Posts Tagged ‘Mujahideen’

India: A Fistful of Follies By Amaresh Misra

October 31, 2008

India: A Fistful of Follies

 

A Perspective on Maharashtra incidents, bomb blasts and  the current political crisis           

 

                                        By Amaresh Misra

 

 

        After writing so much and achieving at least something, on the recent spate of violence/bomb blasts/attacks on minorities, the Maharashtra and Assam events leaves writers and commentators like Ghulam Muhammad and me numb. The arrest of Pragya Singh, and the whole needle of suspicion towards ex and serving army officers in the 29thSeptember Malegaon blasts has confirmed what we have been saying all along: that terror indeed has a face; that the Indian Mujahideen and SIMI were creations of the Indian security forces and the real wires of terrorism are linked inextricably to the hate/fascist ideology of the RSS-BJP. RSS-BJP in essence is a home grown, terrorist-fascist force par excellence―and it is not the first time that they have bared their fangs.

I still remember a meeting with the anti-RSS, pro-Muslim Shanakaracharya Swami Swarupanand, the Shankaracharya of Dwarika and Badrinath. In this, the Shankaracharya had stated clearly and I quote, `Amaresh these Sanghis are the most criminal of all forces. They run a secret wing of assassins. They have been indulging in murder and arson since their birth. They are adharmis like Ravana and they dare to pose as Hindus! They have even tried to assassinate me!’

        This is the Shankaracharya speaking―it is also clear that there was a secret nexus between the RSS and the British during the 1947 partition riots. In an article published earlier, Akhilesh Mittal, the columnist of Asian Age and Covert, has exposed the entire conspiracy by highlighting a true case which I am quoting from the original article:

 

Hard evidence of the nexus between the British government of India and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) is available in A Life of Our Times, the memoirs of Rajeshwar Dayal, ICS published by Orient Longman in 1998.

The RSS was supplied detailed maps of towns and villages to enable them to attack Muslims.

Dayal says: “At a cocktail party, in early 1946, the Chief Secretary told me, almost casually that I would be the next Home Secretary of the U.P. I happened to be the first Indian officer named to the post which had hitherto apparently been reserved for British officers.”(Page 77).

As Home Secretary Rajeshwar Dayal became privy to the most confidential information “I must record an episode of a very grave nature. When communal tension was still at fever pitch, the Deputy Inspector General of Police Western Range a very seasoned and capable officer, B.B.L. Jaitley arrived at my house in secrecy.

He was accompanied by two of his officers who brought with them two large steel trunks securely locked. When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the western districts of the province.

The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every town and village of that vast area prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations. There were also detailed instructions regarding access to the various 
locations, and other matters which amply revealed their sinister purport.”

Dayal took the incriminating evidence to the Chief Minister Gobind Ballabh Pant “There, in a closed room, Jaitley gave a full report of his discovery backed by all the evidence contained in the steel trunks.

Timely raids conducted on the premises of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) had brought the massive conspiracy to light. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the organisation himself.

Both Jaitley and myself pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused Shri Golwalkar, who was still in the area. Pant decided to put the matter before his cabinet. There were RSS sympathisers in the Congress and the presiding officer of the Legislative council, Atma Govind Kher was a sympathiser and his sons were known to be members of the RSS.

The action taken was not arrest but a letter to Golwalkar stating the evidence and asking for an explanation. As could be expected Golwalkar slipped away and managed to elude the couriers. “This infructuous chase continued from place to place and weeks passed.”

The next paragraph, on page 94 of the book speaks for itself “Came 30th January 1948 when the Mahatma, the supreme apostle of peace fell to a bullet…”

These maps could have originated only in the British Surveyor General’s office. The British administration was known for the passionate zeal with which they guarded maps. That these were made available to the RSS is evidence of the link. 

     

Further, in a book written by Alex Von Tunzelmann, called `The Indian Summer: secret history of the end of an empire’, the author has exposed how the 1947 August-September-October Delhi `riots’were no riots―they were in fact an armed uprising conducted by RSS in alliance with retired army officers and personals against the secular basis of the new Indian nation state. Nehru was aware of the RSS plot, as was Patel―and Nehru gave Patel a stern warning to choose sides at this very moment. Patel caved in―then the Indian army was brought in to crush the anti-Muslim RSS rising, which left hundreds of thousands of Muslims of old Delhi dead.

These two instances show that RSS’ criminal character has a long history. In contemporary times, since 1990, with Advani’s first Rath Yatra these forces have persisted with just one agenda: anti-Muslim, anti-secular, anti-constitutional tirade. In the process, they have given birth to the Mumbai riots, then the backlash the Mumbai Bomb Blasts, then a whole spate of terrorist activities when the NDA was in power, and then the 2005-06-07 Mumbai, Malegaon, Nanded, Nagpur, UP terror attacks and then the latest spate of violence beginning with the 26th July Ahmedabad Blasts. Since that date in less than six months India has seen 64 serial blasts in six states leaving 215 dead and 900 injured.

        To further elaborate an earlier point: What has become now of Indian Mujahiden and SIMI? Why is the media not screaming about them after the latest Assam Blasts? Which new `terror’ organization and which devilish scheme the Indian security forces will come up with now?

