Imran Khan

Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Pakistan and the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Khan was born to a landowning Pashtun family of Mianwali in Lahore on 5 October 1952; he was educated at

  • Aitchison College in Lahore
  • Royal Grammar School Worcester in Worcester
  • Keble College, Oxford

He started playing cricket at age 13, and made his debut for the Pakistan national cricket team at age 18, during a 1971 Test series against England. After graduating from Oxford, he made his home debut for Pakistan in 1976, and played until 1992. He also served as the team’s captain intermittently between 1982 and 1992, notably leading Pakistan to victory at the 1992 Cricket World Cup, Pakistan’s first and only victory in the competition.

Khan retired from cricket in 1992, as one of Pakistan’s most successful players. In total he made 3,807 runs and took 362 wickets in Test cricket, and is one of eight world cricketers to have achieved an ‘All-rounder’s Triple’ in Test matches. After retiring, he faced scandal after admitting to tampering with the ball with a bottle top in his youth. In 2003, he became a coach in Pakistan’s domestic cricket circuit, and in 2010, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

In 1991, he launched a fundraising campaign to set up a cancer hospital in memory of his mother. He raised $25 million to set up a hospital in Lahore in 1994, and set up a second hospital in Peshawar in 2015. Khan remains a prominent philanthropist and commentator, having expanded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital to also include a research centre, and founded Namal College in 2008. Khan also served as the chancellor of the University of Bradford between 2005 and 2014, and was the recipient of an honorary fellowship by the Royal College of Physicians in 2012.

In April 1996, Khan founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (lit: Pakistan Movement for Justice), a centrist political party, and became the party’s national leader. Khan contested for a seat in the National Assembly in October 2002 and served as an opposition member from Mianwali until 2007. He was again elected to the parliament in the 2013 elections, when his party emerged as the second largest in the country by popular vote. Khan served as the parliamentary leader of the party and led the third-largest block of parliamentarians in the National Assembly from 2013 to 2018. His party also led a coalition government in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In the 2018 general elections, his party won the largest number of seats and defeated the ruling PML-N, bringing Khan to premiership and the PTI into federal government for the first time.

Early life and family

He is the only son of Ikramullah Khan Niazi, a civil engineer, and his wife Shaukat Khanum, and has four sisters. Long settled in Mianwali in northwestern Punjab, his paternal family are of Pashtun ethnicity and belong to the Niazi tribe, and one of his ancestors, Haibat Khan Niazi, in the 16th century, “was one of Sher Shah Suri’s leading generals, as well as being the governor of Punjab.” Khan’s mother hailed from the Pashtun tribe of Burki, which had produced several successful cricketers in Pakistan’s history, including his cousins Javed Burki and Majid Khan.

Maternally, Khan is also a descendant of the Sufi warrior-poet and inventor of the Pashto alphabet, Pir Roshan, who hailed from his maternal family’s ancestral Kaniguram town located in South Waziristan in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. His maternal family was based in Basti Danishmanda, Jalandhar, India for about 600 years.

A quiet and shy boy in his youth, Khan grew up with his sisters in relatively affluent, upper middle-class circumstances and received a privileged education. He was educated at the Aitchison College and Cathedral School in Lahore, and then the Royal Grammar School Worcester in England, where he excelled at cricket. In 1972, he enrolled in Keble College, Oxford where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1975.

Cricket career

Khan made his first-class cricket debut at the age of 16 in Lahore. By the start of the 1970s, he was playing for the home teams of

  • Lahore A (1969–70)
  • Lahore B (1969–70)
  • Lahore Greens (1970–71)
  • Lahore (1970–71)

Khan was part of the University of Oxford’s Blues Cricket team during the 1973–1975 seasons. At Worcestershire, where he played county cricket from 1971 to 1976, he was regarded as an average medium-pace bowler. During this decade, other teams represented by Khan included

  • Dawood Industries (1975–1976)
  • Pakistan International Airlines (1975–1976 to 1980–1981)
  • Sussex from 1983 to 1988

Khan made his Test cricket debut against England in June 1971 at Edgbaston. Three years later, in August 1974, he debuted in the One Day International (ODI) match, once again playing against England at Trent Bridge for the Prudential Trophy.

