Our Announcements

Not Found

Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here.

Archive for category History

Note on Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Ali ​Khan ​by Col (Retd) ABDUL QAYYUM

The Sahabzada never stooped to conquer












Note on Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Ali ​Khan 




Part III: Perception

Having observed the Sahabzada over many years and in a variety of situations, my own understanding of the man having grown over the years without any bias toward unwarranted adulation or contempt, I like to think I know the Sahabzada better than many. My summary perception of the man follows.

Yaqub Khan has been the most outstanding general the Pakistan Army has produced, including those who rose higher than him in formal rank or official authority. It is no particular honour to be associated in any way with the Pakistan of our times but I do believe that the quality of his generalship would have won wider recognition had he served in say the British, the French or the German Army. His style of leadership was essentially insular and English, its intellectual content essentially occidental and continental. His legacy to the Pakistan Army, although widely acknowledged and admired, is clearly on its way out. Little understood and even less absorbed, it has been instinctively rejected as alien to the native mould. The transplant has failed. The fault is as much ours as his, the loss more ours than his. If the legacy does survive in some minuscule and mutilated form, say at the National Defence College, it will continue as an isolated annex of the native’s residential palace.

The style and the intellectual content of the Sahabzada’s generalship was suited to the higher direction of war. Since we never had a war, not really, and the vision of our generals seldom went beyond the range of regimental command, it was a death foretold. Now, not far from his rocking chair, I wonder what the Sahabzada makes of it all. He will find some consolation though in the diplomatic phase of his illustrious career. The debacle in East Pakistan (1971), in the twilight zone of his own transition from the military to the diplomatic, will continue to rankle not only because of the bravado of those who sought a military solution to a political and psychosocial problem, but also because of his failure to dissuade them, and having failed not to resign earlier than he did as a conscientious objector. Once again it was a death foretold and the Sahabzada was trapped among the lemmings rushing to the sea. And yet, he may console himself over the fact that he did not order the military action in March 1970, nor did he preside over the surrender to a foreign army in 1971.

Like a revolution, an army devours its own geniuses. This is particularly true of countries in the Third World. On the individual plane every Napoleon marches steadily to his own Waterloo, but we may focus our attention for the while on the institution itself. It is the army which helped the Sahabzada become what he had it in him to be. It sent him to the Ecole de Guerre and when he came out of it as the Ecole wanted him to be, it scoffed at him for having gone there It groomed him, without knowing it, to be the commander of an armoured division and then stared at him in derision when he talked of “launching pads”, of the many nuances of the operational environment in the Sialkot sector, of the chain of command and the importance of staff duties in the conduct of operations, divisional level and above. As an institution, the army understood only the battle at the battalion level. This was war, real war, the rest was humbug. Of operations at the divisional and corps level, and the conduct of war at the apex, it knew little and did not care to know more.

Since the Sahabzada insisted, they sent him to the National Defence College. When he asked his star-studded students to leave the Staff College (Quetta) behind as he had done, they smiled. When they left, they reverted to their battle at the battalion level. The army which prized its gladiators found a clever and easy way to get rid of the Sahabzada. It made him the commander of a corps and then shoved him out to distant East Pakistan as GOC Eastern Command.

There the Sahabzada blew his lungs out: this is not war, this is civil war. There must be stringent limits to the use of force as an instrument of policy and he warned of the dangers of force once unleashed careening out of control. I told you, said the top brass: he is no warrior, only a paper tiger! The gladiators not far below applauded. When the tigers were unleashed, they inflicted on East Pakistan (in 1970 already Bangladesh) a wound that will never heal, not even the scar that we would now be content with. Equally horrendous, they forced a fourth class army to its knees before a third class adversary. Even now they continue to exult over gallantry at the battalion level.

When Yaqub Khan entered the field of diplomacy, honed and chastened by many years of the rigours of high command, his intellectual and cultural accomplishments made him at home in many capitals of the world, particularly those of consequence in our day. Our genius at the top (1972) and his minions in the Foreign Office were glad to have him out where he was – in Paris, Washington or Moscow.

They were suspicious of his military background and the respect that he still evoked in the army that discarded him. The few who applauded, applauded his English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, a smattering of Arabic and Bengali. I forgot, also his mother tongue. Things changed when the genius was out (LBW and hit-wicket) and Zia-ul-Haq sauntered in, bat in hand (1977). It took a Zia-ul-Haq (“of all people”, I have heard it said) to bring the Sahabzada home and make him the Foreign Minister.

As minister, the Sahabzada taught our boys to read, write and, above all, to think. Many in the Foreign Office even today will bear witness to my assertion. The Sahabzada not only formulated and conducted our foreign policy well, he groomed others to do likewise, come their day. The Sahabzada had an eye for men. He knew how to pick, choose and polish. Go ask an Ashraf Qazi or a Rafat Mahdi, and they will tell you what I mean.

When the Sahabzada stood up in the Senate to explain our foreign policy, most of his audience yawned. Not surprising, but surely painful. The Sahabzada was always better understood abroad than at home, in the halls of Montezuma or simply chatting with Henry Kissinger. His frequent flights abroad were, I suspect, as much an escape as a compulsion to return. Like Jonathon Livingston Seagull, he loved his boys in the Foreign Office.

When the Sahabzada called it a day as Foreign Minister, he had the wisdom not to become a politician, not here, so help us God! Just as he knew the limits of force (1971), so also he knew the limits of power (1988), and his own limitations in this sorry scheme of things entire.

I have seen the Sahabzada long enough and from close enough to admire him both as a military commander and as our Foreign Minister. At one stage I wondered how he could possibly serve under Zia-ul-Haq. Now I know. For one thing, he knew Zia-ul-Haq better than most and he did not quarrel with destiny when his GSO-I became the CMLA/COAS/President. For another, Zia-ul-Haq knew the Sahabzada better than many and he never ceased to pay him the respect that was his due. When an equation is well balanced, the entities may switch sides. They remain the same, only the signs change as the law ordains. No entity runs out of the equation. If it is cricket you play, captain one day and only bowler or batsman the next, you play on. Many I know will say they were not playing cricket at all. I have very good reasons to disagree.

While still on the Sahabzada’s professional performance, how would he have fared if destiny had steered him into another profession? As a catholic priest he would have risen to be a cardinal, sonorous of speech and resplendent in his crimson and black robes. As an actor on stage, he would merit his place of honour in Stratford – on – Avon. As a professor of philosophy in Cambridge or Harvard, he would have been as abstract and abstruse as he appeared to our Senate. That should have taken him to professor emeritus. A politician? No, for God’s sake, no. I have said that before! A Senator? Well, that he was, but alas, not in the days of imperial Rome! A trouble-shooter? With Kissinger, yes; to the Polisario, yes; with Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, no! What about a few lectures on national security? To King Hasan II of Morocco, yes; to Mirza Aslam Beg and his friends, no! I could go on, but more is not necessary.

I find it instructive to contemplate that the Sahabzada’s formal academic qualification was matriculation, ‘O’ level to be precise. By that count, he would barely qualify as a Naib Qasid, just as surely as Mr. Catchpole would have refused many of our present day Ph.Ds, admission into class VI. What are we to make of this, except to observe how far a man may go if he is ready to educate himself. I have met few men in Pakistan as erudite as the Sahabzada. His library, where he sips tea with his friends, is a joy to be in. The range of the books is vast – from history, philosophy, metaphysics, logic and mysticism to strategy and tactics, science, fiction, travelogue, biography, the fine arts and architecture. My enumeration does not presume to be complete. His selection is rigorous, the layout is in his mind. The last time I was there (1997) we talked about Ibn Arabi and Zen Buddhism. I was also glad, and proud of my contribution (not financial), to see the Great books of the Western World (54 volumes) add splendour to his already illustrious collection. At the RIMC reunion the other day (March 1998), so cosily arranged by Brigadier Mukhtar Karim at the Adventure Inn (Islamabad), I talked to him about Nirad C. Chaudhri’s Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse and he said he would get a copy. We also talked about Pakistan, the land of our day and the horsemen, more precisely the donkey-riders who go galloping on their donkeys, down a motorway into the wide blue yonder.