        In India there is a clear alliance between a large section of Indian State (bureaucrats and security officials), the communal/fascist forces, the opportunist elements in the Congress and the BJP, the two main parties, and a large section of the Indian corporate pro-US, business class and leading media houses. The latter in fact have emerged as a major rallying point for fascist forces. Imagine after the death of several North Indians in lynch-style Ku Klux Klan marka attacks in Mumbai, Rajdeep Sardesai, the editor of CNN-IBN writes a letter to `his dear friend’ Raj Thackeray in Hindustan Times (31-10-2008) hailing him for representing Marathi sentiments but then advising him not to resort to violence against North Indians! Sardesai goes on to mention that after all he to is a migrant in Delhi!

        Now Delhi liberals, who hate UP and Bihar wallasas much as any elite in Mumbai, will welcome Rajdeep Sardesai’s article as a voice of sanity or something. But Rajdeep does not even question Raj Thackeray’s attempts to project himself as a protector of Marathi Manoos. Rajdeep nowhere raises the issue of backward caste and Dalit Marathis and how they have been cruelly suppressed in the name of Marathi unity and how the latest attack on North Indians is also a ploy to deflect the growing power aspirations of Dalits and the Marathi OBCs and MBCs―power aspirations which would threaten ultimately the unchallenged rule of the Marathi-Maratha forward castes.

        In Maharashtra, the Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena, as well Raj Thackeray all represent the Marathi forward caste―so does Rajdeep Sardesai and a whole lot of other Marathi intellectuals. The voice of the Vijay Tendulkar type Marathi liberal has been suppressed―now Rajdeep type individuals with a new, Anglicized, neo-forward caste tinge are in the field. However much they might not like the `violence of it all’ they share certain basic, elitist, anti-North Indian assumptions of the Maratha and Indian metro city forward castes. This neo-liberal/city elite is also mortally afraid and will continue to act buddy-buddy with Raj Thackeray, a clone of the even the most second rate Nazi trooper.

        The larger question is why are North Indians being targeted systematically? And what is the role of corporate houses?

        Since 2006, more than Rs. 80, 000 crore investment, mainly in the auto industry, is coming Maharashtra’s way. Concentrated in the Mumbai-Thane-Nasik triangle, this investment seeks to edge out especially the small auto part, indigenous manufacturers dotting the triangle.  The only way to do so is to encourage the large scale migration of the labor of the region―who happen to be North Indians!

        This scheme fits in well with the Congress game of making one Sena (MNS) compete against the other (Shiv Sena) with an eye to the next elections. Rajdeep of course has not mentioned the Congress-NCP game or the linkages with the corporate lobby―it is clear that in this win-win situation the corporate lobby and the Maharashtra Government as well as the communal fascist forces are hand in glove. If the North Indians die in Ku Klux Clan Style attacks; so be it.

        Perhaps these actors realize, or perhaps they do not, that a wider game is being played in India; the British East India Company came and colonized India through India’s eastern shore; the new game of global/US/finance capital is to effect an East India Company kind operation from the western shore. In this, first communists are browbeaten―like they were during the rise of Bal Thackeray―and then fascist, anti-Muslim forces are encouraged―and now North Indians are targeted. The aim is to create a situation where the Central or the Federal Indian power loses its grip over at least Gujarat (where Modi, the great friend of corporate-fascist India is ruling) and Maharashtra. The failure of the Central Government to act against Raj Thackeray is a deliberate move by the arch criminal Shiv Raj Patil, India’s Home Minister who also hails from Maharashtra, to suspend his own powers and that of the Indian State!

        But―again―why North Indians and people of UP and Bihar? The reason is simple―UP and Bihar are   the centers of anti-colonial resistance in 1857 and beyond. During the Mughal, Gupta and the Mauryan period too these two areas constituted the heartland, the base of India’s rise as a world empire. These areas are very fertile and peasant dominated with abundant resources, scope for development and Industrialization and a proud people who never gave up their freedom. What is more, UP and Bihar are home to the most stable, truly traditional and humanist-modern sections of Sanatan Dharma and Islam, the two great religions of India.

        These religions and Hindi-Urdu Belt peasantry resisted not just the British forces in 1857; they also struck a mortal blow to the world’s first corporate state―the East India Company. In fact, from 1857 till the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, private corporate state ceased to exist.

The 1990s and after are periods when under the IMF-World Bank, global capital went on the offensive against the state power as a whole in different countries. The idea was to dismantle/discredit state power as such and pave the way for the gradual privatization of entire, social-public and state sectors.

        In this, the concept of nation and nationhood was a major problem; nations of the developed world were still fine; but, according to the new emerging corporate logic, third world country states presented an anomaly partly because their overall orientation, despite several distortions, was socialist and nationalist―and partly because the global private sector found dealing with third world bureaucracy and respecting sovereignty a problem. This has been laid out bare in several books and plans, chiefly the PNAC (Plan For a New American Century), made by Neo Cons who acquired power under George Bush.

        The 9/11 attack forced global forces to pause and take a second look at the dismantling of state process. But in the name of war of terror, even war, warfare and military equipment was privatized. Right now in Iraq a large, parallel mercenary force run by a Christian Right Wing Company called Blackwater almost equals the US army strength. Through Blackwater and other such companies, Bush outsourced not just prisons and tortures but military operations. Blackwater is a profit making company like the British East India Company. When it operates on foreign soil, it is exempt from American laws, from Geneva conventions―as the latter concerns States only!