After graduating from Oxford and finishing his tenure at Worcestershire, he returned to Pakistan in 1976 and secured a permanent place on the Pakistan national team starting from the 1976–1977 season, during which they faced New Zealand and Australia.

Following the Australian series, he toured the West Indies, where he met Tony Greig, who signed him up for Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket.

His credentials as one of the fastest bowlers in the world started to become established when he finished third at 139.7 km/h in a fast bowling contest at Perth in 1978, behind Jeff Thomson and Michael Holding, but ahead of Dennis Lillee, Garth Le Roux and Andy Roberts.

During the late 1970s, Khan was one of the pioneers of the reverse swing bowling technique. He imparted this trick to the bowling duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who mastered and popularised this art in later years.

  • As a fast bowler, Khan reached his peak in 1982. In 9 Tests, he took 62 wickets at 13.29 each, the lowest average of any bowler in Test history with at least 50 wickets in a calendar year.
  • In January 1983, playing against India, he attained a Test bowling rating of 922 points. Although calculated retrospectively (International Cricket Council (ICC) player ratings did not exist at the time), Khan’s form and performance during this period ranks third in the ICC’s All-Time Test Bowling Rankings.
  • Khan achieved the all-rounder’s triple (securing 3000 runs and 300 wickets) in 75 Tests, the second-fastest record behind Ian Botham’s 72.
  • He also has the second-highest all-time batting average of 61.86 for a Test batsman playing at position 6 in the batting order.
  • He played his last Test match for Pakistan in January 1992, against Sri Lanka at Faisalabad.
  • Khan retired permanently from cricket six months after his last ODI, the historic 1992 World Cup final against England in Melbourne, Australia. He ended his career with 88 Test matches, 126 innings and scored 3807 runs at an average of 37.69, including six centuries and 18 fifties.
  • His highest score was 136.
  • As a bowler, he took 362 wickets in Test cricket, which made him the first Pakistani and world’s fourth bowler to do so. I
  • n ODIs, he played 175 matches and scored 3709 runs at an average of 33.41. His highest score was 102 not out.
  • His best ODI bowling was 6 wickets for 14 runs, a record for the best bowling figures by any bowler in an ODI innings in a losing cause.

Captaincy

At the height of his career, in 1982, the thirty-year-old Khan took over the captaincy of the Pakistan cricket team from Javed Miandad. As a captain, Khan played 48 Test matches

  • 14 were won by Pakistan,
  • 8 lost
  • 26 were drawn.

He also played 139 ODIs

  • win 77
  • lose 57
  • draw 1.

In the team’s second match, Khan led them to their first Test win on English soil for 28 years at Lord’s. Khan’s first year as captain was the peak of his legacy as a fast bowler as well as an all-rounder.

  • He recorded the best Test bowling of his career while taking 8 wickets for 58 runs against Sri Lanka at Lahore in 1981–1982.
  • He also topped both the bowling and batting averages against England in three Test series in 1982, taking 21 wickets and averaging 56 with the bat.
  • Later the same year, he put up a highly acknowledged performance in a home series against the formidable Indian team by taking 40 wickets in six Tests at an average of 13.95.
  • By the end of this series in 1982–1983, Khan had taken 88 wickets in 13 Test matches over a period of one year as captain.
  • This same Test series against India, however, also resulted in a stress fracture in his shin that kept him out of cricket for more than two years. An experimental treatment funded by the Pakistani government helped him recover by the end of 1984 and he made a successful comeback to international cricket in the latter part of the 1984–1985 season.
  • In India in 1987, Khan led Pakistan in its first-ever Test series win and this was followed by Pakistan’s first series victory in England during the same year. During the 1980s, his team also recorded three creditable draws against the West Indies.
  • India and Pakistan co-hosted the 1987 Cricket World Cup, but neither ventured beyond the semi-finals. Khan retired from international cricket at the end of the World Cup.
  • In 1988, he was asked to return to the captaincy by the President of Pakistan, General Zia-Ul-Haq, and on 18 January, he announced his decision to rejoin the team. Soon after returning to the captaincy, Khan led Pakistan to another winning tour in the West Indies, which he has recounted as “the last time I really bowled well”. He was declared Man of the Series against West Indies in 1988 when he took 23 wickets in 3 Tests.
  • Khan’s career-high as a captain and cricketer came when he led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup. Playing with a brittle batting line-up, Khan promoted himself as a batsman to play in the top order along with Javed Miandad, but his contribution as a bowler was minimal. At the age of 39, Khan took the winning last wicket himself.

