Frontier Policy September – October 1947

I had a hard time finding anything on the internet about early Pakistani policy towards the NWFP and FATA and so I thought it worthwhile to type up some documents from The Jinnah Papers from this time period. (They are all PDF files and I will be attaching them to this blog post as I type them up).

The first one is a memorandum on Frontier Policy dated 23 September 1947 by Sir George Cunningham who was the last governor of NWFP under British rule and remained as the first governor under the state of Pakistan. He makes a number of policy recommendations to the state of Pakistan regarding the tribal areas. The biggest one is the recommendation to withdraw all regular troops from Waziristan since, as he admits, the military occupation of the region by the British Government has been a failure. Apart from this, he recommends leaving most tribal agreements intact except for an increase in Levies and possibly a new Militia in Malakand. In his general recommendations, the main change he recommends that clearly was not implemented by Pakistan was putting the tribal agencies under the control of the Provincial Government of NWFP. According to him, the administration of the agencies would be assisted by the local knowledge of the Provincial Government although he does admit the difficulty the Provincial Government would have in raising funds to take on the responsibilty for the agencies.

The next document, also from September 1947, is a note on George Cunninghman’s memo by Abdur Rab Nishtar, the famous Muslim League politician from Peshawar. Apart from a disagreement with the Governor regarding the continutation of existing allowances and Khassadari, his main point of departure from the Governor’s recommendations are on the matter of whether the Center or the Province should control the tribal areas. Nishtar makes several points against the Provincial Government handling the tribal areas. First, that any dispute between the settled and tribal areas will favour the settled areas since the elected representatives of the Provincial Government will be from the settled areas. Second, a Frontier government hostile to the Central government would create “immense difficulties” for the Centre if tribal affairs are in its hands. Third, the tribal areas are critical to defence and so should be best handled by the Defence Department. Lastly, he does not think that the Governor’s suggestion of a special subvention (i.e. a grant of financial aid) to the Provincial Government by the Centre for the purpose of administering the tribal areas is a good idea since it will create a constance source of grievance between the Centre and the Province.

Nishtar also brings up the issue of the Afridi tribe’s claim on the Khajuri Plain (which was confiscated by the British government in 1930 and which Gandhi promised to the Afridis would be returned to them after the British left India). Nishtar’s advise to the Pakistani government is to pre-emptively address this issue since it could become an issue by which the Red Shirts (i.e. Khudai Khidmatgars) could possibly gain favour with the Afridi tribe with at the expense of the popularity of the Pakistani government. I think this is an example of the constant power struggle between the Centre and the Pashtun nationalists in the province and how that affected the Centre’s policy towards the province in these early days and which set the tone for the Province/Centre relations for the rest of the country’s history.

The next document is a memo from Frank Messervy (the Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army) to George Cunningham. Basically, Messervy agrees with Cunningham’s recommendation for withdrawal from Waziristan but wants to do it sooner rather than later:

My dear [Cunningham,]
I have read your paper on the policy recommended with regard to the Frontier Tribes with great interest. It all fits in well with the reorganisation of Pakistan Army in one vital factor: time.
[…]
If there had been no Internal Defence problem we would have been able to accept a gradual of the Regular Army on the Frontier, but that is now not ossible without the grave risk of the Army breaking down altogether as an inefficient organisation.

He wants to evacuate Wana by October 1947 citing a shortage of troops overall and officers specifically in the rest of the country. This shortage is exacerbated by the internal law and order crisis due to the influx of refugees. In addition, he thinks, like Cunningham, that it will send a good message to the tribes from the State of Pakistan if a troop withdrawal is undertaken as soon as possible, even before reaching a settlement regarding governance with the tribes.

The final document is a memo from George Cunningham to Liaquat Ali Khan summing up all the arguments put forward by himself and Frank Messervy for troop withdrawal from Waziristan. Cunningham takes full responsibility for the decision to withdraw and even comes up with a draft of what Jinnah should say to the tribal leaders. Cunningham says something interesting — he says that the tribesmen would be “peculiarly open” to the argument that Islam and Pakistan are synonymous and any offense to Pakistan during troop withdrawal would be synonymous with an offence to Islam. Cunningham even suggests that Jinnah should personally offer a full pardon to the Faqir of Ipi in order to minimize the chance that the Faqir or his followers would attempt any raids on the withdrawing troops which is one of the scenarios that Messervy was concerned with.

