Sunday, January 8, 2017

Major General Anant Singh Pathania MVC, MC

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Major General ® Syed Ali Hamid of Pakistan army wrote an excellent profile of MG Anant Singh Pathania.  Absolute delight for folks like me. My comments in red.

Great profile of an officer and gentleman. How could I resist as it opened so many windows of a bygone era. My few cents in red.  I’m circulating it to my list.

By Maj Gen Syed Ali Hamid (Retired)

The clan of Pathanias were originally Tomars from Rajasthan and for a while they ruled Delhi. They moved up north after being defeated by the Moguls and their name is an abbreviation of Prathishthana, the ancient name of Pathankot, which was the capital of the hill state of Nurpur. They have a proud record of service in the armies of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the State Forces of Jammu & Kashmir, the British India Army and the Indian Army. The clan boasts of one Vir Chakara and two Maha Vir Chakaras (the second highest gallantry award in India), and one of the recipients was Anant Singh Pathania who was twice decorated for bravery and retired as a major general.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Review of Crossed Swords; a History of the Pakistan Army

The following review was written by Major Amin in 2008. Things have changed since then and the Russians and Chinese are now said to be on board with Pakistan's Taliban plan. We will see. But as usual, an acerbic but well informed review from Major Amin..

17 March, 2012 Crossed Swords-Shuja Nawaz Reviewed by Major Agha H Amin (Retired) September 2008 

Crossed Swords , Pakistan,Its Army,and the Wars Within-Shuja Nawaz , Oxford University Press,Pakistan , 2008 700 pages; 13 black and white photographs, 6 maps; ISBN13: 978-0-19-547660-6ISBN10: 0-19-547660-3

Crossed Swords is the latest addition to the list of books dealing with Pakistan Army . Written with an eye on the Western audience by a Pakistani who has settled in USA the book is a welcome addition to books on Pakistan Army.It contains some new sources and some new information .Unfortunately most of the information is anecdotal and the narrators are extolling their own performance. 

The author's viewpoint is somewhat subjective as he is a brother of one of the ex chiefs of Pakistan Army General Asif Nawaz. The book contains some factual errors , some possibly typing errors,expected from Oxford University Press Pakistan which has a reputation of doing this.Some errors are however historical and factual and were entirely avoidable.On page 8 3rd Light Cavalry of Meerut fame is written as 3rd Light Infantry and on page 9 becomes 3rd Light Cavalry.On page 22 Ayub Khan is placed in Assam regiment though Ayub's battalion officer Joginder Singh specifically stated that Ayub Khan was in Chamar Regiment in WW Two.On page 426 Naseerullah Khan Babar is promoted to lieutenant general and similar fate befalls Major General Sarfaraz Khan on page 223. 13 Lancers becomes 13 Cavalry on page 305.On page 470 he changes the ethnicity of Sardar Balakh Sher Mazari a Baloch Seraiki by calling him a Punjabi , an honour that no Baloch would like to have. A far more serious error Shuja makes while discussing the ethnic composition of Pakistan Army on page 570.He states that Sindhis and Baluchis are 15 percent of Pakistan Army.This is a serious distortion of history.The term Muslim Sindhi and Baluchi abbreviated to MS&B was given to
Ranghar/Kaimkhani/Khanzada Rajput recruitment in Pakistan Army in 1950s.The aim was to rationalise the recruitment of Ranghars in Pakistan Army. Later the usuper Zia in order to appease the Sindhis created the Sindh Regiment but Sindhis as far as my research reveals are far less than Ranghars/Kaimkhanis/Khanzada Rajputs in the army.The Ranghars are a significant class in fightig arms, being at least 35 % of armour and distinct from Punjabis.The Baloch are hardly represented in the army.As a matter of fact the Pakistan Army has such a reputation in Balochistan that no Baloch would like to join it.All thanks to General Musharraf,Zia and ZA Bhuttos policies. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Martial Races Theory. Myths and Consequences

Major Agha H Amin (retired)

About the Author: Agha H. Amin , Retired Tank corps major who served in five tank regiments and commanded an independent tank squadron and served in various staff , instructional and research assignments. In his Pakistan Army tenure he wrote three original tactical papers on Reconnaissance Troops Tactical handling, Reconnaissance support group , and RFS Concept. His writings were published in Pakistan Armys prime journals , Pakistan Army Journal and Citadel Journal of Command and Staff College Quetta. Wrote The Essential Clausewitz in 1993, Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59 in 1998 , Pakistan Army till 1965 in 1999 ,Development of Taliban Factions in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2010) ,Taliban War in Afghanistan (2009). Served as Assistant Editor of Defence Journal ,Executive Editor of globe and Founder Editor of Journal of Afghanistan Studies . An associate of the think tanks ORBAT and Alexandrian Defense group. Carried out various oil and gas and power transmission line surveys in West Asia. Editor in Chief of monthly Intelligence Review and monthly Military and Security Review. Heads the think tank Centre for study of Intelligence Operations established in early 2010.
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Myths ,Distortions and Misconceptions of Indo Pak History-Part One
A Chapter of the book The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59 by Agha.H.Amin
(note: this post is from a transcript of the first chapter of the book. Formatting was an issue and if you want to see the whole thing, see here: )

