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    The heroes of yesterday - and today

    A.H Amin

    "Heroism" and " realism", "bravery " or "cowardice" are powerful words pregnant with multiple meanings and thus often misunderstood in common discussion. This is not exactly an article but a cursory examination of how certain individuals in various stages of world history made remarkable achievements by being "Heroic", "Realistic" etc.

    The "Hero" is a man who does not surrender in the face of overwhelming odds and thus emerges "victorious" or is perceived by posterity to have been morally victorious despite having been physically destroyed. Khalid Bin Waleed , Napoleon, Alexander, Churchill etc may be grouped in the first category and Imam Hussain, Joan of Arc, Syed Ahmad Shaheed may be grouped in the latter category. All these men did well and are well known figures in history even today. We will first examine the issue in relation with the fact "Whether the hero had an exact knowledge and sufficient time "to assess decisions that he made and which ultimately elevated him to the pedestal of a hero in history! This is important but very often forgotten or not understood at all by many. We will take the "Rebels" or the "Freedom Fighters" of 1857 as an example. All existing facts as we know them today prove that these "Rebels" never really understood the real power and potential of the English East India Company. The rebellion began not because of any deliberately pre-planned conspiracy but as a series of spontaneous reactions against a "perceived attack on caste and religion".

    It was a mechanical reaction and those who took it felt that "Rebellion" was the only option. These were the common soldiers of the Bengal Army led by the more hot-headed Ranghar and Hindustani Pathan Muslims of the Bengal Cavalry - the 3rd Light Cavalry rebels. A spontaneous decision, sparked by court martial of 80 of their colleagues in a manner that was perceived as unjust. The execution was "Tactically Brilliant"! A rebellion on Sunday at the evening service time when the Europeans were most vulnerable, followed by the seizure of Delhi! I would say that the decision was even strategically brilliant since Delhi was the political heart of India and one of the strongest fortress cities of India. The Sepoys so far did exceedingly well! They proved that they were superior in terms of "Resolution " and "Intellect" to many who later planned very quixotic schemes executed in all three Indo Pak Wars and till the Kargil Affair to date! Full stop here!

    The Sepoys never appreciated the naval potential of Britain and never understood that a country that could survive a French Revolution or armies led by World class military geniuses could not be defeated simply by seizure of Delhi! Despite all this, the Meerut Cavalry troopers of 3rd Light Cavalry took a brilliant decision, once we keep in mind their knowledge of the external world, their nominal education and their subjective life
    experiences! Those men were heroes, far superior to most post 1857 Muslim politicians and this includes all who have been on the scene to date! An answer was provided by General Jang Bahadur, the military ruler of Nepal to Sir Colin Campbell in March 1858. The situation was as follows:

    The British had almost won the Sepoy Rebellion and were about to assault Lucknow which had been in Sepoy hands since July 1857. Jang Bahadur had led a Nepali Gurkha army to assist the British and his army was part of the force tasked to assault Lucknow! Jang Bahadur told Colin Campbell as soon as he joined him with his army "had he not visited England he would have been fighting against the British instead of with them! The readers
    can now compare the difference! The Sepoys were "Heroic" but they were "Heroic" because they unlike Jang Bahadur had never visited England. Delhi was the ultimate city for these brave, albeit naïve Rohtakis from villages like Kalanaur and Kanar! It appears that the British realised that the Indians needed to be educated about the reality of the British Empire. Warburton records such an incident in his beautiful "Eighteen Years in Khyber". This was when Warburton arranged a visit of the Khyber Maliks to Calcutta and Bombay so
    that it may widen their horizon and make them less ambitious in their plans to fight against Britain. The exercise, it appears, was not very successful since the Khyber Afridis once again rebelled in 1897! Heroism is good but the hero is different from a stockbroker or a banker! His calculations are in terms of moral values which he perceives as more sacred than material gains. The hero lives after his death while the businessmen dies every day despite living much longer than the hero, but goes on suffering indignities to gain greater dignity as that great man Bacon said! I remember an incident of a great bureaucrat as narrated by one of his relatives! The old fox, an ex ICS and at that time a very senior man in a political government that once ruled Pakistan comes home and proudly tells his wife "Oh dear you know today what happened! Mr Prime Minister abused me! Oh dear he uses the particular word that he used only for those with whom he is very intimate"!

