Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’

Red journalism or yellow journalism?

October 3, 2009

3 October 1996

The Editor, Mid-day, Mumbai                                                                            


Mr. Iqbal Masud, the prominent media critic, should know better than to follow the hackneyed line of all news media and describe Taliban’s take-over of Kabul as barbaric victory, ( Ref: his article: ‘History cycle’ — Mid-Day, 3/10).

President Rabbani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmed Shah Masud fled Kabul and the capital of Afghanistan fell to Taliban without a shot being fired.

How does this become a barbaric victory.

Just because they hanged ‘one’ Leftist stooge who had himself hanged and killed more than 20,000 Afghanis during his ruthless reign of terror?

Is this the new brand of red journalism to compete with yellow journalism?






September 13, 2009



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Those who ignore the lessons of history, come to grief. British experience in Afghanistan when out of 20,000 only one man survived, was repeatedly cited when both Russia and now US are bogged down in Afghanistan. Nobody paid heed. Taliban had brought peace to the country after Russia left. US had good relations with them. It is their arrogance of power that they had to suffer so much ignominy when they thought they can uproot Taliban and impose their cronies on the country.

It is still time for everybody that wishes to do business with Afghan to restore the country to their rightful owners and deal with them as equals.

Afghanistan should be brought into the mainstream of 21st century civilization, with its freedom, dignity and independence fully restored to its people. They are proud and talented people. They will make their mark in the comity of nations.

If the US and NATO leave now, there will be chaos, but the power that emerges will be able to ensure longer term stability, if the world learns the lessons from history and let Afghanistan be left to Afghans.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai


Why run away from the enemy?

Swapan Dasgupta

Sunday September 13, 2009
There are good reasons why the commemoration of the eighth anniversary of 9/11 was remarkably subdued in both the US and Europe. The initial fear, followed by outrage and a steely determination to cleanse terrorism from the world has given way to frustration, despondency and defeatism. Iraq may have got off the front pages but Afghanistan, where it all began, is now increasingly being perceived as a hopeless war. Both liberals and conservatives in the West seem agreed that there is little point losing more lives and pouring money down a bottomless pit if the Afghans themselves are not sensitive to the charms of democracy and development.

Predictably, the dreaded Taliban with their medieval fanaticism and warped values invite maximum derision. But Western scorn is being dished out in equal measure at president Hamid Karzai whose exotic elegance once induced the perfect multiculturalist wet dream. Karzai is today being cast as a ballot thief and linked to sinister drug barons and ugly warlords. The ethical commitment that galvanised the post 9/11 crusade against the new evil has been considerably blurred by the realisation that the home side also plays foul. In the framework of moral absolutes, “we” are seen to be as imperfect and sinful as “them”. The will to fight the “just” war in Afghanistan has evaporated.

The implication is obvious: If the West can’t carry the proverbial white man’s burden in Afghanistan and, in Kipling’s immortal words, “veil the threat of terror/ And check the show of pride”, it should concentrate on its own aam admi concerns – like addressing schoolkids, pushing for universal healthcare and coping with the recession. A century ago, empire-builders could take on the fanatical Mahadi and his “Fuzzy Wuzzies” in Sudan to avenge the murder of General Gordon. In those days, public opinion at home didn’t count. As former US president Lyndon Johnson discovered to his cost in 1968, today a spectacular domestic track record can be effortlessly nullified by an overseas misadventure.

In the past six months, the West has acknowledged that it no longer has the political and moral resolve to do what it takes to win the Afghan war. Britain can barely stomach the death of 200 soldiers; a reinvented Germany can’t get over the collective trauma of having ordered the bombing in Kunduz; and the US Congress is taking a dim view of General Stanley McChrystal’s request for a last ditch surge in ground forces.

The war aims of the US-led NATO forces have been dramatically modified. From mounting an assault on a global menace, the West now wants to merely safeguard itself from terror attacks. In other words, if the Taliban can guarantee that it won’t mount terror strikes against the West or help those crazies from Birmingham who want videographed martyrdom, they can earn themselves the uninhibited right to thrash every barber, every musician and every unveiled woman. Their pent-up jihadi impulses can be carefully redirected elsewhere, as long as it is not Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the ones who are likely to oversee the post-withdrawal arrangements.

For Pakistan, the departure of the US-led forces and its own assumption of peace-keeping duties (for a generous consideration, of course) in Afghanistan will be triumph comparable in scale to the recovery of East Pakistan. First, it would have recovered its lost “strategic depth” in Afghanistan, an enormous gain in the context of its hostility with India. Secondly, it would have inherited the entire military arsenal of the retreating army. Third, as a price for guaranteeing zero terrorism against the West, it would have a reserve army of motivated Islamists to work for the “liberation” of India, particularly Kashmir.

India was an unintended beneficiary of Osama bin Laden over-reaching himself and inviting US retribution after 9/11. With the West’s likely retreat from Afghanistan, these gains stand in danger of being nullified. With an assertive China in the east and a re-energised Pakistan in the west, India may have reason to be deeply worried. How long can New Delhi live in denial and continue to raise the threshold of tolerance?

Yet, it’s not India alone that should be alarmed. When the last helicopter departs from Kabul and Mullah Omar returns to reclaim his lost Emirate, the Islamists would have won a spectacular victory. In just two decades, jihad would have been seen to have vanquished two superpowers – first the Soviet Union and now the US. The inevitable triumphalism is bound to infect the entire Muslim world. In Iran, it will reaffirm the conviction that a self-absorbed, decadent Western civilisation doesn’t have the moral gumption to resist a resurgent Islam.

The West should realise that running away doesn’t solve a problem; it often emboldens the enemy.