        Now if we come to India and the Ken Haywood angle in the Indian Mujahideen story, ignored by the Indian media, we see that Ken Haywood was an employee of a private multinational company called Campbell White, which was linked to the right wing Potter House Church in Arizona, which in turn was close to the most virulent, fundamentalist sections of America’s bible belt.

       Now it is not too incredible I hope to at least think that terror in India has been outsourced to private companies who for the moment are operating covertly for the time being.

       While the arrest of Pragya Singh and the exposure of her network is a welcome step, the total neglect of the Ken Haywood angle makes the Indian State susceptible to manipulations of private, International outfits, who are partly controlled by the CIA and the Mossad but are also capable of wringing themselves out of the control of any state agency. So it is possible that even RAW and the ISI do not have control over what is happening in India, and by extension in Pakistan. Only a thorough investigation, by a JPC can reveal the truth as to who started this process of privatizing terror. Organizations like Abhinav Bharati and the Bhonsale Military Academy found to be linked with Pragya Singh and the Malegaon Blasts are like Blackwater only―they are private outfits, which adhere loosely to the RSS and the Hindutva ideology, but are also capable of becoming a loose cannon.

        The Assam blasts may also be a work of private forces beyond the control of ULFA or HUJI.

        In this entire conspiracy, the Congress, the BJP, media houses and communal forces are primarily to blame―for they have supported privatization of media, security and terror―everyone knows how Lal Krishna Advani allowed a number of private organizations, bearing loose adherence to the Sangh ideology, to hold armed training camps during his tenure as the Home Minister.

        So there are two types of forces working against India and the idea of India―a section of the fascist forces inside and outside the state forces are targeting minorities―in the name of combating terror, they have institutionalized Muslim persecution in particular.Their long-term goal is to stem the tide of social change in India, roll back the OBC-MBC-Dalit assertion and create a chaotic situation in which the Parliamentary form of Government may get suspended and a Presidential form is instituted, suited more to the bipolar Congress VS BJP polity. In this conspiracy to roll back parliamentary democracy and suspend/change the Indian constitution written by Baba BhimRao Ambedkar, both the Congress and the BJP are hand-in-glove.  The corporate sector is backing this line of thought.      

        Then there are private forces, supported by foreign money, which are working sometimes in tandem with   state forces and sometimes independently, to create fissures, and divide Indian society at all possible communal, regional and other levels. The role of Indian corporate houses and security elements in furthering these forces is paramount.

        In certain situations, these two forces―State-communal and private-communal-mercenary―come together as in the Malegaon blast, the Mumbai incidents and the Assam blasts. It can be seen that the Assam blasts occurred just when the heat on Raj Thackeray got intense and investigations in the Praggya Singh case were revealing the face of real actors like the private Abhinav Bharati militia.

        In Mumbai, the Maharashtra Government is behind Raj Thackeray and the corporate lobby is behind the Maharashtra Government. The UP Bihar labor is labor-intensive and the new foreign investment coming into Maharashtra is technology-intensive. This is the economic reason behind the fake encounter of Rahul Raj of Bihar, the killing of Dharmadeo Rai and several other people from UP and Bihar.

        The Indian State therefore is being held hostage by two forces―a section of its own personal and secondly by private, national and International players working either with an ideology to create instability in India and Pakistan, or just like mercenaries working to create anarchy and perpetuate the forces of darkness as per their calling.

        Despite the American economic crisis and the world financial meltdown, foreign capital needs enclaves in India where things like sovereignty do not interfere with its activities. The Mumbai-Thane-Nasik triangle is one such enclave―so Raj Thackarey has powerful International backing and International forces have reached a point where after weakening the central Indian State during the liberalization era they are now dealing directly with states, encouraging them not to follow central dictates. Hence the scenario that Vilasrao Deshmukh is not listening to Man Mohan Singh or the Central cabinet and Maharashtra seems to have seceded from India. Hence the scenario in Gujarat and Orissa as well where too State Governments are not listening to the Center.

        The Center of course is weakening itself―in India we are seeing a war of Center against Center, state against center, state against state. The ultimate aim of anti-national foreign and domestic players is to encourage the security forces and government elements of various states to seek Independent actions and ultimately secession.

        The media is not even reporting cases like that of Allahabad and UP where an Islamic preacher named Zakir Naik was transported suddenly from Mumbai to create controversies about Imam Hussein and his status in Islam and polarize and divide Muslims also; this modern exercise was in stark contrast to earlier crude infightings between different Muslim sects, which did not carry the Zakir Naik type modern-political implications.

        Hindus have already been divided between Hindutva and Sanmatan Dharma―despite knowing that Sanatan Dharma is the Hindu religion, media and other forces have always depicted Hindutva as representing Hindus.

        Similar ploys are on to divide Indian Sikhs and Christians; the folly of Yogendra Yadav type figures is apparent in that while writing about how injustices produce terrorism and the like, they do not even hint at the wider conspiracy against the nation. Then they create non-issues like the unease felt by Hindus over minority communalism where no such unease exists―and moreover has Yogendra Yadav spoken to Sanatan Dharma leaders to find about their unease? It is obvious that Shri Yadav is bothered mainly about Hindutva forces and thinks they represent Hindus!