The Sahabzada is a great conversationalist, cast in the classical mould which rejects the idea of flitting from flower to flower without sipping the honey. He can sip long, and he expects the others to sip when he is talking. When he talks he is expansive, exhaustive, with precision no bar to eloquence, loud and clear. Sometimes it is a voice from very far away, sometimes from very near. Some think he is pompous. I disagree, his Stratford-on-Avon notwithstanding. It takes at least two to make a conversation and the Sahabzada shuts up soon enough when there is no one to talk to, attendance without presence or presence without preparation! Alas, there are not too many Henry Kissingers around. Some say the Sahabzada is boring. Of course he is, if you go to him expecting to hear more about cabbages than kings. He wont say it, but I know he does not like cabbages. Muzaffar Malik, who derived much of his vocabulary from the Sahabzada, called everyone who appeared a little dense to him a Kaddu. A very distant derivation that, because when the Sahabzada spoke he spoke mostly in English, except when talking to JCOs and J


wans. When I told Muzaffar that Cabbage would be the more appropriate word, he insisted on calling me a Kaddu.

The trouble with the Sahabzada, among other troubles, is that he speaks English. In the Pakistan of our day that language evokes either stupefaction or contempt, or both. You then have the sorry spectacle of a versatile linguist not being understood, or being misunderstood, even in the language that we commonly speak. Talking in French, Russian or German would not help. Were the Sahabzada to speak in Urdu, which he infrequently does, I know of many who would be mystified to hear the language as it was originally spoken in homes where language mattered. English or Urdu, the trouble is not with the language or the Sahabzada, but the sorry pass to which linguistic competence has come in a land which has given up on thinking. It had to be so, because the two are inseparably interlinked: no thought, no language; no language, no thought. Each stunting the other, we remain stunted in both. Urdu has the advantage, particularly in its vulgar form, of striking a chord with the common crowd and even the intelligentsia in our land. So, why wont the Sahabzada switch to Urdu? I suspect he finds English the more appropriate medium of communication, for both perception and expression, when the ideas to be communicated are subtle, lofty or deep, scientific or cold, not too warm or elusive, very far or just too close. The Sahabzada knows we can be very warm and very elusive in Urdu, and he will go with us to a Mushaira any day, but that is about all. When the rational intellect is in operation, the Sahabzada sticks to English. It helps him to be precise, clear, disciplined, intense in his focus on an idea, clinical in its exposition. This hankering after precision, clarity and discipline makes the Sahabzada so difficult to swallow. We like it woolly and warm, he likes it cold and straight. No snuggling with the Sahabzada, when the rational intellect is in operation! The trouble is it is so often, so long, so intensely in operation.

The Sahabzada runs the risk of being dubbed as another intellectual in a land where so few think. We forget that as rational animals we are all expected to think, an activity not as uncommon as it has become. What distinguishes the Sahabzada, however, from the rest of us who also think is his exaltation of the rational intellect to a point where it becomes the supreme controlling authority in the mental make-up of a man. It leads to what George Santayana called “the life reason”. The Sahabzada is not the only one in this category of men, not even in Pakistan. Unlike Zia-ul-Haq, he has seldom found it possible to act contrary to reason. The less said about Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the better, his many intellectual accomplishments notwithstanding. What makes the Sahabzada a true representative of “the life of reason” is a decent blend of rational activity and a solid moral purpose which is universal in its content. Whether he learnt this “in the sand-pile at Sunday school” I do not know but this is how David Fulghum sums it up (All I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten, Random House (Ballantine Books), New York):-

“Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take thinks that aren’t yours.
Say sorry when you hurt somebody
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life: learn some and think some,
and draw and paint, and sing and dance and
play and work everyday, some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
watch out for traffic,
hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder……”







Except for warm cookies and a nap every afternoon, the Sahabzada I have known seldom faltered in his observance of these basic rules. Look at our men at the top. With very few exceptions, they have shared nothing, seldom played fair, hit people all over the place. They have seldom put things back where they found them, never cleaned up their own mess. They have taken, shamelessly and voraciously, things that were never theirs. They did not even wash their hands before they ate what their hands never earned. They have never been good at flushing, either their own potty or that of previous governments. They have slept not just of an afternoon but at a stretch for fifty years. I do not have to go on and you do not have to be a research scholar to confirm the veracity of what I have said.

The Sahabzada has always been a stickler for punctuality: unlike Zia-ul-Haq who was always running late, unlike Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who thought it was his privilege to keep others waiting. When the Sahabzada called you at 10. O’clock, he meant 10 O’clock, period. If you came a minute too early, you ran the risk of catching him with his pants down. If you came a minute late, you found him waiting for you staring at the clock. The Sahabzada never kept anyone waiting. It was the same with the submission of returns to a higher authority, replying to a letter regardless of whom it came from, appearing at a conference, a lecture or a dinner, calling on a friend or catching him on a stroll at the appointed time and place. The Sahabzada never kept anyone waiting.

The Sahabzada has always been fussy, even fastidious, in matters of personal cleanliness and dress. I have seen him wash his hands more often than he needed to, change his dress like an actor for every new scene. He has always been correctly dressed, often exasperatingly so, with an eye for sartorial elegance too exalted for me to comprehend. Sometimes I have been amused, but I always took care to conceal my amusement. Better though than Zulfikar Ali Bhutto tearing his shirt at a public meeting; several notches lower than Zia-ul-Haq in his simple Shalwar and Kurta half an hour before sundown and the call to prayer.

Whenever he wanted a drink other than water, the Sahabzada asked for Cidrex (apple juice, that is, for the curious among the defenders of Islam). But that was long ago, when 11 Cavalry (FF) was 11 Cavalry (FF). Now, he puts up with 7-Up. He continues to be frugal in the substance of his meals, with just a shade (or some shades) of relaxation in style. He remains a stickler for discipline, good order, decorum, decency – all those qualities of self-restraint which have been for so long part and parcel of his unwritten inner constitution. He was, unlike Zia-ul-Haq, incapable of launching a coup; unlike Benazir, incapable of screaming in revolt. He always stood in awe before the majesty of the law, howsoever dilapidated its condition of a given moment in time. Unlike Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he went by the rules and never manipulated the law. Unlike Zia-ul-Haq, he never rolled up his sleeves in support of a friend in need or in pursuit of a foe in flight. Admirable in some ways and not so admirable in some, particularly when you consider the good among your friends (the bad have no business to be within the circle) and when the foes in flight are among the supreme rascals of the time. The Sahabzada always refused to make a wider mess of things. In the process, he failed to clear the mess from before, added very little of his own and went away content with clearing his own little mess. The Sahabzada is, in my estimate, precisely the kind of man we need as a constitutional president. But we have got what we deserve: Rafiq Ahmad Tarar.

Far from the madding crowd, on top of the hill – that is where the Sahabzada deserved a habitation and a name. But it was not to be, because the crowd was just too big, the ratio of rascals to good men highly unfavourable, the proportion of Muslims to the peddlers of Islam fatally adverse. It could not have become the acropolis, it would have remained the Aiwan-e-Sadar. I suspect the Sahabzada is glad he never got there, the triumph of reason over blind enterprise: better the Foreign Minister that he was, not the silly and sorry president that he might have become. The Sahabzada is no angel, but he instinctively withdrew from where even angels fear to tread. Not so with Zia-ul-Haq, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir, Nawaz Sharif. They raced in with Iblis for company and Iblis rejoiced when his minions gave even Zia-ul-Haq the slip.

Much as I know the construction of the Sahabzada’s mind and much as I have observed him over the years, there is one area that remains totally dark. I know nothing about the emotional life of the man and it is dangerous to speculate without a minimal level of observation and immediate knowledge. Mediate inference, Sir Francis Bacon observed, without an adequate base of empirical data, is an unwarranted enterprise. I shall not speculate. I shall only observe that the Sahabzada was an intensely private man, discreet, wanted no stranger in his bedroom, not even to gaze on a Renoir. The Begum remained inscrutable, her talk giving me no clue to the structure of either her mind or her experience. One of their boys took some lessons from me in English composition, but he went out as breezily as he came in, with God knows what on his mind.

I know the Sahabzada was well-versed in human psychology and had a profound interest in mysticism, from Zen to Talmudic to Theravadan, Christian and Islamic. Where he went from there I do not know and I never asked. Unknown are the ways of the spirit, even to the man lying awake in the dark.

On a more mundane level, I do not know whether the Sahabzada picked up the baby and allowed it to wet his three-piece suit from Saville Row. Once again, I do not know. What I do know is I never saw the Sahabzada even in a night gown, let alone anything more brief. Very different from my father, who could talk to a university professor or the janitor, clad in whatever he was in: a Sherwani or just a lungi (no ganji, no sandals). Like the Sahabzada, he kept no one waiting. But he was no Sahabzada.


