and agreed to pay him Rs1.2 million for the purpose. A day before the suicide attack on Aug 6, Jaan handed over the suicide bomber and an explosives expert to Arif. The bomber and explosives expert were later handed over to Waqas at Adda Dajal in Bhakkar district.

On the day of incident, Waqas confirmed through dispenser Amjad Abbas Shah that Ejaz was present at Niwani’s house and took the suicide bomber there. The bomber blew himself up near Ejaz, killing him and 25 others.

The Suicide Bomber's Anthem

(via BRF) Attributed to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, listen to this Urdu poem glorifying the suicide bomber:

The meaning (from BRF, with some of my amendments)

{Note: the sense, and verb tense, of the poem is "May this come to pass"}
Para 1: Even if people try to find the pieces of the body, all the pieces can't be found. Nobody will bury or organize a cremation funeral for the body.
Para 2: On the day of resurrection Allah will order the body to be reconstructed. Allah asks how did your body come to be so, but the bomber can't give an answer.
Para 3: So Allah smiles at the bomber and orders him to proceed to jannat (heaven) with his 70, now he can't be killed anymore death cannot touch him again.
Para 4: When he reaches jannat Allah orders that he be given whatever he wants, but the bomber says that jannat has no joy to match that of martyrdom while killing a kafir.

Market Insanity?

CIP sees the madness of crowds in this vignette of the financial industry debacle. I disagree. Some excerpts:

To illustrate what was going on with the ratings agencies, Millman provides a simpler to understand example, the CPDO:
The ratings agencies said: you can take a BBB-rated index, leverage it 15-to-1, and follow an entirely automatic trading strategy (no trader discretion, no forecasting of defaults or anything, just a formula-driven adjustment to the leverage ratio and an automatic roll of the index), and the result is rated AAA.

How did a market that, I thought, had really helped capitalism work in 2002 become the great destroyer of capitalism of the last two years? There were a lot of contributors to the catastrophe, but one indispensable one is that the ratings agencies monetized their sterling reputations in an extraordinary fashion, and nobody in regulatory apparatus of government saw that this was happening, and what it might portend. The success of 2002 depended on market confidence in the ratings agency process: that’s what made investors willing to buy the notes issued by structured finance vehicles that issued the credit protection that made it possible for banks to hedge. Without that confidence, the market would never have developed. And by 2006, the agencies understood just how much that confidence was worth.

The ratings agencies have an enormous amount of power: pension funds and insurance companies invest according to their rules; under Basel II, bank capital ratios are substantially determined by how the agencies rate their portfolios of loans; and, of course, the entire “shadow banking system” created by providers of super-senior credit protection (monoline insurers, bank-sponsored asset-backed conduits, AIG Financial Products, etc) was only possible because of the ratings agencies. By 2006, the entire financial system was extraordinarily leveraged to the opinions of these government-blessed non-governmental independent agencies, and these agencies were monetizing their market position by trashing their process.

This is not the madness of crowds. Nor is this human error. There is no simpler words for it than "these agencies were monetizing their market position by trashing their process".

The results?
...the market has lost any reason for confidence in the agencies in both directions: they cannot be trusted when the market is strong to assess the downside risks the market is ignoring, and they cannot be trusted when the market is weak to assess a company’s financial condition independently of the market panic.....

Right now, we’re in the low-trust environment that is the reality when the libertarian fantasy of eliminating the market-distorting regulators actually comes to pass. The market is inevitably focused on a short time horizon, fickle and volatile by its very nature. We want major financial institutions – banks, insurers, etc. – to look beyond the market to longer term risk metrics. Without the agencies as an independent arbiter of what these might be, the market is all we have left. Trust is a very hard thing to rebuild, and structural changes – having the agencies be government-sponsored, or paid by investors rather than issuers – are insufficient solutions (government-sponsored entities are also capable of seeking to monetize their position – look at Fannie Mae – and investor-sponsored agencies would be subject to the same pressures to facilitate the business that investors want to do).

We are still in a dark wood wandering, the right road lost.

The ratings agencies' misalignment of long-term interests and management actions is really not different from that of any American corporation, except of course, the effects are much more severe. It has always been rather obvious that a great reputation or brand name can be converted into (lots of cash + no reputation) in short order. There is always the perverse incentive of "take the money and run". Unless there is a strong counterincentive - people are going to take the money and run.