        In America, the military-Industrial complex is fighting back to hold on to `privatization of war and misery’ agenda against the espousal of more State intervention by Obama. The Obama Vs right wing conflict will determine in a way whether private corporate forces, and the military-Industrial complex will rule the roost. In India the communal-fascist-media-private corporate- nexus fears losing their grip over India―Shivraj Patil, the Home Minister is their leader―notice how the media has let him off!

These forces have somehow convinced the Congress and the BJP to go in for a Presidential style of Government as in that it will be easier to control the OBCs, MBCs, Dalits, women and minority aspirations. Failing that, a military-fascist coup cannot be ruled out.

        In this grave crisis, defeating the Congress and BJP is the main task of all secular-democratic, constitutional forces. Before that getting rid off the enemy number one of the Indian nation and people―Shivraj Patil―and then the enemy, number two―Raj Thackeray―is essential.    

        Intellectuals in west and North India do not realize that they are playing with fire. Shivraj Patil, Raj Thackeray, and Rajdeep Sardesai do not know the power of UP and Bihar people. If the police was not backing Raj Thackeray, UP and Bihar people would have retaliated in so many words to telling effect.

        Remember that UP and Bihar fought as a social structure to combat fascism and economic liberalization―see how the BJP has been marginalized in both the states. The pro-US, foreign-Indian corporate lobby will never forgive UP and Bihar for standing for Indian sovereignty, honor, deen and honor. UP and Bihar will resist forever corporate homogeneity and the rule of Ambanis and Tatas and Thackerays.

        The UP-Bihar angle links the Raj Thackeray episode, with bomb blasts and fake encounters like those of Batala House in Delhi and Rahul Raj in Mumbai. All are different sides of the same coin. In fact by killing Sajid and Atif in Delhi and Rahul Raj in Mumbai, the Delhi and Mumbai Police have de-communalized encounter killings―the sight of two similar fake encounters―one in which innocent Muslims were killed and another in which a Hindu fell to police bullets are before the nation to see and review.

The parallels are glaring and too close for comfort.

In India, Muslim persecution is now synonymous with persecution of North Indians. These two are synonymous with the persecution of Indian honor, sovereignty and dignity. In Raj Thackeray, the Maharashtra Government has created a Bhrindanwale. But this time, not the Indian army but the people of India, particularly of the North will exercise their supreme sovereign right to kill the state-sponsored paper tiger.

        Understand this: people of UP and Bihar fought and resisted against the British almost single-handedly for 200 years. Raj Thackeray and Shivraj Patil are nothing before them; note this: people of Bihar have asked Lalu to give them just two trains to Mumbai. They have nothing against ordinary Marathis. But they will show Raj Thackeray who is what; also the father of Dharmdeo Rai, the UP boy lynched in Mumbai, has returned the 2 lakhs offered to him by the State Government. He has declared a Rs. 20,00,000 supari on Raj’s head. And let me make this clear―in the coming war Marathi Dalits and MBCs will ultimately supportUttar Bharatis. 

        The answer to the question as to why 1857’s 150thcelebrations did not take place, and why such a historic opportunity of celebrating national sovereignty was let go off by the Indian State is this: 1857 created problems once it was `appropriated’ from the perspective of criminal-intellectuals like Swapan Das Gupta and Chandan Mitra by a Left nationalist like me―after all I wrote a 2000 page two volume magnum opus on the subject which no one could ignore. Giving importance to a subject like 1857 meant giving importance to me, which meant giving importance to Muslims, North Indians and Marathi Dalits OBCs and MBCs―the three forces behind 1857 and persecuted the most under the current dispensation.

Of course liberals like Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Mehta and Yogendra Yadav too did not utter a word of support for, me, or 1857.   

The silver lining is that the Congress and the BJP have not been able to polarize the situation. The BJP has fallen down the electoral ladder; the Congress hopes to scramble up but it is doubtful whether it will be able to form the next government without the Left or the third front.

In this scenario, the task is to form a new patriotic, democratic front, a people’s movement for civil rights and national sovereignty. Whether you call it the All India Patriotic Front (AIPF) or the Indian Patriotic Civil Liberties Union (IPCLU), this exercise will be friendly towards efforts aimed at building a new democratic political platform such as the Jan Sangharsh Morcha (JSM), the beginnings of which are already seen in UP where the JSM is organizing a huge rally on 10th November 2008. The next phase is to organize a march against Shivraj Patil in Delhi―and then a giant civil rights march early next year in Delhi to highlight two issues: enactment of civil rights laws like `atrocities against minorities (prevention)’ act and `torture and compensation’ act.                    