Part IV: Epilogue

Contrary to common practice, I am not going to show this manuscript to the Sahabzada. He will read it after it has been published, as I hope he will. This will assure me and all who read it that this assessment is mine, not a doctored one nor a command performance. Whether I am right or wrong does not bother me, because I have been genuine, hopefully not dumb, hopefully also clear and forthright. I do not have to talk to the Sahabzada any more, I do not have to “interview” him as they say. I have talked to him often and long enough, from 1953 to 1998.

Talking to other people is another matter, for a clearer perception of one’s own perceptions. The procedure is valid so long as there is no preconceived purpose, no desire to arrive at modifications one way or the other except in stringent pursuit of the truth. This is more difficult than we usually think, particularly when the object of our enquiry is a man or a woman, not an event or an issue. Talking about Zia-ul-Haq or the Sahabzada is a more exacting exercise than talking about the Indian Ocean and national security. It is also more interesting.

Only yesterday I was out on just such an exercise, called to lunch by my sister-in-law. Also present were her daughter and an amiable gentleman by the name of Abbas. The younger woman was not too young, an observation to assure you that she was mature. She was also good looking, well groomed, intelligent, successful, a woman on the trot in Pakistan’s rough polo-ground. I add the good looking bit, because you know how it is with women who have been denied destiny’s first compliment to womanhood. I expected her, quite rightly, to be neither bitter nor sour, objective and candid in her comments on the topic foremost on my mind these days.

Before lunch Parveen took a back-seat and I squatted on the floor next to my sister-in-law to read aloud the anecdotes of my encounter with the Sahabzada. There were peals of laughter, squeals of delight (thank God for intelligent female company) and some exclamation of wonder and disbelief. I screeched to a halt when the anecdotes were over. I had no intention of going on to my own estimate of the man. It was time for lunch, time for the younger woman to talk, time for me to listen.

She said she was drawn to the Sahabzada by tales of his intellectual eminence and cultural splendour. She said she was disappointed. She found him, in a word, shallow. As I munched my rice, which was good, I did some elaboration within myself: pompous, windy, expansive, ornate, high pressure with nothing to compress. She cited examples from lectures she had attended, conferences she had attended, board meetings where the Sahabzada spoke from his place of eminence and even Mahboob-ul-Haq listened in respectful silence. The Sahabzada never stooped to conquer; and without any desire to be conquered, she found him intolerable. She said she had never met a man who could speak so eloquently for so long, and end up saying nothing. She quoted several phrases, several turns of speech and flocks of words in flight which I readily recognized as vintage Sahabzada. She recalled a meeting on the empowerment of women at which the Sahabzada devoted the longer part of his address to the philosophy of the quintessential woman, her psyche, her soma, her needs and her aspirations in a cruelly male-dominated society. Such deprivation, said the Sahabzada, was intolerable. The younger woman at lunch found him even more so.

So, I said to myself: a man much too preoccupied with himself, with no clue as to how to tame the shrew, making much ado about nothing, prolonging the agony for others. The woman at lunch was visibly distressed. He goes round and round, she complained, round and round without a centre to his circle. My mind strayed to the whirling dervishes of Konya and Jalaluddin Rumi’s beautiful poem quoted in part by A.J. Arberry in his ‘Sufism’ (George Allen and Unwin, London). I was jolted out of my reverie when the woman at lunch suddenly stopped: “I told you, he is shallow. Thank you very much. I have to go now for a conference at 3.30 P.M.” Woman on the trot, thank you for your comments.


So, what has gone wrong? Has my estimate of the Sahabzada been stupid or is the lady’s estimate altogether too harsh? Question not wrongly formulated, because it has led me to at least a tentative answer. The explanation may lie in the human condition of the observers, compounded by the condition of the object itself. I saw the Sahabzada when I was young and impressionable; what is more, when he was on the rise. The lady saw the Sahabzada when she herself was fully mature (over the edge from motherhood into grand-motherhood); what is more, she caught the Sahabzada on the decline. I have seen him also across a much wider range of activity. There is, of course, much more to a man than the manner of his speech. The lady’s observations are intense and acute, not wrong but limited. As for compassion, the lady may find it possible to forgive the Sahabzada say twenty years from now when she becomes, I pray, a great grandmother. It takes that long to understand why old men (and women) talk too much. The greater tragedy, as I see it, is when they become altogether silent, staring at the wall or rocking in their chair. I have never been a patient man myself, but now I tremble as I see it coming. We do not choose how long we live, God decides.

​- ​


No Comments

The Shows goes on. By Mahfooz ur Rahman


The Shows goes on.

“ As flies to wanton boys are to the gods

They kill us for sport .” Shakespeare’s “ King Lear  “

Mahfooz ur Rahman







Writing on Pakistan’s politics is beginning to be a tedious affair . It is a play that has no plot , no beginning and no end . No excitement from the drab and dreary humdrum of everyday life . Winning or losing , the same old , tired and worn out faces are to be seen adorning the newspapers or the TV Channels . Even the daily newspapers are pictures of the gloomy atmosphere .

Each political party is a fiefdom of its own where the fiat of big or petty  ‘monarch’  is abided by or else the defiant ones are crushed . There is no notion of shadow governments or shadow  cabinets . That is a play that is going on since Mr. Jinnah departed from the scene in 1948 . Talking about reforms is an illusion .    

Imagine a scene in which you are trying to sleep during the day and a bird flits and begins to sing . Whatever you  do to make it fly away turns out to be  futile . You are really mad at the innocent creature . The world is seeing the discomfiture of the present Government . It is standing static unable to drive the ghosts of Imran Khan and Taher ul Qadri . It has been reduce to a passive mode , a reaction mode . Meanwhile the two are making further inroads into the interior of the country , into the cities and into various communities or eg . farmers , workers none the less  equipped legally to which the Government has no answer except to hurl abuses at them .

“ Never trust the wisdom of a slave “ is an oft quoted advice perhaps by Hazrat Ali ( May Allah be pleased with him) . Here I reproduce an incident  about which I wrote in my article “ Buttering “  . In a meeting held in Islamabad , a participant referred to the department’s newly announced policy and also to the Battle of Badr ,which was fought on 17th Ramazan and in which the Muslims were victorious by the Grace of Allah . He said , addressing the boss ,that the Battle of Badr was fought on 17thRamazan and he( the boss)  announced the country’s policy on 17th Ramazan . All the participants were dumbfounded at his audacity .

Thus Pakistan has been caught at a vortex . Democracy  in its present shape has failed in Pakistan . It has never delivered however its supporters otherwise  claim . It suits the robber barons , the landed aristocracy, the major and small capitalists who  plunder  the exchequer and exploit the under privileged ones . There was a time when twenty two families used to hold sway in the country . The twenty two have swelled to much more .   

During my four months stay in an European city  forty years back, a man who had features like a Pakistani or an Indian , used to cross my path both mornings and evenings . One day , I stopped him to question about his nationality . His reply “ does it matter “ put me off . He repeated his observation and went on to say that when the purpose of making Pakistan could not be fulfilled , it did not matter whether I was  a Pakistani or an Indian .

A solid advantage has been achieved  by the fifty two day sit in  by  the duo of Imran Khan and Taher ul Qadri . Apart from being unique in the 67 years history of Pakistan and , perhaps the world over  , the rest of the major political parties were clean bowled , the batsmen could only gape in awe . Never in the history of this unfortunate land , they met their equals who badly exposed them  ,  disrobed them and shown the rest of the people what they actually were by using the facilities of telecasting their views  provided by an army general , Pervez  Musharraf . They robbed the common people of their Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution . You may not like Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri  . But it is difficult to disagree whatever they had to say because both Imran and Dr. Qadri were speaking of the basic  rights and the   Constitution . And it was last year when the latter held a five day sit in in Islamabad to emphasize the futility of participating in the elections unless all candidates were screened through Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution .      

The ‘independent’ Election Commission of Pakistan has lost its trust from the rigged elections between Field Marshal Ayub Khan , the President ,and Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah , the sister of the Founder of Pakistan and  onwards . Henceforth , it was viewed as another arm of the Government . The 18th Amendment to the Constitution did not remove the impression . On the contrary , the reconstituted Commission was viewed as a part of the Charter of Democracy signed by Mrs . Benazir Bhutto , the leader of the Peoples Party , and Mian Nawaz Sharif , the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League in London during the “ oppressive days  of the dictator , General Musharraf“ .

Where do we go now ?

