Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Secret of Deja Vu: The PADE tests

I had a celebratory drink with my friends yesterday. They had an even bigger party planned but I could not attend. Quite naturally I expected spirits to loosen up tongues but oddly enough they didn't.

I was wandering in the usual place and I think Arun_S has the right idea. This was a solid fueled first stage with a ramjet based EKV on top. That explains the numbers coming from DRDO and that also explains the sudden rush of anti-DRDO publicity that the IE was running with. I think the US FDI in the IE has something to do with their desire to push for Indo-US cooperation in ABM related stuff. If the DRDO was building a local competitor for foreign ABM systems, the suppliers had a God-given right to be solidly pissed.

I think the PADE test means the following:

1) While we are still "light years" away from a field ready ABM system, who isnt? unless you believe that a colourful brochure with jazzy photos has something to do with the field readiness of your system, no one has field ready system yet. We have a demonstration system and that is much more than what most others have. Rahul Bedi and Rajat Pandit have a funny way of stating the obvious. If this DRDO test had failed Rajat Pandit would have made associate editor, sare career par pani phail gaya. Tsk tsk.

2) Some foreign supplier comes to me and says please buy our ABM missiles they are the best. In order to prove his point he brings some english speaking girls along with him and they smile and show some cleavage. I am already rolling my eyes at this point. Yaar why would I want to buy this? I know for a fact I am never going to use it. If Pakistan or China launches a missile at India, the world will have come to an end. What is the point of spending 200 million a peice for the radar and 3 Million a piece for the entry level interceptor? Why should I stockpile these things waiting for a day which I hope and pray will never come? It is the exact same logic that applies to ballistic missiles. Why spend money on pieces of junk that will end up in a hole in the ground? and then when they are in a hole in the ground you will stand around the hole and worship these missiles and pray everyday that something terrible doesn't happen that causes this beast to come out of the hole. What a fantastic waste of public funds! who in their right mind is going to sanction this? What is the bottom line on this? half a Billion USD per city? assuming that we have a single Aegis type radar and about a hundred missiles per city of choice? So Delhi and Mumbai get protection, what about Bangalore? This is going to be the budget? for a guarenteed kill probability of what? 50 %? what are the odds with this? does this not seem absurd?

3) Now the Pakistanis are worried, if the Indians have such good control over their missiles, then what to make of all that intel that was available on CEP of Indian missiles being poor? Was that completely off? Sure Americans said that the only thing the Indian missiles could hit with certainity was the Bay of Bengal, but what if they were lying? How does Pakistan know that its Chinese made warheads and missiles work? okay forget about the Missiles lets just stay with the warheads, what is the guarentee that those work? So the Pakistanis have to either make more Ghauris or make maneuvering warheads. Buying 100 percent indigenous ghauris from North Korea is hard now in this post AQK times, 5000 percent indigenous Shaheens could be purchased from China but that still leaves the pesky question of the warheads. How to establish that those warheads work? Either ways they have to improve their confidence in their warheads dramatically. Remember folks - the Pakistanis are heavily invested in a PR war with India - they have to show that their Shaheen is longer and fatter than our short and thin Prithvi otherwise all is lost and Pakistan Army will have to start investing heavily in vaseline.

4) From the NPA perspective, this just couldn't get worse. First the Chinese try to sell India Uranium, then the Indians go off and build a missile which is highly controlled by MTCR restrictions. If the NPA make a fuss about it, it will put a dampener on the Arrow sale and open the market to the Russians, if they don't kick up a fuss about it, the Indians get away under the radar. Much angst and much work at the Handwringing Bureau of the Nonproliferation. Gripe fests galore but in private only please. The Pakistanis are going to be solidly pissed. This is like Buddha II 1998 all over again. Deja Vu...

5) Now to my friends in uniform an attempt at humor.

Self: Man in Uniform (MiU) so what are you planning to do with the Prithvi regiments?

MiU: Huh? well they are meant for strategic role?

Self: But now we have PADE they could become AAD regiments also?

MiU: Err.. I suppose.

Self: Sir, I think PADE is a great way to show what we can do with Prithvi no? I mean look SSM today, SAM tomorrow, ABM day after tomorrow?

MiU: (suspiciously) Yes maybe..

Self: Sir you are not very enthusiastic?

