Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What this blog is about

(Jan 12, 2011): Adding matters of Indian and Pakistani history to this blog.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Glimpses of Sindh

Nadeem F. Paracha, in Dawn.

However, after some Hindu places of worship were attacked in Karachi in 1948, Hindu Sindhis began to leave in droves.

This is when Sindhi intellectuals and political thinkers like Ibrahim Joyo and GM Syed began to mould Sindh’s pluralistic history into a meta-narrative of Sindhi identity because to them the departing Hindus were first Sindhis, then Hindus and their departure would weaken Sindh’s demography and economy.

After the creation of Pakistan (and then death of its founder, Jinnah), the Pakistani state began in earnest its long-drawn project to cut through the country’s ethnic complexities by convoluting and imposing a monolithic meta-narrative of faith and Pakistani nationhood.

This attracted the scorn of the country’s various non-Punjabi ethnicities that dismissed and rejected the state’s idea of nationhood and Islam that they believed contradicted the notions of nationhood and faith enshrined in the historical DNA of their respective ethnicities.

Between 1958 and the early 1970s, GM Syed immersed himself in the study of the religious, social and political histories of Sindh. In 1966, he created Bazm-e-Sufian-e-Sindh, an intellectual initiative that also included a number of other Sindhi scholars.

Syed and these scholars would then go on to publish a number of important papers and books that helped form the doctrinal and ideological basis of modern Sindhi nationalism.

This nationalism explained the Sindhis to be descendents of the natives of the Indus Valley Civilization whose social, political and religious consciousness had evolved and was influenced by various religions and cultures that had arrived and established themselves in the region in the last five thousand years.

It added that this aspect of Sindh’s history, along with the large number of Muslim Sufi saints, who began to arrive and settle in Sindh after the 8th Century CE, helped shape the Sindhi society in becoming inherently tolerant and pluralistic and repulsed by those strands of the faith that eschewed tolerance to impose a more stringent and myopic view of Islam.

Syed’s works gave Sindhi identity a historical and religious context and anchor that also helped shield the Sindhi society from being affected by the disastrous sectarian and extremist fall-outs of the various religious experiments conducted by the state and governments of Pakistan.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Maulana Dawood/Daud Ghaznavi

Over on, the following claim is made:

Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam Hind was allied with Bacha Khan and the Congress. Maulana Daud Ghaznavi, the founder of the Majlis-e-Ahrar, was appointed the Chief of Congress in Punjab according to Raj Mohan Gandhi’s new book Punjab – A History from Aurangzaib to Mountbatten (See Page 333- Aleph Publication). Daud Ghaznavi remained the chief of the Congress in the Punjab till July 1947 when he left the Congress.  To say that Ahrar had broken off therefore from the Congress is a complete fabrication of history. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Congress Party as was Jamiat-e-Ulema-Hind.
That Dawood (using the more common spelling) Ghaznavi remained the chief of the Congress in Punjab till July 1947 is what I dispute.  Just referring to one source, the Jinnah Papers (Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah Papers, edited by Z.H. Zaidi) it is possible to ascertain the following below.

A = Jinnah Papers, First Series, Volume I, Part I, 20 February - 2 June 1947.
B = Jinnah Papers, First Series, Volume III, 1 July - 25 July 1947

1. Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi joined the Muslim League sometime in July 1946 or earlier. [A, item VII.60, page 287]  He was indeed a previous president of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee.

In late-January 1947, the Muslim League started an agitation to topple the Unionist government of Punjab.

2. On February 12, 1947 (reported in the Dawn, February 15, 1947) Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi, MLA, was nominated Acting President of the Punjab Muslim League. [A, item VII.51, page 277]

3. Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi was the seventh President of the Punjab Muslim League. [A, item VII.60, page 287]

4. Pakistan Times, February 25, 1947, reported that Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi was the only Muslim League Committee of Action member who was a non-detenu.  That news-item has the Maulana flying from Lahore to Karachi to meet Jinnah, to consult him "regarding the terms of the peace offer made by the Punjab Government". [A, item VII.66, page 294]

5. The next day, the Pakistan Times reported that the Maulana returned to Lahore from Karachi, "carrying with him a three-paged typed letter from the Quaid-i-Azam addressed to the Khan of Mamdot".  He then promptly left for Kasur to meet with the jailed members of the Committee of Action. [A, item VII.67, page 295]