Rated4.8/5 (39 Votes)1 2 3 4 5

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Ali Khan says:
September 13, 2009 at 04:04 AM IST
9/11 is one of the incident in the World which has so many Conspiracy Theories Associated with it. One can just go to YouTube and you find a lot of people talking about it. We have seen 9/11 Truth Demonstrations through out the world but the interesting point is US Government never comes with their explanation or more evidense to support their story. One of the common quesion which we can ask to ourselves is where did the Plane Gone after hitting the Pentagon, the pictures shown were just showing a small hole/crater on one of the wall of pentagon.
Another interesting thing the series of things happened soon after 9/11 shows that this tragedy has been Politically utilized to its Full Extent by the US Government!!!

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Sameer says:
September 13, 2009 at 04:06 AM IST
9/11 is an Inside Job…

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September 13, 2009 at 05:10 AM IST
First Super Power USSR (now Russia) and now
Super Power America,together with other powerful
allies, are paying the price in fighting enemies
in primitive Afghanistan. Russia dug in for 10
years and left hiding the tail between the legs
incurring heavy losses in terms of human lives
and arms and ammunitions. America is in 7th year
and is finding the frustation of war in Afghanis-
-tan. Financially, all involved in Afghanistan
are now almost “bankrupt”. Very difficult to
pull on ? World is waiting to see who has the
last laugh !

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Rajat says:
September 13, 2009 at 06:49 AM IST
your whole article basically stands on the premise that Pakistan or some one there can guaranty that there wont be any strikes against the west post retreat from Afghanistan.
Americans might be foolish but they sure are not blind, they have seen what happened to the erstwhile USSR, and know that nothing could be more dangerous than giving the Jihadists the slightest chance to proclaim victory.
You should also know that there can be no end to this problem until either we are able to wipe out the jihadists or the whole world population turns to islam and we start moving back in time.

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Nitesh says:
September 13, 2009 at 08:09 AM IST
A very thoughtful article.
Once NATO forces go back and the dust settles in Afghanistan and adjoining area of Pakistan,Pakistan will turn the attention of taliban and other islamic fanatics towards India. And jammu & kashmir will again bleed and I shall wait for another terrorist attack in India though on a bigger scale.

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sam the man from pakistan says:
September 13, 2009 at 08:41 AM IST
untill the root causes of the terrorism is not dressed,their will never be a peace.greedyness of israel and india will keep the terrorism alive untill terrorism take them down.solve the palistine and kashmir problem according to the wishes of the people of kashmir and palistine,their will be no more terrorism.
fait of usa and other involve is going to be worse then rusia.mujahadins will humuliate these forces so bad that they will never dare to attack afghanistan again.

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Azharuddin Masood says:
September 13, 2009 at 10:22 AM IST
The world changed negatively after 9/11, but for Pakistan, it changed for better. Immediately after 9/11 it was well understood and conceived that Pakistani Government, Pakistan’s spy agency ISI was involved in the 9/11 attack. Since Pakistan have always been an ally of US right from the day of creation, Bush administration fully covered Pakistan and heralded as an ally of US and went after Al Qaida and Taliban, instead of waging a war campaign against Pakistan US included Pakistan as a frontline state in the war on terror but in reality Pakistan is the enemy of America, Afghanistan, India and humanity at large PATHOS!!! It was clearly indicated with proof that the then ISI chief General Mahmoud Ahmed instructed Omer Sheikh to transfer $100,000 before 9/11 attack to Atta the ring leader of 9/11. When the ISI chief was exposed of having send the money to the hijackers, the then President Musharraf now mentally retard, forced ISI general to retire immediately. Soon after the invasion of Afghanistan Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders went on run. Pakistan seems to be harboring Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. Pakistan knows very well that until terrorists are with them they will continue to get monetary aid and military aid from US which they are accumulating it to use against India. After 9/11 many Pakistani journalists’ referred to Al Qaida as Al-Faeda such was the monetary benefit to Pakistan. 9/11 literally spawned a new industry named “terrorism” for Pakistan. This not at all surprises me; Pakistan is a devil in the face of an ally. The best suggestion is the US should send its military into Pakistan from the western borders from Afghanistan and at the same time India should attack Pakistan from the east. World will never be able to root out terrorism without dismantling Pakistan. 99.9 % of Pakistanis are heavily sympathetic to radicalism. Its enough now and we should stop daydreaming and take a strong stance and attack Pakistan to make this world free of terrorism.

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Gunjan says:
September 13, 2009 at 12:09 PM IST
Very well written article and analysis. But we must not forget that the west would not hesitate to use the nuclear option like it has done in the past to tilt the balance in its favour.
What can stop them from doing it ? World opinion. But then the world opinion of the powers that matter (Russia, China, Europe, India and even Israel) are themselves fed up of islamism and its dangers. So its not unlikely that after the NATO forces leave, one large attack occurs on the world and the west builds a consensus to nuke the troubled areas of pakistan/afghanistan.
@ Sam the man from pakistan – palestine and kashmir are excuses that islamists use to justify their inherent need for fighting a holy war at any cost. We have seen it in the past and the world wont be fooled by such excuses to vent your islamic frustration. The moment you get palestine and kashmir, you would find another excuse. Let me give you an example – you as a pakistani – what do you have to do with palestine really ? Just because the palestinians are majority muslims, right ? In the same line of thought, you would find chechnya next, philipines after that, Uighuir chinese next and so on and so forth.
The cause of islamism does not stop at palestine and kashmir – it extends into world domination. And it is this desire that makes the west their most hated enemy as they cant tolerate the prosperity and power of the western world. THAT is the root cause of islamism and not political issues in faraway lands like kashmir and palestine. They are mere symptoms of the disease.


