Afghanistan’s Great Game And Superficial Analysis By US Foreign Policy Analysts

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

The article below from Examiner epitomizes bad analysis that some in the US insist on carrying out which is damaging to the much flaunted “common objective”.     God forbid if the author is right, it just means that the US is pursuing a perilous path by ignoring advice from Pakistan’s hardened policy hands.    The author is absolutely wrong when she says the Pakistan Army “has never been excited” about US aid and intervention.  The Pakistani military has always been very close to the Pentagon.  What Obama needs is a sustainable strategy which brings on board every key player including Pakistan’s civilian federal government and the Pakistan Army. 

 This means that the US will have to address Pakistan’s concerns vis a vis Indian involvement in Afghanistan.  All of India’s so called interests in Afghanistan are Pakistan specific.   Furthermore,   the US needs to come out clearly and distance itself from the horrendous and ridiculous Col Peters’ Plan which finds an increasingly audience amongst the new great gamers.     How would US do that?  Well for one –  US has no business dealing directly with the NWFP and ANP.    US should make it very clear that its channel of communication is with Pakistan’s Supreme Commander President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan’s Prime Minister  Yousaf Raza Gilani.  The US Administration should stop making direct contacts with either Asfandyar Wali Khan,  Amir Haider Hoti  etc and treating them as the founding father and prime minister of a new state.  They should be treated on merit as a provincial party and a provincial government.  ( I wonder if there are people in the current administration naive enough to flirt with this idea of an independent Pakhtunistan. If there are indeed such geniuses, they should know that their new found favorites will be swept away in a flood.)

Here is the article I was talking about:

It is not possible for President Obama to declare a surge against Pakistan. After all, we are allies, and we are not supposed to be fighting on their soil. Why did it take so long to finally endorse the troops requested by General McChrystal?

The excuse came in the form of waiting for Afghan election results, despite the fact that the US knew well in advance that Karzai had no serious competitor. And, as reported earlier, the only possible man who could have had a chance at winning was pressured by the US to withdraw. See U.S. pressured Abdullah Abdullah to withdraw from presidential race

This afternoon, we heard Richard Holbrooke say: ‘no country is more important to our success than Pakistan‘, during an interview with Fareed Zakaria. He also spoke of the hostility faced by Secretary of State Clinton during her recent visit to Pakistan. We wondered about the same animus in our report: Pakistan: ‘Kerry-Lugar bill is unacceptable’ – who is the real enemy?

According to all indications, al-Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan. And the number of ‘dangerous’ Taliban has been reduced to less than one hundred men. The question has already been posed: do we need another 30,000 men to take out 100 men?

During another interview this Sunday on State of the Union, National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones was pressed hard about this surge, its meaning and its purpose. A single sentence stood out amid all of the rhetoric: the troops will be concentrated on the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan where the fighting has been heaviest.

Another fact which has recently emerged on Democracy Now! was the quiet work being done by the CIA in Pakistan, supported by private mercenaries (i.e. Blackwater) who are conducting a war so secret that it was indicated that the current administration may not have known about it. This is inclusive of the drone attacks which have killed many Pakistanis, including civilians.

And we have reason to worry about Pakistan now more than ever:  President Zardari  has been forced to relinquish some powers, as he has been accused of corruption. The Pakistani Army has never been expecially excited about American presence or assistance to the country. And then, there are those nuclear arms that need to be secured.

So as everyone continues the conversation about President Obama’s war in Afghanistan, we may want to pause and read between the lines.


Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, India, North-West Frontier Province, Obama, Pakistan, Politics, Terrorism, USA, violence, war, War On Terror, World, Yusuf Raza Gillani, Zardari

128 responses to “Afghanistan’s Great Game And Superficial Analysis By US Foreign Policy Analysts

  1. takhalus

    actually asfandyar wali is chairman of the NA committee on foreign affairs so yes he is supposed to meet foreign diplomats and because he and his party have along with the PPP been the primary targets of the taliban…their personal stories are very relevant to the wider world.

  2. Asmat Syed

    How can we ignore that war against terrorism is on pashtoon land both side in afghanistan and pakistan, and Asfandyar wali khan is secular social democrate and pashtoon leadear and his party belive on non-voilence theory which gave us by great Bacha khan baba so today ANP have a government in Pakhtoonkhwa Province we need peace and non-voilence policy in Pakistan.So for that US should be consider with Asfandyar Wali khan.

  3. wajid

    i wonder if people have any idea of what you have pointed out in brackets.

    Initially, the elements flirting with this fire will be happy to consider Afghanistan divided without realising the danger and implications afterwards.
    Half of Afghanistan would be drawn towards Russia but the rest, ruled by fundamentalists, would become a huge burden for Pakistan.

    I see civil war.

  4. yasserlatifhamdani

    Asmat Syed,

    Bacha Khan and his progeny are equally culpable in this great tragedy that has befallen our NWFP!

    From day 1 they were culpable when they aided and abetted Fakir of Ipi’s Islamist insurgency against Pakistan. Where was Bacha Khan’s non-violence then?

    These crooks are playing a dangerous game .. And I am saddened that you are hiding
    behind slogans with no roots in reality.

  5. yasserlatifhamdani

    Takhalus mian,

    That is neither here nor there. How do you make a man who is actively playing a game to harm Pakistan’s national interest the “chairman of the foreign relations committee” and could you point out how many times his counterpart in India meets the Americans in a year.

    These crooks – ANP wallahs and all- have convinced the Americans of their lies through their deceit. The Americans- naïve about history and too complacent to read confidential reports from howard donovan to george marshall at the outset of Pakistan- are now pushing forth in this dangerous game which will have disastrous consequences for everyone – especially the people of NWFP.

  6. ravinder

    Being an Indian my POV is obviously exact opposite to that of the author.

    But the thing about independent Pakhtunistan being a poor IMO is true. First of all what should have been a rather complex, multipronged, multilateral intelligence war and media war to scuttle the narco+arms+crime+Jihad network with certain other clear collateral objectives (like democracy in Af-pak region), has been turned into a sitting war. With massive US hardware mobilisation and a massive Pakistani human resource movement, achieving little in terms of neutralisation of Taliban and rogue elements of PA+ISI. This war carries a real danger of deteriorating into a phoney war. In fact IMO the initiative was lost at the airlift of kunduz itself. Had kunduz been handled properly there would never have arisen any need for so much for so long. Independent Pakhtunistan will again take the focus away from the real war. In fact it will provide a cover for Pakistanis to get out of this war.

    I have read someplace (think it was some US news-views) about the Indian Intel people that they do keep track of Pakistani Army Personnel at a fairly comprehensive level. This and other such resources should have been used for point operations. Monetary investments should have been made for such issues. What lasting advantage would independent Pakhtunistan give, I too really fail to understand. My gut feeling is that independent Pakhtunistan will become a headache for both Pakistan and Afghanistan and thru Afghanistan for Indian interests too.

    Problem is Americans can be expected to work on such fuzzy projects.

  7. rex minor

    Pakhtoonistan will not be a headache for Pakistan but a first step towards uniting more than sixty millions Pushtoons in a country of their own which is no longer a land locked territory. Afghanist would cease to exist. And no one should ponder over the next step, which would be to spread across the whole of sub-continent and eliminate once and for all the discontent among ethnic divides. This second step should have been taken by the Pushtoons in 1947, who were lured( as we know now) into the belief that the partition was intended to handle the large British India as two entities for practicle purpose. They had no idea that the campaign was never thought through and developed by people having a very low calibre of education and knowledge and with no sense of history and culture of the different ethnic groups. They could imagine that the urdu speaking population of india would move into their land with only a single denomination of the religion.

  8. takhalus

    YLH you seem to be seeing the present through your own prism of the past. The link between the Faqir of ipi and Al-Q or the TTP takes quite a huge leap of imagination. The only point of similarity is the area of conflict.

    The Frontier is facing the full brunt of the Ziaist and establishment legacy of countering ethnic expressions for autonomy and desires for development with Islamist ideology.

  9. yasserlatifhamdani

    Takhalus mian,

    No disagreements on Ziaist legacy but you seem to be joking when you say that it takes the leap of imagination to connect the dots between TTP and Fakir Of Ipi.

    What is it that you think is different? Fakir of Ipi – an Islamist- declared that the rulers of Pakistan were anti-Islamic, imperialist, bastion of Qadianism, ironically also “Hindu” and waged a religious jehad and insurgency against the state of Pakistan from Waziristan.

    Ipi was the historical continuation of Mullah Pawinda whose forced were also known as Taliban. Baitullah was the continuation of Fakir of Ipi.

    So please do enlighten me how Ipi was different from Baitullah …and why you feel it is a “leap of imagination”?

    Interestingly the tactics to counter both are similar as well. George Cunningham’s letter to Liaqat on 20th September 1947 is echoed by Kiyani 62 years later.

  10. Milind Kher


    What does it mean when you talk about India’s interests in Afghanistan being Pakistan centric? Are you implying that India is training insurgents and sending them into Pakistan?

    That wouldn’t really be logical because if terrorism becomes rampant in Pakistan, it will spill over into India too. I thought that only right wingers would think this way. If you too think that way, please share why you look at it like that.

  11. yasserlatifhamdani

    “Are you implying that India is training insurgents and sending them into Pakistan? ”

    I doubt that even Indians would deny India’s role in Balochistan… but that is not my point. I don’t have the requisite information to claim either way. Certainly training is not what I have in mind. I can assure you though that if someone establishes a link between Baloch insurgency and India, then there is convergence between Baloch insurgency and Taliban as well. However that is not the point.

    What I mean when I say Pakistan-centric interest is that Afghanistan holds no other real charm for India except that Afghanistan could act as a possible ally in hostilities between India and Pakistan…

    A tense Pakistan-Afghanistan equation means divided attention. India’s policy makers are following a flawed strategy in response to another flawed strategy i.e. Strategic Depth.

  12. takhalus

    YLH: I asked how they were a continuation not how similar the story may sound? The Faqir and Mullah Powindah were not seeking the destruction of the Pakistan state nor in the Faqirs case was his base a sanctuary for foreigners seeking destruction worldwide.

    His movement was localised and initially supportive of Pakistan, once the British withdrew, and subsequently did not pose any existential threat to the GoP.

    By contrast to the Faqir the first attempt after 1899 to mobilise all the tribes in the Frontier in the name of conquest, religion, conspiracy theories and loot was the 1947 invasion of Kashmir.

  13. yasserlatifhamdani

    Takhalus mian,

    Your argument is like saying Fakir of Ipi and Behtullah were different because they had different names. Pawindah, Fakir of Ipi and Mehsud are not only from the same region, not only are their stories the same, their motivations the same … but epitomize the tribal warrior who has rejected state authority. It was based on the same hotch potch of puritan Islam and tribal nationalism that we see today in the Taliban. It is not without relevance that Pawindah’s warriors were called “Tehreek-e-Taliban”. If you go earlier… you’ll find Syed Ahmed “Shaheed” and Syed Abdul Aziz …. with Pathans up in arms against the Sikhs.

    Fakir of Ipi was certainly seeking Pakistan’s destruction and you may refer back to my article on him where I have quoted his fatwas. The only difference is that Ipi was not armed with international fighters and armory that Waziristan today has on its disposal.

    By contrast your attempt to bring in Kashmir invasion by tribes – idiotic and foolhardy as the invasion was- doesn’t make sense… given the context of Poonch rebellion… Read “Incomplete Partition” by Alastair Lamb.

  14. Sameet

    “India’s policy makers are following a flawed strategy in response to another flawed strategy i.e. Strategic Depth.”

    I don’t think the strategy was flawed, rather it was mismanaged by the Pak military & intelligence extremely badly. We have Iran which has enormous influence in Iraq today, but we dont see Iraqi shias in the slums of Tehran (if Tehran has slums, but you get the point!) carrying guns and running a fiefdom near the Zagros mountains!! I am pretty sure the Indians are up to something in Balochistan and Fata through Af, but they think they can manage it well without the detrimental effects that Pakistan had, I guess not having a border with Af actually helps India in this case!

  15. Bloody Civilian

    Ipi was not armed with international fighters and armory

    he probably did have some of the latter. there was much gun-running through the middle east during the time of the khilafat movement. even before, encouraged by the axis powers. shah zaman had, stupidly, encouraged it. their were a german agent or two in the area during the second world war too. also, the dara gunsmiths had reverse-engineered much technology from the small weapons brought by khilafatists.

    america armed the mujahideen at an altogether different scale, of course. and zia was 1000x more stupid than shah zaman in happily handing over a portion of it to the kookikhels to sell all over, as toll paid in kind for the privilege of travelling through the tribes. the british had been wise enough to pay strictly in (relatively paltry) cash when they had had to pass through for the afghan wars.

    the tribals might have challenged the state, but ever since durand, what has the state done for the tribals? sine the 60’s and even in a survey a couple of years agao, more than 80% tribals wish the political parties act 1962 to be extended to their areas.

    the soviet-afghan war brought militants, refugees, arms and the narcotics trade to the tribes completely changing the dynamics of FATA. the maliks, not already killed by the militants, no longer needed to depend on the cash in envelops from the political agent.

    those who are busy talking of NRO and its beneficiaries are not bothered to ask where humayun akhtar and ejazulhaq got their money from. or what fazle haq got up to while he was a serving general (and the governor).

  16. Sameet

    @Bloody Civilian,

    Fascinating insight into the dynamics of that region!I guess it corroborates my earlier post that the Doctrine of strategic depth was flawed only in its execution by Zia et al. If I was sitting in Islamabad, it is pretty much what I would do, how else do I try to keep punching a guy who is 3 times bigger than me (well, was there a need to punch a guy 3 times bigger than me, is a different issue altogether).

  17. Milind Kher

    Talking of strategic depth, the Afghan war gave Pakistan to assert a distinct identity for itself. It had otherwise been always regarded as a prodigal child of India.

    However, that situation lasted only a short while. Soon, cultural assimilation into India took place through satellite TV. Pakistani singers and actors too came across to seek their fortune, without reciprocation from India.

    Any Indian would be proud of this, but when Pakistanis have worked to secure a distinct nation for themselves, they should be able to assert their nationality in a stronger way. And “stronger” does not mean going to war with India.

  18. Sameet


    “but when Pakistanis have worked to secure a distinct nation for themselves, they should be able to assert their nationality in a stronger way. And “stronger” does not mean going to war with India”-either covert or overt war, i would add. Indians in Mumbai and elsewhere shouldn’t pay the price of Pakistanis figuring out a distinct nationality for themselves.

  19. Milind Kher


    Obviously, terrorism and war are ruled out.

    What I am talking about is stuff like developing a good film industry, some organization that looks after performing arts and things like that.

    When you benchmark against India, you find that Pakistan has virtually no film industry to speak of

  20. hossp

    I am not going to argue with Yasser on Faqir Ipi but would mention that his analysis of Faqir Ipi and his militancy is wrong. Ipi and Baitullah Mehsud is not the same thing.

    Faqir Ipi started fighting when the Brits still ruled India and Ipi partnered with Bacha Khan in the settled areas with the goal of getting rid of the Brits and work towards an independent Pukhtoon state. After 1947, Bacha Khan decided to stay with the mainstream and work within the Pakistan State, as he realized, after his defeat in the referendum, that Pukhtoons in the settled areas were not ready for an independent state. They pretty much parted company after that. Faqir Ipi was marginalized as most of the Tribes preferred Pakistan over independence or joining Afghanistan. Faqir Ipi story ended right there.

