Renaming NWFP

This article was originally carried in The Frontier Post in 2008.

ArticleYAABy: Yasmeen Aftab Ali

With reference to Asfandyar Wali’s ANP Manifesto, Editorial Frontier Post dated 18th Dec. 2007.

Before the start of the process of renaming a province commences, various intrinsic factors must be kept in mind.Like the historical geographic boundaries, the d emographic placement of pathans and non pathans in the old districts of NWFP, that is, Peshawar, Hazara, Kohat, Bannu and D. I Khan, also to be kept in mind is the linguistic background  of the races which have inhabited the present NWFP since time immemorial to date in order, to give a name which has an equitable meaning and relevance to all its inhabitants.

Pakistan since 1947, is a culmination of many different races, each representing a different culture and heritage, therefore, just because an effective pressure group, now so wishes to rename a province as per their perspective, which negates the other races, who have inhabited this land much before the entry of the pushto-speaking races in this area ,will be an injustice to them. These races, are not represented by an equally well organised and motivated leadership to counter the pressure being so exerted at this point in time. However, in due course of time, there will be a reaction thus creating more ethnic complications for our nation.

Administratively, in the Mughal set up as created by Akbar the present NWFP, was part of Suba Kabul and consisted of various Tumans(Districts), Bolaks (Tehsils) and Sarkars. East of Kabul City, lay Lamghan, consisting of the Tumans of Ali Shang, AliNgar, Mandrawar, Kunar, Nurgul and Bolaks of Darra-i-Nur and Kama, within Lamghan was the Tuman of modern Ningnahar, with its headquarters, initially at” Admah”, between Kabul and Surkh-ab( Rivers). It was Akbar Badshah who shifted the capital of this province to a new location, and, it was named after him,” Jalalabad”, his full name being,”Jalal-ud-din Mohammad Akbar”.

Nangnahar, was originally ” Nekanhar”, meaning thereby, Nek, signifying in persian “good/beneficial” and Anhar is the plural of Nahr or streams or rivulets. Nekanhar by degrees got corrupted into Nangnahar in due course of time. It had nine Darahs out of which flowed nine rivers, all fell in one, now called Kabul River. The two eastern most Tumans of Kabul subah were Hashtghar and Bigram, it was the Tuman of Bigram, which is now called Peshawar. Hashtgar, had, eight towns ie Charsadda, Omarzi, Parang, Sherpao, Tarangzi,Rajur, Usmanzi and Tangi- the “zi” element is a new addition .

The Sufed Koh, earlier called Ak-tagh by the Turks, and by the new people ie the pushto speakers, is called Spin-ghar, seperated the Tumans of Nangnahar and Bangash which also included the Kurram Valley. Bangash was divided two parts ; Bala , meaning Upper and Pain meaning Lower. Bala Bangash started from Thal area and Pain Bangash was the now Kohat Region. The thanedar of Bala and Pain Bangash was located at Kohat.

Bannu, was bordered on the north by the mountains of Bangash and Nughz( Durrand Line -Range). The three Sarkars of Suwat, Bunner and Bajuar were also in Kabul suba. Modern Hazara ,was called Pakli Sarkar, sometimes it was administrated by Kabul, later, it was transferrred to Kashmir suba. Pakli consisted of Dhudhial, Nawa-Shahr and Dhamtaur. Darband and rest of Hazara, ie the lower parts of the present Hazara were part of Lahore suba.

Beyond, in the north of Bajauar, Bunner and Lower Suwat was a track of land called Baloristan, NOT part of the Mughal set up. Sometimes Badkhshan and sometimes Kashghar, dominated the region. Baloristan , extended to the North till the Wakhan Valley. Now coming to the latest addition meaning thereby, other than the old districts already mentioned as part of old NWFP. A description about the land of Chitral is relevant. Till the late 19th century, Chitral( A new name) old being Kashkar, had as its rulers, the progeny of Mohammad Baig. Chitral (Town area and below to the south till Dir), came under Mohtaram Shah and Upper Chitral was held by Shah Khushwakht, the elder brother of Mohtaram Shah.

Mohtaram Shah was known as Aman-ul-Mulk, ie his designation. In 1878, he accepted an agreement with the Maharaja of Kashmir on the behest of the British and started getting a grant of Rs 12000/- per year. The elder brother, refused to acknowledge the Maharaja of Kashmir and the British Rule.Hence, he recruited forces from YASIN, DAR-AL, TANGIR and HUNZA  areas of his rule and so went on a war against the Dogra Rule.While, the elder brother fought the British and Maharaja of Kashmir’s forces with full valour, his younger brother attacked him from behind on the behest of British & the Maharaja and thus the elder brother lost the war and turned a fugitive.

In the area known as Dir, now, a Mulla Ilyas, also called as Akhund Baba, a pushto speaker had created a following. In the 1880s,Rehmatullah, the younger brother of Jamdad Khan, the Head of Mullazi Clan( From Mulla a term comes Mullazi), took monetary assistance from Maharaja of Kashmir and deposed his elder brother. By 1895, Rehmatullah’s son, Mohammad Shareef was doing a lot of, “good service” to the British and had especially helped them in the capture of Chitral town. He had also helped the British in capturing, Sher Afzal ,one of the outlawed brothers of Aman-ul-Mulk of Chitral. For his good services, rendered to the British Crown, Mohammad Shareef was made a Nawab. When the Fakir of Api revolted the newly created Nawab of Dir, vide an agreement of december 1898, with the British, had the Fakir of Api declared,”enemy of the State and the Crown”. For these services rendered, his subsidy was raised to Rs 15000/- per annum with an antedate of first October 1898.

The purpose of this information is to establish the fact that, niether was Baloristan a part of Kabul suba nor was Dir. It was much later that they became part of NWFP or Punjab as it was earlier known ie after the annexation of 1849 by the British.

Dera Ismael Khan, was always a part of suba Multan.

These administrative boundaries lasted till 1739, from then till 1747 the whole of Trans-Indus was part of the Iranian Empire. On the asassination of Nadir Shah, Ahmed Shah Abdali who was a Captain of his bodyguards, moved to Qandhar and also took the bulk of the treasure taken from Lahore and Delhi by Nadir Shah. With this money he established himself as an independent ruler in the eastern regions of the Iranian Empire of Nadir Shah. Till the death of Ahmed Shah Abdali and much later there is no entity known as Afghanistan.Ahmed Shah was called in his lifetime as Badhsha-e-Khurrassan. On his death in 1773 his son, Taimur shah shifted the capital to Kabul by now the Sikhs had started their inroads and raids in the eastern parts of Taimur Shah’s kingdom. By 1823 Sikhs had entered Peshawar area and Hazara was annexed by Sikhs in 1818.

The Nawab of Mankera, Hafiz Mohammad Khan ruled an area till the present Muzaffargarh districts, Kot Addu Tehsil and had in the scramble, conquered, Isa Khel and outskirts of Bannu, the old areas of Kabul kingdom. By 1821, the Nawab of Mankera had lost in subsequent battles to the sikhs his lands and was pensioned off to D. I Khan. Kohat recieved its first Governor of Sikhs in 1834 and by 1836, Ranjit Singh had given  Sultan Mohammad, Kohat, Tiri and Hangu in a service jagir.

Demographically, the census of 1881 was held 2 years after the Treaty of Gandamak by virtue of which Khyber and Michni Pass and Kurram areas became part of the British empire and hence Punjab. Of the old five districts which are the heartland of NWFP, ie D. I Khan, Bannu, Peshawar, Hazara and Kohat the following is the demographic aspect as per the above census quoted:

a) D.I Khan had a total of 73022 pathans out of a total population of 441,649. In the pathans so mentioned the Niazis were 2377 and the Khetran were 1324, both seraiki speakers but somehow included in the pathan total.
b) Bannu had, 141,022 pathans, out of a population of 322,577,of whom the bulk were Jats, Rajputs, awans, Sheikhs, Mughals, syeds etc. then came others like Nais(Barbers), tarkhans(Carpenters), kumar(Potters),Rangrez(Dyers), a similar composition was in earlier mentioned D. I Khan’s figures too.Bannu had Tehsils of Bannu, Marwat, Isa Khel and Mianwali.
c)Hazara, had a population of 407,075 ,the pathans were numbered as 64,695 out of which 16962 were Jaduns, Hindko speakers and 28906 swatis again hindko speakers too but somehow classified as pathans. Hazara had the following tehsils; Abbotabad, Mansehra, and Haripur.
d) Kohat had a population of 181,540 and an area of Kohat, Hangu and Teri tehsils. In 1855 it had a population of 101,232 but a massive immigration caused a large number of pushto speakers from across the Durrand Line to enter in Kohat regions, thus by 1881 the pushto speakers alone stood at 116,431 rest were hindko/kohati speakers all non pushto ie Awans and other allied aborigine races.
e)Peshawar had the following tehsils; Peshawar, Charsadda, Swabi, Mardan and Nowshera. Between 1881 -1931 a span of 50 years the number of Afghan immigrants who entered this district alone were 249,347 a breakdown on 10 yearly basis to further elaborate the immigration factor is:
-1881: 35892(immigrants)
-1891: 56089(immigrants)
-1901: 55537(immigrants)
-1911: 45366(immigrants)
-1921: 30886(immigrants)
-1931: 25577(immigrants)
Therefore in this district the number of pathans keeping in view the above data was the highest in the 1881 census. The figure of Pathans stood at 276,656 but alongwith this came other races namely Awans: 97445, Gujjars: 13514, Baghban(Arians): 21240, Sheikhs: 9596, Jats: 4917, Rajputs: 3181, Mughals : 4538, Nais; 5648, Kashmiris; 13082, Churra: 7653, Tarkhan: 12504, Mochi: 3263 etc etc etc. Here we see that inspite of the massive inroads of Afghan immigrants since 1855 to 1931 the local population of aborigines remained a steady number. All of the above, were non pathans and spoke the orginal local peshawari/hindko dialects.To further elaborate my point, Bannu too had had, a massive inroad of Afghan immigrant between 1855 -1881 as in 1855 Bannu had a population of 237,557 by 1881 it has arisen to 332,577.