PS: I wonder whether tax policy would be a counterincentive. E.g., if CEOs were in the 90% marginal tax bracket, they would have more incentive to receive a lifetime of income from their companies, rather than to hit the jackpot in three years and then move on, leaving their companies trashed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Managing Our Way to Economic Decline

This is an article in the Harvard Business Review, written by Robert H. Hayes, published in 1980, and reissued in 2007, with a sidebar note by the author.

I can't get access to the full article, but a summary is here. It tends to confirm what I intuit from very limited information. Excerpt:
This new management orthodoxy includes three general categories:

1) financial control focused on profit centers and short-term measurements such as ROI, referred to as management by the numbers, or managerial remote control.

2) corporate portfolio management including quick paybacks and an unwillingness to assume risk, and

3) market-driven behavior that places emphasis on marketing products that are relatively easy to make, rather than making innovative marketable products.

American managements' short-term, control oriented mentality has biased investments towards imitative rather than innovative product designs. In addition, American managers have tended to choose backward integration (or make rather than buy) that in many cases has prevented innovation by locking their companies into outdated technology. Their unwillingness to assume risk has caused a lack of investment in the new manufacturing processes needed to maintain a competitive edge.


Part of the problem was created by the increase in the percentage of corporate Presidents with finance and legal backgrounds and the increase in managers hired from outside the company. Hayes and Abernathy refer to them as pseudoprofessionals. These are people who have no special expertise in any particular industry or technology, but run the company using financial controls, portfolio concepts and a market-driven, follow-the-leader strategy. They attempt to simplify and quantify complicated business situations at the profit center level. This over simplification and emphasis on the separate parts of the company creates a serious problem. Someone at a higher top management level needs to integrate all aspects of the business situation to make informed decisions. Someone who understands the company and the industry, someone who has a holistic or systems view. Someone who can lead innovation and value creation where it did not exist before. Pseudoprofessionals can not do this.
An amusing sidenote is that the editor of the Harvard Business Review writes:

Editor’s Note: This 1980 article, with its scathing and richly documented criticism of U.S. managers’ focus on short-term financial gain at the expense of long-term competitiveness, sent shock waves through American business when it was first published. The inroads that European and Japanese companies have made into traditional U.S. industrial strongholds since then prove its prescience.

Many of the problems raised by the authors have been addressed over the years, as Harvard Business School’s Robert H. Hayes notes in a sidebar written for this issue. But the original article’s call for self-examination and action is still relevant today, as U.S. companies face similar uncertainty and emerging competition—this time from China, India, and other developing economies.

But the sidebar really says that the original criticism have now become the orthodoxy (i.e., orthodox criticism) after initially generating a lot of controversy. Even if some of the issues were addressed after 1980 when the article was written, American management relapsed during the 90s, and has fallen even further behind. Excerpts:
Rereading “Managing Our Way to Economic Decline” 27 years after it appeared, I am struck by how mainstream its assertions and recommendations appear today. Being at the forefront of technology, looking beyond short-term financial results when evaluating investments, focusing on key businesses rather than assembling and managing corporate portfolios, and having managers who understand and are deeply involved in the details of their companies now sound like clichés. So why did the article attract so much attention—worldwide—when it was published? And why did it generate heated criticism?...........

Our call to get back to basics became American managers’ mantra of the 1980s. For a while, companies focused on improving quality, responsiveness, and technological innovation, and America’s competitive situation slowly improved.

Then, the get-rich-quick, bubble mentality of the late 1990s took over, and managers turned their attention from the mundane pursuit of operating excellence to panning for gold in the business opportunities that the “new economy” had created. A few of those opportunities proved profitable, but most did not, and, in the interim, America’s international competitiveness deteriorated anew. So perhaps another call to get back to basics is in order.

Today, however, a mastery of the old basics no longer suffices, because fundamental changes in the world economy have added more items to the list....

PS: If Harvard Business Review publishes an article pointing out the problems with management, then how is it part of the problem? I guess the answer lies in where did the "new management orthodoxy" come from in the first place?

A special treat

My friend Rajan Parrikar has inaugurated his web-site, where you can treat yourself to sumptuous photographs of India, and much else. For instance, music.

PS: The beauty that Rajan's photography records is at risk from so-called "development" that is not in harmony with the physical and cultural environment, as recorded in Rajan's documentary "The Rape of Goa"

PPS: Rajan is my chief inspiration for taking up photography.