Both the Government and the people are confused and lacking in direction . We are rotten to the core horizontally and vertically ie from the top to the bottom .  Army intervention is not a permanent solution as we have seen in the past .  It breeds many evils for eg. flight of capital . Even then some well meaning people are suggesting a government of the Technocrats under the army’s umbrella  to replace the current government  and cleanse the  entire society . This experiment has been tried by every military regime .  Ayub Khan screened out 72 bureaucrats , General Yahya Khan 303 and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto 1300 . Some of the screened out officers were not corrupt . To cleanse the society of ills , the Hadood Ordinance was introduced but  never used after General Zia , the President , died . 

There is talk of mid term polls in the country .   The present government is unwilling to resign and call for fresh elections . However , if it does , which Election Commission would be willing to undertake the task when the present one  failed to hold free and fair elections the task of that Statutory organization . In its “ Post Election Review Report on General Elections 2013 “ , the Commission admitted its failure .

Under the 18th Amendment , the leader of the House  i.e. the Prime Minister , and the leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly are supposed to choose of the Chairman of the Election Commission . But the experiment failed  in the previous elections and with both the leader of  the House and the leader of the opposition under clouds . Both Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri and their supporters  will no longer trust them .

 Pakistan is ripe for  constitutional ( Fundamental Rights and Articles 62 and 63 ) and social reforms without which any elections will be meaningless .

In the end I will reproduce the views of Mr . Mumtaz Piracha of the Good Governance Forum  

“ Contrary to general perception, I believe the long march and the dharna by PTI, in particular, highlighted bad governance in Pakistan. Look at the foreign media and you will find that there is only passing reference to rigging allegations and the allegation on military to have backed Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri but there is tremendous focus on the way Nawaz Sharif governs, the Sharifs’ dynastic politics and the PMLN’s performance since last elections. The domestic media have been more focused on rigging allegations but bad governance also remained in focus “.

 Mahfooz ur Rahman


October 5, 2014


, ,

No Comments

Lawrence of Arabia, Pakistan and Croatia: The Historical Nedous Connection By Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah: Some Memories of My Grandmother

By Dr. Nyla Ali Khan,

Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah

Akbar Jehan’s father’s family, the Nedous’, had emigrated from Dubrovnik, Croatian city on the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic Sea, to Lahore in the 1800s. Croatia is currently an independent country. From 1815 to 1918, it was part of the Austrian Empire, and from 1918 to 1991, it was part of Yugoslavia. Serendipitously, I found the naturalization certificate of Michael Adam Nedou, Akbar Jehan’s paternal grandfather, in the depleted family archive. According to the certificate, signed by C. U. Aitchinson, Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab and its Dependencies, on February 28, 1887, he conferred upon hotelier, Michael Adam Nedou, the rights and privileges of naturalization. In the “Memorial” presented to C. U. Aitchinson, Michael Adam Nedou explained that he was born in Ragusa, Austria (Ragusa is the Italian and Latin name for Dubrovnik on the Dalmatian Coast); he was of Slovak nationality, and had been in British India for the past twenty-five years. At the time of the presentation of the “Memorial” Michael Adam Nedou was fifty years old, settled in Lahore, and sought to be granted the rights and privileges of a British subject of Queen Victoria, “of Great Britain and Ireland, and Empress of India, within her Majesty’s said Indian Territories,” in compliance with Act XXX of 1852 (“Certificate of Naturalization”).

He had sailed to India from Ragusa in 1862, where, after a period of adversity and hard knocks in which his will and perseverance had been tested, he had accomplished much. He had crossed the roiling waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean and borne the stormy turbulence of an immigrant’s precarious existence to land on the shores of Bombay, now Mumbai, India. The lithe, imaginative, and vivacious young woman who later became his wife, Jessie Maria, made his acquaintance while visiting her brother, George, who was a Sea Captain in the British Royal Navy. That acquaintance, rather enchantingly, metamorphosed into love, and the wedding was solemnized soon after their first meeting. Their older son, Michael Henry [Harry] Nedou, Akbar Jehan’s father, according to his birth and baptism certificate, was born in Pune, British India, in 1877. Michael Henry [Harry] Nedou was one of nine children. He was born to Jessie and Michael Adam Nedou after six daughters, an event that was celebrated with much gusto. The birth of the second son, William Arthur Nedou, in 1879, was soon followed by that of the third son and youngest child, Walter Douglas Nedou (E-mail from Cynthia Schmidt to author, 20 January 2013).

According to family sources, Akbar Jehan’s paternal grandfather, Michael Adam Nedou started out as a photographer and architect, but destiny had willed otherwise, and the decisions that he took shaped that destiny as though with the finesse of a ca

Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah

Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah

lligrapher’s brush. His first venture in hoteliering was the acquisition of the Sind Punjab Hotel in the port city of Karachi. He built the imposing and courtly Nedous’ Hotel in Lahore, characterized by charm and grace, in the 1870s. He and the rest of his family later built the Nedous’ Hotel in Gulmarg, Kashmir, in 1888. The hotel in Gulmarg is built on an elevation, overlooking the once luxuriantly lush meadow, with its cornucopia of fragrant, beauteous, and flourishing flowers. The riot of colors in Gulmarg in the summer has always had the power to revive my spirits! The cozy cottages around the main lounge, furnished with chintz drapes, chintz covered armchairs, soothing pastel counterpanes on the canopy beds, and hewn logs around the fire places would warm the cockles of any anglophile’s heart. Despite the concretization in Gulmarg, the Nedous’ Hotel has always retained an old world charm, maintaining, against all odds, its heritage character. Akbar Jehan’s sister-in-law, Salima Nedou, observes in her unpublished manuscript that “Michael Nedou was the pioneer of the hotel industry in India and he laid the first stone in the splendid structure of the country’s hotels. His name is woven forever in the tapestry of our tourism” (16). The then grandiose Nedous hotel in Srinagar, which was opened in 1900, boasted a confectionary that, for a long time, had no parallel. The thought of the delectable jams and jellies that we got from the Nedous’ bakery in my childhood makes me drool. Until the decade of the eighties, the Nedous hotel in Srinagar epitomized a rare and appealing excellence, and a flawless execution, which, over the years, deteriorated. It is now, sadly, in a dilapidated state.

In Akbar Jehan’s father’s lifetime, the Nedous’ hotels in Lahore, Gulmarg, and Srinagar retained their reputations as classy, plush, and magnificent havens in colonial India. Akbar Jehan’s father, the stoic looking, stocky, and thick-set, though not short, Michael Henry [Harry] Nedou took over the management of the restful hotel in Gulmarg, exquisitely and intimately described by M. M. Kaye in her whodunit novel, Death in Kashmir, from his father. Several people have testified to his proverbial philanthropy, beneficence, and kindness. Mother tells me that his advocacy of the nationalist movement in Kashmir, the stirrings of which began in the 1930s, encouraged Akbar Jehan to relinquish a life of affluence and repose to marry the rebel from Soura, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Michael Henry [Harry] Nedou “spent his time helping the poor, built houses for them, and saved people wrongly convicted from jail and twice from the gallows” (Nedou 59). Although a charming hotelier, his altruism and charitableness had given him a larger purpose in life, which earned him the admiration and appreciativeness of not just the “highest names in the land [Lahore], but also those whose sufferings he had soothed and who remembered his kindness and charity” (Ibid).

Akbar Jehan’s mother, Mir Jan, respectfully called Rani jee by family, friends, and acquaintances was an indomitable Gujjar woman, who has an imperturbable expression in all the pictures I have seen of her. Rani jee’s family traced its lineage to the martial, patrilineal, and rigidly traditional Rajputs of Rajasthan. The impression that I get from her pictures is that she must have been a phlegmatic woman, secure in the knowledge that she was propertied and wealthy, not requiring anyone’s good offices to lead a comfortable life. Her sturdy, reticent, and stouthearted siblings, Niyaz Bi, Subi Bi, Sardar Bi, Lali Ma, and Ferozdeen were just as formidable looking as Rani jee. All of them were the proud owners of sprawling acres of magnificent land in Gulmarg, a resort which found a prominent place on the international map in that late 1800s and early 1900s through the endeavors of Michael Adam and Jessie Maria Nedou.