MiU: Well it is an untested system.

Self: But no less untested than the Arrow or the S300...

MiU: Well not exactly.

Self: Can you be sure that what we get will work? won't we have to verify all their results and claims?

MiU: yes..

Self: Then how is it cheaper? or more effective? to import? the tests will still cost us a fortune and that will come from your account.

MiU: See traditionally we have had a lot of problems with DRD..

Self: And our imports have been reliable? I still remember the problems with...

MiU: Yes but we solved all of those.

Self: At the cost lives on the battlefie..

MiU: What rubbish that is not fair to us.

Self: Sir you chose, and you bought something that didn't work.

MiU: this is most unfair.

Self: At least with Prithvi we will know more about it than any other system they sell us, you have a lot of experience.

MiU: Yes that is true but..

Self: But do we know whether the import will work at all?

MiU: there is a known failure rate and a certain rating for each supplier.

Self: Ratings? based on prior purchases ? how are these ratings given?

MiU: That is technically evaluated and you know performance based.

Self: With battlefield evaluations?

MiU: yes indeed.

Self: of an ABM? how?

MiU: Aaah.. simulated conditions.

Self: Simulated with what?

MiU: we have a few things?

Self: High Mach simulations? I have never heard of such a thing.

MiU: Well it is fairly standard..

Self: Really... when was this done?

MiU: it hasn't been here but we have witnessed a few demos

Self: So is the decision made?

MiU: Well it is not up to us, ultimate Financ...

Self: Ah.. I see.. (Chanting in the background "Prithvi ki jai, Pradhan Mantri ki Jai.."

6) At my friends drinks party, I see someone squirriling around, so I catch up with him - he's a journalist. He ducks and runs as quickly as he sees me approach. I call out to him ask him what he is eating, he says its chicken, I think its crow and let it go.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hon. Member of Parliament Sir.

I would like to thank Nitin for bringing this article by Hon. MP. Shri. Milind Deora, to my attention.

It certainly answers a lot of questions at least for me.

I hate to be the one that has to do this but someone is going to have to it, and it might as well be me. I know the Hon. MP or his staff are going to read this so I might as well do this right.

You cannot compare DARPA and DRDO. If you want to compare DRDO with something American, you have to look at an older organisation, and I challenge the Hon. MP and his staff to find the name of that older organisation and what exactly it did. A bunch of DOOs with Google as a guide might have a hard time with this challenge but the Hon. MPs staff have other resources so it should not be as hard as it sounds.

DARPA was setup to act as a funding mechanism for things that the Pentagon thought were unavailable through existing suppliers. As it turns out, because of the organisation predating DARPA and what it did, American industry had a substantial capability to absorb high end manufacturing tasks as a result American industry could service a number of Pentagon contracts with inhouse R&D. This capacity grew through the Cold War years, and today we see an extremely muscular private R&D base in America.

By contrast DRDO was set up to create defence research and industrial solutions for the Indian Armed Forces. As the Indian Armed Forces were heretofore supplied with imported arms, DRDO's attempts at supplying arms to the Indian Armed Force were met with a huge counter-publicity campaign sponsorred by the foreign arms suppliers. At every opportunity the foreign suppliers used a variety of persuasion methods to seduce the Armed Forces away from DRDO's wares. Foreign governments lent a helping hand to these unscrupulous arms dealers by doing everything in their power to deny DRDO a level playing field. Only where there were technology denial regimes, the DRDO's output were used and here too every attempt was made to put DRDO down. Despite this, the DRDO managed to build an extremely large industrial base and in many cases the products that DRDO provided were sufficiently competitive to reduce the air of lethargy that prevailed among our foreign suppliers. The Arjun and the LCA are good examples of this, even if the Armed forces eventually do not induct either in numbers, these products have effectively served notice to foreign arms suppliers, whatever they supply to us will have to be atleast as good as the Arjun or the LCA. If they can't supply something as good they will have to pay a ton of bribes to get us to buy it. The size of the bribe will make the deal unprofitable for them. This is the best explanation of the value that the DRDO has provided to us. I also state without reservation that if DARPA had to put up with the kind of hostility that DRDO has put up with, DARPA would have been dead a long time ago.