    Baitullah Mehsod’s polical career was based on his ties with the intelligence agencies. From intelligence asset to a criminal is not a big leap. Faqir Ipi as far as I know had no criminal background and I doubt that he was an intelligence asset for the Brits.

    The Pakistan side of Taliban is not an ideological group. They are a political group of criminals that have controlled the tribal areas for a long time and with full knowledge of the authorities at the center. They are into smuggling, stealing, drug trade, Hired assassins and protectors of the notorious criminals in Pakistani settled areas.

    The Saur revolution in Afghanistan impacted their business interests and encouraged by the Pakistan, they hid behind the religion. They are currently fighting Pakistan and the US for the similar reasons. While they need Afghanistan for protection, they also know that with a hostile government in Afghanistan, the tribal area will eventually have to cede sovereignty to Pakistan, which does not fit their business and political plan.

    So what they are fighting for right now is unfettered access to Afghanistan and a neutral afghan state that still follows the model that was developed by King Zahir Shah. That was basically to keep the Durand line issue alive and still maintain low key relations with Pakistan.

    With US there and the Pathan nationalists joined by other ethnic groups in the Afghan government, the criminal elite in the tribal area is losing its influence and position. Right now, there is no political deal good enough for them until they are guaranteed that the tribal areas will not be absorbed by Pakistan and they will have a neutral government in Afghanistan. Poor amongst the Tribes cannot survive without joining Pakistan as they envy the progress in the settled areas. But the vested interests fight that so they don’t lose their privileged position. The Pakistani Taliban is a party of the criminals. Had they been fighting for the national rights, they would have made a case to become another province of Pakistan or asked for separation. But they do neither. They want a tribal area of their own with an Afghanistan on the west that looks the other way to their criminal activities.

  21. PMA

    hossp (December 8, 2009 at 10:37 pm):

    You have a point there.

    The Pashtun dominated weak ‘neutral’ monarchy in Afghanistan and the semi-autonomous Pashtun tribal belt with a non-existing ‘Durand Line’ between the two was a British creation – a policy to appease and at the same time neutralize the Pashtun threat to the British Indian Empire.

    The imaginary Durand Line is nothing but a ‘connecting of the dots’ from one mountain top to the next. The Line gave Pashtun tribes inhabiting along the western slopes a country of their own with them in clear majority. The Afghan rulers in Kabul, other than lip service, have never seriously challenged the Line. We must remember that while Pashtun tribes are in majority in Afghanistan, they will be a minority in a Pashtunistan encompassing all Pashtun areas. A scenario not much desired by the Afghan Pashtuns. Therefore the Durand Line serves them very well.

    Similarly the non-existing Durand Line and a semi-autonomous FATA along the eastern slopes serves the Pakistani Pashtun tribal chiefs very well. They are answerable to no one. Neither to Kabul, nor to Kandahar and certainly not to Peshawar or Islamabad. In a lawless ‘no-mans-land’ they are free to run their trade of drugs, smuggling and kidnapping to name a few. Here lies the failure of Pakistan governments of all shades.

    Unfortunately the post-colonial state of Pakistan never revised the British political setup of the area and continued to behave like the imperialists of the past. The civil and military services of Pakistan are really a legacy of the ‘raj’. They have for the last sixty years continued to treat the FATA and PATA as the ‘buffer zone’ between Afghans and themselves. The responsibility of the failure to assimilate the tribal areas with rest of the country and to give its citizens full rights and responsibilities lies with the government of Pakistan.

  22. yasserlatifhamdani


    As much as I always have respected you, I cannot agree with you here.

    I am not sure what distinction you are drawing because Ipi and Mehsud were both Islam-inspired Pushtun insurgents fighting against the state of Pakistan. There can be no distinction on flimsy grounds that one was supported by bacha khan and the other by intelligence agencies. The whole damn business of this kind of warfare starts from this vague “anti-imperialism” notion…frankly which is disastrous and counter-productive. Bacha Khan used Ipi against the Brits and then against Pakistan. As for his criminal background, it is more of an absence of opportunity isn’t it? These differences that you and takhalus are drawing are very superficial.

    Even though the Congress advised Khan brothers again and again that referendum was quite clearly in favor of the League, Khan brothers did not really accept it. Their supporters reject that fundamental reality even today. Bacha Khan’s activities were the center of attention of Howard Donovan (no friend of Pakistan mind you) in his reports to George Marshall. Many of these reports are found the appendices of Jinnah papers as well as US National Archives. They show Bacha Khan hobnobbing with Afghan govt …to endanger Pakistan’s territorial integrity to start with. I quoted these in some detail in my 5 part series on NWFP history which the ANP then suppressed in The News after the publication of part 1.

    The irony is that you yourself have underlined the Zahir Shah model…a model that Ipi and Bacha Khan invented and put in place. This same model has caused so much pain and suffering for everyone. By constantly raising the Pakhtunistan bogey, Bacha Khan in no small way is responsible for the ridiculous Pushtun push of the Pakistan Army during the Afghan war. National interest required that we should have supported the Afghan national elements instead of specifically the Pushtun element and we now see the blowback of that strategy in Peshawar and the rest of Pakistan.

    My point is that you can’t make arbitrary distinctions of good and bad militants…

  23. yasserlatifhamdani


    Durand Line is a perfectly legal boundary through agreement in which Pakistan is a successor in interest.

    Let us not get in demarcating people as you deem them fit.

  24. PMA

    yasserlatifhamdani (December 9, 2009 at 2:06 am):

    Yasser: We are all aware of the circumstances, processes and the treaty that brought about the demarcation. Rest easy. I am not questioning the legality of it. By my comment I only intended to show why Afghanistan, despite of the public statements of its leaders in the past, would want to keep that line in place. The line even though arbitrary and porous serves the interests of the Afghan Pashtuns, the Pakistani tribal Pashtuns and Pakistan. The only party interested in keeping the ‘Pashtunistan’ issue alive is the Pashtun nationalists of Peshawar and Charsadda and their patrons in India. It gives them a leverage. Pashtuns of Kabul, Kandahar or FATA have no interest in that scheme. But you will agree with me that no government of Pakistan has made any efforts to bring PATA and FATA into mainstream Pakistan. The negligence of Pakistan towards the people of the tribal areas of Frontier as well as Balochistan is criminal in nature.

  25. takhalus

    Hossp: I am largely in agreement with you ..but to focus on the present;s the PPP and ANP that are facing the brunt of all attacks. In fact as a whole they have faced the worst losses in (2007-2009) all the struggles against dictatorship or against terrorists. They are the only parties whose workers and leaders have died for the Chief Justice and against the TTP/AQ.

    PMA: I am confused by your comment that Afghan pashtun tribes would be in a minority in an independent Pashtunistan?

    YLH: Your comments
    1) If you go earlier… you’ll find Syed Ahmed “Shaheed” and Syed Abdul Aziz …. with Pathans up in arms against the Sikhs.

    * I’d argue Syed Ahmed (who is much glorified by Pakistan studies book) is a far better comparison than the Faqir ..the story of a man from “hindustan” who via arabia toured Afghanistan and introduced salafi thought while declaring Jihad against the sikhs and his followers ultimately using Swat as a base to attack the british.

    2)”good vs bad militants and The whole damn business of this kind of warfare starts from this vague “anti-imperialism” notion…”

    So you’d argue any armed opposition to the British Raj or any state was in fact illegitimate? the argument is odd to say the least because you seem to include any form of resistance to foreign rule (as distinct from attempts to export an ideology and plan attacks overseas) as illegitimate?

  26. vajra


    Not really, Yasser seems to be pitted against any resistance to foreign rule only superficially. It is the use of terror and the intimidation of individuals as a political weapon, rather specifically, that he seems to be opposing. Unfortunately, many campaigns against foreign rule have taken those paths. As a consequence, he is by definition opposed to them.

    The case of Bacha Khan and his faction is a special case for him. For a constitutionalist and a dyed-in-the-wool rule-of-Law votary such as he, it is impossible that he should define Bacha Khan’s campaign any differently from one with machine-gun nests, pill-boxes and the other panoply of war.

    His stand certainly is consistent, through and through, almost to the point where he loses unwary followers of the argument.

    Having said this, I wait with pleasurable anticipation for his own refutation which will undoubtedly be rich and different from the interpretation given above.

  27. yasserlatifhamdani

    I should say to add here is that there are resistances that follow or are based on modern ideals like Bhagat Singh’s resistance. They aimed to create a just and equitable society.

    The question is not as much about legitimate or illegitimate as it is about what a resistance wants to achieve in the balance.

    Far too many times we see “freedom struggles” which are merely the resistance of old orders to the new orders. 1857 was the last stand of a decadent system against the coming of the new.

    Unfortunately these things get more complicated when good thinking leftists join up with archaic and parochial struggles. Case in point the great “marxist” rebellion in Balochistan in the 1970s under the banner of a Baloch national consciousness that is still tribal, still in antiquity and still buries women alive as part of culture.

  28. Hossp

    December 9, 2009 at 6:16 am
    “it;s the PPP and ANP that are facing the brunt of all attacks. In fact as a whole they have faced the worst losses in (2007-2009) all the struggles against dictatorship or against terrorists.”

    I am well aware of the history. Not only ANP but NAP before that, suffered more losses than any political party in Pakistan. Those losses were not restricted to NWFP only. Before the 70s and then throughout the 70s, NAP workers were always the main target of the state forces. NAP did not have a huge following in Sindh or Punjab then but in both provinces, state oppression was always directed towards NAP. Number of NAP worker killed during the Army Actions in East Pakistan and Baluchistan was disproportionately higher than any political party. NAP was pinned as the anti-state party by the PPP itself when it was in Power.

    “I am not sure what distinction you are drawing because Ipi and Mehsud were both Islam-inspired Pashtun insurgents fighting against the state of Pakistan.”

    You understand how the political mechanism works for Pathan. Islam always takes precedent over Nationalism. In some cases it is a demerit and some others it is not important. Every political situation has its own dynamics. We can’t say Ipi and Baitullah were the same Just because Ipi and Baitullah belonged to the same cultural and social environments. The political environments are different now and the nature of the conflict is different too.

    “National interest required that we should have supported the Afghan national elements instead of specifically the Pushtun element and we now see the blowback of that strategy in Peshawar and the rest of Pakistan.”

    We can’t change history now. Conflating criminals with some figures in the footnote of history would mean that we have not learned from the history and are just parroting the same raag that was sung some 50 years ago and now is nothing more than an urban legend.

    I am of the opinion that many who took part in independence struggle, anti-imperialists or not and despite their many obvious political errors and mistakes, should be given a pass now.

    You can see how Pakistan establishment ended up with the most macabre elements of the society in order to suppress the honorable and law abiding political aspirants whose struggle mostly was for upholding the law and the constitution.

    Continuing with the deceitful mantra promoted by now completely discredited establishment of Pakistan, does not help the struggle for democracy.

  29. vajra


    Most interesting commentary. Noted.

    That certainly offers a framework – perhaps not the only framework, but certainly a valid and working framework for evaluating activism, if I could use a deliberately low-key phrase.

    A fascinating example, also, the Balochistan one, but unfortunately, I know too little about it at the moment, and will need to go back to it to get the full sense behind your summary.

    Most obliged.

  30. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Uncle Hossp,

    I disagree. I think your personal affinity with Bacha Khan is coming in the way of objective analysis.

    The ANP is playing a dangerous game and it is part of a dangerous game that they’ve been playing since 1947 in cahoots with a hostile government in Afghanistan.

    The ANP’s lower cadres remain expendable for its leadership, which is machiavellian and brutal. The shit has hit the fan gentlemen.

    I think the so called “independence struggle” itself is the root of all problems for South Asia…but much more so for the oddity it created in NWFP.

    And finally, I am not convinced that there are any differences between Ipi and Mehsud, both Islamist insurgents fighting the state in the name of a strange mixture of puritan Islam and tribal values. They were both used in different ways by different people in this war.

    The world does not work like Middle Earth in Saurons, Sarumans and Gandalfs, as much as the latter may mirror the former.
    All sides are equally seduced and equally corrupted.

    In the end we must choose which side we are on.

  31. rex minor

    It might come of a schock to some and disturb their thesis about the concept of a separate homeland for muslims, if they were to learn that the Pushtoons have a very large stake in Pakistan. Without them the integrety of current borders and therefore the capital could not be secured for more than a day. It is entirely the choice of their leaders as to when they make the next move, compelled by the events within or outside the country. I pray that the next chapter would not again begin with the infamous military takeover?

  32. Milind Kher

    A traditional error that the US has made in dealing with Pakistan is that it often gave a lot of credibility to leaders that were not very popular in Pakistan.

    Indeed, the US will have to take on board military views as well as those of the civilian administration.

    At the same time, Pakistanis have to be realistic and realise that the US will be mindful of Indian sensitivities too, a stable and powerful democracy being a common point.

  33. takhalus

    @Hossp: I accept your historical reference but one mustn’ look at the NAP and ANP as virtual continuations of each other anymore than ZABs PPP is the same as todays. The situation today has parallels with the past but is not the same as the past. Mind you i see far more parallels between Syed Ahmad and his bringing of salafiism from Arabia and India into the frontier than i do with the Faqir .

    @Vajra I accept that analysis..unfortunately Pakistan has suffered much too much from people who highlight and separate legality and morality. the extension of that Baloch argument ..The Balcoh revolt was not justified because they believed in tribalism and practiced karo-kari…that argument can also go like this ..the US war of independence was not just because the yanks still believed in slavery.

  34. yasserlatifhamdani

    I don’t know why Takhalus Mian is so hell bent on denying that Faqir of Ipi was a continuation of the same process that Syed Ahmed started, Pawindah continued and was held up till recently by Mehsud.

    Was Ipi not an Islamist insurgent at war with the Pakistani state in the name of Islam? Did the Faqir not declare that Pakistan was an unIslamic government, a bastion of Qadiyanism, a creature of British and Hindu raj? Was he not helped by Afghanistan and the Frontier Congress/KK?

    NWFP HISTORY 4: Faqir of Ipi’s uprising and the Frontier Congress
    Jump to Comments

    by Yasser Latif Hamdani

    In response to the first three articles, an ANP activist who is quite clearly very confused about history attacked me calling me – get this- a Jamaat-e-Islami agent. I have been called many things- indeed I am supposed to be on the payroll of everyone from CIA to Mossad and even Indian RAW but Jamaat-e-Islami was definitely a first and I was caught off guard. Perhaps the poor fellow was not aware of the history of Jamaat-e-Islami’s vociferous opposition to Pakistan and Jinnah. Jamaat-e-Islami believed that Jinnah and Muslim League were of a “Kemalist” bent of mind and therefore too secular and too westernized to lead the Muslims. And Jamaat-e-Islami’s ideologues were not the only one to suggest that- in agreement with them were the Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind, the Dar-ul-uloom Deoband and last but not the least “Khudai Khidmatgars” or the Red Shirts. So for the purposes of this discussion at least, the ANP should find itself in agreement with Jamaat-e-Islami’s angle in 1947.