PPPS: This one has an unceasing fascination for me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Item not to buy

Learned the hard way - do not buy
MacAlly 3.5" USB2.0/1394A Aluminum Encl Macally FireWire 400/USB 2.0 External Enclosure for 3.5" SATA Hard Drives - Aluminum Construction
If the rest of their products are of the same quality, do not buy that brand, period.

PS: Waiting to see what remedy Other World Computing proposes.

PPS: The Antec MX-1 that I purchased from Circuit City is in comparison, a work of genius. I can verify that it supports 1.5 terabyte hard drives, at least through its USB 2.0 port. (I do not know how/whether eSATA works.)

CEO Compensation

Via dailykos:
In 1950, the average pay of an S&P 500 CEO was less than 30 times that of an average U.S. worker; by 1980, prior to the "Reagan Revolution, the average pay of the S&P 500 CEO was approximately 50 times higher than that of an average U.S worker. But by 2007, the average pay of an S&P 500 CEO had soared to more than 350 times as much as that of an average U.S. worker.

This is both immoral and unsustainable in a democracy. By way of comparison, in Europe, an average CEO only makes 22 times as much as an average worker, and in Japan, only 17 times as much.

If America wants to be competitive again, we need to reduce CEO pay to a level comparable to CEO pay in Europe and Japan. I know exactly how to accomplish this feat. The UAW should agree to immediately lower U.S. union worker pay to a level equal to the level paid by their non-union, non-American competitors. In return, auto CEO’s must agree to permanently lower their compensation to only 20 times that of an average union worker.

Once this has been accomplished, Congress must move to apply the same pay standards to AIG and all of the financial institutions that took one penny of taxpayer money from the TARP fund.

Forget a moment about morality and sustainability of this pay disparity. Is the CEO of an American corporation really worth 16 times his European counterpart and 20 times his Japanese counterpart?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Failure of freedom

I don't know how long this link from AP will last, but here is the key information:

"Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits in the calendar year 2007, an Associated Press analysis reveals."

"The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for 53 of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines."


I can drive a $600 billion dollar corporation into the ground for much less money. They should outsource it to me.

Comment - it was the transactions from 2007 and earlier that sank the corporations this year. The only downside for these executives is that there is now less to loot. Sorry, there is still the TARP bailout money from the government.

Comment - the free market is unable to even align the goals of the upper management of a corporation and the interests of the shareholders measured with a three year horizon. Yet somehow it is going to solve problems of global scale. Market-driven solutions to our problems are probably still the best, but need that human engineering called REGULATION. Free market fundamentalism in the final count will turn out to have killed more people than Islamic fundamentalism.

Human organizations work only when there is accountability. Democracy - especially the American form with the separation of powers between three branches of government - and free markets are supposed to be better than the alternatives because they provide accountability. Neither has provided accountability in the last eight years. Or rather, the reckoning they have provided has not applied to the individuals most responsible, but has manifested itself as a system crash. The accountability mechanism can have said to have worked only if Bush and Cheney are tried for war crimes, and the 600 executives above are made to put all their assets into their troubled companies.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Video game management

This is a very subjective impression that I have, and is likely not true - namely that American management (perhaps only those of long established corporations) craves a video game reality to manage. Anything that requires real effort with tangible things - any kind of manufacturing, software production, content production - is to be outsourced, and better yet off-shored. The ideal business model is to be the in-between the suppliers and consumers, making money off transaction fees. The more the business can be reduced to electrons representing money in the company's computers, the better. The return on investment is temptingly high in such a model. That business in such a model is "creating value" is taken for granted; after all, all the money shuffling on Wall Street is supposedly productive. Messy reality doesn't intrude; one can manage this without knowing anything about anything.

Maybe someone can talk me down.

What a regulated banking sector looks like

India too, had a real estate bubble; yet Indian banks were not hurt as it burst. Joe Nocera, of the NYTimes, writes how: (note, this blog post is not an endorsement of Indian banking, it is merely to show that different worlds can exist)

All lending to individuals is based on their income....We never gave more money to a borrower because the value of the house had gone up.

{About India's bank-regulator-in-chief}: "He basically believed that if bankers were given the opportunity to sin, they would sin." ....About two years ago, he started sensing that real estate, in particular, had entered bubble territory. One of the first moves he made was to ban the use of bank loans for the purchase of raw land, which was skyrocketing. Only when the developer was about to commence building could the bank get involved — and then only to make construction loans.....