I found Cunningham’s perspective really interesting. The whole incident shows how much political currency the State of Pakistan had in its early days in the minds of the tribal Pashtuns – in marked constrast to post 9/11 – because of its association with Islam. Both Cunningham and Messervy were aware of the huge risk that Pakistan would be taking by withdrawing its army completely from Waziristan and it’s really interesting that they were aware that they could recommend a policy to the State of Pakistan that would have been unthinkable to the British Government. In The Sole Spokesman Ayesha Jalal quotes Cunningham as rather audaciously taking the credit for the League’s victory in the 1943 by-elections saying that he, not Jinnah, was responsible for “rallying Islam” for the Muslim League in the Frontier. Reading these memorandums by him, one can understand the truth behind the statement.


George Cunningham with tribal leaders:


The Faqir of Ipi:


Clerk helping Malik (Chief) of Swat Ranezai tribe, place his inked thumb print as his signature on the agreement document to their accession to the govt. of Pakistan during Jirga (tribal assembly) for the Northwest Frontier Province.


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Turf War

On one of the posts below, a commenter had a really insightful comment, I’ll post the end of it here:

Here too, whereas the Pathan Taliban versus Punjabi Army aspect get’s covered superficially, it is ultimately Sunni Muslim versus Sunni Muslim conflict with Pathans and Punjabis arrayed on both sides. It is a fratricidal war and America is simply a strawman used by both sides to imply the just and righteousness nature of the cause.

I thought of it while reading this moving account of a Pakistani army captain’s death in Swat written by his brother:

On the night of 28th july Waqas was called from kanju post as he was going bak home after a highly successfull stay at swat for 15 ff .. he talked to his family that m coming .. But later that night an operation was planned to search n cordon 5 to 10 miscreants .. his junior LT Mohsin said sir app raat k jagay hain mai chala jata hun .. he refused n with a smile replied “lalay apna khayal rakhen” ..
then he offered prayers with his troops recited Surah kausar motivated them n dey started the opertion .. Waqas was the commander nd was leadin 3 APC’S with infantry troops of 6 AK .. on their way the few miscreants fired rockets at Waqas’s APC .. which missed nd waqas shot dead the person who fired them .. as they went a bit forward .. fire from all sides opened at them ..dey had da wrong information that dere r 5 to 10 miscreants but dere were more den 100 .. nd fierce fighting started .. meanwhile our soldiers got injured ..Waqas jumped off da APC .. nd using da tactics of fire nd move he started rescuing da injured wid his troops following him .. da fight went on for 5 hours .. as he shifted 14 injured soldiers .. as they were about to move .. Waqas was back in da APC .. at that moment one of 6akz soldier got shot .. he shouted “isay uthao” .. but every person was on his position .. he jumped off again nd fired in forward direction n picked him on his shoulders n took him to da APC .. as he was about to shift him in .. he was shot jus abv da chest .. he Shouted “”ALLahoAkbar”” .. (mashallah) n fell .. even in that state he ordered his troops k is banday ko nikalo .. waqas was shifted in da APC .. but due to to much blood coming from his mouth he cudnt ..speak but he kept on reciting from his fingers .. shahadat ki ungli right haath ki khari thi n dusra hath zikar ki position mai .. n Embraced shahadat ( MAshahallah ) .
we recieved his body after 32 hours of his departure but even den fresh blood was coming ( MAshallah ) wid both hands in da same position (mashallah ) .. n as v wer about to bury him .. uski ankhien khud ba khud band hugai ( Mashallah) .. ajj bi uski kabar se khushbu aati hai

There are so many religious references in this account. It really feels like reading the account of the death of a religious saint.

Compare this to the reaction to the recent assassination of Brigadier Moin (who is said to have been involved in the planning of the South Waziristan military operation) on a jihadi forum (that I would prefer not to link to):

salaam alaikoum wa rahmatullah wa barakaktu Brothers, alhamdoullillah this murtad was terminated…mash’Allah! May Allah accept our Brothers in al Firdaws. Amin.

Thank you Brother for those exclusive pictures…too bad we cannot see his face now…
[…]

Here is the picture of the Murtad May he burn in Hell InshAllah!

