Friday, October 26, 2012


Subject: 5 Things Americans Need to Know About Pakistan - The Huffington Post

Akbar Ahmed


5 Things Americans Need to Know About Pakistan

Posted: 10/22/2012 12:34 pm

Richard Clarke described Pakistan as a nation of "pathological liars" on the Bill Maher Show last year. He also called Pakistanis "paranoid." In the public mind there is little apart from suicide bombings, terrorism, violence and corruption associated with Pakistan. Commentators freely call Pakistan a "nursery for terrorism." Every news item from that country confirms this image -- whether the shocking news that Osama bin Laden lived just by Pakistan's premier military academy with Pakistanis claiming they had no idea about his whereabouts, or the shooting, a couple of weeks ago, of Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old girl, whose only crime was that she wanted an education.

Surely there is more to Pakistan than this? Yes, there is. Here is the reality:

1. Pakistan's Democratic Foundations

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's founding father, created a modern Muslim state in August 1947, the first of its kind in the Muslim world. A brilliant, successful lawyer with a reputation for integrity and rigid principles, he advocated women's rights, minority rights and human rights. One of his first acts in August was to declare himself the "Protector-General of the Hindu community" and to attend church to reassure the minorities of their inclusion in the Pakistani nation. In his first address to the Constituent Assembly in the same month he laid out his vision for Pakistan: "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed -- that has nothing to do with the business of the State."

Fatima Jinnah, Jinnah's sister, played a key role in promoting the visibility and rights of women. Women ambassadors, governors, parliamentarians and editors soon made a mark. It was with this background that Benazir Bhutto emerged as the first female prime minster in the Muslim world. Today, there are some 70 female parliamentarians in the National Assembly and the foreign minister of Pakistan is a woman.


2. The Widespread Influence of Nonviolence in Pakistan

Sufi Islam -- which promotes the notion of sulh-i-kul, or "peace with all," and non-violent political movements and humanitarian initiatives -- is widely supported by millions of Pakistanis. The great Sufi centers which attract thousands of worshippers every week are spread throughout Pakistan, and the historic city of Lahore can boast the shrine of the celebrated Sufi Master, Data Ganj Baksh. The qawwali, Sufi devotional music, sung by groups like that of Fateh Ali Khan, made an international impact.

Pakistan also produced the legendary Ghaffar Khan, called the "Frontier Gandhi" because of his non-violent philosophy and close association with Mahatma Gandhi. Ghaffar Khan led a widespread and powerful movement that was allied with the Indian Congress Party and therefore fell out of favor in Pakistan, but the roots of his non-violent philosophy, as he emphasized, were deep within Islam and his Pukhtun tribal culture. Humanitarian work with a focus on the poor and the dispossessed is symbolized by the saintly Abdul Sattar Edhi and his wife, Bilquis. They are the founders of the Edhi Foundation, a social welfare program providing help to the destitute across Pakistan for the past half century. Wearing thread-bare clothes and living a life of extreme simplicity, the Edhis personify the emphasis on compassion in traditional Muslim society.

3. Pakistani Hospitality

Pakistani hospitality is famous. At the birth of the nation in 1947, Pakistan received between 10 and 12 million refugees from different parts of India. Many of these had lost everything they possessed and spoke a different language to the local people. Yet, they were welcomed to the new nation with some of them thriving. There were several heads of government who had a refugee background, including Presidents Pervez Musharraf and Zia-ul-Haq. In the 1980s there were more waves of refugees escaping Afghanistan from the brutal Soviet invasion. Anywhere between 5 and 6 million Afghans sought shelter in Pakistan. One of the side effects of the refugee invasion was the creeping violence that began to appear in society as Kalashnikovs and drugs made their way into the markets. Increasingly, Pakistan's politics became involved with the politics of Afghanistan across the border.

Next time you hear the discussion whether a dozen or two refugees should be allowed into the country as it may threaten its stability and character, think of Pakistan which opened its arms to literally millions of people seeking refuge.


4. 'Shining Pakistan' as a Model for Growth

It is difficult to conceive, but only a generation ago Pakistan was seen by the World Bank, Harvard development economists, and developing countries like South Korea looking for role models of growth as an Asian nation on the verge of "taking of.f" Building on its British heritage in agriculture, industry, education, the civil service and the army, Pakistan had made steady strides. It had made a name for itself on the international stage as world champions in cricket, squash and hockey. It had a brand new and smart airline called PIA (Pakistan International Airlines), and the Pakistani President boasted of having the finest Armored Division in Asia. Professor Abdus Salam emerged from this environment to become the first scientist from the Muslim world to win the Nobel Prize, for Physics. It was this scientific base that allowed Pakistan to become the first nuclear Muslim nation in the world.