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Jake says:
September 13, 2009 at 12:22 PM IST
A really well writen article…it shows u have a real concern and understanding of the situation…while there is a lot that i could write on, including the real reasons for these wars, i’m just going to state here that american departure from afghanistan is imminent. The problem that the (the americans) have is that their population is wonderful (though horribly uninformed), and they really won’t let this war go on for too long….
Unfotrunately for the brave afghan people, the taliban will eventually take over (unless there’s a sustained effort by the international community to finish them)….Pakistan will be a victim of a monster of its own creation…..and incursions into Indian territory will not cease…
Never underestimate the afghans….afhanistan is the “graveyard of empires”….

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abhishek says:
September 13, 2009 at 12:25 PM IST
india has to learn some lesson from these attack and take some measure steep to stop it happen again but gov of india loock like to take it easey.

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anonymous says:
September 13, 2009 at 12:35 PM IST
The West must not abandon Afghanistan at this point in time.

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premji jairam says:
September 13, 2009 at 12:53 PM IST
It is strange that Indian dependence on US and western countries`stratagey regarding Af-Pak`terror agenda.This myopic view belittle political acumen of the Indian intellgentia who designed our policies.


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Nitesh says:
September 13, 2009 at 12:58 PM IST
@ sam the man from pakistan
So you want to say that till the time India and Pakistan doesn’t solve Pakistan problem, innocent kashmiri people will continue to die at the hands of the terrorist sent from your factories in Muzaffarabad and elsewhere which produce more terrorists than cotton produced in Pakistan. You see it’s a circle and you are seeing the circle anti-clockwise. Try to see it clockwise. Till the time Pakistan stops sponsoring terrorists across the boarder and planning attacks like 26-11 Mumbai attacks, the peace talks will never take off and bear fruits and remain hidden in the rusting files.
And don’t you worry about Afghanistan. Nothing will happen to terrorist’s hegemony over there. In some years USA will take it’s troops away and then you can always raise another powerful Taliban in Afghanistan and SWAT areas. This time ground Empire State building and Sears towers destroy statues of Buddha in India(World Trade Centre and Bamiyan statues are no more) and establish a rule of Islam whose meaning you fanatics don’t understand at all. Make Osama Bin Laden the Secretary General of UN if it at all exists in your Utopian world.

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Vikram says:
September 13, 2009 at 01:51 PM IST
The religious fundamentalist nut jobs should be fought with cold logic. There is no point in getting angry or emotional and making a lot of noise. It only makes them think that they have succeeded in upsetting others.
If they attack any civilized country, they should be systematically tracked down and eliminated. Also, destroy their irrational ideology with education and logic. Make them realize that there is no Jannat (Heaven) and that the only place they will end up if they become suicide bombers is six feet under the ground and decompose.

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Raj says:
September 13, 2009 at 02:05 PM IST
Whether one agrees or not ,the fact remains that Islam is fastest growing religion on the planet.
As I understand,in most of the arab countries unless a man has 4 wives and maintains 4 different homes to maintain them,he is considered to be not “strong enough”.The result is that muslims population is growing all over disproprtionately.
In India also Hindus,thanks to their adherence to family planning, are predicted to be minority in next 50 years and either there would be a civil war or another partition in such a case(even though I sincierly hope such things dont happen).
Even worldwide the these trends are being debated.For example a youtube video describes how Europe would be 30% Muslim in next 40-50 years and white Christian people may lose their liberal way of
life as Shariyat would implemented in such a case.
And if the strong leaders like Bush and Blair could not resolve this issue,who could?
Is it scaremongering and “communal” to raise such issues?I dont think so.
My suggestion is a frank and open dialoguse between various religions of the world so that consensus of peaceful co-existence could be arrived at.
Relions must encourage harmony amongst people and not create animosity between them.
Live and let live should be motto of everyone.



May 8, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009




It is no secret that Taliban is the creation of the US and PAK-ISI. Still the US senator Richard Lugar, who is the co-author of the bill with Sen. John Kerry to extend a 15 billion dollar package for Pakistan, is either naïve or trying to fool American public by asking, the connection between ISI and Taliban. In the same press conference, attended by the visiting Presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan, a call was made for India to help out. If Indian authorities are alert and listening, they can easily make out that India is being dragged by both US and Pakistan in this never ending imbroglio to become a convenient scapegoat at later stage, on one pretext or other. Besides involving our forces into any such spurious exercise, India is bound to lose its global prestige with non-aligned people as well as Muslim world. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a widely believed to be a US sympathiser, openly professing his love for Bush, there is an imminent danger, that he will bow to US pressure. There is only a 50/50 chance of Congress with Manmohan Singh coming to power after May 16 results. To take into account this phenomenon, the Congress government may rush in, as in the case of Quattrocchi, to give the US what it demands. Since Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi is supporting the UPA government from out side, it too will bear the responsibility of any hasty decision on entanglement in US-led AFPAK war that could have serious repercussion on India and its own integrity, security and social stability. People and political parties, therefore should be alert to see that no far-reaching irreversible commitment by this lame-duck administration is made, to the detriment of the coming generations.


Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

I don’t think we have reached the stage when Taliban will take over Pakistan : Rahimullah Yousufzai, the veteran who reports for the BBC from Peshawar

April 19, 2009



January 11, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Mumbai’s premier Urdu newspaper, Inquilab, in its today/Sunday edition carries an article written by one of its more popular writers, Hasan Kamal, under the title: Your Islam and our Islam. The title itself is meant to create mischief. Hasan Kamal, with other Marxists like Javed Akhtar and Javed Anand, had formed a paper organisation called Muslim for Social Democracy, has been an editor of URDU BLITZ, for decades and had followed his Leftist mission with the approval of the owner of BLITZ, the late R. K. Karanjia, who in his heyday, moved in the circle of world socialist leadership, like Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, among others. Of the trio in MSD, both Javed Akhtar and Javed Anand are professed agnostics, if not atheist and the group has now taken up the noble mission of projecting their version of Islam as the true Islam. Can there be any more flagrant travesty of fact, that those, whose professed beliefs are against Islam, should now have the audacity to become the votaries of ‘true’ Islam of their own concoction. Naturally the headline to the article starts sowing differences from the very outset, among the Muslim community in India. In fact, they follow the world-wide trend to sow divisions in Islamic polity on behalf of the world’s Zionist controlled US and are completely subservient to ideas put out by others and paddle them as their own.