And on another thread:

as naPak army is facing lot of resistance and receiving heavy blows so they do such tricks on the media and in public by creating new stuff to get more public sympathies and backing and one important thing though you all be knowing but i just got this news that the term “lashker” <- or "Local Tribesmen" or "Local took arms against Talibaan" and bla bla bla these people are serving service men including:
servicemen on army payrolls
ex servicemen on army payrolls
intelliginsea current or ex servicemen on government payrolls and some times their relatives are included to give it a local villager look so don't be confused as i was confused for a long time may Allaah destroy them and their evil plots against the Ummah in general ameen

I think the comment about America being a strawman used by both causes to establish their righteous credentials is spot on. The basic premise – that there are genuine and, to a certain extent, irreconcilable differences between two groups (The Pakistani nationalist right and the Pakistani religious right) who have been together for so long – is so difficult to comprehend that even members of both ideological camps have to invoke the RAW/MOSSAD/CIA nexus to explain every difference since, I guess, a plain old turf war isn’t that inspiring of a concept.

Interesting Dawn News Show – Nadeem F Paracha vs. Zaid Hamid on conspiracy theories

I came across an episode of the Dawn News show +92 ID. The format of the show is really interesting, it’s 20 minutes long and divided into two 10 minute sections which are produced by different teams and the aim is to present two sides of an issue from opposite perspectives. The topic of the show was “Conspiracy Theorists” and the first part was an interview with Nadeem F. Paracha, one of Pakistan’s most outspoken critics of conspiracy theories:

NFP makes a great point about how history is taught in Pakistani schools:

I started realizing that whatever us Pakistanis have been taught at school in the name of history and taught by the Maulvis what Islam is or Islamic history, most of that has been half-lies and that was startling. So I sort of studied more about it. There’s so much layers of half-truths where the truth’s been buried. It’s not impossible to go find that out. One just has to do a bit more study and go beyond the history schoolbooks and go beyond what a preacher tells them on television or otherwise.
[..]
There’s been a drastic increase in the proliferation of conspiracy theories. When someone used to come out with a conspiracy theory at once there would be a counter-theory. But this hasn’t been happening very often recently and that’s very dangerous trend because we see a lot of people coming on mainstream television and sitting there for hours talking about theories which can be very easily be refuted and debunked. But nobody’s really doing it. Nobody’s giving a counter-theory the time and effort and the platform which it requires. So what’s happening is that you’re getting a lot of young people who are looking for answers, who are not satisfied with the answers that let’s say the history books at school have given them. They’re getting fascinating, fantastic answers from these conspiracy theorists from these mainstream platforms.

Basically what’s he doing here is drawing a link between the inadequate historical education in school coursework and the demand for the truth which is unfortunately channeled into the demand for conspiracy theories in place of actual history.

This reminded of a great comment by the author of the blog Tab’an Khamosh:

Now I understand why they got rid of history from the school books. The past actions of our “heroes” (as declared by Munh-Kaala Pakistan) are too embarrassing to note and it takes too much work to twist everything to look hunky-dory! So they just got rid of the History Subject altogether. Easy Peasy! As long as you ignore the problem.

I always think about this comment when thinking about the hold that people like Zaid Hamid have on seemingly well-educated and reasonable people all over the country. It’s so true! A typical Pak Studies history course starts with young Muhammad Bin Qasim’s invasion, some paragraphs about Mehmood of Ghazni and the Mughals, a few selected excerpts from the Pakistan Movement, the Lahore resolution, and then stops at around the passing of the Objectives Resolution in 1949. If it weren’t for a study of the Green Revolution and high-yield rice in Geography class, I doubt our schoolwork would have made any mention of Ayub Khan.

So the average person is left to himself to figure out anything of any significance in parsing what the hell is going on. This is at least partially responsible for how something as wildly fantastical as Zaid Hamid’s theory of “Hindu Zionist Taliban” can gain traction among so many people. Muhammad Bin Qasim, Mehmood of Ghazni, Wily Gandhi and Hindu-Taliban. They all fit pretty well together in a narrative that isn’t too unsettling and leaves plenty of room for outrage and self-righteousness.

So that’s that from the CIA, RAW AND Mossad agent, Nadeem Paracha (according to a youtube commenter).

