Friday, February 27, 2015

Sometimes the Bible just gets it right

I can't claim to have read the Bible, the only books I read are book club prescribed ones and Holy Books haven't yet come onto the selection.
But I always turn back to my favorite chapter

Another Angry Voice on Podemos

Why the EU is damned to doom


On facebook I follow the extreme left page, Another Angry Voice, and they have a small piece on Podemos, the new left-wing party that's virulently growing in Spain (even more worryingly the party wants to call a referendum on the Spanish monarchy).

Podemos and the appeal of Pablo Iglesias

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Sam Manekshaw (and a comment from Major Agha Amin)

A post from Dr Hamid Hussain. A (typically earthy) comment from military historian Major Agha Amin follows below Dr Hamid Hussain's post.

Dear Sir;

A while ago, many officers asked about the controversies about Ayub Khan's selection and I wrote a piece that may interest those raising these questions.

Mr. Ardeshir's comment about Sam Manekshaw and Ayub Khan is incorrect.  It is related to Sam and Yahya Khan.  The real story is as follows;

In early 1947, Sam and Yahya were serving together at Military Operations directorate in New Delhi.  Sam owned a red James motorcycle that looked like the picture below;



Yahya fell in love with it and Sam agreed to sell it for 1000 Rupees.  In the chaos of partition, Yahya left for Pakistan promising to send the money from Pakistan but later forgot about the money.  After 1971 war, Sam once joked about the incident stating that '"Yahya never paid me the Rs1,000 for my motorbike, but now he has paid with half his country." In 2001, Pakistani columnist Aredshir Cowasjee went to India and met Sam.  Cowasjee remembered Sam's quip and offered to pay the money Yahya owed along with the interest.  Sam replied that 'Yahya was a good man and a good soldier.  We served together and he didn't have a mean or corrupt bone in his body'.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Trip to Pakistan

A heartfelt post consisting only of pictures and Urdu verses from Dr Hamid Hussain (about his latest trip to Pakistan). 

My recent trip to Pakistan was in the aftermath of the December tragedy in Peshawar.  More painful at personal level as it is my hometown but I and many had no illusions and though hoping against all hopes that this may be the last whole sale slaughter but we knew in our hearts that this is not yet the drop scene of the horror movie.  Surely, the ever enterprising militants showed up again and mowed down several Shia praying in a mosque in Hayatabad where brother and cousins of a very dear friend narrowly escaped death.   During my trip, many in different cities in Pakistan were kind enough to share their fears, anger and hopes with me and I’m thankful.  Sometimes few short verses give more meaning to feelings than lengthy explanations but off course it is only for Urdu readers. 
Regards,
Hamid

November 2009. Over ninety People killed in bombing of a crowded bazaar in Peshawar.
http://i.dawn.com/archives/2010/Website%20Metropolitan/81blast-608.jpg
زمیں سے آیے ھیں یا آسماں سے آیے ھیں
عزاب شھر پہ جانے کھاں سے آیے ھیں

Sunday, February 22, 2015

End of the Muslim Brotherhood

This is an old post and I would probably change some things now (and in fact, will change some things soon once I do a new post) But this was lost when the old Brownpundits crashed and I wanted to recover it. So here it is
Posted on October 7, 2013 by omar

Hussein Ibish has written an article on the decline and (impending?) fall of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Reports of their death may be exaggerated, but surely the “Islamist political party” project is not doing well in most places. Turkey will be cited as an immediate counter-example, but I think AKP just hasn’t had the chance to really become too “Islamic” yet. If and when they do (and pressure to do so is bound to come from within, unless the project falls apart so badly in the middle east that Turkey gets away without trying it), they will find themselves in trouble as well.

The problem (in over-simplified form):

Modern states and modern politics (not just all the complex debates about how power should be exercised, who exercises it, who decides who exercises it, the theories around it; but also the actual institutions and mechanisms that evolved) arose first and foremost in Europe. There are surely things about that evolution that are contingent and could have been different elsewhere, but there are also many very fundamental features of modern life (modern levels of knowledge, modern industry and organization, modern understanding of human biology, psychology, sociology etc) that will still hold no matter where they develop on this planet. This is an extremely dense and imposing edifice. You cannot reject it and be modern in ways most people do seem to want to be modern (I have NEVER met an Islamist who did not want an air-force). Some non-western countries have already managed that knowledge transfer (e.g. Japan, South Korea), others are getting there (China), others hope to get there someday (India?) but Muslims are notable for wanting to get there while remaining medieval in terms of theology, law and politics. And not just at the fringes. Fringes are fringes everywhere. But in the Islamicate world, this dream is mainstream.

Why? maybe because while no serious theory of politics developed in Islamicate religious thought (Ibn Khaldun is not religious literature), some dreams/fantasies of an idealized “Islamic state” were allowed to percolate. The deal was that the ulama would throw this dream around at each other and leave actual ruling to the rulers (who in practice were always and everywhere guided by existing Byzantine, Persian and Central Asian models and by “mirrors for princes” kind of literature, not by the dreamworld of the “rightly guided caliphs”). Every Islamicate empire down to the late Ottomans ruled in the name of Islam, but they did so using institutions and methods that were typically West-Asian/Central-Asian in origin. And then the Europeans took off (literally by 1903 but earlier metaphorically) and that whole world crashed and burned.

And out of this wreckage, somebody dug up the old stories of the rightly guided caliphs; It seems to me that early fantasists (like Allama Iqbal) took it for granted that a lot of this is just propaganda and we all need propaganda, so “ek hi suf mein khaRey ho gaey Mahmood o Ayaz” (a famous verse of Iqbal, describing how Sultan Mahmood and his “slave” Ayaz could pray in one row; the wonders of Islam, that sort of thing) but they fully expected reality to be much closer to London than it was to Medina (witness his approval of the Grand Turkish assembly). To them, it was more like Chinese or Japanese reformers creating their own version of what worked and getting out from under the imperialist thumb. I am sure Iqbal did not expect to be the leading poet of the Pakistani Taliban! But over time, stories frequently repeated can come to be seen as the truth. Islamist parties want to create powerful, modern Islamic states. But the stories they are using are more Islamic than modern. Far more so than the early reformers perhaps realized. The result is that every party is all the time in danger of becoming hostage to those espousing primitive notions of Shariah law and medieval political ideas. It turns out that pretending to have “our own unique genius” was much easier than actually having any genius that could get the job done. Human nature being what it is, the easy path was taken.