    

    

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A warning on terror from Frontier Frank By Christina Lamb, Sunday Times of London

September 30, 2008

FOOD FOR THOUGHT FOR INDIA’S POLICYMAKERS: Think before you leap with the US






From The Sunday Times
September 21, 2008


A warning on terror from Frontier Frank


Waziristan is America’s new front line in the war against the Taliban. The last British officer to have served there, now 81, tells it cannot be tamed by force alone

Overlooking the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, from the Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan. The outpost, only 800 meters from the border, is frequently attacked by Taliban forces, many of whom cross over from the South Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan
Christina Lamb

Few places on earth are as remote and hostile as Waziristan, part of the Pakistani tribal belt that the Pentagon now sees as the new front line in the war on terror. When the Americans started dropping bombs and sending commandos into the area last month, few westerners had heard of it. But to one retired insurance manager living by the sea in West Sussex, the name brought back vivid memories.

At almost 82, Frank Leeson is the last surviving British officer to have served in Waziristan. After years of quiet retirement with Gloria, his wife of 50 years, he suddenly finds himself in demand. Since Michael Hayden, director of the CIA, recently described the tribal areas as “a clear and present danger to Afghanistan, to Pakistan and to the West”, western officials have been hotfooting it to Leeson’s door to hear his tales.

In the crowded study of his chintz-curtained home in Ferring, he sits surrounded by books on the frontier tribes and black-and-white photographs that show him as a fresh-faced young man in shorts alongside ferocious Waziri tribesmen in elaborate turbans. “These are probably the grandfathers of the Taliban of today,” he says.

When he was just 19, Leeson found himself commanding the Khassadars, a tribal force of 1,000 Waziris. Their task was to keep the roads of North Waziristan safe for trade and British Army convoys during a long-running insurgency led by a religious hermit turned militant known as the Fakir of Ipi. “He was the Bin Laden of his day,” says Leeson. “He led us British a merry dance but we never caught him.”


Neatly written diaries recount his two years among one of the most ferocious tribes of the Frontier. His days were spent trying to organise his tribesmen into a disciplined force; in the evenings, when he was the only Briton in a mudwalled fort, he listened to Mozart piano concertos on a gramophone.

Modern British forces make much of how they try to learn about the culture before going out to Afghanistan. But their deployments are just six months compared with Leeson’s two years. While they generally spend downtime watching DVDs and reading thrillers, Leeson spent much of his spare time studying the local clan system and drawing intricate diagrams of their rifles. He learnt fluent Pashto and is probably the only man in Ferring who knows how to greet a Waziri: “Staraya ma shai” (May you never be tired).

Today he follows events avidly, spotting uneasy parallels with his own time and wondering what has been learnt. “I’m shattered, hearing the news and knowing all those places,” he says. “The Muslims I knew then were quite different, before the mujaheddin and the mad-rasahs. It was very tolerant. But it’s a perfect hiding place for terrorists, riddled with valleys and caves.”

As Leeson points out, Waziristan was the scene of Britain’s longest 20th-century antiinsurgency campaign, with fighting going on for 11 years from 1936-47. The Fakir of Ipi was never caught, even though in 1936-7 alone more than 40,000 troops were sent in and £1.5m was spent on ammunition and bombs.

“It was the forgotten front of the second world war,” says Leeson. Constantly on the move, hiding in the caves and mountains straddling the border with Afghanistan, the Fakir of Ipi – who died in 1960 – carried out a wave of terrorist attacks that killed thousands of villagers and 1,000 troops. Having managed to unite warring tribes such as the Wazirs and the Mehsuds, he was protected by fiercely loyal bodyguards and ran an effective intelligence network. He was helped with funds and arms by the Germans and Italians.

“It’s the worst mountain warfare country imaginable for a conventional army,” says Leeson. “Steep precipices, narrow winding valleys, every vantage point commanded by another and numerous refuges and escape routes.”

The son of an organist and choir-master in Bournemouth, Leeson was called up in 1944 and sent to India for officer training in Banga-lore – eventually becoming a lieutenant in the Sikh Regiment. In 1946 there was a call for qualified officers to volunteer for a special mission in Waziristan. A common expression in the army was “the only good Wazir is a dead Wazir”. They apparently spent their time killing each other, stealing cattle and sending raiding parties into British territory.

But to the 19-year-old Leeson it all sounded exciting. So in November 1946 he set off on the “Heatstroke Express” for the 250-mile rail journey to Bannu, then travelled on by bus. Leeson’s first night as one of four British officers commanding the Khassadars was spent in a fort at Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan. Today the town is the headquarters of Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Taliban commander; just 10 days ago a US missile strike killed 12 people there.

When Leeson arrived, the hills at the far end of the valley were the headquarters of the elusive Ipi. After a soak in a zinc bath, the newcomer was taken to the officers’ mess.

“It was explained to me that the job of the British was to control, not govern, the tribes,” he recalls. This was done through a combination of carrot and stick. Allowances were paid to local elders or maliks, who put forward a number from each of their subtribes to be Khassadars. “We’re supposed to trust them but we can’t,” Leeson was told – a similar sentiment to the remarks uttered by the troops working with the Afghan police in Helmand today.

The next day, information came in that the Fakir had organised a small army to invade the town of Spinwam and punish tribesmen for allowing through an infidels’ convoy. A jirga of tribal elders was convened with the aim of convincing them to stand up to Ipi’s men – with the promise of Leeson’s Khassadars as reinforcements.

Leeson described the elders as “tough, shifty-faced men”. Later he wrote: “It’s not easy to like the Wazir. He takes a lot of knowing. He loves fighting but hates to be a soldier. He loves music but has profound contempt for the musician.”