The articles deals with the news, that Taliban have recently threatened girls to abide by Islamic strictures and abstain from going to ‘schools’.

Three points have to be considered in this respect. US has turned against Taliban as their leader Mullah Umar had refused to allow US oil giant UNOCAL to lay pipeline across Afghanistan as they differed on various terms. US then decided to overthrow Taliban hold on Afghanistan and start world wide propaganda against them as belonging to conservative brand of Islam that was against women in particular. The war over territory now turned a war on the ideology and practice of Islam in full conformity with the world wide war on terror or effectively a war on Islam. Taliban overnight turned into villains. Those who oppose Taliban, should first clear their own bona fides, if they are not following the western propaganda against Islam and not trying to reform Islam while in fact, working against Islam.

Taliban are in bad books with the Left, as they were in the same league as other Islamic Jihadists, who had overthrown Soviet Union forces that had occupied Afghanistan. That hurt still lingers and that is the main reason why the leftist find it convenient to join US propaganda to make Taliban the common enemy of the Western imperialists and as well as the Fundamentalist Marxists still embedded in woodworks around the world and waiting for their day in the daylight once again.

The recent advances made by Taliban in its confrontation with the occupied forces of US and NATO, with India merely participating as a contractor, possibly like Halliburton and KBR, the two private contractors that reaped billions of dollars through fictitious account fabrications, that might now attract Justice department scrutiny, when Obama takes over, — justifiably rang alarm bells in Indian security establishments. The Indian media without the intellect or the moral fiber to think on its own are sheepishly following US propaganda line against Taliban.

Leftist among the media are most vocal about Taliban treatment of women, as liberation of women has been their most potent instrument of change in society. They hardly bother to mention that the Soviet Union and its satellite states had rendered practically half of their womenfolk into legalized prostitution. Even today, a good decade and half after the breakup of Communist Soviet Union, the bulk of women trafficking in the world is centered on the devastated lands of the communist regimes. If Hasan Kamal wants his Islam to make that an ideal for Muslims to follow, he should at least not be economical with the full facts of the liberation of women according to Soviet model.

It is a fact that Taliban had been openly fighting to preserve the old customs within Islamic fold that were more cultural than religious.

However, it can be argued that Taliban had come out most vocally against the so-called women’s liberation, as their main objective was to stop the subversion and disintegration of their society that had set in during the few years of Communist rule in Afghanistan.

Any new broom sweeps with new vigour. There is no reason to believe that over the time, Taliban would not have followed other Muslim nations and started educating their womenfolk, within the norms of the societal parameters that had kept Afghanistan identity alive. However, it would have been their free choice, not imposition from occupying forces, either of the Communist or Western kind.

Those who had visited Afghanistan during communist rule could not deny that in the name of liberation of girl-child, the urban areas under communist state’s jurisdiction, widespread womanizing and prostitution had come to be regarded as the new dawn of civilisation.

Afghanistan economy had not (and still has not) expanded enough to give employment opportunities to the educated womenfolk and when they broke away from their family moorings, they had to support themselves through means fair or foul. So merely educating the masses, without any commitment for their absorption in new decent societal standards that fits Islamic traditions, was not a progressive but a very destructive ‘revolution’. And the beauty of this ‘modernization’ was that it was supported by both sides fighting for paramountcy in Afghanistan, the Marxist and the capitalist imperialists.

In this context, Taliban are fulfilling the role of liberators of their country, from the clutches of foreign hegemonists.

Hasan Kamal wrote off his column, without even bothering to check if Taliban had ever issued any such statement and what is the worth of any such pronunciation. For him, it is frivolous to even think otherwise, as long as fits their agenda of sowing divisions in Muslim community and dividing ‘their’ Islam from ‘our’ Islam.. After all the US and its Jewish thank tanks have done a thorough brain wash of the whole world and it is preposterous to expect that some of our writers, would not fall prey to the imperialist line against Islam and Muslims. Samuel Huntington is dead, but not his ideas about the ‘clash of civilisation’. It is for us to know, which side we belong and not to get distracted from minor and temporary set-backs.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

Butcher and Bolt: Two Hundred Years of Foreign Engagement in Afghanistan

October 28, 2008

The killing fields

John Sweeney

Published 23 October 2008


What are we doing in Afghanistan? A superb new history shows how successive invaders have tried, and failed, to bring order to the country through force

An Afghan man rides his donkey beside the Band-e-Amir lake.


Butcher and Bolt: Two Hundred Years of Foreign Engagement in Afghanistan


David Loyn


Hutchinson, 351pp, £18.99



The Duke of Wellington was a cantankerous reactionary but he knew a thing or two about Afghanistan: “a small army would be annihilated and a large one starved”. On 13 January 1842, a sharp-eyed sentry in Jalalabad saw the more-dead-than-alive figure of the British army surgeon Dr William Brydon crossing the plain, struggling to stay on his pony. He had a bad head wound and was bleeding from the hand. When eventually the pony was taken into a stable, it lay down and died.

Roughly 16,000 British troops and camp followers hadn’t made it from Kabul – one of the most terrible defeats of British military might in the 19th century, commemorated in Lady Elizabeth Butler’s painting Remnants of an Army. Brydon was the sole survivor. The massacre of Lord Elphinstone’s army prompted a series of revenge attacks by the British, which developed into wars. In 1849, 1850 and 1851, huge numbers of British troops swarmed into Afghanistan, butchered and then bolted. And still the Afghans fought back.