When Mr. Reddy saw American banks setting up off-balance-sheet vehicles to hide debt, he essentially banned them in India. As a result, banks in India wound up holding onto the loans they made to customers. On the one hand, this meant they made fewer loans than their American counterparts because they couldn’t sell off the loans to Wall Street in securitizations. On the other hand, it meant they still had the incentive — as American banks did not — to see those loans paid back.

...He increased risk weightings on commercial buildings and shopping mall construction, doubling the amount of capital banks were required to hold in reserve in case things went awry. He made banks put aside extra capital for every loan they made....

{Once irate at the regulations, Indian bankers now say:}

...Ms. Kochhar said that the underlying risks of having “a majority of loans not owned by the people who originated them” was not apparent during the bubble. Now that those risks have been made painfully clear, every banker in India realizes that Mr. Reddy did the right thing by limiting securitizations. “At times like this, you tend to appreciate what he did more than we did at the time,” said Mr. Kapoor. “He saved us,” added Mr. Parekh.

My commentary: if banks make thirty-year loans, then their business planning and practices have to reflect a long-term vision as well. The current methods of securitizing loans that Wall Street invented seem to introduce very perverse incentives. A NYT article a couple of days ago wrote about how at Merrill Lynch, in 2006, very large bonuses were paid out based on that year's profits; yet the transactions made that year have caused losses in 2008 exceeding two decades of that institution's earnings, and ended its independent existence.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What do you want to be when you grow up?

jrjrao on BRF notes:

In today's (Dec 7) edition of BBC Urdu news (audio link should be somewhere on this page: ), there was a funny moment.

The LeT/JuD turds were giving a tour of one its schools to this BBC correspondent, trying to show that being a good charity, it runs great schools. Well, the BBC dude then asks one kid after another what they want to become once they graduate and grow up, and one kid after gives the same answer. "I want to become a Mujahid", says one. "Mujahideen", answers another. And another.

Monday, December 15, 2008

December 16, 1971

East Pakistan surrender/Bangladesh liberation, Dec 16, 1971.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On the threat India poses to Pakistan

Shiv on BRF - the following is important to understand:
Liberal secular Indians are too smug in their views of Pakistan to even start thinking about how Pakistan feels threatened by the very "We are equal. We are same-same only" lovey-dovey rhetoric of liberal secular Indians. In the flush of this love (after all who can oppose such noble sentiments about Pakistan?), no thought is given to how this attitude is actually threatening to a Pakistan that is getting increasingly intimidated and dysfunctional.

Indians like to say "Oh we are all similar". Few Indians who say that understand that in order to have a separate and distinct "Pakistani" identity one must not be Indian. The Indian identity is so secure that an Indian can reject his own background and yet get back that identity whenever he wants. Pakistanis are seen as Indians even when they insist they are not. Worse - many who want to be recognised as Pakistani are forced to hide behind an Indian identity in this day and age - such is the reputation Pakistan has built up. "We are all the same" is not as pleasant an idea for the patriotic Pakistani as liberal secular Indians imagine.

"We are equal" (Equal in our corruption. Equal in our love for each other. Equal in the way we are misled by our governments.Equal in all ways) is another statement that hits at the heart of Pakistani identity even as Indians cheerfully push this smugly satisfying story of equalitis.

India is too big and too threatening to Pakistan in a way that Indians do not seem to understand even as Pakistan squeals in agony and turns dysfunctional trying to change that. The original Pakistan never wanted to be "equal" to India. Pakistan was meant to be superior to India in every way. Being Indian was an insult. A disgrace. A nation of caste ridden bigots and poverty was not what Pakistan was meant to be.

But a rudderless Pakistan frittered away its independence in fighting to get Kashmir in 1947 and again in 1965. But even then Pakistan was an "Asian Tiger" of sorts - Pakistanis prided themselves on their superiority over India. 1971 was the big blow. Pakistani notions of "superiority over India" were replaced by the chilling reality of not being able to control or subvert a huge India. Indian progress in recent years has made the idea of saying "We are equal" a sarcastic jibe in which Pakistanis feel hurt and angry at reality. If being "equal" to India is an insult, being seen as "inferior" to India in any way is intolerable.

Most Indians are too happy with their own lovey dovey perceptions of Pakistan imagining that they are the "Friendly Indians who relate to our Pakistani brothers and sisters, holding the fort against Indian fundamentalists" Unfortunately that is a completely ignorant and delusional view. Indians are a threat. Period. Indian who say "We are same. We are equal" are insincere sarcastic threats to Pakistan. Indians who openly oppose Pakistan are obvious threats.