5. Pakistan as a Traditional American Ally

Mr. Jinnah set the orientation for Pakistan's foreign policy as an ally of the United States. For about half a century Pakistan remained firmly in the Western camp. There were important economic, cultural and larger geo-political reasons that made the relationship mutually beneficial. Today Pakistanis are bitter about their American ally and blame "America's war" for the destruction that lies over the land. They point to some 40,000 Pakistanis who have lost their lives as a result of the war on terror and the billions of dollars of property destroyed. They blame the uncontrolled nature and violence of the Taliban on America's war. They feel betrayed.

The anti-Americanism is widespread. The good news is that it is not too deep. If you doubt this statement, take a look at the picture of Jackie Kennedy visiting Lahore in 1962. She is in an open car with the Pakistani President and surrounded by smiling Pakistanis throwing flower petals to welcome her. She later visited the Tribal Areas along the Afghanistan border and received a similarly warm welcome. The iconic image of the elegant and smiling American lady who set out to win over Pakistani friends should prompt both Americans and Pakistanis concerned at the sorry mess that is their alliance to ask: What happened to that relationship and how best can it be repaired?


Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American 

University and Visiting Professor at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and Jesus College, Cambridge. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror became a Global War on Tribal Islam (Brookings February 2013).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brigadier Sikandar Ahmad

Brigadier Sikandar Ahmad

Remembering an old friend and an outstanding officer in an army of mediocres and NCO mindset


It not necessary that we have to discuss Napoleons and Guderians here on military history forums.

We can discuss potential Napoleon also.

It was August or September 1984 when I met then Major Sikandar Ahmad , then serving in 1 FF. Sikandar was an exceptional man intellectually ! A rare find ! His sense of humour was also historic and most unorthodox ! When his brigade commander one Syed Tanvir Hussain Naqvi visited him in the combined military hospital Kharian camtonment Sikandar who had a foot in plaster (a basket ball injury) when asked by Naqvi " Oh you can walk "  retorted , I can hop also !

It turned out that Major Sikandar Ahmad belonged to an extremely educated and outstanding family and younger brother of one Akbar.S.Ahmad a CSP who was then commissioner of Sibi .

Sikandar as all brilliant and outspken men was in clash with authority , having inspired jealousy of smaller men who had higher ranks ! But as they say it the habit of stray village dogs to bark at eminent men !

Although I was a history enthusiast Sikandar played a role in polishing it by his analysis of history from a high vantage point , seeing the larger picture and guiding me how to do it !
He taught me how to write redress of grievances against your military superiors as per instructions given in Army regulations 193 and 194 originally conceived by the British and one of their greatest contributions to the military law.
It is sad that while the Indian Army gave their officers basic rights in pakistan the army has laws of stone age !

We met again in Multan in 1985-86.

In 1987 or 1988 Sikandar was miraculously promoted to be a colonel. Miraculously I say because men of his very high calibre have no place in armies which in reality are citadels of mediocrity !

Sikandar was a chronic bachelor but suddenly he got married in 1988 or so ! He was on his honey moon and stayed at my fathers annexe in cavalry ground Lahore.

Major General Hameed Gul who initially was not in favour of Sikandar realised that Sikandar was an exceptionally talented man and I believe Sikandar did extremely well in the ISI under Gul.

I managed to visit Sikandar many times in the desert in tamewali when he was commanding his parent 1 FF regiment.We sat next to fire lit in the open and chatted.
This was 1988 or so .

I last talked with him in 1993 or so when I was commanding an independent squadron at Okara and he commanding an infantry brigade at Pano Aqil.He had been selected for the war course but the lesser souls with lesser intellects again conspired against him ! Sikandar did not have that shameless obsequeousness which you find in most officers.

I last met him in 2000 when he had retired .I wanted to present him my book but a major general expressed immense interest in it and i gave it to him ! I thought that I would give Sikandar another copy ! But then we lost contact !

I dont know where he is now ! In retrospect I can say that more harm on the pakistani state and army has been inflicted by its third rate senior officials than any enemy could say !