Spinwam was where Leeson was to be stationed and his route there the next day gave a good sense of what the British were up against. The road was littered with mangled steel and concrete remains – every bridge had been blown up by Ipi. Everyone Leeson passed was armed. The houses were all forts with thick mudwalls and a watchtower, from which men could see enemies approach.

At the fort in Spinwam he was met with sweet tea and cream biscuits and was introduced to his Khassadar bodyguards, “a picturesque gang of rascals with hooked noses”. His job of trying to inject discipline into their ranks was “a thankless task”.

The idea behind the Khassadar system – set up in 1921 – was to make the tribes responsible for securing their own areas and to distract young men from brigandry by giving them full-time employment. “The problem was that by 1946 the Frontier legion had deteriorated to such an extent that many did little or no duty in return for their pay and had come to regard the money as a bribe against active hostility to the government,” says Leeson.

“It had become like a family business where if a Khassadar died or resigned, his job – and rank – was passed to a son.” Leeson’s task was not helped by lack of funds for uniform and equipment. Khassadars had to provide their own ammunition – but, as he discovered, the impressive bandoliers they wore across their chests were often full of empty cartridges.

Every morning he held what were known as malikats – when Khassadars came in with complaints or petitions asking for time off to gather crops, attend weddings or funerals or finish off a blood feud. “The Pathan loves to embroider his stories,” says Leeson, laughing. Yet he grew to admire them, describing them as having “eyes full of manliness, laughter and the devil”.

He also learnt that nothing interfered with the Pathan code of honour, which is based on three principles: hospitality, protection and retaliation. “A man who has killed the brother of another need only go to his house to be treated as an honoured guest,” he said. It is this tradition of providing refuge even to those who have committed a crime that may have led Osama Bin Laden to choose the area as a hiding place.

Although improvised explosive devices did not exist in Leeson’s day, ambushes of British convoys were frequent. When he did travel, it was in an anonymous red lorry and he wore local dress.

Whenever there was trouble from a tribe, his Khassadars would be sent out with British forces to do a round-up. He would not inform the men until just before leaving as some might have been from the same tribe and would tip off the village. Then the British would hang back as they sent the Khassadars in.

“For political reasons, it was wiser to keep British officers out of the homes of possible hostiles, so we let their fellow tribesmen do the unpleasant task of turning them over to government,” he says.

It must have been a lonely life for a 19-year-old, listening to records and waiting for the post from home every fortnight, but Leeson remembers it fondly: “I particularly liked getting the illustrated magazines in the mail and showing them to my bodyguards. They couldn’t imagine a place where the ordinary man in the street doesn’t carry a rifle.”

More than 60 years later, his mind often drifts back to Waziristan. “I never imagined it would be in the news all these years on,” he says. “It’s very odd to see those familiar barren hills on TV.” He has now turned his diaries into a privately published memoir, Frontier Legion, and with the help of his grand-children has made a Power-Point presentation of his maps and photographs to show visitors.

He believes the Americans should learn a lesson from the British experience. “Using force alone is not the way,” he says. The Pakistani government is hoping the West is listening. Asif Zardari, the country’s new president and the widower of Bena-zir Bhutto, flew into London on Tuesday and met Gordon Brown and Dav-id Miliband, the foreign secretary.

Wajid Shamsul Hassan, Pakistan’s high commissioner in London, afterwards described the meeting as “more than excellent”. He said: “The British with all their history in that region know that these bombings and intrusions don’t help us but help the very people we’re supposed to be fighting.”

My brother is in the Army and they are based in Helmand. What he says sounds very similar to Mr. Frank Leeson’s experience. He writes pages of what had went through and how they are trying their best to make peace with tribes, and he says the people are the most honest but dangerous. 

Nick, ON, CA

Nick Mark , Toronto , Canada

Jeff, 75% U have quoted is a gross overestimation. Could u plz provide the source of info.If you see political history of Pakistan, all parties(combined) demanding a constitution based on sharia have never got >5% of casted votes. The parties advocating modern democracy have always prevailed

Talat, Islamabad,

it will be interesting to see how west handles this very dangerous area.so far they have not been able to do any substantial progress in afghanistan.For those making comment i would recomend to learn a bit more about the area and the tribal system.To me frank was right then & today

umair chaudhry, brampton, canada

I would assure you the US is aware of the culture. How it will be approached will be quite different from the historical British approach. 
If the Pakistan Government responds, then they are ahead of the game. Iran was never second on OBL’s list. 

Mike, santa fe, NM,

‘Every problem, considered closely enough, contains it’s solution’ 
Buddha

Chris, London,

I forgot the Brits like Des Browne want to call surrender “negotiations” – it sounds so much better that way. Never mind that 75 percent of the Pakistani public call for strict Sharia, never mind that Al-Qaeda has nuclear Pakistan as a new base, never mind that the Taliban seek a global caliphate.

Jeffrey, DC, USA

Jeffrey who said surrender? Are all you yank’s slow in the head? This man is merely saying lesson’s need to be learnt American army think’s it can go gung -ho wherever it wants look at the Paistani army they are suffering heavy losses everyday even they can’t handle the sitaution.