    Ranjeet Singh was a great realist. At the height of his power a courtier said to him, "Sir you should attack the English East India Company's territory". Ranjeet replied dismissing his sycophant advisors, "I may advance with my army as far as Aligarh but then the Englishmen would destroy me". A fine assessment by a man who had not been to any War College or Defence College! Syed Ahmad Khan was another great realist! In Bijnor he
    restrained the Indians from attacking English civilians and non combatants and from joining the anti British camp at a time when the Hindus of Bijnor were in full rebellion against the English Company! It was not very heroic rather opportunistic as some may say! But the Syed had his reasons! Deep inside his heart was a conviction that the British would win and in the long term the rebellion would do more harm to the Muslims than good! The Syed was much condemned by many Muslims after the rebellion as an "Ibnul Waqt" but the Syed atoned for his "unheroic" behaviour by establishing the MAO College Aligarh. Opportunism is excusable if the end result is positive, but this unfortunately has not been the case in most "scenarios". The Syed is remembered for his educational achievements today and not for any business empire that he left. He would have been a smaller hero had he died fighting against the British at Bijnor! He had a strategic vision and would have been an excellent Chief of General Staff or more had he been alive today in any Indo-Pak army! Now compare the Syed with later Muslim leaders. He advised the Muslims to desist from identifying themselves with Egyptian, Turk or Afghan Muslims in the period 1878-1898. The Turks were too far to be of any help to the Indian Muslims! The Egyptians too insignificant and again too far and the Afghans were the worst predators who had shamelessly looted the Indian Muslims during the period 1739-59. This Golden advice was forgotten by outwardly more educated Muslims in 1920 when the Khilafat Movement was launched!

    Isoruku Yamamoto, later turned famous as Admiral Yamamoto, was another great realist. He had studied at Yale and Harvard in between his military career and understood the limits of US military effectiveness! He counselled repeatedly against war with the US but his advice was overruled by the more powerful Japanese Army, and Japan went into a suicidal war that finally concluded with a nuclear holocaust at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Clausewitz makes a very fine distinction between types of courage and boldness and the level of command! Clausewitz put the lesson by using a beautiful example! Clausewitz thus stated "If a young man to show his skill in horsemanship leaps across a deep cleft, then he is bold; if he makes the same leap pursued by a troop of head chopping Jannisaries he is only resolute. But the further off the necessity from the point of action, the greater the number of relations intervening which the mind has to traverse in order to realise them". As a matter of fact, strategic decision-making is more difficult since the time period is much greater than it is in tactical encounters and a much greater mind is required. This explains why "Military Crosses" or "Military Cross Bars" failed in East Pakistan. These men had earned fame imported from junior positions and did not deserve the ranks they reached. In the final summing up their bad luck was the fact that a war broke out and they were exposed while their successors since 1971 had been far luckier! They had not seen a crisis or as one writer says, "They have not heard a shot fired in anger". In my humble capacity I saw how perceptions are distorted during the Gulf war. The senior most decision-makers in our military thought that it would be a prolonged affair! I was at the armour school Nowshera.

    The Allied attack had not yet commenced and this was December 1990. I think it was Colonel Moin Rauf, one of our senior instructors, who said that the Iraqis would not last for more than a week! This was at a time when many more senior people had totally different opinions. Moin Rauf I think had been to Fort Knox for a course and kept his eyes open. This scribes father who had been to Fort Belvoir in 1964 wondered as to how Iraq could defeat USA once it had miserably failed to defeat Iran in far more advantageous circumstances in 1980! All this was crystal clear but all those who were something had ridiculous perceptions. Pakistan was lucky that Ghulam Ishaq Khan saw things more realistically and restored some sanity in the higher decision-making echelons!