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah writes of Rani jee in his autobiography that she was a virtuous, religion, and “good natured lady.” He credits her with having infused the value of religious teachings and traditions in Akbar Jehan (Fire of the Chinar 138). From all accounts, Rani jee was a termagant who knew how to keep the wheels of her household running smoothly without ruffling feathers. Although her husband’s sisters looked down their noses at her, she had clearly made a success of her interracial and intercultural marriage, a union which can be difficult to navigate even in today’s global and cosmopolitan age. Her material prosperity was greatly enhanced by her status as the mother of four strapping sons, Omar Nedou, George Nedou aka Mohammad Akram, Colonel Harry Nedou aka Ghulam Qadir, and Captain Benji Nedou aka Shamsuddin. Her only daughter, Akbar Jehan, was not a particularly tall woman, but she had a regal demeanor, resembling a statue in dignity, grace, and proportion.

Akbar Jehan’s spiritual mentor was a well-educated divine, Mohi-ud-Din, who had given precedence to a life of asceticism over a worldly one. A very erudite person, Maulvi Mohi-ud-Din had a masters in Arabic, English, and Philosophy from Punjab university, Lahore. While he was a student in Lahore, he was drawn to the tenets of the Naqshbandi Sufi order and, in following the precepts of that order, swore allegiance to Maulana Shah Saheb of Lahore. Originally from Amritsar, Maulvi Mohi-ud-Din had chosen to pursue a life of austerity in Nihalpur village, Pattan, which is in North Kashmir. Pattan abounds in orchards and, till date, boasts several monuments of historical significance.

Legend has it that despondency having afflicted Akbar Jehan’s parents, Rani jee and Michael Henry [Harry] Nedou aka Sheikh Ahmed Hussain, because, for several years after they were married, their house remained bereft of the patter of tiny feet and the heavenly mirth of children, they looked for scientific as well as spiritual remedies. After having been told about the religious convictions and spiritual prowess of Maulvi Mohi-ud-Din, they undertook a journey to Pattan in quest of peace and happiness. In their despondency, Rani jee’s and Sheikh Ahmed Hussain’s meeting with the Maulvi was nothing short of a miracle. Looking upon them with benevolence, the Maulvi beseeched them not to despair and to invoke God’s mercy through prayers and gratitude, because they would be blessed with bonny boys and a cherubic girl who would embody high ideals and piety. He told them to name the girl “Akbar Jehan.” That girl, Maulvi Mohi-ud-Din prophesied, would be his spiritual child (Conversation with Parvez Ahmed Khan, Nephew of Maulvi Mohi-ud-Din, dated 3 March 2013).

In fulfillment of the prediction, the only daughter of Rani jee and Michael Henry Nedou [Harry] aka Sheikh Ahmed Hussain, Akbar Jehan, could not just recite the Quran with devotion and piety, but could also expound on the exegetical thoughts that the Hadith (Prophet’s Mohammad’s sayings and religious practices), Sharia (moral code and religious law of Islam),and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) generated. Mother tells me that Maulvi Mohi-ud-Din, whom Akbar Jehan greatly revered, influenced her decision to marry the Sheikh, which, metaphorically, entailed swimming against the tide. I remember that whenever she encountered an ostensibly unyielding encumbrance, she would pay obeisance at her mentor’s tomb in Pattan and, viscerally, submit to God’s will. Every time I am wracked by doubt, I sincerely wish I could imbibe her faith, which some might think proceeded more from instinct than intellect.

Magnificent hotel, the Nedous, built at the turn of the last century by Harry Nedous, an Austro-Swiss hotelier. The Nedous family had arrived in India at the turn of the last century and invested their savings in this hotel ˆ later there were hotels in Srinagar and Poona. Harry Nedous was the businessman; his brothers, Willy and Wally did not participate much in the enterprise; his sister, Enid, took charge of the catering and her pâtisserie at the hotel was considered ‘as good as anything in Europe’. Photographs:- The Nedous, Lahore,  in 1908 – The Park Luxury( Avari Today)  as it later became. If the cars and the WAPDA House in the background are a period benchmark, this photograph was taken during mid to end 1960’s; Tariq Ali in his book Bitter Chill of Winter makes a startling revelation to add to the Nedous’ history: Col T.E. Lawrence, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ was not the lifelong bachelor he has been made out as. He went through a brief marriage in  Lahore. This was revealed to Tariq Ali by a senior civil servant from Kashmir who

 ​ ​

had been told by Benji Nedous, the

​ ​

brother of the bride. Ali said, ”While Lawrence was stationed in India he used to go to the city of Lahore like many other officers, to relax. It was known as the Paris of the East and the Nedous family had a hotel there that was popular with

 ​ ​

soldiers wanting to rest and drink and so on, and that is where he met her.’ ‘Akbar Jehan was the daughter of Harry Nedous, and Mir Jan, a Kashmiri milkmaid. Harry Nedous first caught sight of Mir Jan when she came to deliver the milk at his holiday lodge in Gulmarg. He was immediately smitten, but she was suspicious. ‘I might be poor,’ she told him later that week, ‘but I am not for sale.’ Harry pleaded that he was serious, that he loved her, that he wanted to marry her. ‘In that case,’ she retorted wrathfully, ‘you must convert to Islam. I cannot marry an unbeliever.’ To her amazement, he did so, and in time they had 12 children (only five of whom survived). Brought up as a devout Muslim, their daughter Akbar Jehan was a boarder at the Convent of

 ​ ​

Jesus and Mary in the hill resort of Murree. Non-Christian parents often packed their daughters off to these convents because the education was quite good and the regime strict. In 1928, when a 17-year-old Akbar Jehan had left school and was back in Lahore, a senior figure in British Military Intelligence checked in to the Nedous Hotel on the Upper Mall. Colonel T.E. Lawrence, complete with Valentino-style headgear, had just spent a gruelling few weeks in Afghanistan destabilising the radical,modernising and anti-British regime of King Amanullah. Disguised as ‘Karam Shah’, a visiting Arab cleric, he had organised a black propaganda campaign designed to stoke the religious fervour of the more reactionary tribes and thus provoke a civil war. His mission accomplished, he left for Lahore. Akbar Jehan must have met him at her father’s hotel. A flirtation began and got out of control. Her father insisted that they get married immediately;which they did. Three months later, in January 1929, Amanullah was toppled and replaced by a pro-British ruler. On 12 January, Kipling’s old newspaper in Lahore, the imperialist Civil and Military Gazette, published comparative profiles of Lawrence and ‘Karam Shah’ to reinforce the impression that they were two different people. Several weeks later, the Calcutta newspaper Liberty reported that ‘Karam Shah’ was indeed the ‘British spy Lawrence’

 ​ ​

and gave a detailed account of his activities in Waziristan on the Afghan frontier. Lawrence was becoming a liability and the authorities told him to return to Britain. ‘Karam Shah’ was never seen again.

 ​ ​

Nedous insisted on a divorce for his daughter and again Lawrence obliged. Four years later, Sheikh Abdullah and Akbar Jehan were married in Srinagar. The fact of her previous marriage and divorce was never a secret: only the real name of her first husband was hidden.

She now threw herself into the struggle for a new Kashmir. She raised money to build schools for poor children and encouraged adult education in a state where the bulk of the population was illiterate. She also, crucially, gave support

 ​ ​

and advice to her husband, alerting him, for example, to the dangers of succumbing to Nehru’s charm and thus compromising his own standing in Kashmir.


, , , , ,

No Comments

Tale of Musharraf’s Coup in 1999

Tale of Musharraf’s Coup in 1999

Courtesy: Pak Tea House

March 24th, 2013 |


Parvez Musharraf, ex-Dictator, landed in Karachi today, amid much fanfare(and while wearing a suicide jacket). He was ousted democratically on 18th August, 2008 and left the country. Pakistan has successfully completed transition from an elected government to a caretaker setup without direct intervention of the Military for the first time in its history. This does not mean we forget the history of military interventions and the disastrous consequences. To commemorate the arrival of Musharraf, we are posting account of his coup in 1999, in the spirit of the great Urdu Poet, Momin.

(Hamain Sab hai yaad zara zaraa, tumhen yaad ho kay na yaad ho)

This is an excerpt from Owen Bennet-Jones’ excellent book “Pakistan: Eye of the Storm”

On the morning of 12 October 1999, Nawaz Sharif finally made up his mind. His army chief would have to go. Like many Pakistani leaders before him, Sharif had surrounded himself with a tightly woven cocoon of sycophants. Family relatives and business cronies filled the key posts of his administration. The chief of army staff, General Pervez Musharraf, did not fit in.
Sharif had appointed Musharraf in October 1998 and quickly came to regret the decision. He regarded his army chief with distaste. The origin of the antagonism, which was mutual, lay in the snow-clad, Himalayan peaks of Kashmir. In the spring of 1999 Musharraf gave the final order for Pakistani troops to cross the line of control that separates the Indian and Pakistani armies in Kashmir. The soldiers, posing as divinely-inspired Islamic militants, clambered up the snowy passes that led to one of Kashmir’s most strategic locations: the dusty, run-down town of Kargil. Having caught the Indians off guard, the Pakistani troops made significant territorial gains. Tactically, the operation was a success. Politically, it was a disaster. As India cried foul, Sharif found himself in the midst of a major international crisis. And while General Musharraf had sent the troops in, Prime Minister Sharif was left with the unenviable task of getting them out. For three decades the Pakistani people had absorbed a steady flow of vitriolic propaganda about the Kashmir issue: Sharif ’s decision to withdraw seemed incomprehensible and humiliating. As the man who had defied world opinion and tested Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, Sharif had been acclaimed as a national hero.