Tim, London, United Kingdom

What we read about now is only coverage on attempt to kill OBL before presidential elections in the US. US military and CIA could kill him every time since 9/11 2001. But they deliberately did not do it in order to earn as much as possible taxpayers’ money. At the result of unsuccessful wars, America received worst financial crisis.

Dmitry, Moscow, Russia

Jeffery, DC 

The article is not suggesting that the US surerrender in the war on terror. The message of the article is that lessons can be learnt, knowing the “enemy” is key. 

As this article shows dealing with insurgants is a far from easy task that requires more than just a gung ho approach.

Car, Eastbourne, UK

Quite pathetic that your best argument to get U.S. to surrender on Jihad has to come from a person who remembers Pakistan from 60+ years ago. Bravo London Times – in terms of fantastic leaps of logic you have truly outdone yourself this time. Perhaps you should go back to focusing on OBL’s poems.

Jeffrey, DC, USA

It’s highly doubtful that the US armed forces will ever appreciate the nuance of Frank’s memoirs and guidance. 
The Afghans saw off the Brits and the Soviets. I doubt the brainless Yanks will fare much better. And if Iraq is the blueprint then there truly is no hope.

Mark, Doncaster,

TIMES OF INDIA DOES IT AGAIN – VI : Has The Times of India, become ‘his master’s voice’?

August 4, 2008

Sunday, August 03, 2008

 

 

TIMES OF INDIA DOES IT AGAIN – VI

 

Has The Times of India, become ‘his master’s voice’?

 

See how it picks up the new guidelines laid down by US States Department, hires a writer with a Muslim name but with famously known extreme Leftist orientations (check his writings), and gets a hatchet job on the so-called Muslim terrorists in India.

 

The article written by Mohammed Wajihuddin was published by Sunday Edition of The Times Of India, on Aug 3, 2008 under the title: ‘Don’t give KILLERS a halo’.

 

In nutshell, it vexes, on the use of terminology of Jihad, Jihadis and counsels Times readers in India and abroad, that by naming the Killers as Jihadis, they are giving some kind of religious halo, to the killers and it should be stopped.

 

Now read a quote from ‘Human Events’, a widely circulated US internet newsletter, in which Robert Spencer writes in his May 5, 2008 article: ‘No Jihadi here’:

 

Quote:

 

Last week, the State Department, the Department of Homeland security and the National Counter Terrorism Center issued new guidelines forbidding personnel from using the words “jihad” or “jihadist” in reference to Islamic terrorism and its perpetrators. A Homeland security report tellingly titled “Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims” explains that this initiative comes from a concern not to offend moderate Muslims. By calling the terrorists “jihadists,” American officials could be “unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims.” Using the term “jihad” may not be “strategic.” Why not? “Because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world.” American officials “should not concede the terrorists’ claim that they are legitimate adherents of Islam.”

 

Unquote—

 

(http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=26256&keywords=No+Jihadi+here)

 

 

Now it is for all Indians to judge, if Times of India, like a bonded slave, following the dictates of US State Department, US Department of Homeland Security, has agreed to carry out a campaign on behalf of the US warmongers?

 

The worst part of Times of India brand of proactive journalism is to let his writer use quotes from obliging Muslim commentators, who are possibly unaware of the wider designs of Times of India’s collaboration with a foreign nation.

 

One is sure that liberals like Dr. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, Asghar Ali Engineer, A.G. Noorani, Dr. J. S. Bandukwala as well as conservative Islamic scholar, Maulana Abu Hassan Nadvi Azhari, would be the first to be objecting to any involvement with a US Government based effort to influence Indians one way or other. None of them is clearly in the pay of the US Administration. They may be critical of so many incongruities in Muslim world. However, all of them are on record condemning the US, for its illegal invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. The writer Wajihuddin had taken them for a ride, without giving full background to his motivation to follow the US line on how to deal with the Muslim at large through their deliberative change of official policies while he used their name and quotes to tailor his own agenda.

 

In his article Wajihuddin’s history starts with Syed Qutub, Hassan al Banna and Maulana Abul Ala Maududi.  Wajihuddin has failed to go back in history, when even in earlier centuries the imperialist powers had dreaded the very word of ‘Jihad’. British colonists supported Gulam Ahmed Mirza, the Ahmedi /Qadiani leader when he carried out his campaign against Jihad. British were most supportive of the ever increasing popularity of the earlier Tabligi Jamat movement, whose adherents toured every nook and corner of India, to exhort Muslims to strictly restrict themselves to prayers and shun Jihad, as any part of Islamic teachings.

 

It should not be surprising, that Wajihuddin/TOI has used the first title of the article as UNHOLY WAR. Since Wajihuddin has not bothered to write a single word against US war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be presumed that possibly he is convinced that President Bush is fighting a HOLY WAR in Iraq and Afghanistan and whoever opposes him, and that should include an overwhelming majority of world’s population, as clearly made out by a US poll, are in fact fighting an UNHOLY WAR against the US.