In 1860 the British took Peking but a few years later they were back in Afghanistan’s borderlands with 12,500 troops – more than the army needed in order to subdue the Chinese capital – and still the Afghans fought back.

In 1878 came the Battle of Sangin. The British had immense advantages in material – better guns, better communications, better everything – but still the Afghans fought back.

On 17 January 1880 a small and extremely emaciated Talib, or religious student, approached a group of British Royal Engineers in Kandahar and tried to stab Sergeant Miller to death. This incident was the first recorded suicide attack in Kandahar. The Afghans were fighting back, asymmetrically.

The British looked at the map and drew a line – a smudge, more like – along the highest ridges of the Suleiman Mountains, dooming generations of local people yet unborn to almost constant war. Right now, US drones are buzzing along that very line between Pakistan and Afghanistan and getting shot down.

In 1893 the Amir of Afghanistan, a “cunning rogue” named Abdur Rahman, talked sweetly with the British but also wrote a book in which he attacked the infidel and called for jihad, using exactly the same extracts of the Quran as Osama Bin Laden did a century later. The Afghans were fighting back, ideologically.

At the fag end of the 19th century Sir Lepel Griffin, a man of rare sceptical intelligence, wrote to the Times, thundering: “this policy consists in spending a quarter of a million annually on a post of defence and observation which defends and observes nothing, and on the maintenance of a road which leads nowhere”.

Oh dear. And after that came the Russians in 1979, and exactly the same thing happened to them. And now it’s happening to the Americans and the British. Captain Leo Docherty, an officer of the Guards, fought battles in Sangin in 2006 that were first fought in 1878. He reflected on British policy: no proper plan, but “disjointed ill-considered directives from headquarters . . . an illusion . . . the time spent there now seems to be an egotistical folly . . . a tragic replay of Soviet clumsiness”.

Oh dear me. David Loyn, a long-time BBC foreign affairs reporter, has written a brilliant history book of Afghanistan’s wars of the past two centuries, but more importantly the evidence he amasses poses a primary question about the war being fought inside Afghanistan: are we sure this is a good idea? The lesson from history suggests it might not be.

This presents a horrible quandary. Al-Qaeda committed mass murder in Manhattan on 11 September 2001 and the whole operation was cooked up in Bin Laden’s bases in Afghanistan. If the west’s forces – chiefly the United States, Britain and Canada – pull out, it is inevitable that the Taliban will return to power and that al-Qaeda won’t be far behind.

General Sir Mike Jackson, the most thoughtful British soldier for a generation, said a few months ago that the war must be fought, because otherwise we hand over Afghanistan to the Taliban and then on to al-Qaeda. Anyone who believes that the Taliban/al-Qaeda don’t pose a threat to the western world is daft. Too many people have died in Baghdad, Islamabad, Madrid, Bali and London since the 11 September 2001 attacks for anyone to hold the idea that the threat is imaginary or that the US will just turn the other cheek.

On the other hand, the Afghan narrative is almost absurdly unchanging. Any foreign military adventure in Afghanistan is doomed to fail: the land is unforgiving and the people are hostile, secure in their Islamic faith – which ratchets up to a fresh level of purist absolutism with every bomb that falls. They may lose battle after battle, but still they fight.

Loyn writes well of the Soviet invasion, of how the Soviet generals bombed, tortured and shot civilians willy-nilly, and yet still they lost and had to leave Afghanistan in defeat. He quotes the great Italian journalist Tiziano Terzani: “War is not a profession for Bin Laden and his people. It’s a mission. Its roots lie in the faith they acquired in the close-minded Quranic schools, and above all in their deep feelings of defeat and impotence, in the humiliation of a civilisation, Islam, which was once great and feared but which now finds itself increasingly marginalised and offended by the overwhelming power and arrogance of the west.”

Is there a solution? Probably not. Absolutist Islam lacks the means but not the will to defeat the west. The west has the means but not the will to defeat absolutist Islam, least of all inside Afghanistan. However, it might help if we dumped well-intentioned fantasy. Loyn makes the point, again and again, that first British, then Soviet, and now US policy on Afghanistan has been formed by tellers of fairy tales in London, Moscow and Washington and not by the complicated and difficult reality on the ground. It is clear that he admires much about Afghans. He is one of very few reporters who have spent time with the Taliban – and found the men who protected him personally honourable, respected by their communities and very much in control on the ground. He is not mindless of the dark side in Afghanistan: of how, in the chaos after the Russians left, a tank battle took place between two commanders as they both wanted sex with the same boy; how the Taliban murders schoolteachers who seek to give girls an education; how the Taliban’s logic acts like a kind of “anti-matter”, a black hole that engulfs the western mind.

Loyn is clear that much of the “mud” attached to the Taliban can more accurately be applied to the entire Afghan mindset, especially that of the Pashtun heartland: deeply conservative, contemptuous of externally imposed “democracy”, unbothered about liberal rights or the education of women. He writes that “the simple narrative of heroes and demons – ‘mujahedin good, Taliban bad’ – imposed on Afghanistan was another externally drawn picture: an Afghanistan of the western mind”.

In 2001, a few days after western troops marched into Kabul, some BBC colleagues and I drove up from the south through the Khyber Pass and entered Afghanistan. The people didn’t look overjoyed to see us. Near Jalalabad, going in the opposite direction to Dr Brydon on his dying pony, our driver suddenly picked up speed and began to drive murderously fast. We were being chased by the Taliban. A few hours later, four foreign journalists were murdered on the same road, almost certainly by the people who had pursued us. If this was a liberation, it wasn’t universally popular, to put it mildly.