Therefore, keeping the above figures in mind, of the inroads of Afghan immigrants speaking the pushto language spanning only over 150 years back cannot justify of renaming an area as that of Pakhtunkhwa.

Coming now to the main linguistic issue. The languages from North to South of the present NWFP now consisting of 25 administrative units including FATA and administration areas spread over 101,741 kilometers has at its base from the north the following languages/dialects:wakhani, besh-gali,wai-ali,pashai,dardic,khowar or chitrali,shini,kashmiri or koshir, kohistani,hindkohi,tianuali of Hazara, awankari of Kohat, dhundi-kairali of Abbotabad, kohati of Kohat, khetrani/jaffari(seraiki) of D. I Khan and mulki of Bannu.

Now reverting to the mother language of all the above stated dialects is dardic, a term coined by the British. Being the base of all the languages/dialects spoken in the Sindh Valley/Present NWFP, by the original aborigines of this land. Even in the past, dardic influence is found amongst the original inhabitabts of Lamghan and nangnahar, even in the Teri Valley.This language was once spoken in areas now, presently inhabited by the Afridi Pathans.

Technically, dardic languages also covered Baltistan and western Tibet, philology, also shows that it had covered nearly the whole of the Sindh Valley. Punjabi and Lahnda still show traces of the earlier dardic mother language.

Ormuri, in South of present Afridi country is again dardic. Similarly, the Waziristan area on the whole was originally an Ormuri area before the influx of the pathans. Khetrani and Jaffari are again laced with the traces of dardic. Sindhi has in the Lari area ie below Hyderabad, the dardic influence.

In the Dir area,before the advent of the pathans, a language called Diri was spoken which has now in certain cases merged in Garwi of the Swat Kohistan. Lower down the Chitral(Kashkar), River which has now become to be known as Kunar River on it’s right bank lived the people who spoke the Pashai , a language of Dehgans of Lamghan. The area inhabited by the Dehgans(was)between west of Lamghan River and the north of boundry of Kafirs & to the east the Kunar River and to the south the Kabul River.

Tirahi was spoken at one time in Nangnahar and Tira Valley and is closely connected with Pashai and Gawar-bati. Khowar is the language of the Khos, the most important tribe of Chitral(Kashkar state) . On its west, comes the kafir languages & on its east, Shina spoken in present Gilgit area. It should also be borne in mind that Khowar is also related to the original Pamir language ie ghal chah.

The new cultures, in the Sindh Valley like the pushto, baluchi, punjabi, urdu, and ofcourse the english have in the last 150 years entered the Sindh Valley but the basic local languages and culture have till now held on. For example, in our canal colonies, of the present Punjab province the canal colonists of 1886 from what is now called East Punjab have given to our original inhabitants of this a derogatory name

The deductions of the above information is that no one speaks for the locals of the Sindh Valley because the intellectual in the literary circles is either an urdu speaker( a language of ganga jumna doaba) or a punjabi, a language spoken between sutlej & jumna ie that of the canal colonies or a baluchi or a pathan. And to top it the english speaker whose very thought process is on a different tangent altogether. The net result is, our old culture, languages & heritage is slowly being merged in a set of new languages and cultures , this is very detrimental to our very base.

If the Sindh Valley has opened its arms to refugees from Afghanistan since  1855 and now they have developed a pressure group in all justice, our old cultures ,languages, and heritage cannot be wiped out which has traditionally stood fast for thousands of years and a massive inroads of various invaders.Under the circumstances “SARHAD” is a good name ,if the name of NWFP has to be changed. It takes in consideration all races, cultures, languages having existed in “NWFP” from time immemorial.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan. Her email is: and tweets at @yasmeen_9


Naveed Tajammal

Part I can be read at:

Part II can be read at:

Part III can be read at

Part IV can be read at


Major Eusoph Sethi [approver number two] on the morning of 23rd feb-1951 left instructions to his driver to bring his guests [accused number 13,14 & 15 i.e  Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Sajjad Zaheer & M.H.Atta. All members of the Communist party] to the CGS House before 1000 hours. He himself proceeded to inform Brig. Ziauddin[accused number six] and Col. Hassan [accused number nine] about the time of the conference-according to the recorded testimony of  Major Sethi the atmosphere in the house that day was of suppressed excitement. All guests were being directed towards a side conference room in the CGS House, Gen-Akbar was constantly on the move he had a sheaf of papers in his hand, which he was reading to himself and meeting all incoming guests on their turn and walking them to the conference venue and introducing them to the rest. By the time Sethi, had reached the house Col. Hassan, Capt. Khizer Hyat[accused number eight] & Capt. Zaffarullah Poshni [accused number eleven] were already in the conference room ,Later came the three guests from his house-followed by Brig. Ziauddin and Lt-Col Siddique Raja [approver number one] later Lt. Col Arbab arrived but without Lt-Col. Tor Gul as the night before all three; Arbab, Tor Gul and Khizer had been at a dinner at the CGS house and were to be present on time the next day. Arbab was sent back to bring in Tor Gul.

The meeting started at 1030 hours, Gen. Akbar started his address by quoting examples of successful coup d’état’s and stated that all coups came about because of bad governments, therefore the current inefficient and corrupt government needed to be changed as he had been studying the role of this government since its inception with its strong pro-Anglo-American tilt and they being totally pro-India as was seen in the Kashmir liberation war, whereas if we stood with soviet or Chinese bloc we had a better chance of having a strong backing to liberate Kashmir. In view of this he had decided that the only option left to implement this could be through a Coup d’état, whose planning covering all contingencies had already been done and he would shortly give out the broad outline with a tentative date and further stated that after his speech he would appreciate that, the three civilian guests to kindly give out their views individually on the subject.

The Gist of the operational plan was as under ;

The tentative date fixed was that of night 3rd/4th March 1951-when the Prime Minister would be in Rawalpindi in connection with the Punjab Assembly Election Campaign Gen Akbar would proceed to his office in GHQ and direct parties of officers assigned to arrest the Prime Minister, the C in C[Ayub khan],the GOC 7 Division

Major Gen Hayauddin, Brig. Altaf Qadir the local Brigade Commander Rawalpindi, Lt. Gen. Meckay the Chief of Staff, as well other higher civil and military officials who were pro-government. To carry out this plan two companies of 2nd/1st Punjab would move in from Thal on the appointed hour and 3 AK Battalion from Kahuta would likewise arrive at the time given if more troops were required they would be procured from 4th/13th FFR stationed at Rawalpindi, and its previous commander Col. Siddique raja would make the arrangements.

Meanwhile as the CGS-Gen Akbar would call in all GOC’s on a pretext and once they were here, he would individually speak with all brigade commanders and appraise them of the change and the promotion of the senior most in the next post.

At Peshawar Major Gen. Majid GOC 9 Division would be called in to GHQ-whereas Brig Siddique Khan [accused number four] of [Bannu brigade] would take over 9 Division, he would be assisted by the GSO-1 of the said Division-Lt-Col Khurshid Ali Khan.

At Abbottabad- Brig. Jeelani would revert to GHQ and be put under arrest, his replacement would be Lt. Col. Muhammad Akbar Khan the CO- 4th/16th FFR and Major-Ishaq Muhammad [accused number ten] would take over 4th/16th FFR Hazarah valley had a special significance in the plan, Gen. Akbar had pointed at Muhammad Hussain Atta and informed the participants of the meeting, that Atta was heading a underground movement being the secretary of provincial Communist party NWFP. The plan envisaged that 500 rifles with adequate ammunition would be issued to his workers-they would become the nucleus of the new Peoples

Army to provide support to the contingency plan-which catered for a failed coup‘d’état. The Abbottabad Brigade would spearhead the new revolution. Here it should be kept in mind that Brig Ziauddin was from Kotli and was the head of GHQ Azad which had 25,000 armed troops in shape of various AK battalions beside the other para-military outfits the legacy of the Kashmir war just concluded whose strength were the 70,000 DE mobbed ex-servicemen of first and second world wars and Col. Hassan had his own forces which could be reactivated should the need be-from the Gilgit Baltistan regions beside those from Chitral who too had fought under their INA leaders for the liberation of Kashmir and G.B. The Lashkars which had come from across the Durand line as well from the NWFP agencies all knew Gen. Akbar personally, as they had fought in the liberation war-and one to all were unhappy over the cowardly role of Liaqat Ali Khan in the Kashmir war and him not taking Kashmir when being given by Sardar Patel on a platter in lieu of Nizam of Hyderabad’s state

At Lahore-Gen Akbar was confident that his offer to Gen. Azam to become the Governor Punjab would be welcomed by him and that Brig. Bakhtiar Rana would be pleased to take over as GOC 10 Division he would be assisted by Brig. Haq Nawaz Malik and Lt-Col Nausherwan.

At Quetta-Brig Latif was fully qualified to take over the region being the local brigade commander and the Station Commander and if need be would assist Air-Commodore M. K. Janjua at Karachi.

One special problem which still had to be tackled was that of Major Gen Greaves the GOC of Bahawalpur Division-but Gen. Akbar was confident that once the Prime Minister had handed over the power to the military council he would go along.

At Karachi major flaws existed in the planning and Gen. Akbar felt that M. K. Janjua would not have adequate manpower to manage the whole show on time-therefore Akbar had asked Major Majid who was at Quetta staff College to proceed back to his unit-which was located at Malir and assist M. K. Janjua. At this very moment there was a knock on the door and Gen.Akbar went out to return back shortly-with a smile on his face and said that it was M.K.Janjua on the phone from Karachi informing him, that, all loopholes in Karachi stand covered.

In the execution phase of the plan the Prime Minister would be made to deliver a speech whereby at 0700 hours on 04 March 1951,he would broadcast, from the Radio Pakistan, that he had handed over the Government to a Military Council which Akbar felt would legitimize the takeover.