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

http://www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

 

 

PS: TOI’s article:

 http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Daily/skins/TOI/navigator.asp?Daily=TOIM&login=default&AW=1217769790390

 

 

UNHOLY WAR

 

 

‘Don’t give KILLERS a halo’

 

 

 

The Indian Mujahideen and others like them have shorn jihad of its moral and spiritual robe, says Mohammed Wajihuddin

 

 

 

 

   Two weeks ago, Zeenat Shaukat Ali, who teaches Islamic studies at Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College, screened Khuda Ke Liye, the widely acclaimed Pakistani film, for her students. During the subsequent discussion, many students asked Ali whether jihad, as the moderate Maulana Wali (Naseeruddin Shah) so passionately explains in the film, is not a war against infidels. “I am constantly asked whether killing of infidels and forced conversions are part of a jihad,’’ says Ali. “Every year, I give two lectures on jihad alone.’’

 

   That Ali’s students know so little about jihad is no news. Though this term is overused, no Quranic word has been more misinterpreted and misquoted than jihad and its derivative mujahid (one who undertakes jihad). Even those who bombed Bangalore and Ahmedabad last week chose to identify themselves as the Indian Mujahideen. Like their fellow travellers in Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Harkat-Ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HUJI), the Indian Mujahideen, if they exist at all, have conveniently misappropriated a sacred Islamic word for un-Islamic acts. Outside the Muslim world it is as loosely used—noted security experts, including B Raman, called the Indian Mujahideen among the “Indianised jihadis’’.

 

   “The word jihad appears 44 times in the Quran. Nowhere has it been used in the sense of a war,’’ says Islamic scholar Asghar Ali Engineer who has deeply studied the exact contexts of jihad in the Quran.

 

   Derived from the Arabic word ‘juhd’, jihad literally means to strive, to struggle. For war or battle, Engineer explains, the Quran has words like ‘qatal’ and ‘harb’.

 

   Engineer, like most Islamic scholars, both progressive and conservative, blames the media for loosely using the term jihadis for mass murders or terrorists. “Jihad is the media’s pet word today. Unknowingly or otherwise, the media gives the merchants of death a halo when it calls them jihadis,’’ he says. The brutal bomber is perhaps gloating when he is called a jihadi or a mujahid because that gives him a religious sanctity, elevates him to a pedestal he doesn’t deserve.

 

   If a “prejudiced’’ media has distorted terms like jihad and mujahid, Muslims themselves, especially the clergy, are no less irresponsible. Bhiwandi-based noted cleric Maulana Abu Hassan Nadvi Azhari accepts that the Muslims have failed to explain many things, including the concept of jihad, to the world. “Prophet Muhammad participated in 27 battles. But none of his warfare was offensive. He was forced to engage in battles where he had to defend himself and his then nascent community. This needs to be explained widely,’’ says Maulana Azhari, who trained at the Cairo-based famous Islamic seminary Al-Azhar.

 

   Maulana Azhari cites a classic example from the Prophet’s life where the founder of Islam articulated the importance of peace over war. On returning from a battle in Tabuk, outside Medina, the Prophet declared: “We return from the little jihad to the greater jihad.’’ “To engage in a combat is little jihad, but to fight the evils within, to overcome envy and spread peace is a greater jihad,’’ explains Maulana Azhari.

 

   Jihad was never the central tenet of Islam. It’s not even among the five pillars of Islam: Kalima (belief in Allah and His Prophet), namaz, roza, haj and zakat (charity).

 

   Jihad, even if it is used to describe conventional warfare for purely defensive purposes, can only be declared by qualified ulema (clerics), not by some misguided youths avenging real or imaginary injustices. “A war for territory like the Palestinians’ struggle to get their occupied land back cannot be called a jihad. That doesn’t mean the Palestinians don’t deserve their land,’’ says Vadodara-based scholar-peace activist J S Bandookwala who miraculously escaped the wrath of a marauding mob during the genocide of Gujarat 2002.

 

   Some scholars are worried at how a handful of hardcore political thinkers have hijacked jihad, denuding it off its spiritual and moral robe. Noted legal luminary-scholar A G Noorani has, through his writings, often opposed the so-called jihadis for misusing the ideal of jihad. After 9/11, a deeply anguished Noorani penned a slim book called Islam and Jihad where he named three personalities who misused jihad: Hasan al-Banna (1906-’49) who founded Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; Syed Qutb (1906-’66) who succeeded him on al-Banna’s assassination in 1949; and Maulana Abul-Ala Maududi (1903-’70) who founded Jamaat-e-Islami in Lahore on August 26, 1941. These ideologues propounded the theory that jihad could be used as a weapon to realise the dream of an Islamic State.

 

   “Maududi was opposed to the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan on the ground that nationalism was against the Islamic concept of the unity of the ummah,’’ writes Noorani. Interestingly, Maududi went to Pakistan after Partition. Noorani refers to Frederic Grare’s seminal book Political Islam In The Subcontinent which says: “He (Maududi) demanded a universal jihad, which he declared to be the central tenet of Islam. No major Muslim thinker had ever made this claim before.’’

 

   Decades later, a group of Maududi’s followers founded the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), now banned. “Jamaat-e-Islami distanced itself from SIMI when they deviated from the Jamaat’s principle. But anyone who fights injustice is a jihadi,’’ says Aslam Ghazi, Jamaat-e-Islami’s spokesperson in Maharashtra.

 

   Call them what you may, but don’t call mass murders jihadis or mujahideen.

 

TNN

mohammed.wajihuddin@timesgroup.com