The sepoy war of 1857 gave birth to a new theory in India. This theory was floated in the late nineteenth century: that the races living in the north west part of India i.e. present northern regions of Pakistan and parts of Indian Punjab were the “Martial Races of India”! This theory was partly (but as shown below, only partly) based on the “Punjab and Frontier” loyalty factor of 1857. Its most serious proponent was Lord Roberts, the British C-in-C in India (563).

When I joined the army in 1981 I observed that many of the officers and soldiers serving in Pakistan Army were convinced that the races or castes living in the area between Chenab and Indus Rivers were especially "martial". Some Pathans originating from the NWFP were also regarded as junior partners of these martial races! 
Most of the invasions of India took place originating from areas north of Khyber Pass or west of Quetta i.e. Persia etc. Then the Mughals after 1526 recruited from Hindu Rajputs, Muslim Pathans, Muslim Rajputs, some Muslim Punjabis and Muslim Baloch, but the preference was given to trans-Indus races, mostly Pathans or Persian speaking, or to Hindu Rajputs. The EEIC (English East India Company) since it made its entry from the east had no choice but to recruit from Oudh, parts of Bihar, North West Provinces Madras Bombay Central India etc. In the earlier part of this work we have seen that using a predominantly Hindu army recruited from the Gangetic plain and led by British officers, the pre-1857 Bengal Army defeated all races of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan etc. A small contingent of the Bombay Army (made up mostly of Hindu Marhattas) quickly made Persia behave! A couple of Bengal Army Regiments reinforced by an odd European regiment successfully defended Kandahar and Jallalabad against vastly superior forces. 
But the rebellion of 1857 changed British perceptions about Indian people and keeping in view the political reliability as well as the administrative convenience factor the British decided to recruit mostly from the north west i.e. Punjab and Frontier provinces of India plus the Gurkhas from Nepal. This change started from 1857 but became significant only around 1895. But loyalty and reliability were not the only factors, because the Madras and Bombay Armies had also stayed loyal. Partly based on the personal biases of Lord Roberts, and under his influence of some other British senior officers, the recruitment policy was changed.

Monday, January 2, 2017

General Raheel Sharif in Saudi Arabia

All The King’s Men 

Dr Hamid Hussain

“We don’t do operations.  We don’t know how.  All we know how to do is write checks”.  Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Turki al-Feisal to Mark Anderson, CIA Directorate of Operations, Near East Division  (1)

 Pakistani Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif retired on 29 November 2016 handing over command to General Qamar Javed Bajwa.   Four weeks later, Saudi Arabia sent a special plane to Lahore to bring Raheel for a meeting in Saudi Arabia.  Even before his retirement, rumors have been circulating that he will be given some role in ongoing conflict in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia has cobbled together a thirty nine Muslim (all Sunni) nation coalition.  This is mainly a paper organization with majority of member nations not even sleeping partners.  All major military operations are conducted by Saudi Forces with sprinkling from Emirati and Egyptian forces.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Bokhari Brothers and Lionell Fielden

December 25, 2016
This summer on a visit to the grave of Patras Bokhari, I spent some quite time at his grave.  I reflected about the lives of two Bokhari brothers and an amazing character of his times Lionell Fielden.  This piece was the outcome of that exercise.   Good time to pay tribute on the death anniversary month of December of AS Bokhari and birth anniversary month of January of ZA Bokhari. 

Bokhari Brothers
Hamid Hussain

Ahmed Shah Bokhari and Zulfiqar Ali Bokhari were scions of Peshawar.  Both brothers were very talented, had multiple interests and excelled in their chosen fields.  Bokhari brothers are associated with the history of broadcasting in India. 

Radio service in India was started in July 1927 as a private and amateur venture when Bombay radio station was established.  This was the birth of Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) about seven months after establishment of British Broadcasting Company (BBC).  This private venture ended in a failure and company was liquidated in 1930. 