    Unfortunately, we have had too many meteors who came and disappeared but no great man with the slow solid but massive presence of a heavenly body in Clausewitzian terms! This is our tragedy! Mediocrity which as the saying brilliantly puts it "knows nothing higher than itself" has been institutionalised on both sides of the Radcliffe line! God Help us! An Anglo Saxon Westernised Nadir Shah to spread fire and sword may not be a remote possibility! "Realism" "Courage" "Vision" and "Opportunism" all have their limits and uses. We hope that those who at the moment are sitting on the pinnacles of power will understand this and will act in a judicious manner! The tide of history as Machiavelli says can be manipulated with if dikes are built in time! In case this is not done it becomes irreversible and destroys anything that comes in its way!

    2..Pakistan: Is there any hope?

    Syed Shahabuddin

    Pakistan is on its third coup after having been afflicted by various "democratic" governments. Every time a government changes hand, people become hopeful for better life for themselves and for the economic and political future of the country. However, hopes turn into despair when the promises made by the new government go unfulfilled and nothing changes. I see the same fate for the "new" administrative authority unless it finds new ways to solve the country’s problems.

    As many Pakistanis and the current government leaders know, Pakistan has been in existence for more than 50 years now. During this time, the basic government administrative structures and the democratic system have not changed despite the many constitutions and other directives issued by the many new governments.

    The questions one may ask are:

    1) Why hasn't any government been able to improve the lives of the ordinary Pakistanis?
    2) Why hasn't it been able to reduce the inefficient, redundant, and authoritative bureaucracy?

    The answer lies in the fact that the government‘s administrative bureaucracy has been hard to change. Therefore, regardless of how many attempts any government makes, nothing will change. Rather, every new government makes cosmetic changes in the bureaucracy that makes the bureaucracy more powerful, more corrupt, and inefficient. As a result, attempts at improving the lives of the people fail. Further, the "new" administrative authority becomes the bureaucracy behaving the same way as its predecessors. Life goes on as usual and the people go back to their old ways with deeper disappointments and hopelessness.

    One might ask the question, that after so many changes in the governments and the promises they make, is there any hope for Pakistan. There are those who might say, the country is "working," people are being fed, new roads and buildings are being built, why do we need to change? This is a legitimate question, and needs to be answered.

    The answer to the question depends on whether people feel they are better off now or before with the previous government. Obviously, there is no scientific data or a survey conducted asking the people this question. However, the answer could be found by counting the number of times the "democratic" governments have been removed, and the number of coups that have occurred since the inception of Pakistan. Further, whenever the old government is replaced, the new government promises to improve the lives of the people, and promises to eliminate the epidemic corruption in the country. Thus, when the government changes hand, people become excited and supportive of the new "leaders" and hope that the new government has a cure for their miseries. The same is true for the new Musharraf’s government. When he took over the government, he blamed the old government for corruption, economic mismanagement, and instability in the country. He promised to stay in power until the "mess" was cleaned. These are very lofty ideals for any patriotic Pakistani who is concerned about the future of Pakistan and its people. However, so far he or the "new" government has suggested few solutions that may not bring about the needed changes to make the system efficient, incorruptible, and effective. On the contrary, the "new" government is considering the old, tried ways of some of the previous governments. All of those methods have failed and it is naive to try those old failed ways. The same disappointments and resentments would prevail after a couple of months, and the "new" government will be thrown out without any change in the system.

    I pray and hope that I am wrong in my assessment of the new "leaders" and of the future of Pakistan. Only God knows and the future will tell whether I am wrong or right.I still feel that "good" leaders can set a course for this country that will assure a bright future for Pakistan. So far, I have not seen any and I hope the current leadership can provide that needed leadership. My assessment of the situation is based on the history of "democractically" elected governments and the past two coups.


    Consider the performance of the Ayub’s regime. When he took over, he promised to improve the lives of the people. Initially, he, as a dictator, brought about economic stability, an essential ingredient for economic development. The economy did improve. The GDP grew at the rate of 6.77 percent and the manufacturing sector grew at the rate of 9.93 percent annually. Many people and economists would consider this a phenomenal growth rate. Even though the government played a major role in the economic decision of the country, most of the government officials were working towards improving the economy under the authoritative leadership of Ayub’s regime. People were content and optimistic about the future of Pakistan. However, after a few years, the same regime became a part of the system. Ayub’s family and the people around him became corrupt and the system slowly deteriorated to the level that the economic condition was not improving any more at the same higher rate. Also the India-Pakistan war of 1965 did not help his regime. He was forced out by Bhutto, and the economic and the political slide accelerated.