    Let us be clear on some fundamental issues: For the KK and diehard supporters of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, secularism and left-ism are afterthoughts. Their alliance with the Congress was based on a belief (not wholly justified) that the Congress stood for independence. Ghaffar Khan was socially conservative and economically/politically a votary of feudalism. To his credit he never claimed to be anything but a champion of Pushtun identity and Pushtun rights. A progressive he was not, standing instead of Pushtun customs and the status quo of Pushtun tribalism. It was only when the Pakistani state marked an decidedly “Islamic” course that Ghaffar Khan and his family began to associate with Nehruvian secularism and socialism, partly because of their role in the National Awami Party – a truly left wing progressive alliance in Pakistan- which included people from all sides of the 1947 political divide. One of the parties that merged into the NAP was Azad Pakistan Party of the renowned leftist Mian Iftikharuddin – who was a stalwart of the Pakistan Movement. Like any society, Pakistan was re-organizing and re-aligning politically and within the NAP, Ghaffar Khan and his family were arguably the most conservative.

    An interesting chapter in the period immediately before the partition of India is of the association of Khan brothers with the insurgency mounted by Faqir of Ipi. The history of NWFP’s tribal areas is replete with a charismatic Pushtun horseman with Quran in one hand and sword in the other. The valiant Pushtuns had been fighting against the British for more than half a century and Faqir of Ipi was the latest of these great Mahdi-like figure (reference to Sudanese Mahdi 19th century) to raise the banner of Pushtun nationalism with its dangerous blend of Islamic Puritanism. The Frontier Congress had – perhaps without any knowledge of Nehru who would have shot down an idea of this kind- long backed Faqir of Ipi. Col. Shah Pasand Khan, former ADC to Amir Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan and a member of the Muslim League national guards, wrote to Jinnah on 8th July stating “firstly a few days ago I heard of Abdul Ghani, son of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who came to see the Faqir of Ipi in connection with the resolution passed at Bannu by the Congress in support of Pathanistan. Mr. Abdul Ghani crossed the border of British territory to meet Faqir of Ipi. Government authorities supported this move… I myself investigated the matter and found out that Faqir of Ipi was given 7 lakhs of rupees by Mr. Ghani to propagate for the Pathanistan… (Document 68 Jinnah Papers Volume III Pages 164-165).

    In July Faqir of Ipi made his pronouncement. This announcement was reported by S M Rashid, a young Muslim Leaguer, in his letter dated 17th July as “Nobody is to participate in either Congress or Muslim League. Nobody is to violate the peace of the Hindus because have consented to pay the poll tax to me. Muslim Leaguers in this area (according to Shariat of Waziristan) are to be devoured by ..wolves. A reward of Rs. 4000 (Kabulis) for killing Habibullah Khan (a Leaguer) and special protection for the family of his killer”. Rashid went onto talk of about the Mullahs from Deoband on a special mission : “All these Mullahs are the true disciples of Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani… the second selves of Abul Kalam Azad and Hussain Ahmed Madani. The majority amongst them are the originators of the crusade of Waziristan… Khalifa-tul-Muslimeen Mir Hazar… Maulvi Khanmir Khan, Maulvi Qameruzzaman, Maulvi Sardar, Maulvi Mohd Zaman, Maulvi Mohd Rahim, Maulvi Mohd Din, Maulvi Abdul Razzaq Maulvi Raz Mohammad, Maulvi Mohd Din Shah, Maulvi Khawaja Mir and Maulvi Fazl Din.” (Enclosure No.1 to No. 181, Jinnah Papers Volume III, Pages 465-467). These Ulema were reinforcements from the Jamiat-Ulema Hind and Darul-uloom- Deoband to create insidious propaganda against Pakistan and the Muslim League.

    Maulvi Abu Sulaiman, an 80 year old veteran spiritual leader from Waziristan wrote to Zafar Ahmad Ansari “While I was in Delhi, I received a call from the Frontier that Congress agents were touring Waziristan, doing propaganda against the Muslim League, had succeeded in converting the Faqir of Ipi to their point of view … I learnt that a deputation of the Frontier Jamiyaat-e-Ulama had already met the Faqir who thereupon became a staunch enemy of Pakistan taking the Muslim League to be the agents of the British, he now considers war against Pakistan as the greatest service of Islam. The government of Afghanistan is also a party to this conspiracy. Its Minister of Interior, Sardar Muhammad Farooq, called a special meeting of tribal representatives and persuaded them to support Pathanistan in combination with Afghanistan, Khan Brothers and the Faqir of Ipi. He even directed them to kill any opponent of Pathanistan. It was after the meeting of the Jamiyyat-e-Ulama deputation with Ipi that the latter ordered his general, Abdul Latif Khan, to attack Miran Shah.” ( No. 183, Jinnah Papers, Volume III, Page 471).

    Reinforcing what he had written earlier, Sulaiman wrote again a week later informing Ansari of the activities of Faqir of Ipi and the Congress Party “On the night of 29th of Shabaan, the Faqir Sahib of Ipi without informing anyone left for Mount Shawal so as to pass the month of Ramadan in some secret place. It is his habit to remain hidden from his people for several months in a year. This creates an impression of piety… After Id, he intends to call a meeting of tribal representatives at Makin, a central town in the territory of the Mahsud tribe. His object at the meeting would be to convert Prince Fazluddin and his party to his own point of view- either by persuasion or by force… Prince Fazluddin is an old sympathizer of our party- Jamiat-e-Mujahidin Hind. He has great influence over the Mehsuds. But a large part of Mehsud tribes still belongs to Faqir of Ipi… The Agents of Afghanistan and the Congress are very busy here propagating the idea of Pathanistan… to fight Pathanistan we must take some precaution. We must not appoint to the Governorship of the Frontier any person belonging to this province. Some such person should be appointed Governor who can successfully fight the propaganda that the League is un-Islamic, agents of the English and centre of Qadianis, and that to fight it is the greatest service of Islam… to fight the propaganda of the Congress and its agents, a declaration of Islamic government is not so essential as the proclamation for the suppression of prostitution, gambling, and use of wine and other corrupt activities”. ( Note 229, Jinnah Papers Volume III Page 670-671).

    There are several things to be noted here. One – Faqir of Ipi’s insurgency sounds remarkably similar to the insurgency mounted today by Behtullah Mehsud, the Tehreek-e-Taliban and Mangal Bagh etc. The same tribes and the same issue is being raised against the central government of Pakistan and it is member of the same Khan family in power in NWFP. Historically, Khan brothers allied themselves with the insurgency because to them the cause of Pushtun nationalism was supreme and it did not matter to them that the mix of Pushtun nationalism with firebrand Islamic Puritanism was a dangerous mix (and a mix that even Pakistan’s military employed to its advantage in the first Kashmir war in 1948, the Afghan War and the Kashmir insurgency in the 1990s). Pakistani state’s diversion (partially supported by the US and the CIA) of the Islamically charged Pushtun tribal nationalism to Godless Soviets and Hindu India has now died out and today, we find ourselves roughly in the same situation as the time of the Faqir of Ipi. That is not the subject of this article however. The objective of this piece is to show that despite all the tall claims of progressive and secular ideology, the ANP remains historically rooted in a conservative tribal ethos informed in a significant manner by the puritan faith of its people.

    Here it is pertinent to revisit the issue of referendum. In the last piece I spoke of the hollow argument that referendum was not held on adult franchise and was thus not valid. I had pointed out that Congress owed its victory to the same franchise and therefore that argument was neither here nor there. I present now the figures of the 1946 elections which brought Congress to power so that they may be compared with the referendum figures for greater clarity:


    Total Electorate : 604, 563

    Total Votes for Congress + Jamiyat al Ulama : 160, 229 (26.53% of the total electorate) – Muslim votes in this total were 145, 119 which formed 27.6 % of the Muslim electorate.

    Total Votes for Muslim League were : 146, 235 = 24.18% of the total electorate = 27.8% of the Muslim electorate.


    Total Electorate, 578, 798

    Total votes for Hindustan 2874= .501% of the electorate.

    Total votes for Pakistan 289, 244 = 50.49% of the electorate

    Thus the whole argument on which the process was criticized falls flat on its face. Muslim League had emerged as the party with largest popular vote even in 1945-1946 elections. Congress, Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind and other Ulema parties together had barely crossed the League in election itself and in 1947 the Hindustan idea had no takers, even amongst those who supported the Congress and brought it to power in 1946. For a detailed discussion on the referendum, please visit parts 2 and 3.

  35. vajra


    Two points: first, did I get it wrong, or are you making a point using irony?

    That is, saying The Balcoh revolt was not justified because they believed in tribalism and practiced karo-kari , you really meant to convey that just because they were primitive in certain respects, in terms of tribalism and karo-kari, their revolt should not be denigrated because of these savage practices.

    Please do confirm. At first reading, it is embarrassing to confess, I was confused.

    Second, please accept my thanks for your response.

    However, please do bear in mind my elementary knowledge of internal affairs in Pakistan. I am very hesitant to comment out of my own knowledge. In this case, I was only offering an appreciative paraphrase of one who knows the subject as you do. I cannot hope to meet any of you on equal terms in the matter of real knowledge of Pakistan. PTH and ATP, and, of course, Dawn, which has become a minor addiction, have served as occasional crutches.

  36. yasserlatifhamdani

    PS to Takhalus

    I don’t even want to get into the argument of the US War of Independence here- the slave owners who fought the war of independence were significantly more humane than the Baloch sardars you champion . That is an entirely different issue.

    But suffice to say… the legal opinion that prevailed in the US Civil War cuts across your logic. After all … the South’s argument is an extension of yours (let us forget that the situation in Southern United States was significantly better than the virtual slavery Baloch sardars hold their people in).

    “Pakistan has suffered much too much from people who highlight and separate legality and morality”

    On the contrary, Pakistan has suffered at the hands of those who favor their own imagined morality over established legality (and I am not talking of bad laws here )… after all that has been the argument of every coup maker.

  37. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Vajra,

    Let me introduce here a nugget which shall reveal much in the response it will generate… especially those who speak glibly of the evil of separation of legality and morality.

    Bacha Khan’s son Ghani Khan – who led the very violent Zalme-Pakhtoon (who takhalus mian in another avtar thinks had nothing to do with Bacha Khan) and was implicated in an arms permit case when he passed out weapons for Zalme … and was Frontier Congress’ main contact with Faqir of Ipi… was given the Pride of Performance (or was it the Hilal e Imtiaz or Presidential Gold medal) by President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, General Zia ul Haq, Mard-e-Momin, for his poetry and/or contributions to scholarship on Pakhtoons (he wrote a book “Pathans” in which he famously declared that “the problem with Pathans is that there is a Jinnah in every pathan household who would rather burn the house down than let the other brother have it”.)

    Since takhalus mian is most certainly going to take the bait even if I label it as a bait, I might as well point out that Bacha Khan and his progeny acted in a manner that was almost always based on hypocrisy and to my mind …. this incident (the proud and “secular” Pakhtoon accepting state honors from an Islamist military dictator who had hanged Pakistan’s elected Prime Minister and created complications that we see today in NWFP, complications that ANP claims Bacha Khan warned against as early as 1980 )…. shows a clear separation of legality and morality. Just see takhalus claim that there was nothing wrong with accepting honors from the state for poetry.

    I have a very poor opinion of this entire family and their family-fiefdom of a party… including the Omar Sharif lookalike CM they’ve got going. I especially liked Shahbaz Sharif’s little slap on his face, when he was in Charsadda. Addressing a joint conference with Hotiji, Shahbaz suddenly came up with “and ofcourse the NWFP will overcome… the people of NWFP defeated Quaid-e-Azam’s enemies in 1947 as well”.

  38. Bloody Civilian


    karo-kari is an acceptable comparison with slavery. but the fuedal leadership of the baloch movement cannot be compared with the american founding fathers being good slavers too. that comparison would only hold if 99% americans were black, led by the white founding fathers.

    sadly, leftists/communists are so blinded by the righteousness of the revolution that their michaevelian approach to who they would go and side with to bring about the revolution has neither helped them nor their cause. even faiz ahmed faiz was not able to avoid making that mistake in his support for pakistan’s first attempted military dictatorship.

    your comparison of NAP-to-ANP and ZAB’s PPP-to-AAZ’s PPP is also misleading. it would be less confusing if you were comparing KK-to-ANP and ZAB’s PPP-to-AAZ’s PPP. ANP was only one of the many parts of NAP.

    Even in case of a KK-to-ANP comparison, not all that much has changed. Dr Khan Sahib had no qualms about ebcoming the first ever chief minister of the province-squashing One Unit. For all his sacrifice and steadfastness, Wali khan was happy to sacrifice steadfatness in case of Ziaulhaq. and now Asfandiyar is AWOL.

    re. ipi vs syed ahmed

    had there been no syed ahmed, there would have been no hadda mullah, saidu baba, and therefore the whole history of the tribal mullahs including powindah, ipi and, today, baitullah. they all employed the same methods and had the same ‘ideology’ including the opportunism and quest for money and power.. and how they played the maliks and the commoners.

    that the world around has changed, especially through the soviet-afghan war, has not changed their basic ideology and methodology.

  39. Bloody Civilian

    December 9, 2009 at 3:50 am

    you’re absolutely right. on the only two or three occasions that the afghan govt was foolish enough to produce a map of the proposed pakhtunistan, they showed their cards. there was a stamp in 1965(?) with the map (otherwise they produced stamps, almost annually, showing only the proposed flag). and in 1969 somebody had the idea of putting the map on a wall in kabul airport. in all cases, the durand line was firmly in place, and all of pakhtunistan was strictly and exclusively to the east of it.

  40. vajra



    It’s hard reconciling these facts with the adulation given to Badshah Khan in India. You probably know how big he is in the imagination and thinking of the secular intellectuals. Not to forget the Bharat Ratna. Very, very few handed out; to give it to Badshah Khan was a huge thing. Just think about it.

    Even after learning these things and others from PTH, there is no way that I could talk on these lines in India – none. It’d mean being stoned in public for being an Islamic mole. 8-(

  41. PMA

    Bloody Civilian (December 9, 2009 at 6:53 pm):

    During my under-grad years [Did I say in a well known large American university?] I had opportunity to befriended with many boys and girls from Afghanistan. Zahar Shah government at that time had embarked on a policy to develop an American trained crop of young people. They were all sent to America on government scholarships. Very interestingly they were also equipped with a map of Afghanistan/Pashtunistan and some talking points. Their Pashtunistan was shown only to the east of the Durand Line. The map was often displayed at the Student Union during the National Days of Afghanistan.

  42. Majumdar

    Babu Vajrangi,

    That is only quite natural. A Bharat Ratna is awarded to someone who is deemed to have advanced Indian interests, not Pakistani ones.


  43. PMA

    takhalus (December 9, 2009 at 6:16 am):

    Simply, there are more ethnic Pashtuns in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. And if you add ‘Punjabi Pathans’, the number will go even higher! In a Pashtunistan comprised of Pashtun areas on both sides of the Durand Line the Afghan Pashtuns will be in minority, a reality not missed by the Pashtuns of Afghanistan who are the largest and controlling ethnic group in that country.

  44. yasserlatifhamdani

    Vajra sb,

    All great leaders have feet of clay. All partisans learnt this a long time ago. The truth is however what Majumdar said above.

    There is an interesting biography of the great man by one of his ex-colleagues Juma Khan Sufi.

    Mr. Sufi wrote the book in spite but his facts check out.

  45. takhalus

    @ all
    I believe my original point is played out when i said “YLH you seem to be seeing the present through your own prism of the past.”

    by his comment…

    “I have a very poor opinion of this entire family and their family-fiefdom of a party… ”

    To turn YLH’s comment to Hossp around ..I think your personal dislike of Bacha Khan and his family is coming in the way of objective analysis.