If you find out what the organisation that preceeded DARPA was called, you will also find out how it was funded. If you know that, then you also know that you can't make definitive statements about DARPA's funding commitments today either. Without a real understanding of how things are funded there, you can't make statements about how things are really done or even make objective remarks about what was really done. You can't make blanket statements about DARPA being better or worse than anyone else as most of DARPA's projects are covered by an extremely high security classification (TS-SCI). If you can't read what they are doing, how can you say that they are doing a good job?

I am glad to see that credit is being given to DARPA for things like the internet. I think these things are being termed spin-offs nowadays.

Well if such courtesy was extended to DRDO, then perhaps one might see the hugely successful work at DFRL (Defence Food Research Lab) in a different light. A common complaint in the army has been that it is impossible to provide high quality meals to Indian soldiers on the move. This same problem also presents itself when we attempt to distribute food in disaster prone areas, in most cases where we drop food supplies, the nutritional value of the food ends up being very low as the disaster affected people are in no position to cook the food. In general anyone who knows a thing or two about the Indian economy knows that India has a major food storage problem, the storage currently available causes a substantial loss of foodstocks. The key to solving these problems is better food processing and storage technology. That is precisely what DFRL has been working on. The manner in which DFRL has successfully packaged and stored pre-cooked Indian foods is an excellent example of how DRDO's technology is making a difference to India.

Ofcourse, it isn't as sexy as the internet but it makes a real difference to Indian lives.

Can food technology developed at DFRL be used to improve Indian lives? yes. Can this be done by a private company? may be. But you have to think really hard before you do this, you are now putting a substantial portion of the country's food security infrastructure in hands which you do not necessarily control. The answer to that is not simple.

One can easily see that at the present time DRDO is a vertically integrated organisation. You attempt to prune parts of it, you will break up internal synergies and leave the entire system vulnerable to attacks. As any MP is aware, currently DRDO is reeling under two major assaults, the first from media groups and armed forces personnel in the pay of foreign arms suppliers, and secondly from foreign headhunting firms that are stripping away highly trained manpower. At this point if actual sub-units are chopped away from DRDO, a third front would open up with negative consequences for its functioning.

If at this point someone comes in and shouts about how things should be chopped away from DRDO's areas of responsibility, a rational voice will feel compelled to ask whose side is this guy on? Even if we assume that such a person is only keen on seeing parts of DRDO privatised, we have to ask ourselves what does he gain by diminishing the apparent value of items to be sold?

Is it possible to say that now DRDO has reached a level of maturity and that it can disinvest from certain areas or transfer the technology to private players? Yes, I agree it can be done but herein lies a difficult problem - what to leave and what to keep? Answering that requires a holistic view of what our needs in the next fifty years are going to be and I assure you that there are no simple answers to this question.

Everyone loves to talk about arms sales but few actually understand what it means to sell arms. Arms are used for only one purpose - to kill people! The sale of arms is not a trivial problem because you have to ensure that the arms you sell do not eventually end up getting used against you.

To actually sell any arms on the international market you have to deal with all sorts of shady merchants of death. The result is that unless you absolutely know what you are doing and who you are selling to you risk having the arms you sell being sold to people you don't like. Since the Hon. MP loves all things American, perhaps he should read somethings about how American arms sales in the 80s have resulted in a huge blowback which eventually compromised their own security on 9-11-2001.

The Pakistanis can participate in the arms trade because their government is already neck deep in heroin trafficing. To them arms trade is just a value addition on existing infrastructure. For India this is not the case. We supply the world with textiles, medicines, steel, food and software. It is not a trivial extention from here to sell arms. In addition to making the arms, we will also have to carve out a niche for ourselves in the existing market and that will take a lot more work then most can imagine.

At the very least, the Indian Intelligence community is going to have to completely shift its posture in order to provide intelligence support for arms sales by the Indian private sector. Do you understand how much work and expenditure that is going to be? or do you foresee the consequences a system where any Indian arms manufacturer will be able to sell arms to anyone he pleases without audit and screening?

People that work in MNCs outsourcing to India wonder why you can't outsource arms production to India. The only price benifit in outsourcing comes from mass production at lower personnel costs. Unfortunately unlike software, mass production of arms is technology intensive and this technology has a very high proliferation risk attached to it. This is why no nation on earth will outsource mass production of arms to India and consequently people can stop dreaming about an outsourcing bonanza. Most FDI in the arms industry will only come with the guarentee of a local market in India and production will be highly limited.