Now here’s the next section, with Zaid Hamid (it starts about 1 minute into the clip):

Whatever one may think of Zaid Hamid, in my opinion he’s a really good speaker and knows how to tailor his speeches for the audience.

It is often said that we are conspiracy theorists and we are always blaming the others for our mistakes without looking at the problems we have within ourselves. We definitely and totally acknowledge the faults and the mistakes within our political, judicial and economic model and the social disorder we are facing.

That’s a pretty good response to the accusation that conspiracy theorists are not self-critical enough, and in a way he is right. Pakistani conservatives are somewhat unique in the sense that their conservatism is ideological and not based on loyalty to the existing order. In fact it’s based on loyalty to a mythical order, some kind of utopia distilled from the collected works of Allama Iqbal. You could say that people like Zaid Hamid, with the dismissal of Pakistani democracy as a Western conspiracy and their general contempt for our existing politicians (the Ahmed Quraishi quotes in the post below are a great example of this mindset) are a lot more radical than people like NFP. In fact poor NFP’s prosaic recommendations in the clip below make him look like a conservative, arguing for an unattractive status quo or incremental change via democracy and for people to Google history and sound a lot less appealing and high-minded than Zaid Hamid’s appeals to the Golden Age of Islam and a complete reworking of our “political, judicial and economic model”.


NFP has a great article talking about the aftermath of this show on his website. I won’t quote an excerpt because the whole thing is worth reading.

Abu Walid al Masri's article side by side with Ahmed Rashid article

Via the really excellent blog All Things Counter-terrorism I came across a former senior Al-Qaeda member Abu Walid al Masri’s article for the Taliban magazine. (I ran it through Google translator and the resulting translation is pretty readable). Via the same blog I also read Ahmed Rashid’s latest article in the National Interest about the dangers to Central Asia of a Taliban victory in Afghanistan. I thought it was really interesting how similar al Masri’s goals for the region were to Ahmed Rashid’s fears. Anyway, you can read all three items – All Things Counter-terrorism’s analysis of the al Masri article, the translation of the article, and Ahmed Rashid’s article. One of the most interesting aspects of al Masri’s article to me was the way he appealed to various aspects of Asian identity rather than Islamic principles as such. For example, he brings up this Chinese proverb about patience:

Patience is a virtue in Asia and the old Chinese proverb says “If you had an enemy, you just need to sit on the shore of the river, and will come to you rough days his body.”

while talking about how defeat in Afghanistan will ultimately collapse the US system. He even brings up Indian culture:

And patience was a virtue to the old Indian was taken over by a secular minority Hindu Zionist imperialist mood

Sorry, this translation is really horrible, but it’s really interesting how Islamists appeal to better aspects of non-Islamic culture, in a way laying claim to them as Islamic or compatible with Islam. It’s a really effective rhetorical technique. The article talks about each Asian culture, one by one and how each one is poised for a new world order, led morally by the Islamist fighters in Afghanistan:

The Asian giants are willing to lead the war in Afghanistan to the depletion of American power / European point of collapse to the economic, psychological and moral, including push them back, topping “New Asia” lead the world in the international system, its features confirmed that Afghanistan will be the focus of key leadership, not in the field of finance, industry and riba-based banks, but in the field of ethical, moral and defense demonstrated by Islam’s ability to inspire little people, because the poor resist and defeat the five great military campaigns of the greatest armies of the earth

This is exactly what Ahmed Rashid’s article warns about.

It is entirely possible that the Taliban model could spread to Muslims in China and India. The Taliban’s religious ideology, its elevation of jihad above all other Islamic teachings, its effective guerrilla war, and its brutal methods of controlling and governing local populations are spreading. Moreover, all of these groups, including al-Qaeda, respect Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar and consider him the regional leader of jihad against America.

and he paints a very pessimistic picture of the current situation.


By the way, youtube has a really good interview of al Masri’s second wife, an Australian convert to Islam who now lives in Australia. She comes across as extremely intelligent and articulate. I found it fascinating.

Some recent gems from Ahmed Quraishi's Facebook news feed

1 To Pakistanis In This Difficult Time Know that your enemies have infiltrated your ranks. Know that the Americans are waging a secret war against you from the Afghan soil. Know that some of your sons are being brainwashed and misled to kill their own…. Know that your pro-American govt is hand in glove with the Americans and the Indians. Time to rise.