The gist of this declaration would be as under;

”That an emergency had arisen in the country, keeping in view the gravity, he [Liaqat Ali Khan] was handing over the Government of Pakistan to the Military Council-consisting of three armed forces new chiefs [Akbar, Janjua & Siddiq Choudri.] that he [liaqat] had henceforth resigned as the Prime minister and public and all the government servants should obey the new military council”.

After the conclusion of his speech Akbar requested his three communist friends to give their views-

Faiz Ahmad Fiaz spoke first-the gist of his speech was that the public at large was fed up by this highly inefficient government which to-date remained clueless of its National Agenda- and he knew the pulse as he was in the hub of all journalist activity, which controlled the print media-which regulated the opinions that the public opinion would be moulded in such a way that there will no reaction from public on the take over-and their intentions were noble and they would implement drastic changes. Sajjad Zaheer the second speaker-stated that the Soviet model was ideal for Pakistan and a combination of the best brains of civil and military could bring about the change that would stop the rot within and put an end to the government being run by Nawab’s and the rich, who were the lackeys of the Anglo-American bloc, the land and wealth of Pakistan should be equally divided amongst all and meritocracy should rule supreme. Thereafter all participants of the meeting gave short speeches each stressing that the Coup d’état was the need of the hour and all agreed to the timings and the tentative date.

Here a twist was seen in the defense when the trial proceedings started each of the accused negated his speech and all stressed that the operation had been aborted and that it was not a workable plan and it was said so by each participant that it should be put off till some other time which was apparently the work of the lawyers defending the accused.

However the prosecution negated there stance on the grounds that after this meeting Gen. Akbar had proceeded to Karachi and was involved in numerous meetings, as were the activities of others too-which only showed they were going ahead with their plan-yes the date might have been postponed.

It was infact Col. Siddique Raja who had gone the next day-24 Feb and met Brig. Habibullah at GHQ. who on hearing the gist of the meeting & the date panicked and told him to leave his office and that he would contact him later. Col.Sidique Raja again met Brig. Habibullah on the 26th Feb who advised him to go along with the coup party and inform accordingly so he could inform the higher authorities. However in the trial proceedings Brig. Habibullah stated that he on the first day had informed Col. Siddique raja to inform the C in C Ayub khan.

However it maybe pertinent here to note that on 26 Feb. Ayub khan and Iskandar Mirza both were cross-questioning the CID staff about this coup in Peshawar as they had been informed by the Prime Minister from Sargodha where he was following his Punjab assembly election campaign. As per the sequence after this meeting Ayub and Iskandar had called Col. Siddique raja-and grilled him and he had blurted all.

It was generally believed that the Tip off had come to the GOP about this prospective Coup by the British Intelligence operators, much earlier and they all had been under civil [CID] surveillance now for quite some time. Gen. Akbar the way he was going about throwing caution to the wind-had hardly kept it as a secret operation as he was a blunt person and not all discreet by nature. He was continuously found in Army messes criticizing the government-and if someone intervened, he would turn around with a smile on his face and ask-”all right, what should be done to stop this rot.’

In any case both Akbar and Nasim Akbar had been moving with the communist party members since August 1947-primarily in relation to the Kashmir war clandestine operations and Nasim Akbar was in touch with Latif Afghani and Faiz Ahmad Faiz and the sister of Latif Afghani[Ms Mehr Khan] was a constant companion of Nasim Akbar. Latif Afghan was a known activist and had served sentences as a school student leader against the British Rule in India-He had a high family profile, His father Sardar Abdur Rahim was the Trade Commissioner for the Afghan Government during the reign of King Amanullah and a personal friend of the King and was located at Peshawar, After the fall of the Kingdom of Amanullah and rise of Bachha Saqa. He had not joined the new government but worked studiously to overthrow it. Later when the British had brought in Nadir Khan from France as their stooge-along with T.E. Lawrence in tow to help remove Bachha Saqa. Sardar Abdur Rahim had worked tirelessly in this war-and used all his old contacts in the hope that King Amanullah would be restored back on the Kabul Throne. However when by guile and unlimited British silver/Gold support and the endeavors’ of people like Sardar Abdur Rahim who were the guides to the right people who mattered for a change. Nadir Khan was chosen by the British to become the new king of Kabul and not Amanullah. So a need arose to remove the pro-King Amanullah group leader from the scene, Sardar Abdur Rahim and his family was banished to Rangoon, where they were kept till 1934-after that as Burma was separated from British Indian Empire-in 1935 they were shifted to Madras under the surveillance of the British special Branch and detained there till 1947.Latif Afghani got his education in Madras and Bangalore ,he became activist even in school; as a union leader, he was imprisoned for five months later released and put under house arrest, nevertheless, he became the joint secretary of all India-Student Federation and subsequently member of the Communist party. Later he joined the Muslim league National guard under Major-Khursheed Anwar and worked against the unionist rule of Sir Khizer Hyat Tiwana premier of Punjab. Here too he was caught and imprisoned. The sister of Latif Afghani had been given a scholarship by King Amanullah and had studied in Turkey. Ms Mehr Khan remained very close with Nasim Akbar and had joined the Woman’s Guard.

It is not known when Latif Afghani first met Gen. Akbar, however one thing is certain he was his main conduit within the communist party hierarchy. As per the testimony given by Maj.Eusoph Sethi the approver number two Latif Afghani during the liberation war had been given a honorary of a full colonel by Gen. Akbar and assigned with a mandate to raise the Kashmir Home Militia Guard. This force was independent of the GHQ Azad and even of Tariq Headquarter Kashmir. Latif Afghani in a short while had raised and  trained even replacements for the GHQ Azad and quickly organized porter companies, as well as local home militia to guard all the vital bridges and passes in Kashmir, he had also established a network of intelligence and counter intelligence which was regularly feeding the army and civil intelligence agencies. Beside all this it, should be kept in mind that it was Latif Afghani who had also led to procure the help of across the Durand line lashkars which came to fight the Kashmir war. And it was he who had taken volunteers from Rawalpindi and the rifles when the operation was launched to seize the Srinagar Airfield, in early week of November 1947.

In April 1949, Latif Afghani had become the president of the Democratic Student’s Federation [DSF] in March 1950 came the visit of the Shah of Iran to Lahore. The DSF decided to greet this monarch with handbills denouncing his draconian rule over the people of Iran, The members of DSF were to quickly to distribute these handbills and later merge with gathered crowds lined up to greet the Shah, Latif Afghani got delayed in his distribution and so was picked up by the agencies. Tried and sentenced to a three years imprisonment. The handbills had been drafted by Sajjad Zaheer.  That is why he missed the Coup meetings.

[To be continued...]

Redefining Pakistan


Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947 printed by most dailies was a censored version released. Resultantly, to date there remains confusion whether Jinnah wanted Pakistan for only Muslims or for all religions. Besides, there are quite a few controversial issues that have deepened the lines of division within Pakistan. On ground there is flagrant violation of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973. The chapter of fundamental rights that awards equal rights to its ‘citizens’ is often flouted. Groups decide who classifies as a citizen of Pakistan and who does not. Hatred, anger, ostracism is directed towards those deemed not to be ‘citizens’ of Pakistan.

Let’s establish first, the meaning of a citizen. Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as, “One who under the Constitution and laws of United States, or of any particular state, is the member of the political community, owing allegiance and being entitled to the enjoyment of full civil rights…” (Centennial Edition 1891-1991; Pg 244)

Nowhere does it award a superior status to one group of people over the other based on religion, gender, ethnicity or any other basis. The Objective Resolution, made a substantive part of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 states, “Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights including equality of status, of opportunity and before the law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, and association, subject to law and public morality..”

If all are equal at all levels, where did we go wrong? So horribly wrong? Dr Haroon Ullah, member of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s policy planning staff and author of a recently published treatise, “Vying for Allah’s Vote; Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan” talks about the driving force that guides political extremism in Pakistan. He talks, among others, of the death of Salman Taseer – killed for supporting minorities’ rights and those of women in Pakistan – and reactions to his murder. He talks of structures of the religious parties and the conflict within the defining parameters of the rightist groups


A mention, well understood and accepted within Pakistan but need to be better understood by those in the west,

“Any use of the term ‘‘sharia’’ must come with some caveats. The fact that Islamist parties share roughly similar conceptions of the role that sharia should play in governance should not obscure the significant differences in their political programs, their different interpretations of what sharia entails, or the contested nature of the term ‘sharia’ itself.” (Pg 11) He continues to share, “Differences regarding what sharia entails exactly, and who has the right to define and enforce it, help explain the surprising fact that Islamic parties that occupy much the same space on the continuum are as likely to disagree with one another as they are with groups to their right or left.”

This is the key to Pakistan’s dilemma of defining herself. Bull’s eye! Very interestingly, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has referred a plea to Islamabad High Court, a plea filed to enforce sharia in the country. The court has been allowed 3 months to adjudicate upon the petition.

In an earlier op-ed I had written, “The desire for peaceful coexistence must aim at cultivating, first and foremost, a tolerance and understanding towards these differences by all. Failure to do so must result in differences, acts of terrorism and ultimately war. The fact that we did not ‘choose’ our beliefs in which we were born, we did not ‘choose’ the sects within which we were born makes religious intolerance completely unnecessary. Different religions and different sects have lived together all over the world and in Pakistan – why the growing intolerance?”

The constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 by Justice Muhammad Munir states, “Wrongs practiced in the name of religion are not protected by the Constitution providing for the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship… Everything which may be equally an exercise of religion is not required to be tolerated and the right to exercise religious freedom ceases where it overlaps and transgresses the rights of others.” (Volume 1 pg 369)

The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 does not differentiate between followers of different religions and sects by offering different degrees of fundamental rights to its citizens.

Article 25 under the Constitution lay out, Equality of citizens: 1) All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law; 2) There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex; 3) Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection of women and children.

It is extremely sad when non-state actors decide to take the decision in their hands to: a) make a determination as to who is, and who is not a citizen, and b) to then inflict hatred and brutality upon those deemed to be non-citizens.

