Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pakistan and GHQ's commitment to fight terrorists..

Some people express doubts about the Pakistan army's commitment to eradicating all Islamist terrorist groups. (and there can be no doubt that it IS the Pakistani army that makes such decisions in Pakistan. ..PMLN, PPP, ANP may be in "power" here or there, but security and foreign affairs are ultimately run by the army and if they are not on board, no strategy can possibly work). Others point to the thousands of soldiers killed in the line of duty and insist that the security forces are doing all they can and criticism is just "playing into the hands of our enemies".

Is there a way to tell who is right?

Suppose you have no inside information. Just from public sources, can you tell if they are doing all they can? I believe you can. And just off the top of my head, lets look at a couple of things we can use as metrics:

Monday, October 24, 2016

More "Collateral Damage" in Quetta General Durrani

At least 50 young people (mostly police recruits, a few guards) have been killed in another terrible terrorist atrocity in Quetta. A police training college was attacked (not for the first time) by terrorists on a road that has seen literally dozens of attacks and has a checkpoint every few hundred yards . The chief law enforcement officer in Balochistan (the head of the paramilitary Frontier Corps) has blamed the Lashkar e Jhangvi al Alami (the worldwide army of Jhangvi, an anti-Shia group) for this attack. This group is supposedly a splinter of the larger (and until recently, semi-legal) Lashkar e Jhangvi, who are themselves the "militant wing" (implausible deniability) of the even larger (and even more legal) ASWJ (supposedly banned, but recently invited to meet the interior minister, who reportedly assured their chief that he was "a man of Islam and therefore a supporter of Islamic parties"), and so it goes.

General Mohammed Akbar Khan (and some others)

Down memory lane with the life of PA-1 MG Muhammad Akbar Khan

Major General Muhammad Akbar Khan
Hamid Hussain

Major General Muhammad Akbar Khan (1897-1993) was the senior most Muslim officer at the time of independence in 1947.  He was the son of Risaldar Major Fazal Dad Khan (1847-1943).  Fazal Dad was a Minhas Rajput from Chakwal area.  His family’s fortune was linked with Sikh durbar.  After the demise of Sikh rule and emergence of British Raj, family recovered some of the lost fortunes under British patronage.  Fazal Dad served with 12th Cavalry and after a long service granted the title of Khan Bahadur.  He was granted a large amount of land by the British and had three estates in Montgomery (Sahiwal), Chakwal and Lyallpur (Faisalabad).  He established a horse stud farm on one of his estate.  Fazal Dad had cordial relations with senior British army and civilian officers.  Commander-in-Chief Field Marshall Lord Birdwood, Archibald Wavell (later Viceroy) and Sir Bertrand Glancy (later Punjab governor) had close relationship with Fazal Dad.  Fazal Dad married four times.  Six sons of Fazal Dad Khan joined Indian army and all were polo players.  

Film: Royal Indian Army Service Corps in World War 2

Rare Footage
Hamid Hussain

This ten minutes clip of Second World War captures an important chapter of Indian army.  War stories are usually focused on combat soldiers and support services though vital usually don’t get much attention.  However, we all know that if supply corps does not send food in time, a hungry soldier cannot survive even a day or without the help of an orderly of medical corps a minor bleeding wound can end the life of a soldier. 

This clip provides a window to the role of Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC) contingent in Western theatre in Second World War.  Film caught the day to day functioning of animal transport and also tradition of presentation of ‘nazar’ to King. There are three interesting people in the clip. Major Akbar Khan, Risaldar Major Muhammad Ashraf Khan and narrator Z. A. Bukhari. Z.A. Bukhari was from my hometown of Peshawar and his as well as his brother Ahmad Shah Bukhari’s role in early history of Indian broadcasting requires a separate detailed piece.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Musharraf's Coup. October 1999

In view of increasing friction between civil and military leaders in Pakistan (again), may be a good time to reminisce about the anniversary of 1999 coup.  This piece was written in 2012.  I’m no wiser in 2016.  Enjoy.

“We expect men to be wrong about the most important changes through which they live.”     Harold Lasswel


Count Down – October 12, 1999

Hamid Hussain

"After this operation, it's going to be either a Court Martial or Martial Law!"  Assistant Chief of  Air Staff (Operations) Air Commodore Abid Rao after attending a briefing at X Corps Headquarters about Kargil operation, May 1999 (1)  

On October 12, 1999, Pakistan army moved to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government when he announced pre mature retirement of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Pervez Mussharraf.  Different versions of events were later provided by active participants as well as bystanders.  Later, many also gave a revisionist account of the events.  This article will review the back ground of differences between Nawaz Sharif and Mussharraf that led to fateful decisions of these two key players and events of October 12.