6. In [B, item 229, page 670-672] an extract from a letter, from Maulvi Abu Sulaiman to Z.A. Ansari is included, dated July 24, 1947 . It recommends some measures to fight the influence of the Fakir of Ipi.
To fight Pathanistan successfully, we must take some precautions.  We must not appoint to the Governorship of the Frontier any person belonging to this Province.   Some such person should be appointed Governor who can successfully fight the propaganda that the League is un-Islamic, agents of the English and centre of Qadianis, and that to fight it is the greatest service to Islam.   It would be proper if Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, Maulana Dawood Ghaznavi or Maulana Akram Khan are appointed to this post.  But the League High Command is in a better position to understand the interests of the country.  

PS: In "Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam Since 1850", by Ayesha Jalal, we are told that page 490, that Maulana Daud Ghaznavi, "president of the Punjab Congress and a member of the legislative assembly, defected to the Muslim League", around July 27, 1946. "Ghaznavi was facing an enquiry for his alleged embezzlement of Congress funds during the elections. (SPPAI, 27 July 1946, vol. lxviii, no. 29, p. 362)

Note: SPPAI = Secret Punjab Police Abstract of Intelligence.

PPS: Excerpt from letter from Sardar Patel to Bhim Sen Sachar, July 27, 1946 (from The Collected Works of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Volume X, edited by P.N. Chopra)
I am sorry about the Punjab muddle, particularly the bungling in the Constituent Assembly elections by the Sikhs.  We expected three seats from the Unionist group, -- at least two-- but we only got one.  The Sikhs did not contest at all in spite of my efforts and I was surprised to hear that.  In spite of my instructions, you had contacted Pandit Nehru and conveyed a message to the Sikhs which has resulted in this unfortunate situation.  Its repercussions have been very serious.  It has given a plausible excuse to our friend Daud Ghaznavi to get out of the Congress at a critical moment.   You know how you pressed me to help him in his own election, as a special case, in addition to the usual share which was included in the budget.  I had my doubts about your judgement and that of Seth Sudarshan.  I was insistent on Dr. Gopichand's endorsement.  Unfortunately, I yielded and disregarded Dr. Gopichand's wise counsel.   You are on the spot and you could have warned us even subsequently about his unreliability.   If you did not know or suspect about this unreliability, you are certainly much too simple for Punjab politics.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Interview with Husain Haqqani

The Diplomat’s Sanjay Kumar speaks with former Pakistan ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani about his book Magnificent Delusions, the state of Pakistan, and its complex relations with India, Afghanistan, and the United States.

Some excerpts:

Can you conceive of Pakistan’s existence without the U.S.?

Pakistan will have to change direction. Its leaders will have to stop thinking in terms of seeking American aid forever in order to confront India. They will have to start building a series of relationship with their neighbors. Islamabad needs to think of its economy. It will have to think about rooting out terrorism completely and it should treat such non-state actors as the enemy. It cannot afford to think that some terrorists are good for Afghanistan and some are valuable for Kashmir and some are bad for Karachi and Lahore. Pakistan will have to realize terrorism does not have a color and its nature is to kill.
Pakistan is going through great political change. Do you look at the developments as a positive sign and a new chapter in Pakistan’s history?

Pakistan is at a crossroads. Jihadis have one narrative for Pakistan; democrats have their own. Among the democrats, there is a division among those who want to see Pakistan as a pluralistic state and those who want to adopt the old ideological paradigm of an Islamic state. The good thing is that the military has receded a little bit from politics but that doesn’t mean that they have given civilians complete freedom in decision making. How Pakistan gets through this stage of building democracy will determine its future. The most important thing for Pakistan is to overcome the ideological obsessions of the past.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pervez Hoodbhoy on Pakistan's water-powered car