There is definetely a liability that comes with youth, it presents as a lack of detailed knowledge of the situation on the ground. When a question that is being asked is phrased as an informed comment, it becomes amusing. However when it phrased as an apparent judgement on the value of people that have devoted their lives to securing the country, then that kind of behaviour is seen as being highly offensive.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns

I borrow a phrase from the Great Man Who Almost Thought He Could Someday Be President. The title is self explanatory.

The Known Knowns

1) The policy shift initiated by President Bush and Manmohan Singh in March of 2006 caught most of the Indian and American policy circles by surprise. There was some talk of a change in the way America did business with India but no one in India or the US actually believed the shift would happen. In India there was a growing enuii with American duplicity on the proliferation issue, the prevailing attitude in India vis-a-vis the US was one of live and let die. The Americans were heavily invested in their own propaganda, with several senior bureaucrats being seduced by visions of a Pax Americana based on an absolute control of nuclear energy and technology resouces. Neither of the visions reflected reality, India cannot afford to let the US die and the US dreams of world domination will never actually materialize.

2) The passage of the deal in the US Congress required that the Bush administration overcome a vast amount of internal opposition from people in the Congress that didn't like President Bush. There was also international opposition from China, Pakistan and the little countries in the NSG and inside the NPT. The Bush administration had to use up some political capital to achieve the passage of the deal in Congress. Failure to make this pass in the US Congress would have caused a catastrophic break in Indo-US relations. That has been avoided by the passage of this agreement.

3) On the Indian side, the high drama seen in the US over the nuclear deal will be mirrored when the parliament has to approve purchases from US sources. The ability to approve such changes will depend heavily on the Prime Minister's personal credibility within the halls of parliament. Nothing is guarenteed in India either.

4) The Indo-US nuclear deal effectively removed a major hurdle to India's reducing its dependence on imported carbon fuels. As could be expected there was a concerted attempt in the US by various special interest groups to see the reduction of dependence on imported carbon fuels replaced by a dependence on imported Uranium. This is why the attempts at building up a fuel reserve were frustrated by amendments in the Congress. On the global scale India with its long emphasis on a zero emission, closed fuel cycle has just been given a major boost. This completely alters the future of nuclear energy in the world.

5) The corruption and decay that has set into the US political system and the international proliferation system could not be adequately covered up by the fig leaves that the Senate attempted to insert into the nuclear deal. The absurd pretense of Pakistan's nuclear chastity and the repeated recertification of the Musharraf regime's poor record, suggests that the waking dream of non-proliferation as it stands today is coming to an end. So while the Senate has inserted all manner of surveillance clauses into the deal, given the complete incompetence of the US executive, the clauses will automatically become ineffective.

6) The Chinese and the Russians percieve this agreement between the US and India as a risk. These nations have both been able to dictate terms to their Indian technology clients because the US has kept itself out of the market. Now if the Agreement comes through, the pricing from China and Russia on products intended for the Indian markets will have to become competitive. Mind you, even if the Japanese and the Koreans are allowed by the Americans to enter India's technology market the Chinese and the Russians are going to have to lower their prices or offer better products. The WYSIWYG culture that they have been tugging along is not going to work.

The Known Unknowns

1) There is a strong suggestion that the Bush government made some unrealistic promises to evangelical groups in order to get this amendment to pass. As long as those promises pertained to the state of an American woman's uterus, an American gay person's rights and the ability of Christian folk to kill heathens and Muslims anywhere outside of India, I can't imagine how anyone in India would have any objection towards it. However were some comments made by someone speaking for President Bush mistakenly interpreted by overzealous American Christians to imply a guarentee that mass conversions to Christianity would be allowed by the Indians?

2) The US intelligence community is tied at the hip to America's mighty financial and economic machine. The US intelligence community will always act to protect the interests of the high and mighty in America, regardless of the cost to average American lives. As the high and mighty in America are obsessed with the idea that India will be a low cost high return investment opportunity, the USIC will seek to establish a firmer foothold for its predictive models in India. This means a wide expansion in information operations targetting India. To what extent will these actions degrade that essential loneliness crucial to the functioning of India's security machinery? Will the Americans know when to back off with their intrusive surveillance? or will they becomes seduced by the lure of complete knowledge and in searching for it lose the very predictability that they crave with India? How precisely will American intelligence targetting goals vis-a-vis India be set? will they be set by the present generation of Cold War geriatrics and their lunatic subordinates?