In any civilized society, Equality is one of the three pillars the structure of the society balances itself upon. The other two are Liberty and Justice. If we refuse equality across the board to all citizens, we are automatically denying to them; liberty and justice! In an extremely interesting paper by Thomas Christiano dealing with the subject of equality and democracy, “Equal consideration of interests means that advancing the interests of one person is as important as advancing the interests of any other person… It is an elementary requirement of justice that individuals ought to be treated equally.” Pakistan needs to ensure none of its citizens are victimized or reduced to the level of second class citizens!

But then there comes evidence of interfaith respect in Pakistan, which restores confidence in the country. Sikandar Chandio guards the Hindu Temple at Johi. “Chandio’s Muslim family ‘protects’ the only temple in Johi, a town in which no Hindu family resides. A Hindu man handed over the charge of the temple to his grandfather, Jamaluddin,” says the local newspaper. (February 8, 2014) Report states “I was born in this temple, so were my children. We all are watchmen of this building.” Pakistan needs more Sikandar Chandios!

E.A. Bucchianeri in ‘Brushstrokes of a Gadfly’ recounts an enchanting dialogue between Socrates and Plato.

“Socrates: Have you noticed on our journey how often the citizens of this new land remind each other it is a free country?

Plato: I have, and think it odd they do this.

Socrates: How so, Plato?

Plato: It is like reminding a baker he is a baker, or a sculptor he is a sculptor.

Socrates: You mean to say if someone is convinced of their trade, they have no need to be reminded.

Plato: That is correct.

Socrates: I agree. If these citizens were convinced of their freedom, they would not need reminders.”

Pakistan needs to redefine itself – super-fast.

Cross Post:


Naveed Tajammal

Part I can be read at:

Part II can be read at:

Part III can be read at


Major General Akbar

In early December 1950-Akbar khan had been promoted to the rank of a Major-General and posted as the CGS at GHQ on assuming this important and sensitive post-the tempo of the conspiracy was accelerated-the post gave Akbar khan access to the levers of power and into the inner sanctum of the Army. All this reinforced the confidence of Akbar khan, in his planning to take over the government and so preparations & going over the minor details and planning counter moves if the coup d’état failed, were meticulously  worked out.

In a meeting in the third week of January 1951-at Major Sethi’s house, Brig.Ziauddin had introduced Colonel Hassan khan to General Akbar, who had explained the aims and objectives of the conspiracy to him. Colonel Hassan agreed with all the points raised and assured General Akbar of his all-out support in the proposed coup. After this meeting during the first three weeks of feb.1951 a hectic recruitment campaign was carried out-Brigadier Ziauddin played a pivotal role in these as he was the officiating brigadier and commander of around 25,000 men and officers who came under GHQ[Azad] mainly all Azad Kashmir regiment battalions. He was stationed at Rawalpindi- belonged to Kotli-and had been commissioned in 1942 and awarded a MBE during the second world war, in these three weeks. Zia Hassan and Sethi had series of meetings with Colonel Tassaduq Hussein who was commanding 2 AK battalion. In all these meetings the post-coup plan of launching a war on India also remained a vital subject. On 22 February, all four had met Captain Nur Hussein CO of 3 AK battalion at Kahuta and enlisted his full help in the planned coup.

Earlier on 04 February, Colonel Siddique Raja [approver number one] had called on General Akbar and also met Begum Nasim Akbar, Captain Poshni and Major Khadim Hussein at the CGS House.  In the evening General Akbar gave a broad outline plan of his proposed coup-according to which all divisional commanders were to be called to GHQ and relieved of their commands and put under arrest. This new plan also envisaged that should the coup fail-the contingency plan catered for an armed struggle from Hazzarah, Azad Kashmir and Frontier regions, these were the people who had fought the Kashmir war as volunteers. Major Ishaq Mohammad was to be recalled from Kalat and was to take over 4/16th Punjab battalion at Abbottabad while Lieutenant Colonel Akbar Khan.; its Co was to take over the Abbottabad Brigade from Brigadier Jeelani who was to be recalled at GHQ and put under arrest-while Major General  Majid and Brigadier Masood Khan who were considered reliable to the cause, as they had openly expressed the wish to bump of the Governor NWFP as he had mishandled the tribal areas by sending the army. The Abbottabad Brigade was the contingency formation which was to go in guerilla-fighting mode should the coup fail. After hearing these details Colonel Siddique Raja suggested minor changes in the plan, he suggested that Brigadier Sadique Khan who was commanding the Bannu Brigade should take over 9 division at Peshawar and Colonel Khurshid Ali khan GSO-1 of the division  would help him control Peshawar. This arrangement would ensure two strong bases should the coup fail i.e Abbottabad and Peshawar. Colonel Siddique Raja also suggested here that Brigadier .Bakhtiar Rana should be approached to take over Lahore Division-Akbar Khan accepted these suggestions however he was very doubtful about the integrity of Brigadier Sidique Khan as he had found him of late, a very doubtful case. However Colonel Siddique Raja was adamant in his support of Brigadier Siddique Khan so General Akbar reluctantly  agreed to these changes-however the date of the coup d’état had not be fixed as yet but it had been decided that it would be one of the days when Liaqat Ali Khan visited Rawalpindi in connection with the forthcoming Punjab assembly elections. In same meeting General Akbar had also mentioned the role of Air-Commodore M.K.Janjua who was to handle Karachi affairs and if need be Brigadier Latif who was the Quetta region Brigade commander would send him some additional troops and he himself being the Quetta Station Commander could easily handle affairs at his end.

In Feb.1951,Gen Akbar as the CGS had visited Thal’ to distribute gallantry awards of the Kashmir war-later at the dinner in the 2nd/1st Punjab mess-which was also attended by Begum.Nasim Akbar,Ms.Mehr khan [sister of the communist worker-latif afghani who played a very conspicuous role in the march on srinagar and later in failed  attack on srinagar airfield along with Major-Khurshid anwer.Ms mehr khan had been a Crypto-Stenographer in british intelligence-during the war] & brig.sidique khan the brigade commander bannu,the Co of 2nd/1st punjab and other officers of the same brigade.At the dinner Gen.Akbar had commented on the latest wrong action taken by the Govt.and through its Governor NWFP of sending Army in the tribal areas,he had said’The Govt.does not know anything about Frontier,and I wish somebody should bump off them off’ the prosecution during the trial made much ado about these remarks-which were further twisted by the testimony of a Major.Salim Ahmed Yazadani-a company commander in 2nd/1st Punjab,who stated,that the CGS while addressing the gathered troops of the brigade for the gallantry award distribution had said during his address,’The people in Karachi [meaning the Govt.] could never understand the problems of the troops nor cater for their comfort-that,the sole solution to Kashmir problem,was, in fighting it out with the Hindu-and not running after the UNO.He had shouted and asked the troops whether they were prepared to fight for Kashmir-and they had shouted back in one voice,that,they were ever ready !

It should be kept in mind that when ever conspiracies leading to coup d’etat have been detected and men caught-the governments in power have always downplayed the level of support behind each attempt,as here to the same is seen in this case,if you study the trial proceedings.

On 07 feb.1951 Gen.Akbar had arranged a meeting between Air.Commodore M.K.Janjua and col.siddique raja,at 9 am at his office premises.As per the testimony of the approver-col.siddique raja-M.K.Janjua was very bitter about the British personnel who still dominated the Pakistan Airforce,and had blocked the promotions of Pakistani officers-however he had wanted time to coordinate all the tasks assigned to him at his end in the Karachi region.The same evening Siddique Raja met Gen.Akbar at the CGS House and requested that he maybe posted out of Infantry School Quetta to a good post in rawalpindi.

On 09 Feb. 1951 Siddique Raja returned back to Quetta and briefed Brig. Latif about the future plans and his meeting with M.K. Janjua on 12 Feb 1951 Siddique Raja got his new posting order to Rawalpindi. However, he was not happy about his new appointment and wanted the posting order to be cancelled which it never was-and had to come to Rawalpindi. Meanwhile Gen. Akbar told him to reach Rawalpindi latest by 21 Feb. as a major meeting was to be held on 23rd February.  Maj.Gul Khan, Maj.Majid and Maj.Ishaq Mohammad were also to attend and they all are contacted and informed accordingly. Siddique Raja as one can make out remained the Trojan horse in this conspiracy-as were a few others who will be discussed later. Siddique Raja had already worked on Brig. Latif by planting idea in his mind that the time as yet was not ready for the coup and had he worked on others. He had likewise conveyed the message to Maj. Gul and Maj Majid but told them not to leave for Rawalpindi till he told them to do so-even if Gen.Akbar called them directly. However Major Ishaq who was the in charge of Kalat State forces could not come as he had just returned after a long leave and the budget of the state forces was being made-which only he could do so-however the profile of Major Ishaq was excellent and he was a devoted follower of Gen. Akbar having remained his brigade major during the Kashmir war and later served also in the Kotli sector, he had won a Military Cross during the second world war. Likewise PA-105 Brig. Abdul Latif had been commissioned in 1936 and had been awarded a Military Cross for Conspicuous Bravery at the Burma Front. He had commanded 5/12 FFR [Guides] during the Kashmir war and in the brigade of the then Brig. Akbar and the Brigade Major had been Maj. Ishaq earlier mentioned. Brig Latif was also very bitter on the way the government had handled the Kashmir war affair when Sardar Patel had time and again offered Liaqat Ali Khan to take Kashmir in lieu of Hyderabad. During this period in the middle of Feb. 1951 the New C in C Ayub Khan had visited Quetta and had met Latif in the evening at the house of Gen Adam Khan where he was staying. Brig.Latif had questioned Ayub Khan on certain orders passed on to him through the GHQ. One was the sore point, that why was the GHQ  so soft on the British Officers serving in the Pakistan Army and why were they infesting the Staff College and why only those officers were being graded in above average class-who sided and supported the current pro-Anglo-American stance, whereas they had shown their true colors in the recent Kashmir War. Brig. Latif had also pointed in the same meeting about the massive corruption prevalent in the Army engineers’ corps and extravagant facilities being provided to British officer, serving along with Pakistani Officers who had much better war track records. Ayub Khan in this meeting was found to be at loss with words.