    @YLH could you answer one question do you justify the murder, killing and rape of civilians done in East Pakistan or Balochistan?

  46. Milind Kher

    If you read a book called Bacha Khan in Afghanistan, his role everywhere has been shown to be laudable.

    When Hindu extremists massacred Muslims in Ahmedabad during his visit in 1969, he fasted in protest and lambasted the people for allowing this to happen to the Muslims.

    When the Jamaate Islami worked hand in glove with the Pakistan army to terrorise the Bengalis, he stood by Dr Mujib ur Rehman.

    Apparently, he did not want an independent state, but only autonomy for Pakhtunistan.

    This is what the book says. The veracity may be either endorsed or rejected by the people om this forum.

  47. Milind Kher

    The book is by Dr Sher Zaman Taizi

  48. Bloody Civilian

    A Bharat Ratna is awarded to someone who is deemed to have advanced Indian interests, not Pakistani ones

    and the nomination for the nobel peace prize?

  49. Milind Kher

    For somebody who has served global interests. Like President Obama.

  50. Bloody Civilian


    true. yet the ANP and JI were hand-in-glove with the khans of hashtnagar evicting and killing the peasants of hashtnagar. that charity does NOT begin at home is part and parcel of the politics of gimmicks called demagoguery.

    in ahmedabad 1969, there was also a collection of several lakh rupees for bacha khan. he didn’t give a penny of it to the affectees. the collection was in compensation for mehrchand khanna’s failure to return bacha khan rs400k that bacha khan claimed he had given khanna for ‘safekeeping’, before he left for india (to become the refugees’ minister). where did the rs400k come from in the first place? from all the congress funds that maulana azad (another bharat ratna) claims the KK always refused to give any kind of accounts for?

    we can leave ‘bacha khan in afghanistan’ for another time.

  51. Bloody Civilian


    For somebody who has served global interests. Like President Obama.

    i was referring to Bacha Khan’s nomination for the nobel peace prize in 1985. the claim that he was a nominee (amongst however many) cannot be verified, officially, of course… until 2035 at least.

  52. Milind Kher


    It would seem that politics somehow makes people ethically challenged. One would not have expected it of Frontier Gandhi, but then life is a series of continuous lessons.

  53. Bloody Civilian


    true again. and then we’ve dr ambedkar’s (yet another bharat ratna) accounts of the ‘mainland’ gandhi.

    life is a series of continuous lessons
    life is a series of words and deeds too. both good and bad. at what point does the balance shift towards the whole person being condemned? is there ever a need to condemn a person? criticising individual acts, and condemning condemnable ones should be enough.

  54. Milind Kher

    @BC ,

    Talking of Dr Ambedkar, he was a brilliant scholar who gave a secular touch to the Indian Constitution. He stood up for the Dalits in the teeth of opposition, and gave them an identity to be proud of.

    Sadly, the powers that be gave him nothing in return.

  55. yasserlatifhamdani

    Maybe Bacha Khan’s partisans can answer those questions.

    But here is a question (multiple choice) for Bacha Khan partisans.

    Q. Which of the following south asian leaders bequeathed a substantial amount to an institution of higher learning in Peshawar, NWFP?

    A. Bacha Khan

    B. “Mahatma” Gandhi

    C. Mahomed Ali Jinnah.

    D. Maulana Azad

    Hint- if what Ghani Khan said could come true, maybe a lot of problems would be solved.

  56. hossp


    I agree there with you that ANP is well to the right of NAP and as someone suggested it is really a successor of the KK than the NAP. KK was a conservative party. It was a spitting image of Ghaffar Khan who was a conservative, intellectually aligned with Gandhi’s conservatism rather than Maulana Azad’s religious dogmatism. His singular achievement was hoisting the banner of secularism and democracy in a politically and socially primitive culture. Yasser’s attempt to conjure up a revisionist history based on some letters from the people who had their own axes to grind, would not qualify as accurate and well documented history. In comparison, there is tons of material out there that would show that Muslim leagues mostly comprised of people whose sole contribution to the political struggle was their extremely close relationship with the colonial bureaucracy. Ghani Khan in his early age was a firebrand and stayed in his ego trip long after the British left. His transition from a firebrand to a mellow establishment supporter is not a new phenomenon. History is full of people like him.

    Bacha Khan’s political career started with Faqir of Ipi’s help. Ipi encouraged Bacha Khan to turn his social movement in to a political movement. (This is from what I read a long time ago…can’t produce any reference but there is enough circumstantial evidence to support this narrative). Fakir of Ipi and Bacha Khan both were united in two goals: they wanted the end of the British rule and they also wanted an independent area for Pushtoons. I don’t see any element of treachery there. They were both patriots. Faqir of Ipi chose the recognized tool of militant struggle against the British and Bacha Khan chose to stay within the constitutional path that Congress under Gandhi promoted.

    There was no viable Muslim league then and Jinnah was politically defeated by Gandhi in the power struggle within the Congress in the late teens and early 20s. By the time Jinnah came around to leading the ML, the KK political doctrine was already deep-rooted. Pakistan movement progressed from 1940 and Pakistan was not a politically achievable goal before 1945. There was no way for the KK or Bacha Khan to switch political movement so quickly but they continued to change their ways and one of the worst compromise was in the shape of Dr. Khan Sahib accepting the One Unit leadership. Political parties make mistakes. KK was never mistaken in its support of independence for a united India because ultimately the united India would have expedited the creation of Pakhtoon homeland between India and Afghanistan. Their calculation was perhaps not accurate but the creation of Pakistan was certainly not in their calculations. The Pakistan demand made them recalculate and after independence they made many mistakes in recalibrating their politics. Their mistake were mistakes not crimes that the Muslim League committed after independence

    Despite all the KK compromises the nawaiwaqt generation is not willing to let go of the biases and the progeny of the Nawaiwaqt will continue to regurgitate the Nawaiwaqt and Chattan type political history.

    An aside, I think time has come in Pakistan to see a Pukhtoon Prime Minister and I acquiesce that Asfandyar Wali is the most eligible candidate. I have been following Nawaz Sharif’s politics and his support base since 1998, leaving his ideological perplexities aside; Nawaz and the people behind him have enough political foresight to support this move. I understand that with the iron grip that the army establishment has in Pakistan, Asfandyar may not be able to change much but sometimes the change in ideological orientation at the top, can initiate a major overhaul of political dimensions. This would parallel the change India made in 1992 when it switched from the controlled economy to an IMF inspired economy.

  57. takhalus

    @BC: Beyond ratna’s what does being an amnesty prisoner of conscience mean ?

    True ..transformative figures are often many different things at many differen times (as are all human beings). Whether it’s Jinnah being a founding father to pakistanis on one hand and a distant man in relation to his daughter on the other. Gandhi being venerated by pacifists but his treatment of his wife being largely unmentioned or Bacha Khan and the obvious devotion of his followers and Bacha Khan and his children.

    Those who die with a story untold are often easier to place on a pedestal because one can paint ones hopes on the imagined canvas of their lives unlike those who have lived a full life where you have a beginning a middle and an end. The former end up being turned into types of saints ..the latter are often judged more harshly.

  58. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Hossp,

    Ha ha, Now you’ve added Chattan to that list. The same chattan your crooked friends in the ANP are quoting as the gospel truth these days.

    Come on uncle …You know as well as I do that I have as much to do with the Nawai Waqt generation as you are a Neocon. Actually I think you are more of a Neocon in every way than I am from the Nawai Waqt generation. Ironically the Nation was always a big fan of Wali Khan later years and the real Nawai Waqtis took his cause with great verve when ANP was part of the Nizam e Mustafa push in 1977. I wonder which side Shorish must have chosen…

    You know I suggested Asfandyar as the PM much earlier. However as I have gotten to know your friends in the ANP better, I’d say thank you very much but no thanks.

    There can be no reconciliation with crooks of ANP unless they break decisively with the past.

    Now uncleji you can claim whatever about my “revisionist history” but may I remind you that the otherside doesn’t even have the documents that I
    have referred to.

    Faqir of Ipi was an Islamist insurgent in the tradition syed ahmed, pawindah. The tradition continues to present day. Bacha Khan and his party aided and abetted Faqir of Ipi. They also hobnobbed with the Afghan government despite advice to the contrary from Mr. Nehru. Gandhi egged them on. All these form part of a record that is easily available at the library of Congress not by Leaguers but by Americans.

    There is no question that other than Jinnah, Mohani and Khaliquzzaman, a great majority of the League had nothing to do with any opposition to British rule. It is also true that in NWFP, pro-British elements dominated the League (which played roughly the same role against the Congress, that the Unionist-Congress alliance played against the League and the CPI in Punjab). My own great grandfather from my mother’s side was a Unionist till 1939 (his eventual inclusion in the League cost him 60 murabas of jageer)… I frankly think the Muslim intelligentsia, Aga Khan, Sir Zafrulla and others were right in working with the British. To my mind Aga Khan and Sir Zafrulla did a lot more for the people than the likes of Faqir of Ipi (I won’t say Bacha Khan because before jumping into politics Bacha Khan did do some good work as a social worker which he ought to have confined himself to).

    The British gave India unity, discipline, infrastructure, modern institutions etc. A bunch of raggle taggle thugs like Patay Khan the bandit, Sultana Daku Faqir of Ipi were criminals …especially since their so called movements were parochially tribal, unlike say Bhagat Singh or M N Roy not to mention the modernists and parliamentarian constitutionalists like the Nehrus or Jinnah or Sapru.

    Had the British not carried out the Jallianwalla outrage, it is safe to say that there would be no Bhagat Singh. Otherwise British rule was a great liberation for South Asia and had it not been for the second world war, the Brits might just have stayed Bacha Khan, Gandhi and others notwithstanding. We would certainly have attained a Canada like Dominion status with Muslims forming the equivalent of Quebec in it. So uncleji stop this self righteousness about Brits being evil incarnates and portraying this dhong of independence struggle as anything more than a tamasha that it was. It is this impulse that presents itself in form of conspiracy theories and Islamo-fascism today…the sort of nawai waqt nationalism that you have internalized.

  59. yasserlatifhamdani

    Takhalus mian,

    Guess who else had the honor of being Amnesty’s prisoner of conscience?

    Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi.

    And you know who else?

    Maajid Nawaz when he was still a Hizb-ut-tahrir activist…and under arrest in Egypt.

    You obviously don’t understand that Amnesty’s “prisoner of the year” is not necessarily an endorsement of a prisoner’s political views. Arrest a Mullah long enough and unconstitutionally, he too shall become “Amnesty’s Prisoner of Conscience”.

    Bacha Khan was busy plotting the secession of NWFP through out till the 1980s. Was it Najeeb who rebuked him for continuing down this road. Pushtoon Nationalist
    Juma Khan Sufi has written about this.

    I see that you’ve brought Jinnah and his relationship with his daughter up out of the blue. Jinnah’s close relationship with his daughter is on the record. It is true that they weren’t on cordial terms between 1939 to 1942… but I am afraid “distant to his daughter” doesn’t bear out in history. Read Wolpert’s book especially pages 132-133 (from memory) and there are countless pictures of Jinnah with his head on Dina’s shoulder, taking a walk with her, standing with her on the footsteps of his house proudly, playing with dogs with Dina next to him… And then Dina has given a clear account of their relationship in her essay “My father”. By all accounts it shows how sensitive and caring a father Jinnah was and it was this closeness that temporarily dented their relationship.

    Instead of commenting on something you know very little about, how about you just answer the multiple choice question I posed above?

  60. hossp


    I am beginning to fear your intellectual naughtiness. British in India did what was needed to be done to perpetuate their own rule. In the process they created a class that you so proudly promote as enlightened. Jalianwala was not an accident nor was emergence of Bhagat Singh an aberration. The Ghadar party came in to existence way before Jalianwala happened and Jalianwala happened because the British were not ready to accept that the poor natives were human. While you can take pride in British sponsored unity, infrastructure and modern institutions I take pity at the millions of Bengalis who died because their crops were in the way of more profitable opium trade for the British. I also mourn many thousand Indians who became war fodder in Europe just because they were poor and were forced by your favorite scions to join the British India army.
    I guess to honor that unity in 1947, the British left India in a state where partition was the most peaceful solution. Some unity they promoted.

    More roads and infrastructure are developed in poor India and Pakistan in the last 50 years compared with the 200 years of British rule. The explosion of and a blooming middle class that you see in the subcontinent now, was a fraction of today’s numbers during the British rule in India. How ironic that the Opium trade ended in 1919 and within thirty years the criminal opium traders were ready to leave India. The minute India became a source of loss rather than of profit; the great benefactors left the country in the hands of their laypaalaks and went back in their cocoons. This is unbelievable that the laughing stock of today’s politics in Europe actually ruled a country as magnificent as India.

    If your entire philosophy is based on assumptions that you laid out, then my friend, you will continue to read the history incorrectly.

    Leaders like Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru certainly were implanted by the British but Bacha Khan was one of the few standouts who managed to get to the top based on their own work and gift of leadership. Gandhi was unable to preach what he presumably believed to his own followers but Bacha Khan created his following against the grain in the most hostile section of India. He was a true leader. He never had British sponsors or the Lincoln inn education for the matriculates. My only gripe with him was that he decided not to challenge Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah more forcefully on national matters. I attribute that to not his style of leadership but his awareness that the British would turn him into a devil, if he did. Unfortunately, the Nawaiwaqt generation decided to do exactly that with him after the partition.

    My reference to Chattan was to reinforce my point about the yellow journalism that was the hallmark of Nawaiwaqt. Personally, I never read Chattan in my whole life.

    A Canada like dominion? You forget India opted for that option when it retained Mountbatten, what good that did to India?

  61. vajra


    I take pity at the millions of Bengalis who died because their crops were in the way of more profitable opium trade for the British.

    That should have read indigo trade.

    Merely an historical quibble, not affecting your main argument.

  62. vajra


    Thanks to your constant relocation of my political standpoint, I am sadly forced to give up my nick. Any suggestions for a new one? Something that you can’t twist into sounding close to your friends? Not misleading either; please don’t come up with something like Iqbal Athar Ali.

    Waiting hopefully…..

  63. yasserlatifhamdani


    Sadly the great HP is wrong on all counts. ;). No naughtiness here.

    Bhagat Singh was greatly moved by Jallianwala. The British alienated a lot of people with that one foul move.

    My point is that British Raj was over all very good for everyone. You say we’ve made roads but that’s because our populations have increased multifold. The infrastructure that the British left was more than adequate and had these Ipi and Bacha Khan types given them a chance, they would have developed India much further.

    Gandhi was probably planted but neither Jinnah nor Nehru were British plants. Jinnah was never a rebel, always a constitutional opponent of the treasury benches fighting for dominion status for India. For him to be planted, he would have to be in the center of the so called satyagraha.

    Now you are just being silly by comparing such a small fish like Bacha Khan whose contribution to history is zilch. Incidentally, he was recommended to Irwin as a delegate to the Roundtable conference by Jinnah. So even if we accept your view… Ghaffar Khan was planted by Jinnah and Gandhi who you say were British plants.

    And you’ve echoed chachaji the worst of the Mullahs when you criticized Lincoln’s Inn or a British education. I for one feel Macaulay’s minute on education was the best thing that happened to the subcontinent. Even Nehru said “I am the last Englishman to rule India”.