    Bhutto attempted to nationalise major industries. The GDP growth rate dropped to 4.84 percent and the manufacturing sector growth declined to 5.50 percent. Furthermore, Bhutto’s policies set a stage for socialism and laid a foundation for corruption. Being undisciplined though schooled, he pursued policies that did not make economic sense. As a result, his policies set a stage for an overwhelming corruption that has now become insurmountable. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The time to guard against corruption and tyranny is before that shall have gotten hold of us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered." Corruption has now been so ingrained in the Pakistani society that only a major surgery of the system could expunge it. In addition, Pakistan lost one large part of the country (East Pakistan). All these created an unstable environment that was not conducive for economic growth.

    Bhutto stayed in power until Zia forced him out, and, thus, slowed the disastrous course the country was following. Zia promised many things including political stability, Islamic rule, and a better government. All these were lofty ideals and he did attempt to implement Islamic rule, basic democracy and a stable government through authoritarian means. If nothing else, at least he provided the stability needed for economic growth for the country. During his regime, the GDP grew at the rate 6.95 percent, and the manufacturing sector grew at the rate 8.21 percent. In addition, he established a structure for basic democracy where people at a local level could make decisions that benefited them.

    Zia set the country on the right path to prosperity, and moral integrity. Unfortunately, the Russian-Afghan war resulted in disagreement as to how to handle the conflict. After following the directives of how to support the Russian-Afghan war, Zia decided to adopt his own policy to resolve the conflict. But, he was killed in a plane explosion.

    The leadership vacuum opened ways for the old politicians to exploit the situation for their own advantage. As a result, many political parties, including the Bhutto’s party emerged and took advantage of the political instability and won "election." After a few years in power, Benazir was removed by the president of Pakistan and Sharif won the election. Each party was accusing the other for the deteriorating economic, social, and corruption problems. Regardless of which of these parties or leaders were in power, economic, social, and other problems got worse. The GDP grew by 4.70 percent, and the manufacturing sector grew by 4.95 percent. The economy was in trouble, the national debt increased, and population and corruption grew without control.

    Given the politician’s unsatiated need for power, Sharif’s family made the mistake of interfering in the basic structure of the armed forces. There is always a limit as to how much a politician would be allowed to have his way of interfering in the armed forces. Moreover, the established system will always protect its own. As a result, Sharif was ousted, and the people of Pakistan breathed a sigh of relief that now another politician has been thrown out and hoped that the economic and political conditions would improve.

    For public relations purposes or otherwise, the current "new" administrative authority arrested some politicians, declared war on corruption, and is trying ways to solve the country’s economic and social problems. Unfortunately, most of the steps could be considered like putting a bandage on a large wound that requires a major surgery to heal it. The condition of the country can best be described by a story a Pakistani told me on my recent visit to Pakistan. This Pakistani stated that he recently visited a newly appointed provincial minister for an official business. He observed how easy it was to meet the minister as there were no one waiting in his office to see him. The Pakistani observed that since these ministers, due to their fear of the "new" authority, could not take a bribe to make a wrong thing right, no one needed them. Because to make the right thing right, one has to just follow the procedures.

    This observation sums up the whole problem of the country. The system allowed the people in power to make the wrong things right. As long as such a system exists, there is no hope for the future democracy, economic growth, and honest and efficient government. Whatever bandage solutions the current "authority" is trying to implement are first of all not the solutions to the problem, and, secondly, they will just prolong the agony of the nation. Further, the next government will just remove these cosmetic changes and will continue with their corrupt ways in the future. Therefore, in the few months or years of the new regime, people will notice that the new solutions are not going to eliminate the ingrained problems and, as a result, will fall into the old habit of making the wrong things right.

