Tag Archives: Indus

War or Peace on the Indus?

War or peace on the Indus?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

John Briscoe

Anyone foolish enough to write on war or peace in the Indus needs to first banish a set of immediate suspicions. I am neither Indian nor Pakistani. I am a South African who has worked on water issues in the subcontinent for 35 years and who has lived in Bangladesh (in the 1970s) and Delhi (in the 2000s). In 2006 I published, with fine Indian colleagues, an Oxford University Press book titled India’s Water Economy: Facing a Turbulent Future and, with fine Pakistani  colleagues, one titled Pakistan’s Water Economy: Running Dry. I was the Senior Water Advisor for the World Bank who dealt with the appointment of the Neutral Expert on the Baglihar case. My last assignment at the World Bank (relevant, as described later) was as Country Director for Brazil. I am now a mere university professor, and speak in the name of no one but myself.

I have deep affection for the people of both India and Pakistan, and am dismayed by what I see as a looming train wreck on the Indus, with disastrous consequences for both countries. I will outline why there is no objective conflict of interests between the countries over the waters of the Indus Basin, make some observations of the need for a change in public discourse, and  suggest how the drivers of the train can put on the brakes before it is too late.

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Filed under India, Pakistan, Punjab, strategy

The People’s Hero: Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh

Disturbed to life by the atrocious massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, disillusioned by the national political leaders who recoiled the promising Non-Cooperation Movement in 1922, alarmed by the rising religious divisions and reactionary rhetoric in the mainstream politics, and motivated by the Bolshevik Revolution of workers and peasants of Russia of 1917, Bhagat Singh and his compatriots entered the political scene of India and became the icon of the aspirations of the people of India in no time. Their aim was to bring a revolution that would not only end the colonial British regime but would also lay the foundations of a system that shall combat all forms of injustices. It was for these crimes that Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were hanged by the rulers of British colonialism on 23rd of March, 1931, at Lahore Camp Jail. Bhagat Singh was only 23 years old at the time of his hanging. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

Pakistan: Reclaiming the Indus Person


Computer-generated image of what Mohenjodaro must have looked like all those years ago (Courtesy Wiki)

Computer-generated image of what Mohenjodaro must have looked like all those years ago (Courtesy Wiki)

 By Aisha Fayyazi Sarwari

There are so many ways for Americans to find themselves if they are lost: They can read Eyewitness to America, an anthology of people who were there when the US was created; they could go to Gettysburg or heck, just rent the TVC; or they could go to the Metropolitan Museum in New York; or take a course with Professor Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn. Continue reading


Filed under ancient civilisations, Architecture, History, India, Jinnah, lawyers movement, Pakistan, Partition

The Advancing Enemy

—Dr Manzur Ejaz

Rulers averse to an independent judiciary and an equitable socio-economic order; an economic upper class hostile to paying its fair share in taxes; self-obsessed intellectuals and media persons; and a poverty-stricken population — this presents the perfect mix for the forces of destruction

Our ruling elites kept crying ‘Wolf!’ for decades to scare the West into supporting their tenures. And now, as the NWFP government prepares to promulgate sharia law in Swat and Malakand, the proverbial wolf has finally arrived. President Zardari’s statement regarding Taliban designs to take over Pakistan should have read: “The Taliban have already captured parts of Pakistan and they are on their way to grab the rest.” Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan, Punjabi, Terrorism

Extracts from Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia

From the Guardian

Water is potent: it trickles through human dreams, permeates lives, dictates agriculture, religion and warfare. Ever since Homo sapiens first migrated out of Africa, the Indus has drawn thirsty conquerors to its banks. Some of the world’s first cities were built here; India’s earliest Sanskrit literature was written about the river; Islam’s holy preachers wandered beside these waters. Pakistan is only the most recent of the Indus valley’s political avatars. I remember the first time I wanted to see the Indus, as distinctly as if a match had been struck in a darkened room. I was twenty-three years old, sitting in the heat of my rooftop flat in Delhi, reading the Rig Veda, and feeling the perspiration running down my back. It was April 2000, almost a year since the war between Pakistan and India over Kargil in Kashmir had ended, and the newspapers which the delivery man threw on to my terrace every morning still portrayed neighbouring Pakistan as a rogue state, governed by military cowboys, inhabited by murderous fundamentalists: the rhetoric had the patina of hysteria. But what was the troubled nation next door really like? As I scanned the three-thousand-year-old hymns, half listening to the call to prayer, the azan, which drifted over the rooftops from the nearby mosque (to the medley of other azans, all slightly out of sync), I read of the river praised by Sanskrit priests, the Indus they called ‘Unconquered Sindhu’, river of rivers. Hinduism’s motherland was not in India but Pakistan, its demonized neighbour.

At the time, I was studying Indian history eclectically, omnivorously and hastily – during bus journeys to work, at weekends, lying under the ceiling fan at night. Even so, it seemed that everywhere I turned, the Indus was present. Its merchants traded with Mesopotamia five thousand years ago. A Persian emperor mapped it in the sixth century BCE. The Buddha lived beside it during previous incarnations. Greek kings and Afghan sultans waded across it with their armies. The founder of Sikhism was enlightened while bathing in a tributary. And the British invaded it by gunboat, colonized it for one hundred years, and then severed it from India. The Indus was part of Indians’ lives – until 1947. Continue reading


Filed under ancient civilisations, Books, culture, Heritage, History, India, New Writers, Pakistan, Travel, Writers

Watering the the Indus Valley

Published on telegraph.co.uk – Last Updated: 12:01am BST 17/05/2008

Peter Parker reviews Empires of the Indus: the Story of a River by Alice Albinia

The River Indus rises in Tibet and flows west through northern India before turning south through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. Like many rivers, it has often acted as a border, marking off Baluchistan from Sindh and the North West Frontier Province from the Punjab, or halting the progress of invaders from the West.

A rather more arbitrary border was created in 1947 by Partition, which among other things left the “heartland” of the Rig Veda, one of Hinduism’s most sacred texts, in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

The Indus, however, is also a place where syncretism survives, and the confluence of its waters sometimes seems like a metaphor running through Alice Albinia’s impressive and original first book. Unlike the Ganges, which is sacred only to the Hindus, the Indus has spiritual and historical significance for Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs.

At one point, Albinia looks out from the militarised zone to where the lethally disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir “opens up like the wings of a green and yellow butterfly on a dull brown rock”.

This intensifies her sense, present throughout the book, that with Partition, “the citizens of India and Pakistan have suffered the stifling of their mutual history, and the loss of access to lands, languages and faces that were once part of their shared vocabulary”.

Albinia travels back along the Indus from its delta to its source, but also travels backwards in history, from “1947” to “50 million years ago” as the chapters’ subtitles have it, describing the many civilisations that have flourished in the Indus Valley.

Like the river itself, and indeed history, her narrative is not as linear as this might suggest, and much of the most fascinating material is found in its tributaries.

In Sindh we meet the Sheedi, dark-skinned Muslims with tightly curled hair. They are supposedly descended from an Ethiopian slave who became not only one of the Prophet’s first converts but also his first muezzin because of his “sonorous voice”. Continue reading

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