I remember listening, once we arrived in Kabul, to people like William Reeve, the BBC reporter in Kabul before, during and after the 11 September attacks who got bombed out of his chair by the Americans, got back in it and carried on broadcasting. He said that the Taliban had stopped poppy production, had stopped corrupt roadblocks springing up everywhere, had enforced “sharia” law – and any form of justice is better than the anarchy that flows from gun law. As far as Afghans were concerned, the Taliban weren’t as black as they had been painted.

The solution for people who have spent a long time in Afghanistan was a different one: to work with the Taliban and somehow to uncouple the Afghan fighters from al-Qaeda. Seven years of killing later, it feels a bit too late to try that now. So, western policy seems glued to fighting a war that many people in the know are now saying the west is never going to win: “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here . . .”

Butcher and Bolt challenges such rigidity of thinking. Loyn rubbishes the Americans’ supernatural belief in technology above all things, and points out that the Taliban have one and a half million recruits in Pakistan’s madrasas, just over the border. It is a bleak conclusion to a book that should be a must-read for every politician who sends our squaddies into Afghanistan – but one based fairly and squarely on the weight of history.

John Sweeney is an award-winning investigative journalist

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 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’ 

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,

Ghulam Muhammed’s Rejoinder to: Islamism is the main threat to India By Tavleen Singh

September 6, 2008


Friday, September 05, 2008


Ghulam Muhammed’s Rejoinder (embedded in blue italic text) to:


Islamism is the main threat to India


By Tavleen Singh


(Published in Afternoon Despatch & Courier, Mumbai, on Friday, September 05, 2008)


Nothing is more important in today’s world than a public debate on the growing threat of Islamism and its evil cult of death and destruction. It is a huge problem not just for us on the Indian subcontinent but in the whole world; so I am happy to talk about it any chance I get. And, because most Indian columnists are too politically correct to discuss the problem I get labeled anti-Muslim.


(You are merely parroting the neo-con Jewish line that they have fed to the western media. Islamism and terrorism were non-existent from world public discourse when the US-backed the so-called gullible ‘Jihadis’ were fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan.


Once US realised that Mulla Omar, who defeated the other two fighting forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmed Masood in a long drawn civil war  and became the head of Taliban government of Afghanistan, was  not willing to  yield to their demands to allow oil pipeline project of UNOCAL to pass through his conquered territory, the US completely changed its strategy and resolved to throw out Taliban. As is the classis pattern developed by US and Israeli Zionists, before physically attacking and invading a country, they organise massive demonising propaganda against their target. They did it against Soviet Russia, when US President Ronald Reagan branded it as an ‘evil empire’. Taliban leader, Mulla Omar had visited US for negotiations with the US over pipeline project. But the negotiations fell through and Taliban became the no. one enemy of the ‘free world’.


If you know the whole scenario and are still brainwashed by US and Zionist propaganda, and willing to echo ‘his master’s voice’ by raising the bogey of Islamic ideology and terrorism, then you cannot escape being called a gullible soul.


It is people like you that fudge the difference between US/Israeli hegemonical worldview and an independent freedom loving secular democratic worldview, that fight phantom wars .Have gun will fight, have pen will write. They fail to exercise their own intelligence to judge the issues and events and feel cozy wrapped up in their cocoons of ignorance.


Islamism, even if at all be called an ideology driven political doctrine to conquer the world, how does that differ from several other world hegemonic doctrines? Why for India and you personally, a communist world, or a Zionist world or a Christian world order or even a Ram Rajya, is not a threat but Islam is the main threat?


Besides, in India, all religions and ideologies are free to profess and propagate as per freedoms guaranteed by our constitution. So by what yardstick you are discriminating against Islam.


If you are against Islam as a religion, and believe that religion should not enter public domain, how can you explain such a heavy intrusion of Hindu culture and mythology in state affairs so overwhelmingly dominating Indian polity, without any body declaring it as a main threat to India?


I would like to paraphrase your headline. In fact, it is bigotry that is the main threat to India.)


A debatable heritage


I bring up the subject this week because of a letter I received in response to my column last week on the death of the poet Ahmed Faraz.


The gist of that piece was that it was tragic that sixty years after independence we remained so colonized that Indians writing in English got all the credit and recognition while our best writers wrote in Indian languages and remained un-translated and ignored. Personally, I thought it was harmless bit of musing but it provoked a correspondent by name of Ghulam Muhammed to accuse me of not acknowledging Urdu as an Indian language. It was a bizarre conclusion for him to draw since nearly every writer I mentioned wrote in Urdu.


But, Ghulam Muhammed’s main purpose in writing his letter was to charge me with causing damage to ‘the Hindu-Muslim unity of the nation by her (my) warped line of communal writings’.


Happy to engage him I wrote back saying it was he who was guilty of communalism because he sought to link Urdu with Islam. It is because Pakistan did this when came into being that Urdu was replaced by Hindi in India and not given the importance it should have been except in Bollywood where it remains till today the language of Hindi cinema. It has been given renewed life by Hindi television channels who long ago abandoned AIR ‘shudh’ Hindi for Hindustani.


(Once Indian leaders agreed to the division of the country, why should they care how Pakistan is organising itself? Since Pakistan became an independent state, they had every right to claim Urdu or Punjabi, Bengali, Sindhi, Pashto, Baluchi, as their national language. They chose Urdu for its wider acceptance. Where does religion come into the picture?


The main question for India that should concern us as Indian is, that once India had declared itself to be secular, how can it brand one of its own languages to be as non-secular or religious. India has no right to be communal on the pretext that Pakistan had become communal.


Besides, it is a historical record that Urdu lost to a casting vote by a person, less committed to secularism. Why Indian Muslims should be blamed for turning Urdu into something religious. It is the Hindus who forsake Urdu on communal grounds.)



But, it was not the piece about Urdu; it is about my ‘communal writings’. Ghulam Muhammed responded to my letter by writing a long, insulting letter which he circulated by –mail to everyone he knows.