    And your comment about Mountbatten is constitutionally untenable. India’s adoption of an Englishman as a first head of state is neither here nor there. Canada’s constitution and dominion status was very different. Had there been no dhong of independence movement, an Indian Dominion- with Quebec like status for Muslim sub-federation- would have come into being with an Indian governor general.

    The Brits were in the balance very good. The so called “resistance” in the balance (with the exception of people like Bhagar Singh) was over all immoral.

  64. vajra

    Frankly, I echo Yasser Hamdani’s sentiment about Macaulayite education. Most of our problems in India – I cannot speak with authenticity and such assurance about Pakistan – is due to the fact that the Macaulayite system did not penetrate deep enough, soon enough. Our temper as a nation would have been far more democratic had that happened.

    Instead, we got undersized steel plants, gigantic, ineffective dams, public sector undertakings that never made money, and their equivalent in education – scaled up polytechniques which deviated completely from the humanitarian concept of a ‘university’ and created high-earning technicians with no exposure to the humanities. The middle classes that have been created with the huge monies that these technicians have earned are middle classes with ethical and moral vacuums. The future is not promising.

  65. takhalus

    hossp: perhaps you are confusing Haji of Turangzai and the Faqir amidst YLH’s polemics?

    Humayun Mirza’s book on his father Iskander Mirza cites an interesting meeting between Mirza and Jinnah in which in feb 1947 he was asked by Jinnah to prepare for a violent jihad if Pakistan was not agreed too. Mirza was paid a large sum of money and started planning appropriately however in may he was told to halt any further moves because of sucess in negotiations. It is reasonable to assume similar tactics were used in 1947 to invade kashmir under the guise of jihad. Using the YLH theory of extrapolation are we to assume that is probably the beginning of the use of FATA as a sanctuary ..the consequences of which we are facing now? and to add to that example constituitonally with the objectives resolution Liaqat Ali Khan created the modern Islamist ideology to which Zia was merely an add on?

  66. Hossp

    “That should have read indigo trade.”
    No! Obviously you have not read about the Opium wars that British fought with the Chinese also known as Anglo-Chinese wars. The opium was forcibly cultivated in Bengal by the British.
    “The backdrop to Amitav Ghosh’s fine, spacious novel is the Opium Wars of the 19th century, one of those inglorious chapters in the history of the British Empire that tend to get omitted from school history books.”
    “In a nutshell, the British East India Company took umbrage because the Chinese were losing their appetite for opium imported from India; it had to act swiftly to protect a lucrative, if pernicious, trade. Hence the voyage of the Ibis, an old slaving ship, from Calcutta to China, laden to the gunwales with opium.”

    You should study that; the whole thing is an opener.
    Btw, India still has the world’s largest legal opium factory. Somewhere in Bihar near Patna I believe.


    You have actually not answered any thing. When the Turks and Persians came to India they taught Persian and Turkish and used them as official language for their convenience. British were merely following in their footsteps.

    Canadian progress is not because of its dominion status. Though I do agree that Congress’s rejection of the dominion status and the subsequent India act resulted in dismemberment of India.
    Any education system is good or bad depends on who is taking advantage of it.

  67. Hossp


    No, I am not. Faqir Ipi and Bacha Khan’s relationship though not publicized was real and he encouraged Bacha Khan to take part in Politics. I think Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan’s book sheds some light on it too. Though it has been such a long time that I cannot be sure of exactly what Qayoom Khan wrote in his book.

  68. yasserlatifhamdani

    Here is the thing Takhalus mian… you are jumping from argument to argument because you and HP can’t answer the main point here.

    I have read that book and let us for argument sake assume that Jinnah tasked Iskandar Mirza, a Shia Muslim of Iranian Origin and a known descendant of the great Patriot of Bengal Mir Jaffar, to start Jehad in the sunni pathan tribal areas. It makes me question Jinnah’s knowledge of Islamic sectarian division more than anything else (which we know was nothing to write home about- besides the little Islam he knew was of Khoja Shia variety)… if at all its true.

    The extrapolation doesn’t work my friend. The ethnic, religious, social and political makeup of Fakir of Ipi and Behtullah are the same. They were both Islamist insurgents fighting the state. Thanks to Cunningham’s policy outlined in response to Ipi’s Islamist insurgency, the Pakistani establishment managed to wean the tribes away from this rebellion. However… now that marriage is over… and things have returned to their logical pre-Cold War calculations… vis a vis tribal politics and central authority. No wonder the Army chief is now making appeals to Islam again. The solution however lies in integrating them into mainstream.

    As for Liaqat Ali Khan and objectives resolution… ofcourse General Zia used the objectives resolution. Objectives’ Resolution was a ridiculous piece of document and General Zia gave it teeth. What is your point exactly… that Behtullah was not the continuation of Faqir of Ipi who was aided and abetted by Bacha Khan and his family?

  69. Gorki

    1. I know even less than Vajra about Baluchistan thus can’t comment on it but YLH is right; not all Independence struggles are progressive and not all revolutions revolutionary.
    2. Thus the Indian war of Independence in 1857 was a not as much a war of liberation as it was the last gasp of medievalism threatened by a more modern and superior social and political system. The American Revolution OTOH was truly revolutionary; it represented progress because it sought to implant a republic in place of Imperial rule. Slavery was a neutral issue; it was legal in all the British colonies in 1776.
    3. The British Imperial rule in India in1858, was without any exceptions, the most enlightened and benign rule till date.
    4. The Jallianwalla Bagh (admittedly a very grotesque event) was an exception, not a rule. Even Churchill condemned it.
    5. The complete and final victory of only one major European power in India turned out to be a major blessing because it combined India politically, linguistically and economically like never before. Consider the alternatives; an Africa like hodge podge of states under the British, French, and Portuguese rule with no regard to social, ethnic and historical continuity (Afghan Pakistan border many times over)
    6. The British, by first almost absentmindedly introducing the ideas of enlightenment to a generation of Indians and then by forcing them to resist the inequalities of a foreign rule provided them with a perfect tool to forge a nation where there was none before. (Just like the American Revolution before)
    7. Without the narrative of a freedom struggle (and the subsequent Constitution) there is nothing of consequence that is common to all the Indians even today.
    8. The Indian freedom struggle (or various sub-struggles) in the 20th century was a progressive step since it was inspired by the (by then) universal ideas of liberty and equality; the 19th century European ideas of enlightenment.
    In the local context it was first and foremost a struggle against White racism and secondly against economic exploitation.
    9. Out of all the colonial powers) the British were the most graceful rulers when it came the time to quit. (Compare with the Dutch in Indonesia, the French in Indo-Chine and Algeria, the Russians everywhere or even the Americans in the Philippines)
    10. The Afghans, to their great misfortune never became a part of the British Empire having beaten back the British again and again; the results are there for all to see. 😉
    11. With apologies to PMA Sahib in advance, the biggest harm the British did to our subcontinent was not economic though; it was ideological.
    They planted a previously unknown and a very European (and unnatural in the local context) idea of Nationalism in the local soil. Our two countries are a living proof of it.


  70. Hossp

    “10. The Afghans, to their great misfortune never became a part of the British Empire having beaten back the British again and again; the results are there for all to see.”

    I can go over all of the points in your post because they represent a shallow knowledge of history. I just don’t have time for that and I hope you will study history to find how shallow your thought process is.
    Afghans were defeated in the first war and the British controlled Kabul and installed a person of their liking as King. The Brits did not leave because they were defeated, they left because the East India company realized that unlike India, Afghanistan was no cash cow. It was a bad bargain and for their mistake of defeating the afghans, they ended up paying the Afghanistan instead of making money of it.
    The British paid to the afghans for years and until 1947. British were paying for their error of defeating the Afghans. I think you can search for an article on Afghanistan that I wrote for PTH in October or November last year for more info.

  71. yasserlatifhamdani

    Hossp uncle,

    I did answer your points in my view but it is upto you to hold a contrary opinion.

    On British Rule, let me produce Left’s Alpha and Omega Karl Marx’s words on British rule:

    How came it that English supremacy was established in India? The paramount power of the Great Mogul was broken by the Mogul Viceroys. The power of the Viceroys was broken by the Mahrattas. The power of the Mahrattas was broken by the Afghans, and while all were struggling against all, the Briton rushed in and was enabled to subdue them all. A country not only divided between Mahommedan and Hindoo, but between tribe and tribe, between caste and caste; a society whose framework was based on a sort of equilibrium, resulting from a. general repulsion and constitutional exclusiveness between all its members. Such a country and such a society, were they not the predestined prey of conquest? If we knew nothing of the past history of Hindostan, would there not be the one great and incontestable fact, that even at this moment India is held in English thraldom by an Indian army maintained at the cost of India? India, then, could not escape the fate of being conquered, and the whole of her past history, if it be anything, is the history of the successive conquests she has undergone. Indian society has no history at all, at least no known history. What we call its history, is but the history of the successive intruders who founded their empires on the passive basis of that unresisting and unchanging society. The question, therefore, is not whether the English had a right to conquer India, but whether we are to prefer India conquered by the Turk, by the Persian, by the Russian, to India conquered by the Briton.

    England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerating the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying the material foundations of Western society in Asia.

    Arabs, Turks, Tartars, Moguls, who had successively overrun India, soon became Hindooized, the barbarian conquerors being, by an eternal law of history, conquered themselves by the superior civilization of their subjects. The British were the first conquerors superior, and therefore, inaccessible to Hindoo civilization. They destroyed it by breaking up the native communities, by uprooting the native industry, and by levelling all that was great and elevated in the native society. The historic pages of their rule in India report hardly anything beyond that destruction. The work of regeneration hardly transpires through a heap of ruins. Nevertheless it has begun.

    I know that the English millocracy intend to endow India with railways with the exclusive view of extracting at diminished expenses the cotton and other raw materials for their manufactures. But when you have once introduced machinery into the locomotion of a country, which possesses iron and coals, you are unable to withhold it from its fabrication. You cannot maintain a net of railways over an immense country without introducing all those industrial processes necessary to meet the immediate and current wants of railway locomotion, and out of which there must grow the application of machinery to those branches of industry not immediately connected with railways. The railway-system will therefore become, in India, truly the forerunner of modern industry. This is the more certain as the Hindoos are allowed by British authorities themselves to possess particular aptitude. for accommodating themselves to entirely new labor, and acquiring the requisite knowledge of machinery. Ample proof of this fact is afforded by the capacities and expertness of the native engineers in the Calcutta mint, where they have been for years employed in working the steam machinery, by the natives attached to the several steam engines in the Burdwan coal districts, and by other instances. Mr. Campbell himself, greatly influenced as he is by the prejudices of the East India Company, is obliged to avow

    So you see… British Rule was a on a whole a positive for British India even if it was not intended so.

    All the English bourgeoisie may be forced to do will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the people, depending not only on the development of the productive powers, but on their appropriation by the people. But what they will not fail to do is to lay down the material premises for both. Has the bourgeoisie ever done more? Has it ever effected a progress without dragging individuals and people through blood and dirt, through misery and degradation?

    The Indians will not reap the fruits of the new elements of society scattered among them by the British bourgeoisie, till in Great Britain itself the now ruling classes shall have been supplanted by the industrial proletariat, or till the Hindoos themselves shall have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke altogether. At all events, we may safely expect to see, at a more or less remote period, the regeneration of that great and interesting country, whose gentle natives are, to use the expression of Prince Soltykov, even in the most inferior classes, “plus fins et plus adroits que les Italiens” [more subtle and adroit than the Italians], a whose submission even is counterbalanced by a certain calm nobility, who, notwithstanding their natural langor, have astonished the British officers by their bravery, whose country has been the source of our languages, our religions, and who represent the type of the ancient German in the Jat, and the type of the ancient Greek in the Brahmin.

    I think that had the British stayed on for 50 odd years, the process would also have taken root in areas such as NWFP… The best response to British rule could only have been through constitutional parliamentary process.

    Such a British India would be fertile ground for a real Marxist revolution today… not that as part of the petit bourgeoisie, I favor such notions of revolution. But in terms of historical process it is quite clear.

  72. yasserlatifhamdani

    Hossp Uncle,

    On Gorki sb’s point 10… whether British were beaten back or whether the Brits came out voluntarily, the point is valid…

    Interestingly… the division of the subcontinent into de-regulated and regulated provinces itself comes as a direct trajectory away from where British rule was established first.

    So … a native bourgeoisie was strongest in Madras, Bengal, Bombay, … and so on and so forth to Punjab, Sindh and NWFP…. all late additions to British rule … where industry and economy was not set up to that extent by the British.

    One can map British rule on a scale of democracy… that part of British India which was longest under British rule tends to be most democratic…. that which came later is less so… and Afghanistan- having missed British rule- is the worst case scenario. That the left is strongest in Bengal (to Majumdar’s chagrin) has to do with this historical process.

    It has everything to do with what Karl Marx wrote in 1853… that is the introduction of news means of production and bourgeoisie capitalism through British rule.

  73. Milind Kher

    If Afghanistan was not a democracy, it was not a dictatorship either. It was just anarchy.

    Such a degree of independence is hardwired into the Afghan psyche, that leave aside anybody else ruling Afghanistan, they cannot rule themselves even.

  74. takhalus

    @ylh:It’s interesting how evidence of Jinnahs use of Jihad pre partition and post partition is dismissed as NOT injecting Islamist ideology into the tribal areas.
    @MK: That’s the old argument is slavery in heaven better than freedom in hell? Is being occupied and treated differently because of skin colour acceptable if you have better roads then those who don’t accept being occupied?

  75. Milind Kher


    The guy who values his independence is always on the moral high road. However, he should understand the value of discipline too.

  76. hossp


    Your bringing out Karl Marx to support you just floored me. Had you read the article before quoting it, you would have realized that Marx was talking about the “unintended benefits” and he actually substantiated my points that whatever British brought to India was needed to complete their conquest and exploit the Indian resources. Marx talked about Millcracy and how once you start a process it would take its own course. It is true that the Nomads from the central Asia did not belong to a vastly superior culture but they centralized power in India for such a long period that the concept of united India began to take shape. That was another “unintended consequence” of the Central Asians power grab in India.

    Marx was a great analyst but he mostly commented on the current issues with knowledge that he gained mostly from the British media. Being a newspaper columnist, he sometime appeared not well informed and in some instances, outright racist.

    We live in a different era, we have more access to knowledge and we also have some independent sources that have analyzed these issues with more knowledge. Some of the Indian historians including Romila Thaper have done phenomenal work in this area and instead of presenting the “letters” from the ML henchmen in Sarhad as the historical facts; you need to also find out how much credibility you can ascribe to the low level minions, who might just be making up stuff to impress the leader. Based on the criteria you used in presenting the letters from some unknowns, Humayoon Mirza appears more credible. His forefathers and even his own father might be the biggest crooks but Humayoon had no known axe to grind. His only fault was flattering the American Ambassador’s daughter and marrying her.

    If you think your quotes from the unknown are your ace in the hole, then you have actually lost the ball in high weeds.

  77. PMA

    Gorki (December 10, 2009 at 10:24 am):

    Hossp (December 10, 2009 at 10:42 am) has already addressed some of your points. You, Vajra and a score of your Indian compatriots repeatedly here at PTH say that you know very little about Pakistan and its history but then you continue to comment about it anyway. Why?