In August 1935, Lionell Fielden arrived in India on loan from BBC to start Indian broadcasting.  When radio arrived in India, no one knew about the importance of this new invention. In 1935, Marconi Company offered a radio transmitter and fifty radio sets to Indian government but no one was interested in it.  Central government asked provincial governments if anyone was interested in the offer.  Governor of North West Frontier Province (N.W.F.P.) Sir Ralph Griffith accepted the offer.  He chose a young recent Oxford graduate Muhammad Aslam Khan Khattak in-charge of this project.  Later, Fielden organized Indian broadcasting on a professional level and soon radio became the main instrument of information and entertainment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PIA's Black Goat Sacrifice

Genesis 8:21. And the LORD smelled a sweet smell; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

A few days ago a PIA ATR-42 aircraft crashed while on a routine flight; as a result, all ATR aircraft were grounded while PIA carried out some tests and made sure they were good to fly. Having conducted whatever testing PIA engineering considered necessary (and I have no doubt they did whatever testing is standard in the industry; they are a well established airline with many competent engineers), they resumed flight operations. But the engineering department at Islamabad international airport felt they should take some extra precautions before they sent off their first flight. They decided to sacrifice a black goat to ask for Allah's blessings on this occasion. Pictures of this (necessarily blood-stained) ceremony went viral on the internet and excited considerable interest.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Is Islam the rock on which the liberal order broke?

(Triggered by this article about "Global Democracy in Danger")

Back in 1992, Fukuyama wrote his (much maligned, frequently misunderstood) book about the End of History and had this to say:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such.... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

People jumped on Fukuyama for all sorts of reasons, but I don't remember any broad feeling that the Western liberal project had failed. Its most visible Western critics at that time tended to be postmarxists and postmodernists, whose entire existence (from their university appointments to every detail of their lives) was itself an appendage of Western liberal democracy and had no meaning or safe existence outside of that system; and whose real-life ability to bring down Western liberalism was insignificant (i.e., if and when it falls, it will not fall to these clowns).

Another kind of opposition came from the "Confucian authoritarians" (or postmarxist fascists, or whatever you want to call them) in China (and in smal but influential exemplars, like Singapore). But while these groups had power and economic success, they had no great legitimizing ideology. They are may appear to be winning as long as they provide more and more goods to more and more of their people. But even while they do so, these same people are watching "Friends", picking up liberal memes and dreaming of making Shanghai "better than Manhattan". It is hard to them as a coherent alternative ideology. It was far more common (even WITHIN those systems) to think of them as authoritarian way stations on the long winding road to Western style "mature" liberal democracy and capitalism.

Some Right-wing opposition did come from people who rejected Western liberalism more deeply on religious or cultural-nationalist grounds. But currents like Great Russian Fascism or scattered illiberal Western ideologies (from the "almost inside the Overton Window" Pat Buchanan to Christian identity folks and a few hundred actual fascists) tended to be fringe affairs, or at least they were treated as such by most public intellectuals and the media. Triumphant liberal ideology had internal divisions and weaknesses (including the above-mentioned defection of many university trained intellectuals to postmodern/postcolonial/critical theory crap) and lacunae, but apparently, no serious competitor; The way of thinking that puts humanity, rationality, freedom and the free individual at the center of the world; and which includes memes (not necessarily unique to it, not necessarily derived from first principles, but aggregating in a recognizable meme-complex) like legal equality, secularism, democracy and human rights, was so dominant, it was taken for granted.  These were the legitimizing ideas that all modern states at least paid lip service to. Democratic socialism is just a variant of this dominant post-enlightenment meme complex; even Marxist socialism is a variant of the same complex (Marxist revolutionaries, for example, idealized the same memes of equality, liberty and rights, but claimed that mainstream liberal Democracy failed to match its ideals and was a sham, a betrayal of these very ideals, and so on).

The place where this whole meme-complex really hit a solid rock was in the Islamic world. It was not immediately apparent that this was so. Many Western post-enlightenment ideals were popular among the Westernized intellectuals of the postcolonial Muslim world. But the grip (and even the personal commitment) of these intellectuals was shallow. This was not easily visible to liberal contemporaries (and of course, to Muslim liberals themselves; it is doubtful whether someone like Jinnah ever really understood the illiberal nature of his demand for Pakistan for example). The difference between Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals,whether in the third world or the first, if it was noticed at all, was seen as one of degree; i.e. Muslim and non-Muslim intellectuals both had older loyalties, ideas and identities that belied their liberal ideals, and any apparent difference was a difference of degree...but as it is easier to see now, the difference of degree was always in the same direction, and in fact, it was significant enough that it could be described as a qualitative difference; not just a quantitative one. But this was not the common intellectual view (and exceptions like Samuel Huntington just proved the rule, with their "problematic" status in mainstream discourse)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Lt Gen SK Sinha

From our regular contributor, Dr Hamid Hussain

Lieutenant General ® Srinivas Kumar Sinha (January 1926 – 17 November 2016)
Hamid Hussain

Lieutenant General ® Srinivas Kumar (S. K.) Sinha passed away on 17 November 2016.  He was member of a generation of Indian officers who joined Indian army during the Raj. He spent a long and successful army career and after retirement spent three decades writing about military affairs.