Post-retirement

In 1994, Khan had admitted that, during Test matches, he “occasionally scratched the side of the ball and lifted the seam.” He had also added, “Only once did I use an object. When Sussex were playing Hampshire in 1981 the ball was not deviating at all. I got the 12th man to bring out a bottle top and it started to move around a lot.”

In 1996, Khan successfully defended himself in a libel action brought forth by former English captain and all-rounder Ian Botham and batsman Allan Lamb over comments they alleged were made by Khan in two articles about the above-mentioned ball-tampering and another article published in an Indian magazine, India Today. They claimed that, in the latter publication, Khan had called the two cricketers “racist, ill-educated and lacking in class.”

Khan protested that he had been misquoted, saying that he was defending himself after having admitted that he tampered with a ball in a county match 18 years ago. Khan won the libel case, which the judge labelled a “complete exercise in futility”, with a 10–2 majority decision by the jury.

Since retiring, Khan has written opinion pieces on cricket for various British and Asian newspapers, especially regarding the Pakistani national team. His contributions have been published in India’s Outlook magazine, the Guardian, the Independent, and the Telegraph. Khan also sometimes appears as a cricket commentator on Asian and British sports networks, including BBC Urdu and the Star TV network.

In 2004, when the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan after 14 years, he was a commentator on TEN Sports’ special live show, Straight Drive, while he was also a columnist for sify.com for the 2005 India-Pakistan Test series.

He has provided analysis for every cricket World Cup since 1992, which includes providing match summaries for the BBC during the 1999 World Cup. He holds as a captain the world record for taking most wickets, best bowling strike rate and best bowling average in Test, and best bowling figures (8 wickets for 60 runs) in a Test innings, and also most five-wicket hauls in a Test innings in wins.

On 23 November 2005, Khan was appointed as the Chancellor of University of Bradford, succeeding Baroness Lockwood. On 26 February 2014, University of Bradford Union floated a motion to remove Khan from the post over Khan’s absence from every graduation ceremony since 2010.  Khan, however, announced that he will step down on 30 November 2014, citing his “increasing political commitments”. The university vice-chancellor Brian Cantor said Khan had been “a wonderful role model for our students”.

Philanthropy

During the 1990s, Khan also served as UNICEF’s Special Representative for Sports and promoted health and immunisation programmes in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand. While in London, he also works with the Lord’s Taverners, a cricket charity. Khan focused his efforts solely on social work. By 1991, he had founded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, a charity organisation bearing the name of his mother, Mrs. Shaukat Khanum. As the Trust’s maiden endeavour, Khan established Pakistan’s first and only cancer hospital, constructed using donations and funds exceeding $25 million, raised by Khan from all over the world.

On 27 April 2008, Khan established a technical college in the Mianwali District called Namal College. It was built by the Mianwali Development Trust (MDT), and is an associate college of the University of Bradford in December 2005. Imran Khan Foundation is another welfare work, which aims to assist needy people all over Pakistan. It has provided help to flood victims in Pakistan. Buksh Foundation has partnered with the Imran Khan Foundation to light up villages in Dera Ghazi Khan, Mianwali and Dera Ismail Khan under the project ‘Lighting a Million Lives’. The campaign will establish several Solar Charging Stations in the selected off-grid villages and will provide villagers with solar lanterns, which can be regularly charged at the solar-charging stations.