On 15 Feb.1951 Gen. Akbar took Maj. Sethi who too later became a approver, along with him on a visit the Sihala Camp facilities which were to house the arrested Generals and other senior officers after the Coup d’état. However seeing the dilapidated condition of buildings and poor security arrangements he ordered Maj. Sethi to look for alternative location, who consulted Brig Ziauddin on this subject. The latter mentioned that the Generals could be accommodated in the C in C house and it was secure. The other officers could be put up in the Rawalpindi Circuit House; on this Gen. Akbar agreed.

To counter the Pro Anglo -American tilt of the Army and the government, keeping in view their callousness in the recent Kashmir war and the way corruption was rampart in the country. Gen. Akbar and Begum Nasim had approached the Communist party to create a bridge for them with the Soviets and as well the Chinese. Begum Nasim remained throughout the main coordinator in this operation, as she had been very active in the Kashmir operations earlier. On 31 Jan 1951 she took Major Sethi to Lahore who drove the car to see Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Later all three drove back to Rawalpindi to meet Gen. Akbar on 02 Feb. During the trial the prosecution had highlighted that beside this meeting, Faiz Ahmad had also gone to Karachi from 14 to 18 Feb and stayed with Col. Majid Malik who was the Principle Information Officer and later met Air-Commodore M.K. Janjua at the house of Major-Shams Arif. The statements of these two prosecution witnesses were also twisted and played by the state lawyers. In the same period of mid-Feb. Gen. Akbar visited Lahore on an official tour and met Maj. Haq Nawaz Malik at Wazirabad and Brig. Bakhtiar Rana at Lahore.

On 20th Feb. Begum Nasim Akbar drove to the house of Maj Sethi at around 11 pm along with three guests who were to stay at his house. Sethi recognized Faiz Ahmad but was at loss about the other two-who were introduced as Mahmud and Shaukat. Later it transpired after the arrests and trial proceedings that Mahmud was Sajjad Zaheer and Shaukat  was Sibte Hassan. While these guests were at Sethi’s house Gen. Akbar would visit them in the evening while the whole day they spent writing papers. Later when they had left, Gen Akbar showed some of these drafted papers to Sethi which he found were proclamations regarding the new military order. The reforms which covered all facets to put an end to corruption and changes within the Armed forces hierarchy, all very elaborately worked out.

On the night before 23 Feb 1951 Gen Akbar had directed Sethi to bring along the guests to his house by 10 am latest as the meeting was to start. On reaching back he found ta fourth guest, who later turned out to be Muhammad Hussain Atta [accused number 15] and Secretary General of Communist Party NWFP. But in the morning Sethi found that Sibte Hassan had left without meeting him. He was arrested later on 19 April 1951-along with other communist party members-by 11 May 13 main members had been locked up by the police under the Punjab Public Safety Act but none of them were charged or tried for a substantive offence-the detention orders which were for six months continued to be extended every six months till the Hyderabad Tribunal lasted or continued.

[To be continued........]

Crimea; the new candy floss?

Yasmeen Aftab Ali

ArticleYAALet’s establish some facts here first. One; Crimea was part of Russia till 1954 when it was presented to Ukraine by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Crimea has existed since as a semiautonomous state but shares a historic and cultural umbilical cord with Russia. Recall also that Ukraine itself was part of USSR till 1990 since the Middle Ages.  Two; Crimea is surrounded by the Black Sea; Russia’s sole warm-water port. The importance this holds for Russia cannot be undermined. Three; Ukraine produces grain much needed by Russia. Four; the pipes running through Ukraine serve as Russia’s lifeline; carrying its natural gas to Europe! Five; ‘ethnic Russians still make up 59% of Crimea’s population of 2 million, while 12% are Tatars, according to 2001 census data’. (The Guardian UK, March 3, 2014) Six; Russia has a lease on the Sevastopol port till 2042. Ukraine gets a handsome $98 million a year for leasing of the Crimean naval base to Russia.

The temperature started soaring over Crimea a few months ago. NBC News claims, “Tensions spiked in late November when Yanukovych accepted a $15 billion loan from Russia and rejected a trade deal with the European Union. That move that infuriated the country’s opposition leadership, who had been pushing for a closer alignment with Europe.” Ups and downs have followed (ups and downs can be seen depending on from where one is viewing the situational changes) including resignation of Ukrainian prime minister  with a strongly pro-Russian bent and Russia temporarily suspending funding to Ukraine. The last was the result of a coup d’etat, overthrowing Viktor Yanukovich and his government by protestors who stormed Kiev. Russian Parliament has authorized Putin to use military force in Ukraine under unavoidable circumstances. Not only in Crimea. “The upper house of the Russian parliament has voted in favor of sending troops to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which would ensure peace and order in the region “until the socio-political situation in the country is stabilized.” (Published March 01, 2014) However, Reuters reports, “President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that he would use force in Ukraine only as a last resort, easing market fears that East-West tension over the former Soviet republic could lead to war.” (Published Mar 5, 2014)

In a video released on the occasion of International Business Conference at Ukraine in Washington – National Press Club – December 13, 2013, “US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Nuland said: “Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government – all that is necessary to achieve the objectives of Ukraine’s European. We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. ” Nuland said the United States will continue to “promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.” (Information Clearing House February 9, 2014) This is déjà vu. Remember Egypt’s ‘revolution?’

For Russia, the issue runs deeper. Ian Bremmer; specialist of US foreign policy and the Global Research Professor of the New York University tweeting on March 6th quote Kissinger, “The West must understand that, to Russia; Ukraine can never be just a foreign country.” I think he just about hit the nail on the head. Or to put in the right perspective; Kissinger did. Crimea was presented to Ukraine by Khrushchev. The purpose of this action was aimed at balancing out the fascists in Ukraine whose numbers threatened to unsettle and destabilize Ukraine.  Sam Nejad, in an exceptionally well researched article writes, “When the Soviet Union was dissolved, there was a tacit agreement that NATO would not infringe close to the Russian border ….. Isn’t it curious that the western media does not mention anything about the close bonds between the peoples of that entire area, including Russia, Ukraine, and the Crimea? … That they will lose unhindered access to the open seas? That first strike missile is being placed within a few hundred kilometers of Moscow and other major cities…That is why the Russian government, not just President Putin, but the Russian parliament, has reacted so urgently and justifiably, to this latest threat to their very existence.” (Titled Ukraine: Woeful Ignorance or Willful Malevolence? Published March 2014)

The bigger picture has USA and Russia in a face off in Syria grappling for greater influence on the Middle East policies, Crimea adds to the confrontation. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, it is USA having admitted to have funded 5 billion dollars to “help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.” No country funds another without expecting something in return. That is how this whole game of ‘strategic partnership’ is played, as also witnessed in Syria=and elsewhere.

The west wants to wean Ukraine away from Russia, knitting it closer to western nations. The west is ignoring the ties between Russia and Crimea. The west is ignoring the sentiments of population of Crimea. The west, unfortunately, is deliberately choosing to ignore history of Ukraine. History has proved, again and again and again; that imposing upon nations to achieve a certain given objective does not pay off in the long run. Egypt is a recent example. Condemnation of Russia from USA is being deemed by many as hypocrisy in light of approximately 50,000 killed in Iraq in an unprovoked invasion, the bloodshed that was caused when regime changed in Libya and the invasion of Afghanistan resulting in a war that has stretched to 13 years and continuing and now; USA’s open support to the opposition forces in Ukraine.

‘Secretary John Kerry called the Russian troop intervention in Crimea “an incredible act of aggression.” Kerry also said that the United States and its allies would consider asset freezes, visa bans and trade penalties if Russian troops continued their incursion in Crimea.’ (Washington Post March 2, 2014) What about the induction of 3 former Soviet Republic entities and 9 former Warsaw Pact states into an alliance that is definitely anti-Russia, if one may ask the Secretary Kerry?  ‘The European association agreement which provoked the Ukrainian crisis also included clauses to integrate Ukraine into the EU defence structure.’ (The Guardian March 5, 2014)

OK guys; you in the western block; give the rest of us a break. Notwithstanding the layers of media hype, this is not adding up. Take away the layers and there appears; the western desire for greater global expansion. The undue intervention may blow the situation into our communal faces. Bad idea! Stop treating Crimea as the new candy floss. Let Crimean decide for Crimea. Let Ukraine be. External interferences to mold situations according to the desire of powers fall flat; historically speaking!

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is and tweets at @yasmeen_9

This is a cross post from Pakistan Today on 11th March 2014

Hamlet’s governance?

Yasmeen Aftab Ali

ArticleYAAThose having read Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ would have been sorely reminded of him in the past few months. For those who have not read it; here’s a brief run-down. Hamlet was the Prince of Denmark. His father, the King was murdered. One night, in his dreams, he is visited by a Ghost. The Ghost looks very much like his dead father and tells Hamlet that his murderer is no other than the King’s brother himself; Claudius. This brother murdered the King later taking over not only the throne but also marries the brother’s wife Gertrude.  The Ghost incites Hamlet to avenge the murder of his father by taking Claudius’s life.

Hamlet, facing an uphill responsibility is plagued by his indecisiveness. He is shown to be overly analytical. Analyzing options upon options but being unable to take a decisive action. Interestingly, one of the reasons for this may be his own reasoning based heavily on religion. His focus on achieving the end of Claudius is overshadowed by his confused thinking of its methodology. Eventually, he realizes that in order to achieve his goal, he will have to take some risks. The turnaround comes when he hears opinions by others who feel that either Hamlet should take revenge for his murdered father or go for an all-out war against Claudius. It is this struggle within Hamlet that leads to the deaths of many characters in the play, though he does manage to kill Claudius, eventually.

The plot of this drama was built up on Hamlet’s indecisiveness that takes the play forward, but what is happening on ground in Pakistan, in terms of acts of terrorism is very much real and no play. Just as Hamlet had to put aside everything else in his life in order to deal with Claudius, our government too must prioritize to make terrorism its main challenge to be tackled.