    Frankly, it is hard for me to believe that all the Pakistani politicians, including the current generals in power, do not know the problems and their solutions. I do talk to a few average Pakistanis and read letters and news items in the domestic and international papers. It is a well-know fact that Pakistan is the second most corrupt country on the face of the earth, according to the Institute of Transparency International. The majority of Pakistanis know the reasons for such a high corruption, and I am sure that the politicians know them too. The appropriate question is: why are not these governments doing anything about it? The answer could be that no one cares, the people like the current system, or they are ignorant to know that there is a problem.


    From the last statement, you might assume that I consider Pakistanis to be ignorant; far from it. I know that most Pakistanis know the problems and how to solve them. Most Pakistanis are helpless. They feel dejected, hopeless, disappointed, and have, therefore, given up. They have been abused by the bureaucracy so much that they have lost their self-respect and confidence. Instead of changing the system, most Pakistanis, if they can, are leaving the country or have accepted the situation reluctantly. The intellectual, the pioneers, the highly frustrated are leaving. Those leaving have given up hope for the country and have decided to make a better life for themselves somewhere else.

    For those staying in Pakistan, there seems to be no hope for any bright future for them. As long as the bureaucrats are happy and are leading a prosperous life, the powerful are able to influence the bureaucrats, the connected are able to abuse the system, the businessmen who can make a living, and the uneducated who do not care to be stomped on, and the frustrated who have no choices, why worry. Everybody will live, and the country will work as programmed. Therefore, for the "new" government to think that it can bring about changes and make a long-term effect on the future of the country, I would say that they are sadly mistaken. If they believe that they should stay in power to implement the changes they have indicated so far in order to make a difference in the lives of the ordinary persons, I would say they need to think again.

    Anyway, let me continue with my discussion about the future of Pakistan. If I think that the "new" authority is mistaken or needed to think again, then they might say, do I have answers to the problems of Pakistan. The answer is yes. They are as follows:

    1. Freedom of the Press: Have a free press with full accountability. Those journalists who accuse an innocent person unjustly should be punished swiftly and harshly. However, the press should have a full and a free access to all the government officials and documents. Of course, documents with national secrets will be out of bounds to the public and the press.

    2. Reform the Judicial System: Expedite the judicial process. As the saying goes, "Justice delayed is justice denied." Currently, some cases take more than 40 years. But the majority of the cases take more than five to 10 years. A new directive or law should be passed and enforced strictly requiring each case to be decided within a certain period of time. For this purpose, a simple timetable based on the nature and complexity of case should be developed. A certain amount of deviation from the timetable should be allowed.
    A panel of independent, honest lawyers, judges, and citizens should be appointed to study this problem and come up with solutions to the current judicial mess. The panel should be required to come up with recommendations within one year.

    3. Government Bureaucracy: Reduce the size and the power of the government bureaucracy. The current bureaucracy is the cause of many economic, social, and political problems of Pakistan. It is inefficient, powerful, elitist, and inappropriate for the modern society.

    All government rules should be spelled out and deadlines should be established for each activity of the government. Under this procedure, everyone will be required to follow the rules. Thus, there will be no opportunity for many government employees who just waste time negotiating graft for performing illegal activities. As a result, they will perform useful work for the government.
    Reduce the number of departments, officers, and other employees by half. The public should have an easy access to the government offices and officers. Any officer either not accessible or available during the office hours should be punished or removed. However, I do realize that this suggestion will offend and affect many government employees.

    Create local governments and transfer all or most of the government power, including police and the judiciary, to the local governments. All local government officials should be elected every four years and should not hold office for more than eight years. In addition, each office holder must have at least a high school diploma.

    4.Tax System: The current system collects a very small amount of taxes, and is open to extortion. There are many easier and efficient ways to collect taxes that will reduce the government deficit. I would not discuss publically many new methods that I think will solve this problem. In order to develop a fair and an efficient tax system, my methods need to be refined with up-to-date information.

    Just want to share with u people.

    "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
    Oscar Wilde

    [This message has been edited by juMurA (edited November 01, 2001).]

    Joan of Arc was a woman, I believe.

    PS: It is nice to see someone giving solutions, though I don't necessarily agree with them, rather than just empty rehetoric.

    [This message has been edited by Shada (edited November 02, 2001).]