Political ideology

Basing his wider paradigm on the poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal and the Iranian writer-sociologist Ali Shariati he came across in his youth, Khan is generally described as a nationalist and a populist. Khan’s proclaimed political platform and declarations include: Islamic values, to which he rededicated himself in the 1990s; liberal economics, with the promise of deregulating the economy and creating a welfare state; decreased bureaucracy and the implementation of anti-corruption laws, to create and ensure a clean government; the establishment of an independent judiciary; overhaul of the country’s police system; and an anti-militant vision for a democratic Pakistan.

Khan publicly demanded a Pakistani apology towards the Bangladeshi people for the atrocities committed in 1971. He called the 1971 operation a “blunder” and likened it to today’s treatment of Pashtuns in the war on terror. However, he repeatedly criticised the war crimes trials in Bangladesh in favour of the convicts. Khan is often mocked as “Taliban Khan” because of his pacifist stance regarding the war in North-West Pakistan. He believes in negotiations with Taliban and the pull out of the Pakistan Army from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He is against US drone strikes and plans to disengage Pakistan from the US-led war on terror. Khan also opposes almost all military operations, including the Siege of Lal Masjid.

In August 2012, the Pakistani Taliban issued death threats if he went ahead with his march to their tribal stronghold along the Afghan border to protest US drone attacks, because he calls himself a “liberal” – a term they associate with a lack of religious belief. On 1 October 2012, prior to his plan to address a rally in South Waziristan, senior commanders of Pakistani Taliban said after a meeting headed by the Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud that they now offered Khan security assistance for the rally because of Khan’s opposition to drone attacks in Pakistan, reversing their previous stance.

In 2014, when Pakistani Taliban announced armed struggle against Ismaili Muslims (denouncing them as non-Muslims) and the Kalash people, Khan released a statement describing “forced conversions as un-Islamic”.  He has also condemned the incidents of forced conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh. Khan views the Kashmir issue as a humanitarian issue, as opposed to a territorial dispute between two countries (India and Pakistan). He also proposed secret talks to settle the issue as he thinks the vested interests on both sides will try to subvert them. He ruled out a military solution to the conflict and denied the possibility of a fourth war between India and Pakistan over the disputed mountainous region.

On 8 January 2015, Khan visited the embassies of Iran and Saudi Arabia in Islamabad and met their head of commissions to understand their stances about the conflict which engulfed both nations after the execution of Sheikh Nimr by Saudi Arabia. He urged the Government of Pakistan to play a positive role to resolve the matter between both countries.  In April 2015, after parliament passed a unanimous resolution keeping Pakistan out of the War in Yemen, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as part of opposition, took credit for the decision. Khan might not be able to stick to his previous stance, as Saudi loans and investment are crucial amid the precarious state of Pakistan’s economy. In July 2018, the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank activated its $4.5 billion oil financing facility for Pakistan.

After the result of 2018 Pakistani general election, Imran Khan said he would try to remake Pakistan based on the ideology of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Political career