The talks with the Taliban had stalled.  Many predicted that the talks will fail as the militants are ‘buying time’ as they have done in the past. The society stands divided over this issue. Taliban is opposed by a huge segment of moderates yet supported by some on grounds of ‘ideology’ and by some because it fights the United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan; a dangerous posture as it may tend to ignore what actually the Taliban stands for. The failure of recent talks may have been a result of a) An uncompromising list of demands as a pre-condition to beginning talks by Taliban and b) Reporting of every ongoing step or lack of it in media, making rigidity of positions inevitable.

Whether or not Taliban were serious in the process has also been analyzed, “Analysts said the Taliban wanted to start the talks but then prolong them, believing that while talks were underway the government would hold off taking any major military action against the group.” (NYT February 4, 2014) This may well be true and attacks and killings by Taliban never stopped when there was an effort to hold talks- in one incident executing 23 soldiers in the tribal belt. Jets of Pakistan air Force have attacked the Taliban hideouts on many instances since, as a result.

A local newspaper reported, “As Pakistan’s military braces for an expected targeted crackdown against the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and its allied offshoots in North Waziristan Agency and other parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), the issue of the TTP militants fleeing to the other side of the border makes a thorny area to step onto.” (February 20, 2014) There is cognizance of the fact that the target is a moving one, definitely not stationary.  The same report goes on to share, “A number of high-valued TTP commanders including Fazlullah are said to have taken refuge in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces.”

The twist in story came as military operation got underway. A predictable twist if I may be allowed to state. Taliban announced a one month temporary ceasefire. A report in a local newspaper states, “The government has formally announced to stop air strikes against militants, reciprocating Tehrik-I-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) declaration of a month-long ceasefire to resume peace talks.” (Published March 02, 2014) However, government retains “reserve the right to respond to violent attacks”.

There are both pros and cons of this temporary ceasefire, needing dispassionate analysis. First; is destroying the hideouts in FATA and elsewhere   enough? Will the Taliban pose as willing targets like a sitting duck? Or, will they scurry to other habitats? Have the routes been secured to stop this exit? If not, is the destruction of hideouts sans majority of Taliban and their leaders on Pakistani soil, good enough? Second, with networking across borders, access to state-of-the-art weapons and training, funding from vested interests; it will be a long haul. The factors that are the cause of their strength must be addressed. Third, should the uphill nature of the task lead to shying away from taking the bull by its horns? A very crucial question here that must be closely viewed is whether the Taliban have agreed to ceasefire in order to deflect military operation aimed at gaining time to recoup and attack more viciously? Should this be the case, no amount of sincerity on part of the government will deliver. It does take two to tango after all! Another question; were the surgical strikes themselves meant to bring about heat on the militants aimed to bring them to the negotiation table?   In order to talk, government must be seen as a strong stakeholder willing to take action against miscreants. Talks after inflicting heavy damage will make the opponent more willing to accept the writ of the state than without. How the government deals with the multidimensional issues that will arise should the talks continue will depend heavily on the Taliban’s perception of the government’s strength- and their own! The outcome of ‘peace talks’ after ‘one month ceasefire’ needs a hard look. What exactly is hoped to be achieved here by both? The outcome desired may be at odds with each other? What then?

The war we fight is not a traditional one, Pakistan must think of diverse tactics in order to deal with terrorism; out-of-box solutions with traditional ones. I am reminded by what Hamlet said to Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Good advice for our government and military strategists!

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is and tweets at @yasmeen_9

NOTE: This article is a cross post from’Pakistan Today’ where it was published on March 4, 2014


Naveed Tajammal

Part I can be read at:

Part II can be read at:


                                                                                                Major General Akbar Khan

Colonel Mirza Hassan Khan was the accused number nine in the Hyderabad Tribunal which was trying the accused in the coup of 1951.He had been assigned to bring troops for the Coup- d’état from Kahuta where 3 A.K. Battalion was stationed under the command of Capt. Nur Hussain. Col. Hassan had been arrested in the second week of May 1951 and taken to Attock Fort and a few days later,  Gen. Ayub Khan who was on a visit to Attock  Fort along with a Turkish Army delegation, ,having sent a message to Col. Hassan khan through the Mian Anwar Ali DIG[CID] who was interrogating Col. Hassan at the Attock Fort to become a approver and cooperate with the government agencies. This offer was spurned by Col. Hassan Khan. The role of Col. Hassan was very vital in the execution phase of the operation-as the whole of 3 A.K. Battalion was to arrive from Kahuta to Rawalpindi before the appointed hour-the day the Prime Minister was to be in Rawalpindi in connection with the election campaign. That evening Gen. Akbar who was the CGS was to go to the GHQ and issue orders to pre-arranged parties of officers to arrest the Prime Minister, the C in C Gen. Ayub Khan, Major Gen. Hayaudddin GOC 7 DIV, Brig. Altaf  Qadir; the local Brigade Commander in Rawalpindi-Lieut. Gen. Meckay,  the Chief of Staff-as well as a wide range of civil & military officers whose lists had been prepared and locations marked-in addition to 3 AK Battalion, ,two companies under  Lieut.Col. Arbab CO of 1st/2nd Punjab located at Thal was also to be called in. At the same period as 3 AK Battalion, a contingency had been catered for additional troops which were to be procured from 4/13 FFR-which was stationed also in Rawalpindi and the previous commander of this unit Lieu.-Col. Sidique Raja [who became approver number one] would make the necessary arrangements [rest of the operational plan I will discuss when the roles of other accused is highlighted.

Mirza Hassan Khan, as a Captain in the Dogra State Force had fought on the Burma Front-in the Second World War while serving in the 4th Jammu & Kashmir Rifles, which became part of the 9 Brigade under Brig. DFW Warren and the GOC-Maj. Gen. Evans, of the 5th Indian Division-toward the end of September 1944.This unit of J & K rifles had been sent to Burma to replace-3rd/14th Punjab which had suffered heavy losses and was in a bad shape and was being sent back to India for rest & reorganization. The 5th Indian Div. was on the axis-Imphal-Tiddim-Kalemyo-Kalewa Road and the progress was very slow due to Japanese resistance, The biggest hurdle en-route was the 'Kennedy peak' 2704 meters high and held tenaciously by the Japanese and INA troops. The 2nd/1st Punjab had tried its best but was held up. Later 3rd/2nd Punjab had tried to work its way up the ridge and had failed. On 26th Oct 1944,the CO of 4 J&K rifles assigned Lieutenant Banaras Dev to lead a Guerilla party and get vital information about the location of Japanese lethal 75mm guns sited all around the Ridge. His party came back with exact locations and this paved the capture of this salient feature.

Much later after many a battles on this axis-on the night of 22/23 March 1945,the Japanese attacked the entrenched forward positions of 4 J&K rifles at 'Meiktila' held by the 'C' Company-under Capt. Hassan Khan, as the Japanese advanced towards the trench positions of 7th and 8th platoons of the 'C' company-which held two important features. The Japanese were fearless they came in waves & in frontal attacks -the fighting continued the whole night-the Japanese were unable to dislodge the 'C' Company position, at Dawn the enemy withdrew leaving behind 257 dead. Captain Hassan Khan was awarded a Military-Cross for his gallant leadership due to which the men of his company struck on so stubbornly to their positions against determined Japanese Attacks.

Reverting to the subject of the liberation of Gilgit regions-and the role of Col. Hassan Khan; the British Govt. had taken on lease the whole of Gilgit Agency from Maharaja of Kashmir on 1st Aug 1935 for a period of 60 years which was to expire on 1st Aug 1995.As per the following major terms; that the entire Gilgit Agency was to be administrated on Civil & Military matters by the NWFP Govt, under the orders of the Viceroy of India, all Dogra forces were to be withdrawn-joint posts were however allowed to be maintained with the Dogra state forces at-Bunji-Leh-Kargil-and Skardu. The company posts at Leh were strengthened, in view of the influx of Turk refugees from Chinese Turkistan in 1937 and later of Kazak's from the Russian-Soviet State in 1942.

On 1st Aug 1947-The British played a dirty trick and handed back the Gilgit Agency to The Dogra Forces-The major pertinent point which Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan never raised at any forum was when the whole region had been actively controlled by the Govt of NWFP and a Referendum had finished on 17 July 1947-whereby the whole province and its agencies had voted in favor of joining Pakistan-Why was this territory and its lease still subsisting handed over so surreptitiously to Hari Singh on 1st Aug 1947 ??? Liaqat Ali Khan turned a blind eye to the whole affair in his usual callous manner-

After the Gilgit Agency previously part of NWFP and its agencies was handed back to Dogra state-Brig. Ghansara Singh was made the Governor of this region-he came along with 6 J&K rifles-and was further reinforced by two extra Sikh companies taken on loan from the Maharaja of Patiala state forces-The other paramilitary force in the region was of Gilgit-Scouts, under Maj. Brown & Capt. Mathieson and two local officers Lt. Sayeed and Lt. Ghulam Haider. The other important officers were Subedar Major Babar khan, Subedar Nadir Ali of C company, Muhammad Ali of D Company, OC of Adm. Company was Capt. Nek Alam from Mirpur. Other subedars were Bostan Khan, Ahmad Shah and Shafi of the Adm. Company.

Capt. Mathieson was located at Chilas-Subedar- Major Babar khan was the real uncle of the Mir of Nagar and Jemadar Shah Khan was the real uncle of the Mir of Hunza.

The arrival of 6 J&K rifles at Bunji had alarmed the men of the Gilgit Scouts-and their Subedar Major Babar Khan had represented the matter to Maj. Gen H.L. Scott Chief of Staff Dogra Forces who snubbed him by stating that the Gilgit Scouts could never be at Par with the Dogra-State forces, officers or even Jco's. The ring leaders of the takeover of the Dogra Governor's house and arresting and implementing the whole operation were-Babar Khan, Subedar Safiullah Beg[education JCO] Jemadar Fida Ali, Quarter master JCO and the platoon commanders, Shah Sultan, Shah Khan & Sultan Firoze Sufi.