It is too long to reproduce here but contact and I am sure he will send you a copy. He charges me with demonizing Muslims, while not speaking out against the ‘violence of the Hindutva kind’, of using my ‘poison pen’ to ‘succour and sustain the communalism of the majority’ and an ‘obsessive hatred of Muslims’.


It is journalists like me he says who will be responsible for the ‘disintegration of India’.


(I stand by my stand.)


These charges are made all over the world against anyone who dares raise their voice against Islamism. Writers far more famous than I have been killed for daring to speak out and some like Ayaan Hirsi Ali have been forced into permanent hiding because of their courageous stand against Islamism. Meanwhile, the popularity of Islamism among supposed moderate Muslims all over the world continues to grow as can be seen from the change in Islam that has come about in formerly liberal Islamic countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.


(Revival of religious fervor is directly related to world demonisation of Islam and Muslims after 9/11; which itself is widely reported to be an inside job. Muslims have every right to raise their voices against uncalled for and undeserved demonisation. Even overwhelming moderate majority of Muslims have now come to realise that anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim propaganda is political and ideological driven and are more vocal protestors against such Goebbellian propaganda. It is this backlash that has radicalize even liberal Islamic countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.)


Unwelcome change


In India we see the change everywhere. Liberal, moderate schools of Islamic thinking are losing the battle to those of the Darul Uloom variety who remain mired in the 7th century Arabia. Anyone who doubts this need to make a quick trip to the Darul Uloom’s headquarters in Deoband and see what it looks like and the kind of Islam it preaches to its students. It was the ideology preached at Deoband that gave birth to nasty organisation like SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India). There are those who defend SIMI on the grounds that the allegations of terrorism against their member remain unproven. Perhaps. But, what about their ideology that is based on the principle that the values of Islam have to be imposed on India and that such values that India cherishes like secularism and democracy are nonsense. Surely it is this kind of ideology that produces evil cowards who wander about the country killing innocent people in the name of Allah.


(Your charges against Darul Uloom and SIMI are baseless. Darul Uloom has been teaching the same Dars e Nizami syllabus since its inception over more than a century ago. It is the same teachings that motivated Darul Uloom elders to oppose the establishment of Pakistan. Nobody can deny except the ignorant, that Darul Uloom was in the forefront of India’s unity and it backed Indian National Congress to the fullest. How the same Darul Uloom now has become ‘the hotbed of terrorism’. Isn’t this the US propaganda that gullible scribes in India are slavishly following?


The connection between Taliban and Darul Uloom is most outlandish. When US had to fight young generation of the Afghan refugees that had fled to Pakistan during Afghanistan’s war against the occupying Soviet forces, they chose the common linkages in the syllabus that the Taliban had been taught in to denigrate all madrasas. Such stupid linkages can only convince either the ignorant or the bigots to believe that fault lies with Islamic teachings and not with the US forces invading a foreign country on false pretexts. Even after so many years, if Indian journalists are still harping the same old tune, without using their own independent judgment and intellect, it exposes their utmost ignorance and herd mentality.


The case of SIMI is still another example of dimwit commentators ignoring the state’s propaganda and demonising of Muslims, that had invented an enemy and indulging in their sadistic criminalities. Perfectly innocent people are arrested and tortured and the so-called liberals and secularists are keeping aloof, just because the victims of state terrorism are ‘Muslims’. Isn’t this communalism of the most glaring and obnoxious variety? Where are all human rights organisations? There is strong belief among Muslims that a Zionist advisory is most probable suspect of this copycat strategy to target Muslims in India..)


If saying this is ‘demonising Muslims’, I plead guilty. If stating that religion must stay out of public square is an attack on Islam, then I plead guilty again. Whenever Hindutva has raised its evil head I have attacked it in exactly the same words I use to attack the jihadis. And in the days of Bhindranwale I was among a small handful of journalists who openly opposed the fanatical Sikhism he was preaching. I was put on a hit list for my pains and continue to be on a Hindutva hit list so I must be doing something right.


Anybody who believes that the Islamism is not the main threat to the existence of India as we know it need only examine what has happened in Kashmir. Fifteen years ago the movement for ‘azadi’, was secular and the militancy did not have the hint of jihad in it. Today the ‘secular’ leaders of Kashmir have been forced to follow jihadis who have no hesitation in shouting Islamist slogans in public and making hatred for Hindu India known. They speak openly against ‘Indian culture’ and have turned Kashmir into a place where going to the movies is considered a sin. Islamism works ideologically and through terrorism. It has to be fought at both fronts…


(Before condemning Muslim reaction in Kashmir as well as in India, you must consider if Indian administration had been above board in its dealings with the Muslims. Some disgruntled could have taken to arms, but to treat such outlaws as being Jihadis is an affront to Islam. Unless it is excused as ignorance of Islam, both by the outlaws as well as their detractors.)




June 15, 2008


Sunday, June 15, 2008


How MJ Akbar humours the Brahminical leadership over the small mercies of partition!


In his article: ‘How Pakistan insulates India from terror’, published in The Times of India’s Sunday Edition of today, June 15, 2008, author M. J. Akbar, bents over backward to convince India’s Brahmin leadership, that after all, given Pakistan’s existential dilemma with the more boisterous Muslim fundamentalists and extremists, India should count its blessings, that the partition, which was used by the Hindu establishment, against Indian Muslims, as their eternal sin, has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Pakistan has become a buffer state between India and the menace called Afghanistan/Pakhtunistan (the Taliban/Al Qaida country).


M. J. Akbar, however, correctly points out another blessing that the creation of Pakistan indirectly had gifted to India. British army, comprised of 50% Muslims, overwhelmingly the ‘martial race’ from the North, which, in undivided India would have been difficult to handle, if the Brahmins had mistreated Indian Muslims, as their record of last 60 years has anything to go by.