    True. The 1857 mutiny repackaged in India as “Indian war of Independence” was a not as much a war of liberation. But you surprise me when you say that: “the British Imperial rule in India in 1858, was without any exceptions, the most enlightened and benign rule till date.” If that is true then why the hell that ‘little half naked fakir’ was running around the countryside agitating against his ‘enlightened and benign’ masters. That makes me think may be Bhutto was right about his assessment of Indian mentality. On one hand you admire your old masters for creating an ‘Indian Nation’ but on the other hand you blame them for “planting an unnatural and previously unknown very European idea of Nationalism in the local soil.” Are you not conveniently being self serving here.

  78. yasserlatifhamdani

    Talhalus mian,

    Your “evidence”, flimsy as it is, was given due attention. For example there is not a single speech where Jinnah uses the word “jihad” on record. How strange for someone who was about to start a Jihad in Sunni tribal areas by using a known Shia Muslim of Iranian ancestry like Iskandar Mirza.

    In other words you are telling me that Taliban and Mehsud are not Sunni Islamist fanatics like Fakir of Ipi but secretly Shia Muslims of Iranian ancestry. How crooked is that argument.

    Dear HP,

    Haven’t you had enough drubbing for a day. I have written a five part series in which I have quoted secret reports of both Howard Donovan to George Marshall on the activities of the Afghan government, Bacha Khan and Faqir of Ipi…as well as the British India office.

    You say that humayun’s father had an axe to grind. Well you are in luck because the book is quoting Iskandar Mirza not Humayun Mirza.

    But still we may accept your little friend’s spurious argument, if you can prove that all Taliban are Shia Muslims of Iranian ancestry and not Sunni orthodox islamist insurgents of Pushtun ethnicity like Faqir of Ipi.

    I see that Marx has really upset you. Now you are hiding behind “unintended” benefits. I didn’t know that the British were supposed to act out of the goodness of their heart instead of their self interest.

    And it was not as unintended as you make it out to be. Surely it would not show up in Macaulay’s grand design so explicitly.

    So you can repeat yourself again and again but it just proves that you don’t have a counter-argument that could hold up. After all Faqir of Ipi was an Islamist insurgent who used Islamist slogan and justification for his Islamist war against Pakistan and he was aided and abetted in his violence by Bacha Khan and his family.

    Now don’t worry, for your benefit I will produce those US national archive documents tomorrow which show Bacha Khan hobnobbing with the Afghan govt.

  79. yasserlatifhamdani

    PS: Please do quote what Romilla Thapar has to say about Fakir of Ipi’s revolt against the Pakistan govt.

  80. Gorki

    “Afghans were defeated in the first war and the British controlled Kabul and installed a person of their liking as King. The Brits did not leave because they were defeated, they left because the East India company realized that unlike India, Afghanistan was no cash cow.”

    Dear Hossp: I know for a fact that you are a scholar of history therefore I think that you know better than the above. Perhaps you were trying to make some point (of just proving me wrong?). Nevertheless just like YLH wrote; it is beside the point whether the British left on their own or they were kicked out, the point is that the fact that they did not rule Afghanistan then was unfortunate for the present day Afghans.
    (A minor point; however how does one defines victory? If the first Anglo-Afghan war was a British victory because they temporarily installed a puppet on the throne before being ejected out and massacred then so was the Soviet Invasion since their puppet regime lasted longer 😉 )

    Dear PMA Sahib: Thank you for your post since it highlighted two points.

    The first is a crucial error that I overlooked (I will never make a proofreader 😉 ) before posting which is:

    British Imperial rule in India in 1858, was without any exceptions, the most enlightened and benign rule till date = ….was without any exceptions, the most enlightened and benign rule till THAT date.
    That should clear the air.
    I admit the entire meaning is changed by one error although by reading my entire post it is clear what I was trying to say.

    The second point was that that by writing:
    “That makes me think may be Bhutto was right about his assessment of Indian mentality…”

    you nicely make my case that nationalism (and national mentality) is an outdated concept.
    Old timers the world over (including in India and the United States) don’t like change and want to cling to old concepts such nationalism as if it is an immutable law of physics.
    The fact is that in the modern World there is no ‘us Indians’ as there is no ‘you Pakistanis’. First take a look at us two for example; we both live in (and I presume hold the national passport) of the nation that we love (and the founding principles of which are dearer to me than any religion) yet we were not born in it. You yourself have mentioned earlier that you don’t like to converse with fellow Americans who seem to be Indian the moment they mention the fatal words “you and I are the same people…”. Now these are your ‘countrymen’.

    On the other hand there are Pakistanis who come to PTH from time to time to taunt YLH about MAJ being a votary of Islamism. I believe you and they have less in common.

    Similarly poor YLH has to defend himself from such morons when they attack him of preferring to befriend “us Indians”. He is light years away from their ideology.

    I for one have no hesitation in saying that I proudly consider men like YLH, BC, DAN, Adnann, and so many others closer to me intellectually and politically than say TM or Sudarshan. In effec they are my virtual countrymen.
    I believe once enough citizens receive a certain level of liberal education and develop free thought, 19-20th century nationalism becomes obsolete fot them.

    Last point; the half naked fakir was running around in India and the countryside listened to him was due to the fact that your any my ancestors lived in a land where there were signs displayed outside certain establishments saying “Indians and dogs not allowed”.


  81. hossp

    I am afraid you are not reading my posts with glasses on. Or perhaps, I am just too brief for you as I believe in your astuteness to pick up the hints.

    My point that did not come across to you was that Humayoon Mirza was more or less as credible as the few “letter” writers on which your claims are based. The reference to Romila Thaper was basically an advice to you to read history written by some qualified people instead of the letter writers and secret police.

    Now something on secret police, I just remembered a story. A long time ago some secret writers presented their charges against me in a military court. They charged that I was a member of a major gang of dacoits. It so happened that the Major, presiding the military court used to play squash with me at Hyderabad Gymkhana. We were not friends but he knew enough about me to laugh with me over those charges.

    Since you place a high level of confidence in the British gifts to the poor Indians, it may surprise you that lying was one major skill they assiduously taught to our law enforcement officers. In fact the British bureaucrats practiced it so much that the brown folks under them were immensely impressed and turned lying in to an art form.

    I hope you have been following the proceedings on the reasons for the Iraq war in the British parliament. It just came out that the British government wanted to go to war with Iraq because a Taxi driver overheard some Iraqis claiming that the Iraqi army could launch WMDs within 45 minutes, if hostilities were to breakout. I am sure most of the reports you sight as authentic were based on claims by some Tanga wala who knew exactly what Bacha Khan and Faqir of Ipi stood for.

    I am not going to post anymore on this subject because the history you quote is absolutely rubbish and is based on some hearsay accounts and by known partisans.

    “Tony Blair’s taxi-derived “45-minute” WMD claim”

    “An Iraqi taxi driver may have been the source of the discredited claim that Saddam Hussein could unleash weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, a Tory MP claimed today. Adam Holloway, a defence specialist, said MI6 obtained information indirectly from a taxi driver who had overheard two Iraqi military commanders talking about Saddam’s weapons.

    The 45-minute claim was a key feature of the dossier about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction that was released by Tony Blair in September 2002. Blair published the information to bolster public support for war.

  82. PMA

    yasserlatifhamdani (December 10, 2009 at 10:17 am):

    “I have read that book [From Plassey To Pakistan–The Family History of Iskander Mirza, The First President of Pakistan, by Humayun Mirza] and let us for argument sake assume that Jinnah tasked Iskandar Mirza, a Shia Muslim of Iranian Origin and a known descendant of the great Patriot of Bengal Mir Jaffar”

    Two things here. First the family was of Iraqi and not of Iranian origin. Second, Mir Jaffar is not considered a ‘patriot’, certainly not by Bengali Muslims. Let me share a page of history with you:

    During the time of Emperor Alamgir, a man named Syed Hussain Najafi came to the Mughal Court from the area of Najaf in Iraq. He was said to be the Governor of Najaf in the Ottoman Arabia and also a key holder of the Mausoleums of Khalifa Ali and his descendants. He took up employment in the Mughal Court as Naib Darogha Baytal (Assistant Court Chamberlain). His son Syed Ahmad Najafi took the same job after him. Later on Syed Ahmad Najafi became Governor of Govaliar state and then Governor of Orissa, a state west of Bengal. His son was Syed Mohammad Najafi (1691-1765) commonly known by his official tittle as Mir Jaffar Ali Khan or simply ‘Mir Jaffar’. He was married to a sister of Ali Wardi Khan and was named Commander-in-Chief of the forces of Ali Wardi Khan. In the battle of Plassey he betrayed Nawab Siraj-ud-Doula and sided with the English. As a reward for his services the English installed him as Nawab of the provinces of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The first president of Pakistan, General Iskander Mirza was an eighth generation descendant of Mir Jaffar.

  83. vajra


    Which parts of my comments on Pakistani history, if any, have you found objectionable?

  84. vajra


    Which parts of my comments on Pakistani history, if any, have you found objectionable? Would it be too much of an effort to refer you to the specific context, that the reference is to current affairs in Pakistan, in that case, to Balochistan, not to history as such?

  85. PMA

    Gorki (December 11, 2009 at 2:06 am):

    I admire your profoundness and sentiments. But the reality is that the world is organized into nations and countries and that is how all of us identify ourselves. The day all the countries of the world will open their borders to all the citizens of the world perhaps we will stop identifying ourselves with the countries of our birth. In the meantime you will continue to identify yourself with your country of birth India and I will do the same with my country of birth Pakistan. That is how it is. But our love for our country of birth should not translate into hatred for others. In my own case my doctor is an Indian and so is my grocer. They both are very fine gentlemen. They respect me for who I am and I return their sentiments. But I also read and observe. So let’s just leave it there and enjoy each cup of tea our host Raza Rumi has to offer us.

  86. takhalus

    @MK. agreed..

    @PMA : i think you misunderstand YLH..he believes colloboration with the East India Company was and is acceptable. As such Mir Jaffar in his eyes is a good man as the EIC united India and developed it on modern lines (the white mans burden argument)

    @Hossp: I forgot to mention one element of what Mirza (a former political agent with extensive links in the tribal belt) wrote, he was paid Rs.20,000/- with a promise of Rs 10 million ( an enormous sum of money in those days) to follow. (From Plassey to Pakistan p 151)

    What happened to the first bit is not mentioned nor what activities he may have done in that initial period..but it does co-incide with increasing attacks from the tribal areas on Hindus and sikhs living in the settled districts.

  87. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Hossp,

    So in other words there is nothing in Romilla Thapar about this threw the name for Roab Daab programme. Now tell me what it is about Faqir of Ipi that I have alleged which you consider nonsense. Was he not an Islamist insurgent fighting the state and is Behtullah Mehsud not the continuation of him.

    You are not going to comment because you don’t have a point uncleji. If you do pleas answer the question because frankly I am losing my faith in your astuteness.

    Takhalus mian,

    Let me put it to you again. Let us accept that Jinnah did task Iskandar Mirza the Shia Muslim with this. Could you point out what it was that Iskandar Mirza achieved as a result?

    The point is – which you keep ignoring- is that Behtullah Mehsud was the continuation of the work of Faqir of Ipi, Mullah Pawindah and Syed Ahmed Shaheed …and not of Iskandar Mirza the Shia Muslim…who to my knowledge did not contribute in any major way to NWFP’s great tribal revolt. Maybe you can tell us.

    Iskandar Mirza needed to prove his credentials in the Pakistan movement when countering Muslim League’s opposition in 1957.

    Otherwise the people Iskandar Mirza was very close to in the Frontier was Dr. Khan Sb and Bacha Khan. Infact they were so close that you might now adopt Mir Jaffar as a great patriot too in all sincerity (as opposed my sarcastic remark about the man that you didn’t get. Iskandar Mirza – the great would be Jehadi- made a party with Bacha Khan’s brother that was in a ministry together. Oh yes…you know which Party I am referring to … The Republican Party… Pakistan’s first King’s Party. And guess what Dr. Khan Sahib was its first Chief Minister of the One Unit West Pakistan (the hypocrisy of ANP and KK knows no bounds).
    As for your comment to PMA… It shows desperation of a person who can’t argue on the facts. I am not sure how you came to that conclusion …I tend to see things in term of a historical process not in “patriots” and “traitors” as you seem to do. Lord Clive’s “loot khasoot” was sadly the birth pangs of a fresh era that created a new world. Similarly Mir Jaffar – who was a weak ruler by all accounts- may yet be considered a necessary evil in getting rid of that tyrannical feudal grandson of Ali Wardi Khan of Murshidabad. For Bengal it laid the foundation for destruction and regeneration Marx talks about.


    The use of patriot was at best sarcastic.

    You are backing the wrong horse as usual but that is not surprising.

    May I suggest you stop attacking Vajra and Gorki who mean Pakistan no harm.

    Vajra sb,

    No need to get agitated. Pakistani uncles love to float “nonsense history” when they can’t come up with arguments.

  88. Hossp

    Dear Bahtijay,

    Don’t get flustered. The facts are not on your side in this case. When you first posted your article above I cautioned you on your same same about JI and ANP. There are tons of differences between the Fakir and Baitullah. There is no same same here either. There is plenty of material available on Faqir on the net, study it to enlighten yourself.

    I end this conversation with a quote from my post on this subject from 2008.

    July 28, 2008 at 1:53 am

    I really don’t want to debate this issue with you. I think you make honest efforts to learn the history and draw some conclusions that may not be accurate now but you will get the truth in your own time.

  89. Gorki

    Dear Yasser:
    Thanks for your kind comments and your confidence in me although I can stand up for myself in any civilized academic discussion with my fellow citizen from Illinois.

    You are right; for a man who still owns a small farm about 60 miles on the Indian side of the Pakistani border; I can never mean my neighbor, Pakistan any harm, for in doing so it would mean putting a question mark on my own future and on the future of my loved ones.

    I agree with PMA Sahib that ones love for their own country of birth should not mean a hatred of others. Yet nationalism and patriotism is an interesting emotion; it makes even decent people reflexively shrink back from seemingly harmless and friendly gestures if it is felt that the person making the gesture belongs to the ‘other’ side.

    Consider for example, PMA Sahib; otherwise an intellectual, a poet, a historian who was educated at a well known US University but who claims that he walks away from any Indian who claims kinship with him.
    He claims that the people who live in today’s Pakistan are his countrymen and were always different from us Indians. Perhaps this difference (and the unfortunate history of the past 60 years) makes him very suspicious of us ‘Indians’ and he always doubts our sincerity.
    Yet it is interesting to consider that had MAJ won his argument in 1947 that a Punjabi is first a Punjabi and a Bengali is first a Bengali, (and thus avoiding the partition of Punjab and Bengal) PMA Sahib may very well have found us ‘Indians’ (Vajra and myself) his countrymen. Similarly had Radcliff felt a little distracted on that fateful day and drawn a certain line on a piece of a certain paper a little carelessly; he would have then felt OK listening to me saying ‘we are the same people’ but would have walked away from Vajra!!

    The point I am making is not that we should forget the partition and all should suddenly start holding hands and start singing ‘It’s a small world after all’ but that nations and nationalities are often accidents of history beyond the control of ordinary folks and our two nations were all the more so.

    It is true that we have had a bad history on a national level but does that mean that even as people to people we can not appreciate or even admire qualities in each other?
    And if we have to make a start who better than the poets and intellectuals of this world who well understand how absurd this ingrained suspicion of the ‘other’ is?