Brig. Ghansara Singh had got a wind of the revolt and had ordered the CO of 6 J&K rifles, Lieut. Col. Majid Khan at Bunji to send in a company to Gilgit. Who accordingly detailed Maj. Hassan Khan and Capt. Ehsan Ali to move to Gilgit. However Subedar Major Babar khan becoming aware of this, moved in quicker and surrounded the Governors house on the night 31st Oct/1st Nov.1947.Babar Khan leading 100 picked men, encircled the compound of the residency and asked Ghansara Singh to surrender, who tried to delay it-as he was expecting a company of 6 J&K rifles from Bunji. Meanwhile Maj. Hassan Khan and Capt. Ehsan on the horseback reached ahead of the marching columns of the company-and on reaching both officers openly declared their loyalty to the cause. Brig. Ghansara Singh seeing this surrendered. On 1st Nov 1947 Pakistan Flag was hoisted at the Gilgit Residency.

Lieut. Col Majid Khan on hearing of this news rushed to Gilgit.  Enroute he was ambushed along with his leading team members and put under arrest with Brig, Ghansara Singh. On hearing the news of the arrest of their CO Capt. Sikander Singh & Capt. Balder Singh Bajwa decided to move out of Bunji. However Gilgit scouts ambushed them enroute and took them prisoners-they and rest of other men of 6 J&K Rifles were later transferred along with Brig. Ghansara Singh to the Attock Fort and later repatriated to India in March 1950.

By Jan 1948-the total manpower of Gilgit Scouts was 500 rifles plus a HQ company. The Muslim elements of the defunct 6J&K rifles were 400 men under command of Major. Hassan khan, Maj.Ehsan Khan & Capt. Muhammad Khan Jaral. Lt. Nadir Khan and Lt. Bostan  khan. At the same period a new Azad Force was also raised with each company of 120 men divided in three platoons.300 men each from Hunza-Nagar-and 100 each from Punial-Kuhi-Ghizer-Gilgit were also inducted-they were given training on a war footing. This force was divided in three wings-The main was the Tiger Force wing under Maj. Hassan Khan. The second was ‘Eskimo force under Lt. Shah Khan and the Ibex force came under Lt. Babar khan. The overall commander of the last two forces was Maj- Ehsan Ali Khan.

Capt. Muhammad Khan Jaral of later Zojila pass fame was made the overall commander of the defunct element of 6 J&K rifles. The Mir of Rondu on his own raised a force of 300 men, armed with local muzzle loaders and took up the position overlooking the Byicha pass gorge to check any Dogra Advances towards Skardu. The Ibex Column was sent to Haramosh-25 miles east of Gilgit later it moved to Tongas covering a snow decked region of 100 miles in just three days a admirable feat of human endurance done under the leadership Lt. Babar Khan.

The Tiger Force under Maj. Hassan Khan remained involved in the liberation war from March 1948 to Jan 1949.His four companies had the following composition-The punial company had 50 rifles of the Dogra era Gilgit scouts along with 60 rifles of new recruits, Subedar Shah Zaman of Punial was the company commander beside .303 rifles they had one two-inch mortar, one bren gun, two LMG’s. The same weapons were also held with other companies. The Kuhi-Ghizier company was under Subedar Akbar Hussain of Gupis, Yasin company was under subedar.Adina shah and the Gilgit company under Subedar  Firdos Ali son of the Mir Shah Rais khan of Gilgit.

This force fought its way till ‘Tragbal’ the last frontier post enroute to Srinagar. The Tragbal post is on a plateau 11,800 feet above sea level-and it was a check on the conventional land route between Gilgit and Srinagar via Bandipur. The most important aspect of this feature was that it threatened the Indian Advance positions at Uri & Teetwal from the rear. Maj. Hassan khan with his limited resources advanced till Baba Shukar Din’s hillock a few miles short of Bandipur-heavily fortified by the Indians and covered by Artillery and daily Air Raids which came on the positions of Maj. Hassan Khan who was daily sending raid parties across the Indian side of defenses and had reached the Dak Bungalow in the Sundarwan forests. However, Indian Air Staffing kept him pinned down. The objective of Maj. Hassan Khan was to set up a base at Tragbal and launch a pincer movement towards Srinagar-However he had a limited force-in view of this he requested the GHQ to send in reinforcements of at the least 2000 men including a few companies of the Frontier rifles. However it much in the middle of June 1948 that this force/Lashkar of tribesmen and the companies of Frontier  Rifles, reached his position-However here a new twist took place-the overall command was taken away from Maj. Hassan Khan, as he was still of the state forces-and he was called back to GHQ-the command came under a Maj. Ismail, Maj Queirshi and Lt. Anwar Khan of Frontier rifles. The result was a major fiasco. These officers, showed extreme cowardice and vacated the Tragbal and Gurez  on the first attack on their positions by the Indian, Air & Artillery bombardment along with their troops. When this news reached the GHQ Brig Sher Khan DMO was livid and immediately sent for Maj. Hassan Khan who had been sent to Kohat to be inducted in the regular Army-On reaching GHQ -Maj Hassan Khan was told this distressing news-and forthwith put in a small Harvard Plan and sent back to take over the overall Command after being inducted on papers in the regular Army.

By the time Maj. Hassan Khan reached and trekked his way to his Command the previous leaders had not only retreated from Tragbal/Gurez, but had also lost the lands south of Burzil-pass. However the force of Maj. Hassan Khan was now augmented by another brave man-Colonel [INA] Prince Burhan ul Mulk of Chitral State, who had come with his 2000 volunteers from Chitral regions, barefooted with no beddings and bows and arrows, equipped with old muzzle-loaders but with very high spirits.

This force now focused on the capture of the Kishanganga Valley [Neelum valley] and succeeded. Towards the middle of Aug 1948-Indians attacked the Durmat Post at mid-night-Maj. Hassan on receipt of the wireless message rushed with some men and LMG’s and held the post against extreme Indian bombing and morning Air Strafing. All Indian attacks were beaten back this post was situated on a hill 10,000 feet above sea level and controlled the Tilail Valley which overlooked the old route to the western fringes of the Zojila-Pass.

(To be continued)

Deja vu

Published: February 25, 2014

The writer is a lawyer and author of the book A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan. She tweets at @yasmeen_9

On February 18, 2014, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed a $183 million credit agreement. One dealt with the construction of a hydro-power project in Chitral, while the other pertained to the import of urea fertiliser from Saudi Arabia. This news was accompanied by another; that of Pakistan having decided to support Saudi Arabia in its demand to replace Bashar al Assad’s regime with an interim government. Interestingly, on the very same date, Iran issued a threat to Pakistan to send forces within its borders should it fail to rescue the five Iranian border guards abducted 10 days ago. Ten days ago? Whoa!

Enter Syria. Syria will determine the balance of Middle East politics. Syria holds a hugely important position for Iran. With Hezbollah, Iraq and Syria, Iran converges to form a religious school of thought. The US and Saudi Arabia are on the same page on this one, opposing Iran. Vali Nasr in The Japan Times says, “Syria is now a proxy war, the outcome of which will determine the regional pecking order. In the Mideast, aura of power decides strategic advantage.” (Published June 8, 2013.)

Now enter Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai visited Iran in December 2013. Both countries agreed to sign a “pact of friendship and cooperation”. This comes on the heels of a security agreement, which both countries entered into in 2013 to further enhance security cooperation. Trade between them is healthy and is expected to grow further once the Chahbahar Port becomes operative for heavier traffic.

Moving too close to Saudi Arabia at a time when the US is on the eve of pulling out its combat forces from Afghanistan, with increasing Iranian and Indian interest in Afghanistan, unleashing of terror incidents in Pakistan and growing schismatic clashes, one wrong step can lead Pakistan into a more ferocious proxy war on its soil than so far witnessed.

Shopping for a sugar daddy, Pakistan needs to understand that its interests and those of the sugar daddy may converge on some levels and may diverge on others. A pragmatic evaluation of the long-term national interest of Pakistan needs to be made in the light of the changing geopolitical scenario. Pakistan alone should define Pakistan’s national interest. When lollipops are accepted from a sugar daddy, there is always a price to pay. Pakistan must strive to build a balanced foreign policy, not based on imbalances. Imbalances lead to skewed relationships. Skewed relationships lead to an inevitable mess and inevitable messes to bitterness and mistrust.

Pakistan and the US, too, have had a relationship marked with varying expectations from each other. The fact that the interests of both diverged on many levels was maybe never appreciated by either. “The relationship needs redefinition, based on recognition of divergent interests …” (Husain Haqqani writing in Magnificent Delusions page 350). Somehow, Pakistan seems to be ready to commit the same mistake all over again with a country, it hopes, may invest in its economy. How economic help can translate on the ground in a country fraught with terrorism, and severe power and gas shortages will be a challenge in itself. Not to forget the dangerously volatile and precarious nature of changing regional dynamics.

It is deja vu!

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2014.

Cross post:

Pawns of terrorism

ArticleYAAYasmeen Aftab Ali

When proxies turn on their masters

 The Westgate mall siege in Nairobi taking lives of 72 people including six security personnel and five militants sharply brought to focus the rise of asymmetrical warfare. Al-Shabab joined Al-Qaeda in 2012 and laid claim to this attack.“Kenya’s foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said that two or three Americans and one female British national were among the attackers.” (The GuardianSeptember 24, 2013) CNN says Al-Shabaab has over the past many years now had strong links within the United States. “Some fifteen Americans have died fighting for Al-Shabaab, as many as four of them as suicide bombers in Somalia, and an American citizen even took up a leadership role in the group.”

Terrorism is spreading globally using unconventional warfare. It transcends geographical borders, bringing on one platform people from different religions, different cultural backgrounds and targeting innocent people. NYT shares; a former Navy reservist killed at least 12 people in a mass shooting at a secure military facility in America. (September 16, 2013) The enormity of such actions cannot be ignored because it was carried out by individuals. Then there is the Ku Klux Clan.Believing in supremacy of the white, it’s a racist and anti-sematic movement. Founded in 1866, it is dubbed as America’s first terrorist group. Initially against the African-Americans, the group spread its base, with time enveloping others in its hate list.