  • Khan was offered political position few times during his cricketing career.
  • In 1987, then-President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq offered him a political position in Pakistan Muslim League (PML) which he declined. He was also invited by Nawaz Sharif to join his political party.
  • In late 1994, he joined a pressure group led by former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul and Muhammad Ali Durrani who was head of Pasban, a breakaway youth wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan.
  • The same year, he also showed his interest in joining politics. On 25 April 1996, Khan founded a political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
  • He ran for the seat of National Assembly of Pakistan in 1997 Pakistani General Election as a candidate of PTI from two constituencies – NA-53, Mianwali and NA-94, Lahore – but was unsuccessful and lost both the seats to candidates of PML (N).
  • Khan supported General Pervez Musharraf’s military coup in 1999, believing Musharraf would “end corruption, clear out the political mafias”. According to Khan, he was Musharraf’s choice for prime minister in 2002 but turned down the offer.
  • Khan participated in the October 2002 Pakistani General Election that took place across 272 constituencies and was prepared to form a coalition if his party did not get a majority of the vote. He was elected from Mianwali.
  • In the 2002 referendum, Khan supported military dictator General Musharraf, while all mainstream democratic parties declared that referendum as unconstitutional.
  • He has also served as a part of the Standing Committees on Kashmir and Public Accounts.
  • On 6 May 2005, Khan was mentioned in The New Yorker as being the “most directly responsible” for drawing attention in the Muslim world to the Newsweek story about the alleged desecration of the Qur’an in a US military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
  • In June 2007, Khan faced political opponents in and outside the parliament.
  • On 2 October 2007, as part of the All Parties Democratic Movement, Khan joined 85 other MPs to resign from Parliament in protest of the presidential election scheduled for 6 October, which General Musharraf was contesting without resigning as army chief.
  • On 3 November 2007, Khan was put under house arrest, after President Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan.
  • Later Khan escaped and went into hiding. He eventually came out of hiding on 14 November to join a student protest at the University of the Punjab. At the rally, Khan was captured by student activists from the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba and roughly treated. He was arrested during the protest and was sent to the Dera Ghazi Khan jail in the Punjab province where he spent a few days before being released.
  • On 30 October 2011, Khan addressed more than 100,000 supporters in Lahore, challenging the policies of the government, calling that new change a “tsunami” against the ruling parties. Another successful public gathering of hundreds of thousands of supporters was held in Karachi on 25 December 2011. Since then Khan became a real threat to the ruling parties and a future political prospect in Pakistan. According to a International Republican Institute’s survey, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf tops the list of popular parties in Pakistan both at the national and provincial level.
  • On 6 October 2012, Khan joined a vehicle caravan of protesters from Islamabad to the village of Kotai in Pakistan’s South Waziristan region against US drone missile strikes.
  • On 23 March 2013, Khan introduced the Naya Pakistan Resolution (New Pakistan) at the start of his election campaign.
  • On 29 April The Observer termed Khan and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as the main opposition to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
  • Between 2011 and 2013, Khan and Nawaz Sharif began to engage each other in a bitter feud. The rivalry between the two leaders grew in late 2011 when Khan addressed his largest crowd at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore. From 26 April 2013, in the run up to the elections, both the PML-N and the PTI started to criticise each other.

2013 elections campaign

On 21 April 2013, Khan launched his final public relations campaign for the 2013 elections from Lahore where he addressed thousands of supporters at the Mall. Khan announced that he would pull Pakistan out of the US-led war on terror and bring peace to the Pashtun tribal belt. He addressed different public meetings in various cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of country where he announced that PTI will introduce a uniform education system in which the children of rich and poor will have equal opportunities. Khan ended his south Punjab campaign by addressing rallies in various Seraiki belt cities.

Khan ended the campaign by addressing a rally of supporters in Islamabad via a video link while lying on a bed at a hospital in Lahore. The last survey before the elections by The Herald showed 24.98 percent of voters nationally planned to vote for his party, just a whisker behind former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. On 7 May, just four days before the elections, Khan was rushed to Shaukat Khanum hospital in Lahore after he tumbled from a forklift at the edge of a stage and fell headfirst to the ground.  Pakistan’s 2013 elections were held on 11 May 2013 throughout the country. The elections resulted in a clear majority of Pakistan Muslim League (N). Khan’s PTI emerged as the second largest party by popular vote nationally including in Karachi. Khan’s party PTI won 30 directly elected parliamentary seats and became third largest party in National Assembly behind Pakistan People’s Party, which was second.