    After all peace can’t be made if we don’t risk lowering our guard a little.
    Peace is not made between friends but between peoples who were former enemies.

    PMA can ridicule my own ‘shallow knowledge’ but he knows fully well that Vajra is a great guy; a rare scholar, a writer and an amateur historian like no other, a true polymath.
    In an unguarded moment or two I swear I could even sense a hesitating hint of admiration in PMA Sahib’s words to both Vajra and Hayyer. Yet so far he has always quickly managed to shake himself free of those seemingly weak moments and reverted back into a stoic but familiar aloofness.
    I am not a poet like PMA Sahib is but I certainly can used borrowed words of another loved poet who belongs to us ‘Indians’ culturally as much to PMA Sahib’s country :

    Hum ke Thehre Ajanabi itni mulakaton ke baad;
    Hum baanege aashana aur kitni mulakatoon ke baad?


  90. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Hossp Uncleji,

    I think the facts are very much on my side… which is why you don’t want to debate this.


    Sir Olaf Caroe, the governor and also the famous author of the book “Pathans”, sent an urgent telegram to the Viceroy on the evening of 25th June, 1947 in which he said: “I am unaware of reactions of Foreign Office or of Government of India to this Afghan incursion into Frontier Affairs. But Your Excellency should know that there is reason to conclude that this move was to some extent inspired by Frontier Congress leaders with certain Afghan elements and considered when Abdul Ghaffar Khan visited Kabul for Qashan last summer. Moreover [the] fact that Gandhi is wedded to Pathanistan idea will make it difficult for E.A. Dept at present juncture to approach this issue objectively”. (No. 342, Transfer of Power Papers, Volume XI, Page 633).

    On 11th June, 1947, a few days after the approval of the June 3rd plan Giles Squire in his letter addressed to the Earl of Listowel once again mentioned Afghan Government’s dissatisfaction on the question of “independence” for “Afghans living between the Durand Line and River Indus”. He went onto say that “I endeavoured to explain that the Pathanistan kite had recently flown in Peshawar but had fallen badly… I explained that tribes in independent territory had already been assured that they were entirely free to negotiate a new agreement with India and that presumably this freedom included freedom repeat not to negotiate… as regards settled districts I said that proposed referendum would only decide which Constituent Assembly Province wished to join. I did not think that Province could be prevented from demanding complete independence in Constituent Assembly if they wished to do so”(Giles Squire to the Earl of Listowel- Telegram, L/P&S/12/1811, No. 140, Transfer of Power Papers, XI, 262-263).

    “the view taken by the Afghan Government is that the tribesmen in tribal territory are more closely connected with the Afghan Government than with the Interim Government of India and the Afghans have, as you know, already asked that the tribes should be given the option of securing their complete independence or joining themselves to Afghanistan if they wish to do so rather than continue as part of India” (Giles Squire to Hugh Weightman- L/P&S/12/1811, NO.82, Transfer of Power Papers, Volume X, 135-136).

    Here is Rob Lockhart- the Governor of NWFP appointed in Olaf Caroe’s place on Congress’ agitation and request:

    “There is no doubt that most improper things have been happening. Certain people have been issuing instructions for licenses to be issued on a party basis. Even Dr. Khan Sahib himself is said to be guilty on these scores. A prime offender in arms trade is Abdul Ghani, the son of Abdul Ghaffar Khan. I have given orders that if proof can be produced he is to be proceeded against… there are reports that the Nawab of Tank, MLA, Muslim League is guilty of similar practices. If he too could be proceeded against, it would be good”. (Rob Lockhart to Mountbatten, 6 July, 1947, IOR, L/P&J/S/224 from India Office)

    The police intelligence report of 5th August, 1947 reads as under : “MILITANT CONGRESS PREPARATIONS AGAINST THE MUSLIM LEAGUE: It is rumored in some circles that Congress and Red Shirt supporters might start civil disobedience after the 15th of August if the Congress Ministry is made to vacate the office. It is reported that the Faqir of Ipi will declare Jehad against the British and the Hindus after the Id and that the Zalmai Pakhtoon Party would fight the Muslim League for the attainment of Pathanistan. Two Muslim League supporters of Prang were shot dead by certain Red Shirts on 20 July.” (No. 220, National Documentation center, Islamabad, 1996, 263-264 “The Referendum in NWFP”)

    Abdul Ghani son of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan , the Frontier Gandhi, who came to see Faqir of Ipi in connection with the resolution passed by the Congress in support of Pathanistan. Government authorities supported this move” (Jinnah Papers, Volume III, No. 68).

    I want you to underscore the part about your hero Fakir of Ipi announcing a Jehad against British and Hindus as part of the grand separate NWFP from Pakistan push … which he was doing at the behest of Congress. How ironic. By the way… Sir Olaf Caroe’s book “Pathans” is a rather interesting read. Caroe actually did claim once that it was he who suggested Pathanistan to Frontier Congress.

    Howard Donovan, the Counselor for US Embassy in Delhi, in his periodic report of 26th June, 1948 addressed to US Secretary of State George Marshall, points out that “observers in New Delhi believe that the Muslim League will win the forthcoming referendum and that it is a foregone conclusion that the NWFP will join Pakistan. This is unpalatable to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his recent talks with Jinnah and Gandhi in Delhi were an effort to forestall… Gandhi has supported Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan… Nehru, Patel, and other Congress members of the Government are understood to be opposed to the idea of Pathanistan. It is of course ridiculous for the Congress to oppose independence of Travancore and at the same time espouse the cause of independence for the North West Frontier Province… Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s action will further complicate the situation in the North West Frontier Province and it will in all probability lead to further strife and bloodshed”

    The editorial of the decidedly Indian nationalist newspaper “Statesman” for 28th June, 1947 stated that this amounted to an admission that the Frontier Congressmen who had been claiming that they had killed the Pakistan idea in the elections were now “afraid to meet its ghost”. It went on to say “Nor can it be regarded simply as a provincial affair; it carries grave all India implications. It is the first breach in the Mountbatten plan… To that plan the Congress was pledged by Pandit Nehru and AICC. Frontier Gandhi’s boycott then suggests one of the two unpleasant things; either the Congress High Command during the recent New Delhi confabulations possessed insufficient authority to get its decision accepted by its Pathan followers or else it abstained from exercising that authority to the extent which its June 3rd commitments morally required. Perhaps, however, Mahatma Gandhi operating to some extent independently has been a complicating factor. This seems a reasonable deduction from recent comings and goings in the capital… his advocacy of Pathanistan with its Balkanizing implications has involved him in some logical difficulty because of his simultaneous strong denunciation of independence for the state of Travoncore. Of the possible consequences of boycotting the referendum, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his colleagues cannot be unaware. Under June 3 plan it was to be the lynchpin of all future constitutional change in the province. Refusal to participate thus looks like an attempt to disintegrate the procedure before it has begun… That the difficult process of the referendum should be followed not long after by general election might cause grave disorder even chaos. Yet if the votes recorded next month result in the province joining Pakistan – as now seems inevitable- it is not easy to see how a ministry which has always opposed and derided Pakistan should remain in office.”

    Henry Grady of the US Embassy in Delhi in his report of 1st July to the Secretary of State wrote: “Jinnah’s charge in June 28 statement that Frontier Congress’ resolution demanding free Pathan state is ‘direct breach’ of Congress acceptance [of] His Majesty’s Government’s June 3rd Plan seems fully justified. Frontier Congress Resolution favored establishment of a ‘Free Pathan State of all Pakhtoons; constitution based on Islamic conceptions of democracy; and refusal by all Pathans to submit to any non Pakhtoon authority’. Jinnah pointed out Gandhi speaking at AICC meeting urged acceptance June 3rd Plan which provided for referendum to decide whether Frontier should join Hindustan or Pakistan; Frontier Congress was bound to honor agreement. Gandhi, however, has encouraged Khan Brothers ‘to sabotage’ plan and sudden volte-face is ‘pure political chicanery’, Jinnah said only constitution which Pakistan CA could frame would provide for ‘autonomous unit’ but Khan brothers have made false charge that Pakistan CA would ‘disregard fundamental principles of Shariat and Quranic laws’… Gandhi’s decision to effect boycott of NWFP referendum appears to be deliberate effort to embarrass League… While the Afghan Government must realize it is not in a position to control the tribes, it might be tempted to annex the tribal territories and NWFP… Therefore while League will obviously win referendum current Congress campaign, based on wholly on party considerations with no regard for international angle, could produce conditions in NWFP more precarious than at present.” Prophetic words for what we have been witnessing till today.

    Let us reproduce the letter from George Cunningham to Liaqat Ali Khan courtesy Salman Latif which would help shed some light on Faqir of Ipi’s role.

    Read especially 5(A) which says: ”

    “I think it quite possible that when our troops are in the final act of evacuation, Waziristan Gangsters (mostly followers of Ipi) shall make a parting attack on them”

    Then read 9… ” A question that would undoubtedly be raised by the tribes at the outset of discussions is the position of Fakir of Ipi. The matter is at present complicated by his championship of Pathanistan and his attempt to lead the tribes in opposition of Pakistan. I am doubtful , when the troops are withdrawn from Waziristan, that he will be able to find himself able to maintain this attitude with any great force, but untill he is ready to renouce his opposition to Pakistan, it is very difficult for the Government to come to terms with him…”

    I think the picture and the chronological order becomes quite clear… now Takhalus mian may go hide behind Iskandar Mirza. Bacha Khan and his Uruk Hai must shoulder some of the blame along side ISI, Pak Army, US, CIA, Zahir Shah and what not for the the damage done to NWFP which is now holding us back.

  91. Majumdar

    Gorki sb,

    Similarly had Radcliff felt a little distracted on that fateful day and drawn a certain line on a piece of a certain paper a little carelessly; he would have then felt OK listening to me saying ‘we are the same people’ but would have walked away from Vajra!!

    No, sir, it wudnt have mattered where Sir Cyril had drawn the line- you wud have ended up on the opposite side of PMA’s- unless of course your people wud have reverted.


  92. Majumdar

    Yasser Pai,

    There are two distinct regions (I am excl Kashmir) in the subcontinent which didnt go according to script.

    North East (or perhaps more specifically Nagaland) and NWFP. The former was none too thrilled of having to accede to India the latter had mixed feelings about acceding to Pakistan inspite of being Muslim.

    Perhaps we need to be think differently about Pushtun and Naga leaders who were bitter about their fate rather than dub them as “traitors”


  93. Gorki

    Dear Majumdar:

    Perhaps you are right.
    Ethnic cleansing was an equal opportunity tool, practiced freely by both sides in 1947.


  94. Majumdar

    Gorki sb,

    You are right that ethnic cleansing was practised freely on both sides of Punjab. I am not sure that it is worth sighing about. Perhaps it was in the best interest of Punjabis- long-term.


  95. vajra


    Dada, I can’t believe you meant that the way it came out!

  96. Majumdar


    The loss of life was appalling but I think Punjabis on both sides are better off the way it is.


  97. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Majumdar,

    I don’t think NWFP was as such double-minded. It is just that Khan brothers did not really trust the electorate that they used to parade as proof of their hold over NWFP….

    But you have a point about North West and North East Pulls…. after all even Pakistan idea followed the same script.

  98. yasserlatifhamdani

    Perhaps we need to be think differently about Pushtun and Naga leaders who were bitter about their fate rather than dub them as “traitors”

    I am not dubbing them traitors. I brought up Non-violent Bacha Khan’s chequered past only in response to Mr. Asmat… Bacha Khan was much a patriot or a traitor for Pakistan as Mr. Jinnah was for India.

    However… my point about Faqir of Ipi’s insurgency and this being continuation is the one that has upset some Bacha Khan apologists.

  99. Majumdar

    But you have a point about North West and North East Pulls…. after all even Pakistan idea followed the same script.

    Bhaijan, I am not sure that the Nagas or the Manipuris wud have been thrilled to be a part of Bangistan, prolly even less thrilled than at being Indians.


  100. Milind Kher

    The ethnic cleansing that happened on either side was the tragic part of partition.

    Had there been a smooth and peaceful transition, a lot of the bitterness would not have been there. Of course, now that is 62 years back which is an extremely long time, many of us are not even close to that.

    So, we need to be able to put that behind us and look forward to a pleasant and fruitful future.

  101. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    I think it is fair to say that nobody knew what was coming.

    Colonialism was a new paradigm in the fifteenth century; so was coming out of colonialism. We are very wise today some two generations after the events of first beginning to let go of colonies, taking the American case as an aberration, way, way ahead of its time. The pattern that the South Asian case followed was followed by many others; of course, in a way, disregarding the racial differences, the Vietnamese followed an older pattern, fighting their way to freedom through three sets of wars with three gigantic powers.

    It is also fair to say that now most of us now know what will be coming, but pretend we don’t know.

    Although many, perhaps most of the answers are with us, we are not paying attention to them. Most of what we need to know about the nature of identity, ethnic, linguistic, religious, whatever, is fairly clear and on the table. But since we refuse to take this evidence on board, it takes a Nelson Mandela to take obvious steps for unity overcoming the clash of identities that make us call him a transcendental leader. We consider the Bangladesh case a failure, but we pretend that China and India are successful, ignoring the evidence lying around us in huge mutilated heaps.

    The point being that what we allowed to happen out of ignorance sixty years ago should not be allowed to recur because of obstinacy, lack of mental effort in matters of governance, and a refusal to either get along with each other, or get along without each other. There is no longer any real excuse for Darfur, Xinjiang, Tibet, Kashmir, Nagaland. There are other examples in many other countries; these will suffice to make the point.

    Telengana is just history repeating the pattern she had woven earlier, this time in a farcical mood.

    These Indian examples are not intended to distract attention from matters germane to Pakistan; they are intended to make a point without pointing a finger, if you get what I mean.

  102. takhalus

    @Mk partition of Punjab was something clearly did not want but was foisted upon him by Mountbatten. My own opinion is that if it wasn’t for Nehru’s ambition and if things had been left more between Gandhi and Jinnah I suspect the cabinet mission plan would’ve been implemented.

    @Hossp: What’s your opinion on Qayyum Khans ( hero to the odd person here) role in the use of the tribal areas (1948)?

  103. Milind Kher


    China and India can in no way be called successful as far as internal politics is concerned.

    As you have rightfully pointed out, Xinjiang and Tibet in China and Kashmir and Nagaland in India are issues that are far from resolved.

    This gets infectious, so you have Swat, Waziristan, Balochistan. All in all a cocktail more of the Molotov variety..

  104. Majumdar

    Milind babu,

    so you have Swat, Waziristan, Balochistan.

    Well, you are right in comparing Balochistan with Tibet, Kashmir and Nagaland.

    But not Swat and Waziristan. The people in this latter category do not want to secede from Pak. Rather, some Swatis and Waziris wud like to implement the system they consider ideal for Swat/W’stan to the rest of Pakistan as well. (And in this they have support of some of the res of Pakistanis as well including some luminaries we see on PTH as well).


  105. Bloody Civilian

    so jinnah asked and bribed a non-resident, former political agent and (jinnah’s bitter opponent) dr khan sahib’s best mate to do the dirty work amongst the tribes?? he obviously didn’t have any one elese to turn to, e.g. the proper politicians living in the community like habibullah khan or wazirzada gul muhammad… or even nawab of tank, for that matter.

  106. Milind Kher

    @Majumdar Saheb,

    There is truth in what you say. They do feel that way. The frightening part is that they could succeed, if not neutralized before the end of December.