3) The American economy is inefficient and underproductive. The majority of this failure appears in the form of a poor culture of energy use and an exceptionally poor understanding of waste management and pollution. American strangleholds on oil prices, and the narcotics economies and their he current dominance over media technology enables them to whitewash this failing and to project a positive investment climate. This not a perpetual state of affairs, like the empires of old, this too shall pass and an age of consequences will be upon us. Can the American economy improve its poor culture of energy use before a general collapse sets in? The answer to this question is an important one, and will determine whether it makes sense to invest in America right now or to simply write off losses and invest elsewhere? If American bigwigs don't want to invest in America, why should the Chinese invest in America's burgeoning debt?

4) The Pakistanis are not going to be happy with the Indo-US deal. They are not going to be happy if the deal fails, and they are not going to be happy if the deal succeeds. They would have been happiest if the deal had never existed as an idea at all. To Pakistan is in a peculiar state where its military leadership is no longer in a position to guarentee the loyalty of the vast number of international terrorist groups that the Pakistani government is mixed up in. This is going to make Pakistani behaviour unpredictable. What is the right way to keep the Pakistanis from doing something very stupid?- No one knows for sure.

The Unknown Unknowns

There isn't much to say here, except that these will come into full view as the days pass.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We Are Stepping On Someone's Toes. But Whose Toes?

I am sure you are all following the recent stream of anti-DRDO articles written by Shiv Aroor in the Indian Express. You also probably know that there have been a number of other articles which have been written by retired military types in recent times. The articles on their own have no merit, and while the Shiv Aroor's write up is obviously a "lifafa" piece, the articles by retired military types are a little unusual. Something is out of place, as my friend who reads newspapers would say.

A reasonable person might correctly be led to conclude that something big is moving in the world that cannot be seen.

A surge of anti-DRDO articles appears in the media everytime around a major foreign arms supplier in India changes its agent in India. The new middleman tries to prove his/her worth by paying off a journalist to write something nasty about DRDO. The Western arms supplier is apparently easily convinced that this kind of blatant psyops is sufficient to shake the MOD's confidence in itself and is more likely to push the MOD towards a purchase from that particular supplier. Though the Bofors deal led to a ban on middlemen, the practice continues, as the Tehelka scam demonstrated a few years ago.

From the journalist's perspective, this is easy money. Its not like anyone is going to audit the journalist, and even if they do, the newspaper which recieved a cut will raise a hue and cry about how its people are being hounded and freedom of the press is being curtailed etc... its all a well oiled scam. Many people swallowed up the Tehelka hidden camera footage, and no one asked the question who paid Tehelka to do this. If people are stupid, then the press can't be blamed for exploiting them. There is no law against what the press is doing, you can't make laws against things like that. Journalists unlike so many others, know they are only a single level above the CSWs on Lamington Road so there are no qualms about doing things like this and while someone may seem like an objective and reasonable voice on these matters otherwise, there is nothing to say that person is not simply putting on a show to get the credibility necessary to do a lifafa piece.

The Arms supplier knows he has to pay bribes to get the deal through. That's the way the machine works - everywhere. All the supplier hopes to achieve is to lower the bribe he has to pay and increase the bribe that his competitor has to pay. This helps choose the agent. The agent chooses the journalist. The journalist chooses the story and the story chooses the audience. That's how this racket works.

Okay now that I have said is a racket, I feel we still have to ask ourselves who exactly is behind it. The current burst is too well coordinated to be a mere accident. This has been in the works for a while.

Some of you probably feel that Indian Express is close to the Pakistanis. After Stinky Dupatta's performance at Agra, you might very well think that. But would Pakistan really gain from printing anti-DRDO articles in the media? That is an open question.