As the man who pulled out from Kargil, he was denounced as a supine coward. Sharif ’s sense of resentment was acute. General Musharraf, he complained, had marched his men to the top of the hill without considering how he would get them down again.

The generals, though, were also unhappy. By deciding to pull out of Kargil without negotiating any Indian concessions in return, they argued, Sharif had squandered a militarily advantageous position and caused a crisis of confidence within the Pakistan army. After the Kargil withdrawal Musharraf faced a surge of discontent within the army. As he toured a series of garrisons he repeatedly faced the same question: ‘If Kargil was a victory then why did we pull back?’ Musharraf told his men that it was the prime minister’s fault and that the army had had no choice but to obey his order. It was a disingenuous response. Musharraf had been fully consulted on the withdrawal order and had raised no serious objection to it.

Sharif was never in any doubt that removing Musharraf would be a high-risk exercise. In 1993 Sharif ’s first government had been forced out of office in part because the military high command lost confidence in him. He was determined to avoid a repeat performance. Indeed, from the moment he took over as prime minister again in 1997, Sharif had devoted himself to making his political position impregnable.

On 8 and 9 September 1999 Sharif and Musharraf travelled together to the Northern Areas. They were to preside over a ceremony to reward the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) for its role in the Kargil campaign. Previously a paramilitary force answerable to the Ministry of Interior, the NLI was to be inducted into the regular army. The trip got off to a bad start when Sharif noticed the absence of the commander of the 10th corps, Lt. General Mehmood Ahmed. In the previous few weeks Sharif and Musharraf had undertaken two other trips to the Northern Areas and on both occasions Mehmood had been present. On this third occasion his absence was especially striking as the Northern Light Infantry was to be transferred to his command. Sharif knew that Mehmood would be a key figure in any coup against his government. Clearly, he should have attended the induction ceremony. As far as Sharif was concerned, there was only one explanation for Mehmood not being present: Musharraf was afraid he might be arrested by Sharif and wanted Mehmood away from the scene so that he could organise a response if the need arose.

On the evening of 8 September Sharif revealed his anxiety. General Musharraf was in the lobby of the Hotel Shangri-La outside Skardu showing off a new Italian laser-guided pistol to the information minister, Mushahid Hussain. As Musharraf was explaining how the pistol could never miss its target, the prime minister walked into the lobby. Aware of his fondness for high tech gadgets, Mushahid Hussain called Sharif over. ‘Have you seen this new pistol?’ he asked Sharif. ‘It’s remarkable.’ Uncharacteristically, Sharif did not ask how the pistol worked, but he did put one question to the army chief. ‘General’, he asked, ‘who are you aiming it at?’

As he considered the possibility of mounting a coup, Musharraf realised he would not be able to move without the support of all his corps commanders. He called them together in mid-September and raised the question of Sharif ’s competence. Although there was wide agreement that Sharif was not performing well, the generals decided that the army could not move without clear justification. But if Sharif tried to sack Musharraf, the corps commanders agreed, then they would act: to lose two army chiefs in the space of a year would be unacceptable. With this qualified backing Musharraf went back to Sharif and said he wanted to be given the full chairmanship of the joint chiefs of staff (at the time he was only acting chairman) and, to demonstrate his seriousness, he put the 111 Brigade on standby. It was an unmistakeable signal. 111 Brigade had been used for carrying out every previous coup in Pakistan. Three hundred troops, with a squadron of tanks, were posted at the army’s GHQ in Rawalpindi, just 10 miles from Islamabad. The troops were outside the normal chain of command and answerable only to General Musharraf himself.

Sharif ’s fears were confirmed by one of his few allies in the army leadership, the corps commander from the Baloch capital Quetta, General Tariq Pervez. The two men knew each other well: the general’s cousin, Raja Nadir Pervez, was Sharif ’s communications minister. A few days after the corps commander’s meeting, General Tariq Pervez warned Sharif that if he moved against Musharraf, the army would strike. Thoroughly unnerved, Sharif sought the help of his most trusted political ally, Senator Saif ur Rehman. The energetic senator had organised the triumphant corruption investigation into Benazir Bhutto and had blackmailed and bullied countless other government opponents. He now concentrated his efforts on Musharraf, putting a tap on his phones and monitoring his movements.

Sharif was furious that his few allies in the military were being sacked and demoted. It was now just a question of timing. The prime minister knew that Musharraf was due to be out of Pakistan in October to attend the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of Sri Lanka’s army. The army chief was due to return on 12 October; since he would be airborne for four hours, Sharif calculated, the army would be caught off-balance and left unsure how to react to his sacking. By the time Musharraf touched down, his removal would be a fait accompli and a new army chief would have taken his place. Sharif was relying on the element of surprise and felt constrained by his fear that he was being bugged. On 10 October he arranged a flight to Abu Dhabi ostensibly for a meeting with Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Nahyan. He took a very limited group consisting of his son Hussain Nawaz, his speechwriter Nazir Naji and the man he wanted to succeed Musharraf, the ISI chief General Ziauddin. Confident that any conversation on the plane could not be overheard, Sharif spent the entire flight talking to Ziauddin: the final plot was being hatched.

On the fateful day, Sharif knew he had to give the appearance of conducting business as usual. At 10.00 a.m. on 12 October he left Islamabad to make a routine political speech in the town of Shujaabad, near Multan. Before leaving, Sharif gave instructions that he wanted his defence secretary, Lt. General (Retd.) Iftikhar Ali Khan, to meet him on his return. He also scheduled an appointment with President Rafiq Tarar for that afternoon, giving instructions that the meeting should not be reflected in his official programme for the day. The prime minister again took a small group with him: Hussain Nawaz, Nazir Naji and the chairman of Pakistan Television (PTV), Pervez Rashid. When the plane landed in Multan, Sharif told Nazir Naji that he should remain on board for a discussion with his son and Pervez Rashid. All the crew, Sharif said, had been told to leave the plane and they could talk in confidence. Once the aircraft door was closed the three men sat down and Pervez Rashid asked Nazir Naji for his mobile phone. Sharif, he explained, could not afford any of the information he was about to divulge to be leaked. Naji was then shown a speech written in Hussain Sharif ’s handwriting that his father planned to give on television that evening. Although the punch line – the dismissal of Musharraf – was not included in the draft, it was clear that the speech would announce that decision. Naji then worked on the draft, translating it into Urdu.
Two hours later the prime minister’s plane was heading back towards Islamabad and when he touched down at the military airbase at Chaklala his defence secretary, as arranged, was there to meet him. As the two men were driven to the prime minister’s residence, Sharif declared his hand. The sacking of Lt. General Tariq Pervez, he said, ‘has started creating the impression that there is a gap between the government and the army which is not good for the security of Pakistan . . . I have decided to appoint a new army chief.’ The defence secretary was shocked: he could guess the army’s likely reaction. He suggested that the prime minister might want to discuss the issue with Musharraf but Sharif was adamant. ‘The time for this discussion’, he said, ‘is over.’
As the prime minister’s car drew up outside his official residence in Islamabad his principal secretary Saeed Mehdi was, as ever, on hand to greet him. Mehdi was already aware of the prime minister’s plans and Sharif now told him to prepare the official papers for the handover of military power. As he walked into his office, the prime minister confirmed that the new army chief was to be none other than the man he had wanted to appoint twelve months before, Lt. General Ziauddin.