Though most would agree upon certain acts to be part of terrorism, no single, internationally acceptable definition exists. According to the US Department of Defense terrorism is, “The calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” Terrorists act outside the ambit of law; aimed to bring pressure upon the government. New causes result in emerging of new groups whose interests may overlap at some levels and diverge on others. The number of incidents of terrorism has increased over the years. Societies are becoming increasingly more desensitized towards these human tragedies. Media has a lot to answer in terms of playing a mentionable role in this desensitization by increasingly sensationalized reporting. Terrorists may feel they must enact bigger and increasingly more gruesome acts, in order to gain media attention.


“The trend of state sponsorship of terrorism aimed to retain supremacy locally, regionally or globally will continue. No amount of lip service to dealing with terrorism without governments deciding not to support it themselves will make any difference in the final analysis.”


Asymmetrical warfare is wedded to terrorism. Proxy wars are an example of asymmetrical war. Governments may use proxy wars, so can non-state actors. Proxy wars may be fought along with full-scale conflicts or more typically, during cold wars. An obvious example is of the Vietnam War from 1959 to mid-1975 between the US and its Western allies on one side and Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China on the other. A more recent example is the war between the Mujahedeen/Taliban and the Soviets in Afghanistan. The danger of creating a third force to fight a proxy war can never be undermined. The Frankenstein’s monster can develop a mind and will of its own, smashing the control in the hand of its creator.

Pakistan in recent years has become a hotbed of sectarian violence.Many elements play their part including economics, external interference and religious intolerance! There can be no political independence without economic independence. The cascading effects are devastating; creating wedges between different sects and religions, destabilizing a peaceful environment thereby damaging the economy, creating internal security threats and politicization of religion to name a few. The step-up in sectarian violence may also be due to the fact that many sectarian based organizations are allowed greater space to operate. Multiple explosions in Shama Cinema Peshawar, killing 11 and leaving 19 injured is a more recent act of terrorism.

Questions spring to mind. First, are pawns, in their simplicity being conned to fight each other and commit violence in the name of religion by their leaders – egging them on for vested interests? In many cases, particularly in the case of Taliban suicide bombers, they are indeed brainwashed into believing the righteousness of their deeds. Is this an extension of the proxy war as witnessed in Syria? Vali Nasr in Japan Times says, “Syria is now a proxy war, the outcome of which will determine the regional pecking order. In the Mideast, aura of power decides strategic advantage.” (Published June 8, 2013)

Terrorism once spreads base, takes years, nay, decades to control. Whether home grown or otherwise, it must be weeded out. Better sooner than later. The first tactic to curb terrorism is using force. Unfortunately, though this tactic may reduce the ability of a terrorist outfit to create greater havoc and orchestrate more killings, force alone may not work if the base of terrorism is laid beyond borders, with terrorist groups forging alliances backed by vested interests,receiving training and being funded to buy state-of-the-art weapons. Negotiations or “talks” with the terrorist outfits is another method of handling terrorism. Nations and people may deny talking to terrorists for crimes committed by them; however “back channel” talks may work in some situations. Britain had refused to negotiate with the Irish Republican Army. Once out of the public eye that places pressures on both parties and provokes them into greater rigidity of stances. Negotiations did take place, finally leading to the Good Friday Agreements, which were instrumental in eventually ending the terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland. The third tactic is engaging in international agreements. Organizations like the United Nations can play a positive role in bringing member nations together for better understanding and world peace. Kofi Annan says, “More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that is why we have the United Nations.” However, in order to achieve this objective, organizations entrusted with a role, must play a strongly independent oneand free from influences.

The trend of state sponsorship of terrorism aimed to retain supremacy locally, regionally or globally will continue. No amount of lip service to dealing with terrorism without governments deciding not to support it themselves will make any difference in the final analysis. Nick Turse commenting on America’s support for proxies, writing for The Nation International states, “Right now, the United States is once again training, advising, and conducting joint exercises all over the world with proxy war on its mind and the concept of “unintended consequences” nowhere in sight in Washington.” (August 9, 2012)

Brian Whitaker (The Guardian, May 7, 20o1) commenting upon what terrorism is, states wittingly “…It also points towards a simpler – and perhaps more honest – definition: terrorism is violence committed by those we disapprove of.”

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: and tweets at @yasmeen_9.

This is a cross post from:

Go Green Pakistan!

Black DPYasmeen Aftab Ali

When I was a child, I often heard my elders saying, “Do a good deed. A good deed is akin to planting a tree in heaven.” The elders are no more, the priorities have changed, and so have the slogans. Everything that is environment friendly, everything that involves the people in owning their country in form of steps that help them integrating as a nation has gone flying out of the window. In its stead are sectarian divides, attacks and criticisms between parties. When calls are given by parties for its supporters; it’s to protest against this or that. When was the last time they came together to do something positive for the country? Or for their province? Or even for the area representatives live in?

Yet there are so many meaningful ways each of us can contribute towards having our children more grounded to Pakistan and inculcate in them the desire to give rather than to take from their motherland.  Unfortunately our leaders are not investing in our biggest asset: our children. There is a lack of vision, a lack of sense of direction one observes at every level.

But then, I use the term leader. A leader influences people to work towards and achieve a certain goal. A leader does not work from the back benches. He (or she) leads from the front. Letting others follow his example.  The leader must also have the vision; to view an organization or his country at different year-benchmarks down the road. Jack Welch Chairman and CEO of General Electric for two decades talks about being a leader to be, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Tree plantation is one such method of being productive on ground. Literally. According to a local newspaper the floods in 2010 and heavy rains of 2011 damaged thousands of trees.  An absorbing article by the Sunday Herald Scotland states, “If Pakistan’s authorities continued to allow the country’s timber mafia and a benighted and oppressed peasantry to strip the country’s forests at a faster rate than anywhere else in Asia, as is happening; floods of Biblical proportions would be inevitable. They would not be acts of God. They would be man-made catastrophes.” Published August 29, 2010 it goes on to say, “Trees felled by so-called illegal loggers – an infamous “timber mafia” that has representatives in the Pakistan Parliament in Islamabad and connections right to the top of government and the military – are stacked in the innumerable nullahs [steep narrow valleys], gorges and ravines leading into the main rivers. From there they are fed into the legal trade, earning the mafia billions of dollars yearly. …….But this month the mud and water deluge cascaded off the tree-bare mountains and hills with exceptional force and barrelled down towards the plains in mammoth fury.” These mountains, gorges and gulley are the usual areas of upper Indus River track, meaning thereby the Kohistan, Hazara and lower Gilgat-Baltistan regions. Traditionally, the riverine forests have always been a check on floods but unfortunately, in the last two decades or so, massive deforestation has taken place. Once dense forests are now totally denuded giving pathway to floods and devastation. The article quoted expounds, “Relief workers said bridges, homes and people were destroyed and swept away by the hurtling and swirling logs before the waters spread on to the plains below, engulfing an area of more than 60,000 square miles, more than twice the land area of Scotland.”

On the flip side, there have been campaigns for tree plantation. In June 2013, the Pakistan Reconstruction Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) held one for planting trees. Though many laws exist both on the national and provincial level to protect the environment but the degree of their implementation is questionable. To quote one example only; Sindh Plantation, Maintenance of Trees and Public Parks Ordinance of 2002 states, “no person shall remove, cut, damage, or displace any plant, shrub, tree or a branch at any public place, including parks.” A local newspaper on the other hands comments, “The data collected by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which according to their website, is the oldest global environmental organization since 1948, states that only about 2.5 per cent of Karachi is green.” (Published April 18, 2013)

To our pride; “ Pakistan set the Guinness World Record for tree planting, 541,176 young mangroves trees planted by 300 volunteers from the local fishermen communities just in one day, the country broke the previous 447,874 record held by historical rival India,”  according to a report published in June 2009 on the official website of  WWF Global.

Trees are important for many reasons. Trees prevent soil erosion; they strengthen the soil thereby reducing the impact of rain and wind, they protect the banks of streams when floods come. They give out oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide. According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “eleven of the last twelve years (1995 to 2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (records since 1850)”. These changes in Earth’s temperature have correspondingly been associated with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (as well as methane and nitrous oxide) levels in the atmosphere,” states Steve Nix a professional forester and natural resource consultant. In places having snow fall, trees can have a noticeable reduction on snowdrifts. In warmer climates, trees help reducing temperature; this in turn can reduce electricity costs. In urban areas, beautifully laid out residences and residential areas enhance the value of the property.

Due to increasing urbanization, more and more trees are being cut away to provide space for expanding population needs. They are being cut also to provide much needed firewood in extreme cold. Increasing population has led to increased consumer demand; demand for furniture is one. Wood consumption for industries is another reason. In any case, these trees are not being replaced with more trees being planted. Chanting slogans, promising the sun, moon and stars to the people who entrusted the winning political candidates and made them successful is just not good enough. They want a change. Change is not just related to passing resolutions in the National Assembly for Protecting Pakistan but the will to do so must be reflected in actions not in words alone.

Government can support and promote tree plantation in many ways. It can encourage multinationals and local organizations to promote plant a tree campaign in given areas. The government may offer incentives to the organizations involved in tree plantation. The companies can hold a Tree Plantation Day, which can be used as a sales promotion springboard offering excellent publicity opportunity and product(s), service awareness their company offers. Company giveaway kits can be given to participants.  The government can start a website as done by the’ Billion Tree Campaign’ by United Nations to growing a billion (1 000 000 000) trees all around the world during 2007. Pictures of people planting trees can be sent and posted on the website.

What is needed is for the government not to keep the initiative at the political level alone. But to involve companies, organizations, people at mohalla levels to get involved. Earth Day may be a great time to organize Tree Plantation events around the country. It can be turned into an exciting national activity.

I am reminded here of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ”

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She tweets at @yasmeen_9 her mail ID is: 


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