Others would probably say given his Cohenist adulations, the IE is an American mouthpiece. Okay I am willing to consider the theory, but this needs to looked at in greater detail. Firstly the Aroor article has the following gripe embedded deep in it,

Instead of a pragmatic strategy to enhance national capabilities in research and development through international collaboration, the DRDO has tried to reinvent the wheel in the name of self-reliance. At the same time, it has packaged licensed production of foreign systems and domestic manufacture of primitive missiles like the Prithvi as great national achievements. Worse still, an ossified DRDO and obsolescent public sector defence production units are in no position to take advantage of the huge new opportunities that await them amidst the unfolding globalisation of the world’s defence industry.

So is that what the Americans are trying to get us to do? "Collaborate" with them? That makes no sense to me. The Americans were the ones who shut off the collaboration valve the day they kicked out folks out of Los Alamos. Let them back in, and the valves will open automatically. This means that the Americans haven't realised that the valves are closed on their side? Could be... but then it wouldn't be a first.

Alternatively one might be inclined to think that the Israelis, the good friends of the Americans, and supposedly our great friends are upset with something and they paid for this. Okay lets say I buy that too, but what on earth do they want from us? they already have access to far better facilities than anything we have. What could we have they couldn't get access to themselves? lord knows we have more collaborations with them than anyone else.

What applies to the Israelis applies doubly well to the Russians. We have more codevelopment contracts with them than anyone else. Many people have a hard time telling where the Russian system ends and ours begins. So althought the communication channel is wrong, if the communication is of Russian origin, we may be doing something else that is upsetting them. The BR thread has my humshakal, identifying a possible cause for friction with Russian interests. The Karan (Tank Ex) could become a severe problem for the Russians. We have the ability to mass produce T-72s. The Arjun FCS (Fire Control System) contrary to rumors is far superior to anything you might get with a T-72 otherwise, so mate the two and you have a winner. Okay so even if we don't market it internationally, we restrict it to an upgrade of our T72s only, even then the T-90 deal is in trouble. Remeber the incessant whining about the Arjun has focussed on the chassis, the airconditioning and the FCS. If the FCS has been fixed, shifting to the T-72 chassis takes out 90% of the objections at source. The Army can't whine about the chassis being a problem if its been using the T-72 for ages! This means that anyone who wants to object to Tank Ex/Karan has to cast aspersions on DRDO's ability to deliver. If the person who wants to block the Karan makes a fuss about the FCS, then the DRDO guys will simply prove the FCS in again in any number of trials. Bottom line, if Arjun becomes any more accepted, say outside the Gandiv's boys, then Karan will ride alongside him, that means curtains for the T-90. Seems very plausible, but the channel completely wrong. Incidently I am sure you all noticed recent Pakistani Arms purchases from the Russians? or perhaps you noticed the accelerated Al-Khalid inductions? the Russians know how to talk, not via the IE, they wouldn't waste their time with the Aroors of the world.

That leaves the French, we aren't going to buy anything from them unless they give us lic. production rights. That means collaboration. They know "Veronique" must have told them that and we know it. They are satisfied with the Scorpene sale. So I am not very convinced that they have anything to be upset over. Correct me if I am wrong.

The only thing off the top that we don't do as a practice is share stuff we have been told not to share. For example, if we were do something with the Russians, then we wouldn't "collaborate" on the same thing with the Americans. That is asking for a bullet in the head.

Also if we have said we won't clone things, then we won't clone things. That assurance stands, and we know that changing that will bring sorrow.

So I am more than a bit baffled by the spurt. We are stepping on someones' toes, but I don't know who we are doing this to. Shiv Aroor/Amit Ranjan could clear this up by just coming out and saying it, but I don't think they are going to do it.

We are left therefore with a terrible guessing game, which I fear does not serve the interests of national security. That my friends is a cause for concern.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pakistani Identity: Khalid Ahmed's Bullshit!

Khalid Ahmed, the editor of The Friday Times newspaper wrote an interesting piece on "Identity and Intolerance" in Pakistan.

In his piece Khalid contends that Pakistan's identity was fashioned by a selective reading of India's history. The premise of this mythmaking process was to seek out historical icons that could effectively presage the birth of Pakistan, to make the creation of Pakistan seem like a historical eventuality. By cleverly drawing up inward looking leadership in the Muslim community, the makers of Pakistan were able to effectively market their brand of political leadership to some Muslims in India that were worried about the prospect of a Hindu takeover.