2 The next military coup has to be ‘creative’. A majority of the existing politicians need to be disbarred from politics and Bilawal Zardari, Nawaz, Altaf and Asfandyar need to be forced to stand in party elections at par with every ordinary …party member, and be defeated and removed. That’s the only way middle class Pakistanis can come forward.

3 Our homeland has gone to the dogs, and these dogs are the ruling elite and an inept bureacracy. We need a ruthless ruler who will not refrain from the harshest form of justice against the thieves and the traitors. That’s what we need.

4 Anti-Pakistan TTP Terrorists Equipped With U.S., Indian, German, Weapons. The latest is that these fake ‘Pakistani Taliban’ kept 105 crates of alcooholic drinks in one of their bunkers. The Uzbeks. This confirms these people are hired guns to spread terror.

Arif Jamal – Profile of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

Arif Jamal’s article on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (pdf file) from the latest issue of the CTC Sentinel:

From the LJ to the TTP Today, the LJ is still involved in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Little is known about the group’s current activities, and it is not completely clear how the two factions of the LJ—the Basra group and the Qari Hayye group—have evolved. Both factions likely still exist, although different leaders are in charge. The Basra group, for example, is now part of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and contributes to its jihadist operations. LJ operatives probably help facilitate the TTP’s terrorist acts in Punjab Province, where the LT/SSP has an established base.
In fact, a similar paradigm is now occurring with the TTP. The Pakistani government blames the TTP for nearly of which likely had little to do with the organization. Yet just like the LJ, it is easy to scapegoat the TTP rather than reveal the true extent of jihadist violence
in Pakistan and the many groups and actors involved.

The curious case of Rehman Malik

It’s official – everyone on earth hates Rehman Malik. You just have to do a search on Twitter or Google Blogsearch for “Rehman Malik” and you get caustic comments by Indians angry at his latest outburst (“India responsible for most terrorist attacks”). Then you have angry Pakistani liberals, who hate Rehman Malik because he says stupidly obvious things after terrorist attacks, like blaming them on a security lapse. Then you have people who just randomly express their hatred for Rehman Malik, similar to how people randomly express their loathing for Zardari. Something like, “AAHHH GOD, WE ARE A COUNTRY OF CROOKS!!1 WE DEZERVE REHMAN MALIKKKK”. Occasionally you will see a Pakistani nationalist happy that Rehman Malik has grown a spine by denouncing Indian involvement in Balochistan or something, but these comments are soon drowned out by the next wave of Rehman Rage.

In the general spirit of hatred for Rehman Malik, you might have seen this video of Talat Hussain calling on Rehman Malik to resign, circulating the internet:

If you watch it, you will see that Talat Hussain is extremely angry that Rehman Malik – the Interior Minister – is visiting places recently bombed by terrorists and wasting valuable security on himself. Now I understand feeling angry at Rehman Malik for any number of things, but really? Visiting a bomb blast location after a blast that has made international news? Anyway, according to Hussain there was a “spontaneous outburst of anger” against Rehman Malik and the video shows young students of the International Islamic University of Islamabad stoning Rehman Malik’s motorcade and shouting angry slogans as he passes by. Now I am sure students were angry that their university wasn’t provided with better security, but if you strain your ears, from about 2:25 onwards, what you hear is students shouting REHMAN MALIK!! AMRIKI AGENT!!. I don’t want to judge people who have just been bombed too harshly, but really. Amriki Agent?! That’s what you’re angry about right after being bombed by terrorists!? This reaction is depressing beyond words. Maybe it’s just me, but Rehman Malik’s presence isn’t the troubling part of this video compared to what the students were shouting. You see, in a way Rehman Malik is the perfect symbol of the Pakistani civilian government – bumbling, inept, hated by all, and a distraction from the deeper dysfunction that you have to listen a bit harder to hear.

Dexter Filkins – The Forever War

The parts of the book about his being embedded with the US Marines when they entered Fallujah are just incredible. At a time when the Pakistani army is going into South Waziristan and we are completely dependent on the (conflicting) accounts of the spokesmen of either side of the conflict, his account highlights the importance of embedded journalism in order for the public to gain a better understanding of the nature of the conflict.