Monday, November 21, 2016

President Trump. The unknown unknowns..

First published at

Trump has been elected President. Having participated in a week-long social media freakout to deal with this shock (a fact I did not recognize about myself until a couple of days ago), I have some thoughts and I would like to put them out so that I can be enlightened by feedback. It is the only way to learn.

Very qualified people have written some good pieces already about the why and the how. I am posting links to them below, along with some random thoughts about the articles. They are not the whole story (what is?) but I think all these articles are must reads. My own comments are more like invitations to tell me off, or tell me more...

After these links and comments, I sum up my own thoughts and end with some questions.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stephen Bannon Speaks..

Postscript: There is another Bannon profile in (of all places) The Hollywood Reporter that is worth a look. The man is serious. And he thinks he is Thomas Cromwell. Which is interesting, because some of you may remember that Cromwell was beheaded. By Henry the VIIIth, the king he so loyally served.

Buzzfeed has an article that consists of the verbatim remarks of Stephen Bannon at a Vatican conference in 2014. Since this was pre-Trump, these are not filtered for the presidential campaign (though some of them may still be filtered the way all ideologues filter their public pronouncements keeping "the cause" in view).

These remarks are interesting. That he is totally committed to a global war with Islam is no surprise. But I urge you to read the rest. And comment. Some of you will no doubt agree with his elite-bashing (and/or his Islam bashing), but there is a lot more in there. And he is now senior adviser to the US president. The worldview is definitely at odds with prevailing Western opinion, but is it "thick enough" and does it overlap enough with reality to stand on its own? and what happens if you try to put it into effect?

What do you think?

I think he is wrong on several simple matters of fact, not just on ideology (which i find wrong in any case). The notion of a historic Judeo-Christian West that has stood as one against the Islamic tide for centuries is just bunk. Judeo is a new apellation and he knows it. Christendom, yes, Judeo-Christian, certainly not. Which makes you think that he may have some nasty surprises up his sleeve for the Jews. But since he is focused on first smashing the Islamic threat, he will probably be good to Israel, for now. Those Jews who regard weak-minded liberal Western Jews as traitors (or at least, as softies) may be happy to embrace him. For now. Like Stalin did with Hitler, both parties can think "I am using him, for now, to become stronger". One party will of course turn out to be wrong. But all that is speculation. It may be that he is genuinely ignorant and really does think "Judeo-Christian civilization" has been bravely fighting Islam for 1400 years. We will see.. (Whatever his own inner beliefs, the Alt-Right he has promoted is not shy in its attitude towards Jews...if you check out the Alt-Right sites, you may find their obsession with ovens and trains less than reassuring).

His whole theory about the only right kind of capitalism being "Judeo-Christian" seems shaky to me as well (though in this case he may not know it; i.e. these may be his sincere beliefs) but I will let experts comment. In fact, the whole banks and crony capitalist issue I will leave to the better informed. I dont think that is the scary part.

The notion that "strong nations make good neighbors"is high grade, class A bullshit and he likely knows it, but who knows. He may not be that well informed. And his notion that Putin and the West can join hands in a grand White Christian alliance to first beat the shit out of Muslim barbarians is also bunk. Putin would much rather eat the Baltics, the Ukraine and maybe even Poland before he seriously starts any extermination campaign in the Stans.

China and Japan get no significant mention.

India gets approvingly cited for electing Modi, but in the greater scheme of things must surely prepare for Christianization if team Bannon wins the war (when push comes to shove, would you expect Bannon to stand with the Evangelicals or with Hindu nationalism? Do the math). Interin calculation is another matter. See Stalin and Hitler above. Some in India will no doubt see possibilities in the medium term. I don't because I think this is a flaky worldview that will damage the USA and the current system and not build anything better. India still needs the current system to grow in. Thats just my opinion.

Overall, the current world system is to be trashed. In the melee that follows, what civilizations have the coherence and the strength to fight it out. And who wins? is a less violent reform possible? Is HE a less violent reformer?
I still hope (and even expect) that we will not go too far from the current (irredeemably corrupt?) system, but here you have it: the senior adviser to Donald Trump, President Elect. President Elect IN the current system.

Image result for Bannon

Chunks of his remarks pasted below. The original is at Buzzfeed.