In Opposition

  • Khan led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf became the opposition party in Punjab and Sindh. Khan became the parliamentary leader of his party. On 31 July 2013 Khan was issued a contempt of court notice for allegedly criticising the superior judiciary, and his use of the word shameful for the judiciary. The notice was discharged after Khan submitted before the Supreme Court that he criticised the lower judiciary for their actions during the May 2013 general election while those judicial officers were working as returning officers. Khan’s party swooped the militancy-hit northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), and formed the provincial government. PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented a balanced, tax-free budget for the fiscal year 2013–14.
  • Khan believed that terrorist activities by Pakistani Taliban can be stopped through dialogue with them and even offered to open an office in KPK province. He accused the US of sabotaging peace efforts with the Pakistani Taliban by killing its leader Hakimullah Mehsud. He demanded government to block NATO supply line in retaliation for killing of the TTP leader.
  • On 13 November 2013, Khan, being party leader, ordered Pervez Khattak to dismiss ministers of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) who were allegedly involved in corruption. Bakht Baidar and Ibrar Hussan Kamoli of Qaumi Watan Party, ministers for Manpower & Industry and Forest & Environment respectively, were dismissed. Khan ordered Chief Minister KPK to end the alliance with QWP. Chief Minister KPK also dismissed Minister for Communication and Works of PTI Yousuf Ayub Khan due to a fake degree.
  • A year after elections, on 11 May 2014, Khan alleged that 2013 general elections were rigged in favour of the ruling PML (N). On 14 August 2014, Imran Khan led a rally of supporters from Lahore to Islamabad, demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation and investigation into alleged electoral fraud. On its way to the capital Khan’s convoy was attacked by stones from PML (N) supporters in Gujranwala; however, there were no fatalities. Khan was reported to be attacked with guns which forced him to travel in a bullet-proof vehicle.
  • On 15 August, Khan-led protesters entered the capital and a few days later marched into the high-security Red Zone; on 1 September 2014, according to Al Jazeera, protesters attempted to storm Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s official residence, which prompted the outbreak of violence. Three people died and more than 595 people were injured, including 115 police officers. Prior to the violence that resulted in deaths, Khan asked his followers to take law into their own hands.
  • By September, Khan had entered into a de facto alliance with Canadian-Pakistani cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri; both have aimed to mobilise their supporters for regime change. Khan entered into an agreement with Sharif administration to establish a three-member high-powered judicial commission which would be formed under a presidential ordinance. The commission would make its final report public. If the commission finds a country-wide pattern of rigging proved, the prime minister would dissolve the national and provincial assemblies in terms of the articles 58(1) and 112(1) of the Constitution – thereby meaning that the premier would also appoint the caretaker setup in consultation with the leader of opposition and fresh elections would be held. He also met Syed Mustafa Kamal, when he was in the opposition.

2018 general election

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Imran Khan contested the general election from

  • NA-35 (Bannu)
  • NA-53 (Islamabad-II)
  • NA-95 (Mianwali-I)
  • NA-131 (Lahore-IX)
  • NA-243 (Karachi East-II).

According to early, official results, Khan led the poll, although his opposition, mainly PML-N, alleged large-scale vote rigging and administrative malpractices.

On 27 July, election officials declared that Khan’s party had won 110 of the 269 seats, giving PTI a plurality in the National Assembly.

At the conclusion of the count on 28 July, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that the PTI had won a total of 116 of the 270 seats contested.

Khan became the first person in the history of Pakistan general elections who contested and won in all five constituencies, surpassing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who contested in four but won in three constituencies in 1970.

Election controversies

A number of opposition parties have alleged “massive rigging” in Khan’s favour amid allegations of military interference in the general elections. Nawaz Sharif and his PML-N party, in particular, claimed that a conspiracy between the judiciary and military had influenced the election in favour of Khan and PTI. The Election Commission, however, rejected allegations of rigging and Sharif and his PML-N later conceded victory to Khan, despite lingering ‘reservations’ regarding the result. Two days after the 2018 general elections were held, the chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Pakistan Michael Gahler confirmed that the overall situation of the general election was satisfactory.