  107. Majumdar

    Milind babu,

    Chill, there is not even a remotest chance that the Talibs can overwhelm the Pak Army.

    The real danger (although remote too) of course is that after having won the war, the Pak Army and Pak state may concede the Talib’s political demands in peace.


  108. Majumdar

    Btw, waht is so sacrosanct about the end of December, why wud heavens fall apart if the Talibs are not finished off by end Dec?


  109. Bloody Civilian


    if things had been left more between Gandhi and Jinnah I suspect the cabinet mission plan would’ve been implemented

    have you read the history of gandhi through the CMP months?? he made it very clear that he was going to oppose it even if the AICC had somehow accepted it.

  110. Bloody Civilian

    majumdar + gorki

    you’ve both agreed that regardless of a slip this way or that of radcliff’s pen, the loss and tragedy suffered by a family ending up on this side of the slip or that would have remained unchanged.

    as for majumdar saying: unless of course your people wud have reverted, if you mean to their old traditional profession… then gorki might have been an officer in the PA today. and it would have been all the more interesting to see PMA sb’s view of Gorki and his views. no less interesting than it has been to see majumdar’s view of the whole hypothetical scenario.

  111. M ilind Kher

    @Majumdar Saheb,

    Hakimullah Mehsud has gone on record to say that he is conserving his energy for a major offensive during January, when there would be major snowfall.

    This will surely put the Pak army at a disadvantage. Let us not forget that in Afghanistan, after killing Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Taliban had overwhelmed the Afghan army.

  112. Bloody Civilian


    by the time ahmed shah masoud was assassinated, the Taliban had long been the Afghan Army.

  113. Majumdar

    Milind babu,

    Civvie mian is right, moreover a day after ASM was assassinated, 9/11 happened and the Talibs got overwhelmed, we will never know whether the Talib Afghan Army wud have beaten what remained of the NA.

    Civvie mian,

    tragedy suffered by a family ending up on this side of the slip or that would have remained unchanged.

    Tragedy of course was only if you belonged to the wrong faith.

    as for majumdar saying: unless of course your people wud have reverted, if you mean to their old traditional profession… then gorki might have been an officer in the PA today.

    Of course that is a possibility. Had Gorki sb’s people reverted he may well have been a proud Pakistani Muslim soldier in the Pak Army.


  114. yasserlatifhamdani


    Which odd person…because so far it seems to me that you and uncle hossp form the odd couple here. Now you’ve brought Qayyum in the picture. I am not a big fan of Qayyum ..he was an ex-Frontier Congressman and a comrade of Bacha Khan.

    But I must say he did very well to expose the Khan brothers and their politics.

    Do tell us if you are going to admit that Iskandar Mirza was a close friend of both Dr. Khan sb and Bacha Khan and later was instrumental in installing Dr. Khan sb as the King’s Party’s CM.

    It goes without saying that Qayyum Khan atleast did not hobnob with Iskandar Mirza and Ayub Khan as was the wont of Jabbar Khan mian aka Dr. Khan sb.

    Dr. Khan sb proved to be exactly what people instinctively knew about him. Bacha Khan and Dr. Khan sb played a dangerous game in Pakistani politics which in the end cost Khan sb his life.

    Qayyum on the other hand remained a powerful politician who refused to play the establishment’s game … unlike Khan brothers.

    On cabinet mission plan, I think Nehru was a political idealist who inexperience and impulsive nature were used his colleagues in the Congress to heap the burden of failure on him.

    Gandhi played Nehru like a fiddle. It was Gandhi and his crew that were responsible …Nehru was only the frontman.

    Nehru came into his own as a leader and statesman on 30th January 1948. He made several mistakes and was found wanting on occasion in fairness, but Nehru sought power for idealistic reasons. Nehru was in many ways the post Edwardian version of younger Jinnah. He became the leader Jinnah should have..had he not broken with the Congress and had Jinnah not been a minority. In the great story of India’s partition, Nehru and Jinnah are Istari wizards…vascillating between Saruman and Gandalf… The question is who is Sauron… Gandhi or the British.

  115. Milind Kher


    You are right. I will put it another way. The Taliban had managed to beat the Northern Alliance which was the ruling power, and itself become the ruling power.

    @Majumdar Saheb,

    The fact that the Taliban was running the show is already an indication that they had defeated the Northern Alliance

  116. Majumdar


    Gandhi played Nehru like a fiddle. It was Gandhi and his crew that were responsible …Nehru was only the frontman.

    I don’t quite agree here. The real “villains” that is if Partition is to be viewed as a crime were Rajaji, Patel and Nehru. The order does not reflect the magnitude of villainy of the characters involved, but the order in which we can trace their conversion to the Partition cause. Gandhi too had a role no doubt but his role was different as BRA has pointed out. It was his refusal to address the core issue of Hindu-Muslim distrust and how to resolve it politically which caused Partition, not so much an actual desire to bring about Partition.

    Coming to the three “villains” the former two were driven by the belief that the interests of INC’s core constituency – the Hindu middle class- was best served by Partition. The latter- a dispossessed Mughal/Gupta at heart- would have been willing to make compromises to keep India United but was driven to support Partition by a realization that in an United India not only wud INC have to share power with AIML, that he may have to play second fiddle to MAJ, the better man.


  117. Bloody Civilian


    wrong faith was also subject to the same equal opportunity rules, incapable of avoiding the loss and tragedy for the family.

    and…. he may well have been a proud Pakistani Non-Muslim or Muslim soldier in the Pak Army.


  118. PMA

    Gorki (December 11, 2009 at 10:27 am):

    First of all thank you for the kind words but “intellectual, poet, historian” will be too much of a burden to bear. Also please forgive me for saying that you are stretching this non-issue too far. There is hardly any reason for any of us to personalize these discussions here at PTH. So let us leave the personalities alone and talk about the subjects and issues related to Pakistan if we wish. Shall we?

  119. Bloody Civilian


    The Taliban had managed to beat the Northern Alliance which was the ruling power, and itself become the ruling power.

    The Northern Alliance was formed after the Taliban had pushed those who formed the alliance into a small territory around mazar e sharif in the North; hence the name. the allies within NA were not necessarily allies before that. some were bitter enemies of each other.

    if by your mention of december/january/winter you mean winter is a bad time to initiate an offensive in half of afghanistan, you are right. virtually none of the taliban’s conquests of afghan cities were in the winter.

  120. PMA

    Folks. I hate to inform you that ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Punjab was not invented in 1947. Sikhs had employed that method during their rule as well. For those of you familiar with the geography of Punjab, and particularly you Gorki Sahab just across the border. There was a stretch of small towns along the left bank of the River Chenab in Punjab named Ali Pur Syedan, Rasul Nagar and Syed Nagar. These were small hamlets set up by some Shia clans of Persian origin. Their misfortune was that they had sided with Abdali during his conflicts with Sikhs. Finally when Sikhs were able to wrestle Punjab away from the Afghans, the inhabitants of these small towns paid the price. The entire area was ‘cleansed’ of Muslims and renamed as Akal Gar. I know that because my clan was one of those subjected to the wrath of the Sikhs. In 1947 Akal Gar was ‘cleansed’ once more. Now, please, I state this merely as an historical event and not as to incite any religious passions. It is unfortunate, but this happens all the time.

  121. Milind Kher


    You must be right. I did not follow the chronology in depth, was au fait with an overall picture of sorts. Interestingly, Rashid Dostum’s stars are bright, he survived the exile in Turkey, withstood the defection of Malik Pehelwan and has a powerful post back in Afghanistan.

    Regarding the other powerful militia, the Hizbe Wahadat, I understand that Khalili is discredited and Muhammad Muhaqiq calls the shots.

    You would know better than me about the above, so do correct me where I go wrong.

  122. Gorki

    “Exulting with joy we reached the city of ……… on Tuesday, June 6, and we besieged it in a wonderful manner. One of our officers climbed on to the wall of the city. When he reached the top, all the defenders of the city quickly fled along the walls and through the city. Our men followed and pursued them, killing and hacking, there was such a slaughter that our men were up to their ankles in the enemy’s blood. The …(there leader) who commanded the tower surrendered to the ….(our leader) and opened the gate where pilgrims used to pay tribute. Entering the city, our pilgrims pursued and killed the enemy up to the …..(holy place) There the enemy assembled and resisted fiercely all day, so that the whole area flowed with their blood. At last the ……(non believers) were overcome and our men seized many men and women, killing them or keeping them alive as they saw fit. Then the ….(holy warriors) scattered throughout the city, seizing gold and silver, horses and mules, and houses full of all sorts of goods. Afterwards our men went rejoicing and weeping for joy to adore the glory of our Saviour and there discharged their debt to Him. . . .”

  123. Gorki

    PMA Sahib is right.
    Ethnic cleansing was not invented in 1947 for the Germans had been seeking a Lebensraum in WWII. Before that the ‘young Napolean’ Custer in the US had been busy clearing up the west of the savages, making it safe for the gentle folks. I remember reading his clinical account of one such clearing in which he marveled how the young 6 to 7 year Indians children ’squealed like struck pigs’ when shot.
    Way before that there was an account left by historians of how the Romans had eradicated a rival city; Carthage, massacred all men, sold women and children into slavery and then sowed salt on the city site so that nothing would ever grow there again. But then they too were not the first, Alexander the great had made a similar example of Tyre, a city that chose to resist him.
    The Mongols went building minarets out of the heads of defeated and helpless civilians and the example was taken up with exuberance by other central Asian tribes. Taimur left such death and destruction in Delhi that crows and eagles feasted for years afterwards. Nadir Shah is said to have ordered a general massacre in Delhi for 3 days and 3 nights and only relented after Emperor Muhammad Shah fell at his feet.
    The Sikhs destroyed an entire cities of Sarhind and Samana to avenge a long gone insult and Abdali massacred more than 36000 Sikhs, mostly women and children in a heroic effort to wipe out their rebellion once and for all.

    More recently thousands of men, women and children were wiped out after the usual orgy of rapes and torture in India in Delhi in 1984 and in Ayodhya and Godhara…. Then the Hindu demagogues exhorted their followers to rid the land of ‘Babur ki Aulaad’.

    The list is endless and each ‘side’ can come up with valid grievance to justify the ‘retribution’.
    Interestingly, once such justification is found, we feel no need to empathize with the victims and we can move on.
    We talk of ‘our clans’ and their suffering, and ‘other people’ and their atrocities; regardless of the fact that we all who are alive today are far more alike in our habits, culture and aspirations than we are with these long dead medieval savages on either side. Not every one is as stuck in the cement of history as we from the Subcontinent. The Europeans of today; say the French and the British realize that they are very different people than Harold Godwin or William the bastard.
    We on the other hand are only a heartbeat away from our own balance sheet of grievances and atrocities.
    I can bet that at least a few of the readers will hastily scan the account of the massacre described in my previous post to decide who were the perpetrators and who were the victims in order to assign proper blame or come up with a valid rationalization depending upon the person’s own POV.
    They can relax.
    The above barbarous behavior mixed with exultation and holiness is an eyewitness account of the fall of Jerusalem to the Crusaders in 1099, left behind by a holy warrior. The victims were poor ‘Saracens’. It was posted to show that artocities in the name of religion is as old as mankind itself. When looking for someone to blame for the past, we need only to reach for a mirror.

    An BTW, I apologize to PMA Sahib for the suffering that the people of his clan had to endure from the savages in the days gone by who perhaps felt they were acting on the behalf of my people.
    If it any consolation, there was adequate retribition and then some.
    My small farm in India is an inheritance that has been in my family from the times of Akbar the Great; a much bigger family farm was left in the Nanakana Sahib area. Recently a woman member from the family that currently occupies that land met my sister with great affection and invited us with families to visit her in Pakistan. May be we will go and visit once peace returns to that land.


  124. Gorki

    “Nehru came into his own as a leader and statesman on 30th January 1948. He made several mistakes and was found wanting on occasion in fairness, but Nehru sought power for idealistic reasons. Nehru was in many ways the post Edwardian version of younger Jinnah. He became the leader Jinnah should have..had he not broken with the Congress and had Jinnah not been a minority.”

    Agree with everything above; you nailed it.
    Nehru’s lowest point in life occured (in my opinion) in 1937 when perhaps over awed by Gandhiji and other congressmen, he refused MAJ’s offer of a coalition.
    The highest point of his life also had an exact date, Jan 26th 1950. I have a picture of him signing the Indian Constitution on that day.


  125. Gorki

    “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths are but a statistic” Josef Stalin.

    Dear Majumdar Da,

    You are truly an enigma.
    You claim to respect only one leader from the generation of Independence leaders; MAJ who you agree did no particularly want a partition and had partition thrust upon him. You blame men like Gandhi and Nehru for the partition and call them villains yet you also seem to feel that the partition was the right thing. So much so that you feel the deaths of thousands, maybe millions of innocent civilians was a small price to pay for this just event. You further claim to believe that India should be populated by the ‘Indic’ peoples (I don’t know who you believe is non-Indic.) yet you lampoon all its leaders and icons endlessly. You admire MAJ but call the Hindus who went to Pakistan with MAJ as the ‘traitors’ and gloat over their misfortune in Pakistan after MAJ.
    Just curious; what exactly do you stand for?
    Is there any Indian from among a billion specimens alive today whom you could begin to consider a good enough leader?
    Heck is there any person from the last 5000 years of Indian history who you could meet your approval? 😉


  126. PMA

    Gorki (December 12, 2009 at 2:15 am):

    Sir, you need not to apologise to me or to anyone for what Sikhs did to the Muslims during their rule in Punjab. At the same time the senseless killing that went on in 1947 from both sides could not be of any consolation for the acts of the generations before that. We both are stating the obvious here. Savagery does not exclusively belong to the medieval man. Even today human beings are capable of committing the atrocities that you have so painfully listed above. My original point was that ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Punjab did not start at 1947. It been going on for centuries. All sides have done it, and as you have pointed out these gruesome acts are still going on.

  127. takhalus

    @YLH ..I do recall your hero worship for Qayyum Khan in one of your posts, as such I imagine you endorse the tribal “jihad” of 1948 and introduction of Islamist ideology into the tribal belt
    ..your bit about his anti establishment credentials are hilarious. I suggest you read Ayub Khans diaries at the very least on the establishment support for Qayum especially before the mythical free 1970 elections.

    As far as Kings party’s concerned, you are again factually incorrect the first kings party was in fact the Muslim League in itself, when on the dismissal of Nazimuddins govt, most if not all the league supported Ghulam Mohamed, the first establishment head of state in Pakistan’s history.
    As such there is a pattern here in the league’s leading lights history.. your hero Qayum Khans role in turning FATA as a base to export militancy, Daultanas role in introducing anti Ahmadi riots, Nazimuddin role in creating the language controversey in East Pakistan and the precedent of rigging elections which was introduced by Qayum which ultimately led to the first martial law.

    Finally Iskander Mirza in the book has clearly stated his admiration for Jinnah and how he served the Raj in keeping a check on the KK movement in the frontier. His relationship remained cordial with Dr Khan Sahib but in case of Jinnah he was willing to resign his job and carry out the mission he was entrusted.

  128. Milind Kher

    The ethnic cleansing that the Sikhs carried out well before 1947 was something not known to me. This may have been a factor that the Muslims bore in mind in 1947.

    However, barbarism lives on even in the 21st century.