Ofcourse, Khalid in true Pakistani form goes on to suggest that this was a mistake. I mean if I had a char anna for every Pakistanis that shurgs and says something was a mistake, I would be the leader of Pakistan. Having said that Khalid goes one step further and argues that the bigger mistake that has since occured in Pakistan is that the state placed empahsis on a single identity, one that excluded other identifications. Okay that may sound like an admission of some sort of error to the untrained, but anyone that has spent a little bit of time with the Pakistanis will tell you Pakistanis have developed a sense of pride in their ability to reject diversity. There a political stream in Pakistan that reflects this exclusivist tendency.

The most ridiculous claims made in this piece are against the person of Shah Waliullah and Shaykh Sirhindi.

Khalid claims that Shaykh Sirhindi tried to appropriate the status of the Prophet. This is a white lie Khalid has pulled out of his Musharraf! There was a criticism of Shaykh Sirhindi, written by a group of scholars from Arabia. The good Shaykh answered all these criticisms and gained tremendous acceptabilty among Muslim orthodoxy, he thus went on to circumsribe the social boundaries of Islam in our part of the world. Ofcourse the Pakistanis with their Arab fetish can't be bothered to deal with the multicultural reality emphasised in the Mujadid Alf-Al Sani's work so they take a reductionist approach to it and pretend that like them the Mujadid was a bigot too. I am seriously debating whether to go and dig out the specific epistle in which the Mujadid answered the charges of apostasy but I wonder what use it will serve when dealing with closed minds.

The claims against Shah Waliullah are even more fantastic. Yes Shah Waliullah had negative things to say about Shiites. Show me one major Sunni aalim who didn't! Shah Waliullah's work is of political significance, it simply says "Muslims" should come together "politically" to preserve their power. It doesn't say anything about integration of diverse strains of belief and eschatology within Islam. The extension of Shah Waliullah's ideas to serve as a basis for treating the Shia as political subversives is something that is a by product of Sunni society in the aftermath of the fall of the Mughal Emperor. The dominance of a farsi speaking Shia elite on the machinery of government in Delhi was seen as a precipitating factor in these terrible events.
The Pakistanis tend to forget after their trips to the desert that only in that peculiar parched segment of Arabia, is the difference between Shias and Sunnis so clear cut, in every other part of the world, the two faiths often too close to tell apart. In essence it is the Pakistanis themselves who have lathered anti-Shia ideas on to what Shah Waliullah said.

Ultimately despite his apparent scathing critique of Pakistani mythmaking, Khalid commits to the same philosophy of abusing history. He reads history selectively himself inorder to obfuscate that "intolerance" was the driving force behind the creation of this very "Pakistani identity".

I guess that is what it means to be Pakistani or perhaps if you ask Khalid, like so many other status conscious types that one meets he too will claim, "Nooooo, originally I am from Khurasaan... ".

I know that the Nazariya Pakistan is no longer a private joke among those that know, it has become a cause for full-fledged public entertainment, but really there are limits to how much shit you can talk about this sort of thing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Pakistani Caligula

It seems recently the Great One has taken it upon himself to comprehensively tick off each and every senior military officer he can possibly think of.

First Janaab has written that priceless book detailing exploits that I am too polite to say anything about. As if that was not a sufficient insult to the Pakistani Martial Mind, Huzoor has gone two steps further and openly insulted his former batchmates. Ofcourse when Mahmood Ahmad wrote his book on the 1965 war, the Mighty One ordered all copies bought immediately.

Secondly, with great foresight Baloch and Okrazai were put into their respective towns. Both could have played a serious role in keeping things under control, but now thanks to the Bugti affair and to this latest mess in Bajaur, I wonder how these two gentlemen feel about the Greatest Muslim General since Khalid Ibn Walid. The Crore commanders are apparently complaining that they don't get paid enough to take this kind of crap.

Thirdly, sone pe suhaga, the removals, the arrests, the court martials and the executions. Too numerous to count. What sort of impression will these leave in the minds of people? Under these circumstances when something happens as it might to A. Q. Khan what will people think? Will this also have to be explained?

How long will it be before everyone realises that he had told everyone the same thing? Apres Moi Le Deluge?

With pretensions of being the greatest gift to Allah since Jinnah and having told the Americans that he is Pakistan's Lincoln, I fear our neighbourhood Caesar is turning into a Caligula.