Victory speech

During his victory speech, he laid out the policy outlines for his future government. Khan said his inspiration is to build Pakistan as a humanitarian state based on principles of first Islamic state of Medina. He described that his future government will put poor and commoners of the country at first and all policies will be geared towards elevating the standards of living of the lesser fortunate. He promised an investigation into rigging allegations. He said that he wanted united Pakistan and would refrain from victimising his political opponents. Everyone will be equal under law. He promised a simple and less costly government devoid of showy pompousness in which prime minister house will be converted into an educational institute and governor houses will be used for public benefit.

On foreign policy, he aimed to learn from China and hoped to have better relations with Afghanistan, United States, and India. On Middle East, he said his government will strive to have a balanced relationship with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Nominations and appointments

On 6 August 2018, PTI officially nominated him as the candidate for prime minister. Delivering a speech during his nomination, he said that he will present himself for public accountability for an hour every week in which he will answer questions put forward by masses.

After the election, Khan made some appointments and nominations for national and provincial level public office holders as the head of winning party.

  • Asad Umar was designated finance minister in future government of Khan in the center.
  • Khan nominated Imran Ismail for Governor of Sindh
  • Mahmood Khan as future Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar as Governor of Punjab
  • Asad Qaiser as Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan
  • Shah Farman as Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In Balochistan, his party decided to support Balochistan Awami Party which nominated

  • Jam Kamal Khan for chief minister
  • Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, former chief minister,  for speaker.

His party nominated

  • Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leader and former Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan, Pervaiz Elahi for the slot of Speaker of the Punjab Assembly.
  • Abdul Razak Dawood was nominated to be the advisor to prime minister on economic affairs.
  • Qasim Khan Suri was nominated for deputy speaker of national assembly slot.
  • Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani and Mehmood Jan were nominated as speaker and deputy speaker of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly respectively.
  • Dost Muhammad Mazari was nominated as Deputy Speaker for the Provincial Assembly of Punjab.

Khan nominated Sardar Usman Buzdar for Chief Minister of Punjab. Announcing the nomination, Khan said that he chose Buzdar because he belongs to the most backward area of Punjab. According to some sources, Buzdar was nominated as a makeshift arrangement because it will be easier to remove a lesser known individual when Shah Mehmood Qureshi is ready to become Chief Minister.

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Prime Minister of Pakistan

 

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On 17 August 2018, Khan secured 176 votes and became 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan while his contender and leader of opposition Shehbaz Sharif received 96 votes. He took oath of office on 18 August 2018. Khan ordered top level reshuffling in the country’s bureaucracy, including the appointment of Sikandar Sultan Raja as Railways Secretary, Rizwan Ahmed as Maritime Secretary and Sohail Mahmood as Foreign Secretary. His first major appointment in the Pakistan Army was that of Lieutenant General Asim Munir to the key slot of Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence.

Khan announced his cabinet soon after taking oath, choosing to keep the Ministry of Interior to himself. Most of his appointees were previously ministers during Musharraf era and some served in Pakistan Peoples Party government which followed Musharraf era.

Khan has stated that despite the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Pakistan must prioritise good relations with Saudi Arabia due to an economic crisis. He also added that U.S. sanctions against Iran are affecting neighbouring Pakistan, stating “The last thing the Muslim World needs is another conflict. The Trump administration is moving towards that direction.” Khan has prioritised close ties with China, saying he “did not know” much about concentration camps for China’s Muslims.

Wealth

  • In 2012, Khan had net worth of ₨22.9 million (US$160,000) which decreased to ₨14 million (US$99,000) in the election year 2013 and then gradually increased to ₨33.3 million (US$240,000) in 2014.
  • In 2015 Khan’s assets were valued ₨1.33 billion (US$9.4 million).
  • As of 2017, his net worth is ₨1.4 billion (US$9.9 million).

Assets

Khan owns

  • a 300 kanal mansion in Bani Gala, Islamabad worth ₨750 million (US$5.3 million).
  • He has a house in Zaman Park, Lahore worth ₨29 million (US$210,000).
  • Khan has also been an investor, investing more than ₨40 million (US$280,000) in various businesses.
  • He is also owner of agriculture land of 39 kanals at Talhar, Islamabad
  • 530 kanals at Khanewal.
  • he has a share in 363 kanals of agricultural land which he inherited.
  • Other assets include furniture of ₨0.6 million (US$4,200)
  • livestock of ₨0.2 million (US$1,400)

However he has no vehicle registered in his name.