As Sharif ’s officials got to work, General Musharraf had already completed his official programme in Sri Lanka and was preparing to board flight PK 805 which would take him back to Karachi, along with 197 other passengers and crew, including the pilot, Captain Sarwat Hussain. Because the army chief was on board there were extra security checks and the plane took off forty minutes late at 4.00 p.m. At the very moment Musharraf ’s plane was climbing into the sky, the man who confidently expected to replace him was reaching the prime minister’s residence. By the time Sharif went to see him at 4.20 p.m., Saeed Mehdi had completed drafting the official notification. It stated that:
“It has been decided to retire General Pervez Musharraf, Acting Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army Staff with immediate effect. Lt. Gen. Ziauddin has been appointed as the Chief of Army Staff with immediate effect and promoted to the rank of General. Before orders to this effect are issued, President may kindly see”.

By 4.30 p.m. Sharif had signed the document. The deed was done.

He told Ziauddin to assume his command and went to the president’s residence to show him the notification. Perhaps aware that the army might not accept the change, and that Sharif ’s days might be numbered, Tarar displayed some of the political cunning that had enabled him to achieve high office. Rather than writing the word ‘approved’ on the notification, he employed the more neutral term ‘seen’ and signed it. With the formalities completed Sharif told Pakistan Television (PTV) to broadcast the news of Musharraf ’s sacking. It did so on the 5.00 p.m. bulletin. PTV was also told to take pictures of Ziauddin receiving his badges of rank.

Ziauddin was now the de jure army chief, but he knew that to become the de facto leader as well he would have to move fast. Rather than waste time by driving back to the ISI headquarters, he stayed in the prime minister’s residence and started making phone calls from there. He thought two men, the chief of general staff Lt. General Aziz Khan and the commander of the 10th corps Lt. General Mehmood Ahmed, were likely to offer him the stiffest resistance. Both were Musharraf loyalists who, within army circles, had been outspoken in their criticism of Sharif. Ziauddin decided to remove both of them. He called an old engineering corps friend, the quarter-master general Lt. General Akram, and offered him the job of chief of the general staff. Excited by his promotion, Akram said he would come straight round to the prime minister’s house. Ziauddin then called the man who had recently been removed by Musharraf, General Saleem Hyder. Hyder was playing golf and was not immediately available. Eventually the two men spoke and Hyder was offered General Mehmood’s job: 10th corps commander.

Having sorted out the two key posts, Ziauddin called round other corps commanders. Most were non-committal. They were in an awkward position: they did not want to repudiate the new army chief but were also aware that Musharraf loyalists might resist him.

While Ziauddin was trying to shore up his new position, the two men best placed to stop him, Lt. Generals Aziz and Mehmood, were playing not golf but tennis. They realised that there was a problem when both their mobile phones started ringing on the side of the court. The man who called them was the Peshawar-based Lt. General Syed uz Zafar. As the longest-standing corps commander, he was serving as the acting chief of army staff in Musharraf ’s absence. Consequently, Ziauddin had called him to tell him about his own elevation and Musharraf ’s sacking. But rather than simply accept Ziauddin’s statement as a fait accompli General Syed uz Zafar called Aziz and Mehmood in Rawalpindi. The second they were told what was happening Aziz and Mehmood held a brief conversation and decided to act. As one eyewitness put it, ‘I have never seen two senior officers move so fast.’ They sped to GHQ and, as they changed out of their sports kit, considered their options. One thing, they decided, was beyond doubt: they could not permit a change of army chief while Musharraf was out of the country. The first priority, then, was to get the news off PTV. The two generals dispatched Major Nisar of the Punjab Regiment, together with fifteen armed men, to the PTV building in Islamabad. He was ordered to block any further announcement about Musharraf ’s sacking. As the major set off, Aziz called a meeting of all available corps commanders and other senior officers at army headquarters in Rawalpindi. Some already knew what was up: they had received the telephone calls from Ziauddin. And with Mehmood and Aziz determined to resist Ziauddin’s appointment, the corps commanders decided to implement the decision they had taken in principle in September: Sharif had to go. Within minutes, the infamous 111 Brigade was ordered to do its job.

Unaware of the growing crisis, PTV continued to put out the news of Ziauddin’s appointment. The station’s managers first became aware of a problem when Major Nisar and his men rushed past the guards on the gate and stormed into the control room. The major ordered the PTV staff to block the news of Musharraf ’s dismissal. ‘Take it off ! Take it off !’ he yelled. Faced with fifteen armed men and a screaming major, the staff complied. At 6.00 p.m. Nawaz Sharif was sitting in the TV lounge of his official residence waiting for the news bulletin. But when it came on, he was dismayed that there was no mention of Musharraf ’s sacking. He told his military secretary, Brigadier Javed Iqbal, to go straight to the TV headquarters and find out what was going on. Sharif was now convinced that he had to prevent General Musharraf ’s plane from landing. Ziauddin agreed. He advised Sharif that if Musharraf were kept out of the country the army would have to accept his removal.
The prime minister picked up the phone and made a desperate attempt to save his administration. First he spoke to Aminullah Choudhry, the Karachi-based director general of the Civil Aviation Authority. A classic civil servant, Choudhry could be relied upon to execute the prime minister’s orders without hesitation. Sharif told Choudhry that flight PK 805 should not be allowed to land in Pakistan. Choudhry immediately called the air traffic control tower at Karachi: ‘Which international flights do you have coming in at this time? Is there any coming in from Colombo?’ he asked.  Having learnt that PK 805 was due to land within an hour, he ordered the closure of Karachi airport. Minutes later, the runway lights were switched off and three fire engines were parked on the landing strip – one at each end and a third in the middle. Choudhry also ordered the closure of PK 805’s alternate destination, a small rural airport in Nawabshah, 200 miles east of Karachi.

Back in Islamabad, Sharif ’s military secretary, Brigadier Javed Iqbal, an excitable man at the best of times, was manically preparing for his mission to the TV station. As he left the prime minister’s residence, he noticed a group of men from the Punjabi Elite Police at the gate. They were Shahbaz Sharif ’s personal bodyguards. He took the men with him and made the short journey to PTV headquarters. He arrived at 6.15 p.m. and went straight to the control room where he found Major Nisar with his fifteen men. ‘Disarm yourself immediately!’ the brigadier yelled.12 Major Nisar refused. The brigadier then drew a pistol and pointed it at Nisar’s chest. The Punjabi Elite Police and the Punjabi Regiment were moments away from a shoot-out. Nisar blinked first. He handed his gun to the brigadier and told his men to lay down their weapons. Within minutes the major and his men were locked in a room with an armed guard at the door. The jubilant military secretary ordered the Elite Police to shoot anyone who offered resistance and headed back to report his success to the prime minster. (Later, Brigadier Iqbal was to rue his actions. On 13 October he was arrested and charged with drawing a pistol on a fellow officer.)

With the TV station back under civilian control, the news about Musharraf ’s retirement was rebroadcast at the end of the 6.00 p.m. bulletin. Encouraged by this turn of events, Sharif renewed his efforts to keep Musharraf out of the country. He called a long-time political ally, the chairman of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Shahid Abbasi, and repeated his order that PK 805 should not land in Pakistan but be sent to Muscat or anywhere else in the Middle East. He did not give a reason but, having just seen the news bulletin, Abbasi wasn’t in much doubt about the prime minister’s motivation.

Both Choudhry and Abbasi, though, soon realised that a disaster was in the making. Officials at PIA’s operations department told Abbasi that the plane was 50 miles away from Karachi and lacked sufficient fuel to reach the Middle East. Choudhry’s staff at the Civil Aviation Authority had already reached the same conclusion. The plane would have to land in Pakistan. Aminullah Choudhry called the prime minster and told him.But, Choudhry subsequently claimed, Sharif was adamant: the plane must not land in Pakistan. Back at PTV headquarters, Major Nisar and his men were still being held under armed guard. When army officers at GHQ saw the news of Musharraf ’s sacking being replayed at the end of the 6.00 p.m. news bulletin, they realised something had gone wrong. A second army unit was despatched to PTV. At 6.45 p.m. another major, this time with five armed soldiers, asked the guards at the gate if they could enter the building. With the Punjabi Elite Police breathing down their necks, the guards refused to let the major through. Half an hour later, the major returned with a truckload of troops. Again he was refused entry, but this  time he would not be denied. With a flick of his wrist the major ordered his men to clamber over the PTV gate. Journalists who had gathered at PTV filmed the pictures that within hours were leading news bulletins all over the world. The Elite Police, realising they were outnumbered and outgunned, offered no resistance; some even put their weapons on the ground and sat on them. By 7.15 p.m. PTV was off-air. By then the coup was well underway. The first soldiers to reach the prime minister’s residence had arrived at around 6.30 p.m. Having secured the gatehouse, a major took fifteen men over the extensive lawns an and headed for the building’s main entrance. As the porch came into view, the major saw General Ziauddin on the steps with six plain clothes ISI officers. The major ordered the ISI men to lay down their weapons. They refused and General Ziauddin tried to persuade the major to back down. The major started trembling. He was, after all, disobeying an order from the duly appointed army chief. Beads of sweat poured down his forehead. ‘Sir’, he threatened Ziauddin, ‘it would take me just one second.’ Ziauddin, recognising that resistance was futile, told his men to lay down their weapons.