What really struck a chord with me were the accounts of middle class Iraqis frustrated with the direction of Iraqi democracy, even while they asserted that they would not like to return to the time of Saddam. There was this really cool account of Paul Bremer’s visit to an Iraqi hospital. Apparently they only had a few hours of electricity a day and babies were dying due to lack of oxygen. Later, Filkins returned to talk to the person in charge of record keeping at the hospital to find that the records were in complete disarray, in many cases there was no record of patients’ address or identification information. The hospital official complained about how, during Saddam’s time there was at least electricity and things ran like clockwork but that he would not want to go back to life under the tyrant. Towards the end of the book, Filkins describes how one of his interpreters, a liberal Shia, draws a diagram on his reporter’s notebook to describe the difference between the post-Saddam and the Saddam eras: for Saddam’s era she draws a large circle. For the post-Saddam era, she draws multiple small circles and some small dots representing Iraqis. According to her, in Saddam’s time, there was one large circle around which everything gravitated. Now, a collision with any of these larger circles would result in ones death and one didn’t know which way to go.

The book is full of other examples of Iraqis having trouble dealing with the negative consequences of democracy. His description of the 2006 election in which people braved dire threats from the Sunni insurgents in order to go out to vote is really moving. Most interesting is his conversation with an angry Sunni woman who, despite the likely negative outcome for her community is voting in order to save her country from the invaders (“You”). He also describes an election rally in an Iraqi factory in which the main concern of the working class Shia factory workers is that the candidates have the endorsement of the Ayatollah Sistani and how difficult it is to conduct an election in a security situation which doesn’t even allow the names of all the candidates to be revealed for security reasons.

It’s a great book, full of amazing moments which make you sit up and rethink a lot of what you think you know about Afghanistan and Iraq, even though it’s ostensibly non-political.

The Lahore Attacks

In a way, what has happened in Lahore over the course of this year – the terrorist attacks today, the previous attack on the Manawan police academy, the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team — is a microcosm of what is happening to the Pakistani army in terms of client militias turning on their own support base. In the case of the Marriott bombing, the first attack on Manawan and the GHQ attack, the terrorists who’ve been implicated have been associated with the banned sectarian militant organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. (The terrorist mastermind Aqeel alias Dr. Usmani associated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and captured after the GHQ attack is suspected by the authorities to have been the organizer behind the attack on the Sri Lankan team and the Marriott bombing.)

The problem that the PML-N faces, and the reason why it’s so difficult for it to categorically condemn Punjabi sectarian militias is that the ideological support given to these militant groups has traditionally been from PML’s own power base — the Punjabi Sunni middle class and lower middle class. In 1999, Nawaz Sharif narrowly escaped an assassination attempt masterminded by Riaz Basra, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s founder, so it’s not exactly like the news that Lashkar is a danger to Sunni Punjabis is new. But the link between the Sunni urban class of Lahore and sectarianism could explain why, even after being almost killed by the LJ, and facing enormous security challenges from sectarians during his second tenure as PM, Nawaz Sharif could still say something like this, even in 2004:

ISLAMABAD, October 8 : PML (N) leader, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned the bomb attack in Multan, and has expressed deep sympathy with the families of innocent victims. He said that repeated incidents of terrorism were evidence of not only incompetence but also negligence of the institutions responsible for maintaining law and order. In a statement issued on Friday, he also deplored the attitude of official spokesman and ministers who misdirect investigations with their speculative comments on such incidents. He said it was irresponsible to attribute every terrorist indent to sectarian conflicts, because such observations diverted public thinking from the fact that anti-Pakistan elements in and out of the country had been trying for long to destroy national solidarity.

There seems to still be support for sectarianism in the rank and file of the PML-N. For example, In the recent killings of Christians in Gojra, Toba Tek Singh in which Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba militants were implicated, one of the individuals mentioned in the FIR was the PML-N district president for Toba Tek Singh, Abdul Qadir Awan.