The water car fraud

Published: August 2, 2012
Agha Waqar Ahmad deserves a medal from the people of Pakistan for his great service to the nation. In a few short days, he has exposed just how far Pakistan has fallen into the pit of ignorance and self-delusion. No practical joker could have demonstrated more dramatically the true nature of our country’s political leaders, popular TV anchors and famed scientists.
At first, it sounded like a joke: a self-styled engineer, trained in Khairpur’s polytechnic institute, claims to have invented a ‘water kit’ enabling any car to run on water alone. It didn’t matter that the rest of world couldn’t extract energy from water; he had done it. He promised a new Pakistan with limitless energy, no need for petrol or gas, and no more loadshedding. For an energy starved nation, it is a vision of paradise.
Agha Waqar Ahmad is now a national celebrity thanks to Religious Affairs Minister Khursheed Shah. Federal ministers Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and Qamar Zaman Kaira have added their commendations. President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed his delight. The cabinet has met three times to discuss the water vehicle, and a fourth meeting is scheduled. Reports suggest millions may be spent on the ‘water fuel kit project’.
The media has rushed in to celebrate the new national hero. For TV anchor Talat Husain, thanks to Agha Waqar Ahmad’s invention, Pakistan’s image can go from a country ravaged by terrorism to one of boundless possibilities. Anchor Hamid Mir and Senator Parvaiz Rasheed drove around Islamabad sitting next to the inventor, wondering how to protect the man’s life from Western oil companies. Anchor Arshad Sharif was euphoric about the $14 billion Pakistan would save on oil imports.

Pakistan’s most celebrated scientists were not far behind. Asked by Anchor Sharif whether a car could run only on water, nuclear hero Dr Samar Mubarakmand replied without hesitation: “jee haanbilkul ho sakta hai” (yes, absolutely possible). For his part, Hamid Mir asked Dr AQ Khan if there was any chance of this being a fraud. The response was clear: “Main nay apnay level per investigate kiya hai aur koi fraud waraud nahi kiya hai” (I have investigated the matter and there is no fraud involved). The head of the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr Shaukat Parvaiz, went further: “hum nay bhi iss pay kam karaya tha” (we had some work done on this too).

So, what is the problem? It’s that the laws of physics, in particular a fundamental scientific principle known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, impose inviolable constraints. Every machine constructed anywhere uses the Second Law. This is something that I learned in my first year as a student at MIT and have taught for 40 years. No serious scientist would dream of challenging the Second Law. Agha Waqar Ahmad’s ‘water kit’, if one believes science to be right, simply cannot work. What the inventor, the ministers, the anchors and scientists claim on TV is wrong.
To his credit, the only person on TV that seemed to know this elementary principle was Dr Attaur Rahman, a chemist and a former HEC chairman. I have not agreed with all his actions and views in the past, but he alone rejected the claims about the new machine. Sadly, he was not able to hold back the tide of a nation desperate for any answer to its energy woes.

The water fraud will be exposed soon enough and, like a bad posterior smell, will go away. A simple experiment will make this happen faster. Here’s how: take an emergency electricity generator, of which there are thousands in Islamabad. Its engine is similar to that in a car. Remove the fuel tank and make sure the ‘water kit’ contains only water. Then ask the inventor to connect it up and run the generator. Let there be enough sharp-eyed witnesses of intelligence and integrity.

But this episode raises bigger questions. Scientific frauds exist in other countries, but what explains their spectacular success in Pakistan? Answer: our leaders are lost in the dark, fumbling desperately for a miracle; our media is chasing spectacle, not truth; and our great scientists care more about being important than about evidence. It is easy for them all to get away with this. As a nation, we have proven unwilling to do the hard work needed to learn to reason, to be sceptical, to demand proof, to understand even basic science. It is easier to believe the world is run by magic and conspiracies, to wish and wait for Aladin’s magic lamp. We live in the age of jahilliya.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

No census for Pakistan?

The Express Tribune reports:

LAHORE: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) is caught between a rock and a hard place. Despite its eagerness to reap political dividends from holding the long-delayed sixth census, the ruling party has decided against conducting the population count for fear of unrest following its results. The country’s fifth and last census was carried out in 1998.

Sources privy to the February 10 meeting of the Council of Common Interests revealed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dropped the most critical feature of the council’s agenda after consultation with stakeholders. It was learnt by The Express Tribune that no major political party expressed willingness to have the population census. The ruling party asked Nawaz to defer the exercise to avoid ‘negative repercussions’.

The statistics division put the population census on the CCI’s agenda, but Nawaz issued directions to drop it for an indefinite period when almost all participants of the meeting requested a postponement to avoid political and national turmoil till a new mechanism is developed.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rule of the Congress

Supposedly it was the experience of Muslims under the first Congress provincial governments that led them to seek Pakistan.