It was with this background in mind that I thus wrote in my article published in the command and staff college Quettas Citadel Journal; " many military systems that this world saw were a conspiracy against originality and boldness" !


The Pakistani military mindset

The Pakistani military mindset

A.H Amin

2nd August 2003



While third world military figures , in power or retired make impressive speeches at various forums and think tanks , very few outside their countries understand their mindset and motivation , which by and large is driven by highly personalized and ulterior motives !

Keeping this premise in view it is important to understand the mindset and the personalities of the third world military juntas , most important in this case being the Pakistani military junta !

The British Indian Army which gave birth to Pakistan and Indian armies in 1947 was essentially a colonial army designed for internal security and limited defence of India against external threats .The British ensured that all Indians who came to this organization were from the politically most docile and loyal classes ! In order to keep the Indian officer corps slavish they kept a 50 % quota for Indian Army rankers in Indian Military Academy Dera Dun right from its foundation in 1930-32 .

Layman readers may note that the " lower middle class" as well as the " middle class" by and large are the politically most conservative classes ! Social climbers by orientation , intensely careeristic in outlook and extremely conscious of personal benefits , having none or little of the pride or spirit de corps that made the Prussian junker officer defy Hitler ! In the Russian Civil War many major reactionary White Army leaders including Denikin,Kornilov etc were from humble background ! Similarly all of Pakistan's military rulers less Yahya Khan were from humble background and all brought with them the intense greed and ambitiousness of a man from humble origins with none of the ideological idealism that distinguishes a man of ideology from a social climber !

Now the mindset of the military junta :--

1- Personal motives having priority over all other motives :-- You would find no Manstein or Guderian in them but highly ambitious men who practiced sycophancy with their seniors , hole punchers in US terms , yes men ,masters of personal manouvre in order to get the right report from the right boss at the right time ! They pleased their seniors and they know how to handle balls of any benefactor may it be Bush or Reagan where aid is concerned ! They have no ideology less personal interest !

2- View Wars and International Geopolitics as a means of personal benefit:-- The Soviet invasion ofAfghanistan
 was a divine and phenomenal lottery for Pakistan's military rulers ! Zia the son of a humble tailor , and many of his generals Akhtar etc siphoned millions of US dollars in private accounts , from theUS aid meant for Afghanistan ! knowing the Americans well , they must have also earmarked good retainers for Zia and his ISI chief in any case ! Serious observers like Selig Harrison and Cordovez have concluded that the Pakistani military junta never wanted that the Soviets should withdraw fromAfghanistan since that would have meant stoppage of US aid ! Similarly 9/11 is a heaven sent opportunity for General Musharraf since it enabled him to get US aid and the much needed US boost to stay in power !

3- Can be coerced and bought if the Bigger players know how to drive them:-- These leaders have price tags and can be manipulated to a significant extent without risking wars like the 
Iraq war ! This is so because their vision is personal , has none of Khomeini or Osama's ideological agenda ! Thus if theUSA sensibly deals with them with carrot and stick they can be made to conform to US policies !

4- Ulterior motives in prolonging conflicts to get aid :-- These leaders have an ulterior motive that their benefactor super power i.e 
USA is kept occupied in its war against terror , not because they have any love for Islam , but simply because this would bring them more aid , an important part of which is siphoned into private fortunes ! Thus at a certain covert level these leaders are interested in the terrorist's cause also ! Thus the third world intelligence agencies have many irons in the fire whether it is initiating a terrorist outrage or encouraging one ! 

5- Increasing reliance on coercive power of state :-- Since these leaders have little or no contact with national aspirations of their masses , they increasingly rely on the coercive power of the state which leads either to a Shah of Iran like situation or strengthening of a Saddam like totalitarian regime ! In both cases it was the fault and mishandling of US policy makers !

6- Role of the Intelligence agencies :-- To buy judges , to blackmail politicians , to start wars of low intensity to get aid , to manipulate low intensity war players for specific ends to please or disturb their super power benefactors !


The USA is dealing with sharp social climber third world leaders who know how to please and how to practice sophisticated ball lifting ! These men have no ideology and can withstand tremendous amount of kicking as they did while pleasing seniors in their military careers ! It is simpler to deal with these tinpot dictators than Osama or Mullah Omar ! If policy makers in the 
USA understand this fact their task would be simpler !

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