Londonstani at the blog Abu Muqawama makes the point that a common theme in Islamist militant outfits is that “the downfall of militancy of this kind is built into its success”. Hopefully this will be the case with sectarian outfits in Punjab. According to Tahir Kamran, an academic at the Government University College, Lahore, as the 90s progressed and Sunni sectarian militias caused more and more trouble in Punjab, public support and donations to their organizations from middle class and lower middle class Sunnis diminished. The problem was, much as in Karachi with the MQM, shopkeepers and the business class had to keep paying these organizations as a means of “buying security” for their businesses. So even though the overt support may have decreased over time, it would take a much longer time to end the local financial backing for these groups. The only silver lining in events like the tragic attacks on Lahore today, is that in the likely event that Punjabi sectarian militias are implicated in them, they can only assist in speeding up this reversal.

The space between rhetoric and reality

I’ve been doing a bit of research about the domestic political fallout from the 1965 war and the Tashkent declaration and I came across this speech [pdf] delivered by Ayub Khan on October 2 1965, 10 days after the ceasefire.

Here are a few excerpts, but it’s definitely worthwhile reading the entire document:

My dear countrymen. Assalamoalaikum. The people of Pakistan were put to a great test during the month that has gone by. A treacherous enemy applied his entire armed might in a bid to conquer Pakistan. He respected no principles, recognized no rules. His sole purpose was to demonstrate to the world that his forces could subjugate a smaller neighbor. But he reckoned without the will of the people of Pakistan which proved mightier than all that the army possessed. Pitched against faith and determination of our people his vast forces dispersed and retreated. Whenever they made an attempt to advance they were thrown back in one powerful sweep. While the enemy continues to hold bits of territories along our borders, he has surrendered substantial territory in the Chamb, Khem, Karan, Fazilka and Rajhastan sectors.
[…]
These facts are still unknown to the people of India because they have been drugged on the false stories of imaginary successes achieved by their rulers.
[…]
The Indian air force has been crippled, their vital air bases demolished and the Indian Army’s armored might badly mauled.

In return the Indian forces can show few strips of land here and there well away from our forward defence lines and a number of civilian areas which they indiscriminately bombed.

[…]
How did this miracle happen? It happened because our cause was just and moral.

This speech is just an example of the official government propaganda during the 1965 war that must be read in order for a present-day reader to understand the violent domestic reaction to the January 10 1966 Tashkent Declaration signed by Ayub Khan and Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. The basic clauses of the Tashkent declaration were as follows:

* Indian and Pakistani forces would pull back to their pre-conflict positions
* The nations would not interfere in each other’s internal affairs
* Economic and diplomatic relations would be restored
* The two leaders would work towards building good relations between the two countries.

Given the actual military results of the war, this should not have been particularly surprising to the Pakistani public but the Pakistani public had been fed on reports of military success like the speech above and as a result there were riots in Punjab and Karachi; windows were smashed and buildings set on fire and Ayub Khan suffered a massive loss of popularity. The Tashkent Declaration was criticized by almost all major political parties and rival politicians such as Fatima Jinnah who said:

What the blood of our brave soldiers achieved was thrown away at the conference table

Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s (who was later to resign from the administration and join politics) reaction to the Declaration was:

Asghar Khan narrated his impression of the Declaration in the following words: “The Indians were jubilant and smiling. Tashkent Declaration was for Pakistan a statement of surrender. The Indians were all over the room shaking any hand that they could grasp. It was as if India had defeated Pakistan in hockey at the Olympic” (Khan, 1978:120-121)

(by the way, I love this quote — only in Pakistan would a comparison to an Indian victory over Pakistan in a sporting event be made to illustrate the significance of a political event)

Ayub Khan’s own foreign minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto distanced himself from the Ayub regime following the Declaration and was even said to have started spreading rumors that there were hidden (and even more humiliating) clauses in the Declaration that would be revealed at a later date. Ultimately the domestic reaction to the Declaration was a major contribution to the downfall of the Ayub regime.

I’m always reminded of this particular sequence of events when confronted with some of the more egregious displays of political rhetoric like what we are seeing with the media and opposition reactions to the Kerry Lugar Bill. An example is Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s ‘fiery’ speech against the Kerry Lugar Bill in the National Assembly on Wednesday – similar to the fiery speech he delivered in favour of the ill-fated Nizam-e-Adal Regulation in Swat in April. The nature of our political space is such that it allows rhetoric to be practiced by all participants pretty much without constraint in order to maximise their short-term political gain. In the long-run, there is invariably disaster and the distance between rhetoric and reality is so extreme that the public cannot react any other way but by burying its collective head even further into the sand.