I would say, M. J, Akbar is rather hasty in his judgment. The menace from the north is yet to fully unfold and India cannot remain insulated from the storm, if and when it envelops Pakistan. Treatment of Indian Muslim should be taken up on its own merit, with due dispatch.



For Indian Muslims, another blessing of the sort should be evident. They will not have to fight a Brahminical or American war, as they are the neo-dhimmis in India, being kept out of the fighting forces.


Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai



How Pakistan insulates India from terror


By  M. J. Akbar


   A few days ago, the government of Pakistan abandoned a ceasefire pact with insurgents operating across the tribal Pakistan-Afghanistan border, reached by Pervez Musharraf but reasserted by his successors in power. On June 11, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, said in Washington that any future terrorist attack on his country would probably originate in this region, known by its acronym, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). This had become the most secure base of al-Qaida, he added, after the fall of the Taliban in Kabul.


   Why has al-Qaida become a cancerous bone in Pakistan’s throat, with the country neither able to digest it or spit it out? There is general agreement across different elements of the Pakistan establishment that swallowing this bone will infect the body politic beyond cure. But instead of surgery, there is a paralytic helplessness as al-Qaida and Taliban beliefs and prescriptions seep into street, village and towards the foot soldiers that form the core of any armed force.


   Both the army and newly elected democrats fumble when faced with a basic, if provocative, query: Why is Islamabad fighting America’s war against fellow Muslims? The overlap between Pakistan’s ‘national’ interest and the interests of the ‘Muslim Ummah’ has been further blurred in the northwest frontier by a shared ethnicity that has never recognized the Durand Line as a barrier between Pakistan and Afghanistan.


   Islamabad’s dilemma revives a question that raged on the sidelines of the Partition debate between 1940 and 1947: Could united India ever have a secure border on its northwest frontier? The Khyber Pass was the traditional “gate” to Delhi. Would the Muslims of the region, and their brethren in the united Indian Army, secure the gate or open it for any Muslim invaders? The British, it is commonly known, regretted the division of the British Indian Army much more than they regretted the partition of British India. Others were not so sure. Among them was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the great Dalit hero who considered himself neither Hindu nor Muslim and was thus above the growing bitterness between the two.


   The Secretary of State for India revealed a trifle reluctantly, the ethnic composition of the British Indian Army in the House of Commons on July 8, 1943: Muslims were 34%, Hindus 50%, Sikhs 10% and the rest 6%. But these were wartime statistics, when emergency recruitment had altered the traditional balance, or imbalance. It was believed that the Muslim proportion of the peacetime British Indian Army, driven by the “martial races” theory and the belief that Frontier Muslims were superior soldiers, might be as high as 50%. There was no question that the army of a united India would retain a high percentage of Muslims, largely recruited from the frontier; political pressure from Muslims would ensure as much.


   Would Muslim soldiers be immune to the lure of pan-Islamism? The Muslim League had resolved that the Indian Army should not be used against Muslim powers, conflating Indian and pan-Islamic interests. It was also recalled that during the Khilafat movement (1919-1922), Muslims displayed potentially explosive angularities. Maulana Mohammad Ali had invited the Amir of Afghanistan to invade India and conquer Delhi with the help of an Indian uprising.


   Dr Ambedkar argued that India was better off divided, because it could not remain a secure state with such confused loyalties at its porous crown. A new ‘Hindustan’ army, created out of the resources of divided India, would be untroubled by dual loyalties. Given that Pakistan has few answers to the incessant diet of bombs and suicide missions, we need only to pause and consider the havoc that a strong Qaida-Taliban movement would have caused across the cities of the Indian subcontinent if it had not been substantially, though not completely, insulated by the Indo-Pak border. Imagine the nightmare of an undivided India.


   Indian Muslims, who consciously opted for their motherland, paid a heavy price: they were not to be fully trusted with the defence of India. No one doubted their patriotism in the 1962 conflict with China, but during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, they were picked up arbitrarily and detained without trial by the Congress government of Lal Bahadur Shastri. The heroism of Havildar Abdul Hamid was treated as an exception. This prejudice was a major reason for minimal Muslim presence in the Indian Army and police services.


   The Indian Muslim mind shifted from a pseudo-glorification of the idea of Pakistan in the 1940s to fear, resentment and uncertainty over the next two decades. Bangladesh was the turning point; it was clinching evidence that Pakistan was not a paradise for Muslims, but the preserve of a regional culture and mentality that was not ready to treat every Muslim as an equal. Indian Muslims abandoned, completely, any residual temptation for Pakistan. This is not just my effort to be politically correct. There is evidence: the complete lack of interest that Indian Muslims have displayed towards the Kashmiri insurrection has puzzled and frustrated the self-styled “pan-Islamic jihadi” organizations who expected Indian Muslim support in the effort to terrorize the Indian state and people.


   When Indian Muslims get angry, they do so for their own reasons, not for Pakistan’s. Muslims born in free India are not ready to be victimized for the mistakes of their fathers. This is an assertion of equality, part of the confidence gifted to them by the unique democratic values of the Indian Constitution.


   The violent Sikh upsurge of the 1980s reminded India that there was more than one potentially hazardous minority, and that the politics of indifference could not be sustained.


   The most heartening image of contemporary India, to me, are the slightly funny pictures of young Muslims puffing their chests to meet physical criterion during periodic recruitment drives for the Indian Army or paramilitary forces.


   I wish Indian politicians would appreciate that the politics of patronage is no substitute for the politics of indifference. Patronage is essentially demeaning, and serves only small Muslim cliques who enrich themselves at the cost of the community. The Indian Muslim wants to be treated as an equal. He is waiting for the establishment to appreciate the true nuances of the term.