Once inside the prime minster’s residence, the soldiers soon found all the key figures of Sharif ’s administration. The prime minister, realising that he was about to be ousted, had gone to his private quarters to shred some documents. That done, he gathered with his brother Shahbaz and his son Hussain Nawaz to await their fate. General Ziauddin, his new chief of staff Lt. General Akram and other Sharif allies were also there. Having heard about Musharraf ’s sacking, Sharif ’s trusted ally Saif ur Rehman had gone to the residence. So had his brother, Mujib ur Rehman, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, who had turned up with his young son to congratulate Sharif on getting rid of Musharraf. With the residence secured, Lt. General Mehmood himself arrived and confronted Nawaz. ‘I was praying and hoping’, the general said, ‘that it wouldn’t come to this.’



, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Brig.(Retd) Asif Haroon Raja: Hindus disclaim Muslims contributions in India

Hindus disclaim Muslims contributions in India

Asif Haroon Raja

Hindu Brahmans suffer from perpetual inferiority complex owing to historical reality that the Hindus had been ruled by Muslim rulers for nearly 1000 years. Historically, India in its entire history was never a single nation, nor a united country. Hindus forget that whosoever invaded India captured it and ruled it for centuries. No invading force was ever defeated. Hindus ignore the fact that the Muslim rulers had made India strong and prosperous and had brought remarkable improvements. Hindus were treated affably and their religious customs and traditions respected.


Ahmad Shah Durrani
Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, also known as Ahmad Khān Abdālī, was the founder of the Durrani Empire and is regarded to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan

Muslims were the last to arrive starting with capture of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 AD. His conquest laid the first brick of Hindu-Muslim antagonism which thickened over a period of time. With the decline of Arab power in Sindh, the sword of Islam passed into the hands of Turks from Central Asia. Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi after consolidating his hold in Afghanistan led his troops into northern India in 1000 AD. During his 30-year reign, he stormed India 17 times, toppling kingdoms after kingdoms. He detached Punjab up to River Ravi from India and made it integral to his Ghaznawid Empire.

Sultan Shehab-al Din Ghauri reinvigorated the downhill course of Ghaznawid Empire from 1173 onwards. He annexed Delhi, Ajmer and Kanauj in 1192 and practically captured all of northern India from Ravi to Assam with his capital at Delhi. Qutbuddin Aybek ascended the throne in 1206 and heralded the era of Sultanate of Delhi. Iltutmish (1211-36) contributed significantly to the advancement of Islamic architecture initiated by Qutbuddin.  He pushed back the invasion of Mongols led by Changez Khan in 1221. Ghiasuddin Balban (1267-1287) brought significant improvements in the field of administration and political machinery. He introduced intelligence network to keep himself informed, established Qazi courts to dispense cheap and speedy justice, and also kept the Mongols at bay.

Among the Khilji dynasty, Allaudin Khilji (1296-1315) proved to be most successful and historians rate him as the best Sultan of India. His rule was the first period in point of time when Muslims hold encompassed nearly the whole of India. Khiljis influenced the lifestyle of Indian people. Tughluqs, Sayyids and Lodhis didn’t make any significant improvements. Rather Tughluqs caused damage to the fabric of Indian unity and tempted Taimur to invade India in 1393 and devastate it. Zaheer-uddin Babur (1526-1530) raised the flag of Mughals in India in 1526 after defeating Ibrahim Lodhi at Panipat. He consolidated his rule in India in just two years and his kingdom stretched from Kabul to Bengal and from Himalaya to Gwalior. Humayun (1530-1540 and 1555-56) died just after six months of his return from exile in 1555.  

Sher Shah Suri during his five-year eventful rule spread network of roads throughout India including the famed Grand Trunk Road. He introduced revenue system, abolished Jagirdari system and did a lot for welfare of peasantry. He extended benefits to Hindu elites. Very few people could do so much in so little time.

Emperor Akbar during his fifty years rule (1556-1605) gave preferential treatment to the Hindus in order to create unity out of diversity. He befriended Rajputs who helped him in consolidating his power. He elevated Rajputs and Brahmans to high posts, married Rajput princesses and adopted Hindu customs. To appease Hindus, he abolished Jizya, cow and buffalo slaughter and doled out lavish grants for temples.  These measures helped in fostering common patriotic fervor and promoted stability. His effort to blend Islam with Hinduism through his experiment of Deen-e-Illahi so as to achieve national unity and to please high caste Hindus was ill-conceived. His brainwave dampened his tremendous gains, but the Hindus adore him to this date.

Jahangir (1605-1627) was a scholar of repute and known for his just dealings. He however, failed to nip the controversy of his father’s Deen-e-Illahi in the bud. He also followed the policy of his father to keep high caste Hindus pleased. Hindu power continued to grow in power. Shah Jehan (1628-1657) expanded the frontiers of Mughal Empire from Central Asia and Afghanistan in the West to Bengal in East and Deccan in South. He is acclaimed for his rich contributions in art and architecture and ushering in abundance of prosperity because of his sound agriculture policy.

Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707) has been censured the most by Hindu and British writers and dubbed as anti-Hindus. He had to undo the wrongs of his predecessors. It must not be forgotten that the Mughal Empire reached its highest glory under his rule and became the largest state ever known in Indian history. Unlike his predecessors, he led a very simple and pure life. His total earnings at the time of his death were from copying Quran and knitting prayer caps. He forbade his kinfolk not to build any tomb over his grave.  His death marked the beginning of end of Mughal Empire.    

Besides the contributions of the Muslim Sultans and the Mughal kings, the Sufi saints carried the message of equality and tolerance and in the process spread Islam. Their contributions in spreading the message of Islam between 8th and 11th centuries were stupendous. The Buddhists, Jains and low caste Hindus suffering under the coercive yoke of Hindu Brahmans flocked towards the peace loving Sufis and converted to Islam in big numbers.

High caste Hindus served the Muslim rulers loyally as long as the Mughal Army was strong and the rulers were strong-willed. Fun-loving Mughal kings who came after Aurangzeb took up a backseat and allowed disruptive forces to gain strength. Mughal power was given a crushing blow by Nadir Shah’s invasion of India in 1739 followed by his successor Ahmad Shah Abdali who ravaged India nine times between 1748 and 1767.  These invasions catapulted the Marhattas who had been defeated by Aurangzeb. They became so strong that they started dreaming of establishing a Hindu Empire and to completely eliminate Muslims as had been done by the Christians against the Muslims of Spain.  

Sensing their evil intentions, Shah Wali Ullah sent a distress signal to Abdali. He responded and shattered Marhattas dream in the 3rd battle of Panipat in 1761. The deadly conflict between the Muslims and the Marhattas weakened both and created space for the British to gain supremacy in India. Disunity together with chaos and confusion gave ideas to the British East India Company to wrest control. The British systematically broke the Muslim power by co-opting Hindus and courtier Muslims.

Battle of Plassey marked the beginning of British rule over Bengal in 1757. Defeat of Haider Ali and later elimination of Tipu Sultan in battle of Sirangapatam in 1799 and breaking the backbone of Marhatta power stamped the supremacy of the British rule in India and paved the way for full control of whole of India. War of independence was the last ditch effort by the Muslims to chuck out the British in 1857, but was failed by the Hindus, Sikhs, Punjabis and Pathans. The British eventually succeeded in dethroning Bahadar Shah Zafar in 1858 and establishing direct rule.

It took the British 100 years to end the Mughal rule and establish British Raj. The Hindus rather than joining hands with their erstwhile benevolent masters to fight the common enemy started serving the new masters and both jointly schemed to sink the fortunes of the Muslims. The Marhattas, the Sikhs and the British conjointly pulverized the foundations of Mughal Empire. Although the status of Muslims in India was reduced from lords to serfs and Hindus became lords, it didn’t lessen the hatred of Hindus against Muslims. The Hindus now disclaim Muslim contributions and claim that mythical ancient India was more prosperous and united.

The writer is a retired Brig, a defence analyst and a historian. Email:asifharonraja@gmail.com


, , , , , ,

No Comments