Bani Gala mansion

Khan owns a 300 kanal mansion in Bani Gala, Islamabad worth ₨750 million (US$5.3 million). Khan bought acres of land in Bani Gala on top of a hill and built a mansion on it. The mansion is located within a gated enclosure and is accessible through a private driveway. It is the permanent residence of Imran Khan.

 Tax

In July 2017, Federal Board of Revenue Pakistan revealed the tax directory of Pakistani MP’s. According to FBR, Khan paid ₨76,200 (US$540) of tax in 2015 and ₨1.59 lakh (US$1,100) in 2016.

 Public image

After the May 2013 elections, Mohammed Hanif writing for The Guardian termed Khan’s support as appealing “to the educated middle classes but Pakistan’s main problem is that there aren’t enough educated urban middle-class citizens in the country“.

Pankaj Mishra writing for The New York Times in 2012, characterised Khan as a “cogent picture out of his—and Pakistan’s—clashing identities” adding that “his identification with the suffering masses and his attacks on his affluent, English-speaking peers have long been mocked in the living rooms of Lahore and Karachi as the hypocritical ravings of “Im the Dim” and “Taliban Khan”—the two favoured monikers for him.”

Mishra concluded with “like all populist politicians, Khan appears to offer something to everyone. Yet the great differences between his constituencies—socially liberal, upper-middle-class Pakistanis and the deeply conservative residents of Pakistan’s tribal areas—seem irreconcilable.”

On 18 March 2012, Salman Rushdie criticised Khan for refusing to attend the India Today Conference because of Rushdie’s attendance. Khan cited the “immeasurable hurt” that Rushdie’s writings have caused Muslims around the world. Rushdie, in turn, suggested that Khan was a “dictator in waiting.”

In 2011, While writing for The Washington Post, Richard Leiby termed Khan as an underdog adding that he “often sounds like a pro-democracy liberal but is well-known for his coziness with conservative Islamist parties.”

Ayesha Siddiqa, in September 2014, writing for The Express Tribune, claimed that “while we can all sympathise with Khan’s right to change the political tone, it would be worthwhile for him to envision how he would, if he did become the prime minister of this country, put the genie back into the bottle.”

H. M. Naqvi termed Khan as a “sort of a Ron Paul figure”, adding that “there is no taint of corruption and there is his anti-establishment message.”

During the 1970s and 1980s, Khan was a popular sex symbol. He became known as a socialite in English high society, and sported a playboy image amongst the British press and paparazzi due to his “non-stop partying” at London nightclubs such as Annabel’s and Tramp, though he claims to have hated English pubs and never drank alcohol.

British heiress Sita White, daughter of Gordon White, Baron White of Hull, became the mother of his alleged lovechild daughter, Tyrian Jade White. A judge in the US ruled him to be the father of Tyrian, but Khan has denied paternity publicly.

Later in 2007, Election Commission of Pakistan ruled in favour of Khan and dismissed the ex parte judgment of the US court, on grounds that it was neither admissible in evidence before any court or tribunal in Pakistan nor executable against him. About his lifestyle as a bachelor, he has often said that, “I never claim to have led an angelic life.”

  • Declan Walsh in The Guardian newspaper in England in 2005 described Khan as a “miserable politician,” observing that, “Khan’s ideas and affiliations since entering politics in 1996 have swerved and skidded like a rickshaw in a rainshower… He preaches democracy one day but gives a vote to reactionary mullahs the next.”
  • Khan has also been accused by some opponents and critics of hypocrisy and opportunism, including what has been called his life’s “playboy to puritan U-turn.”
  • Political commentator Najam Sethi, stated that, “A lot of the Imran Khan story is about backtracking on a lot of things he said earlier, which is why this doesn’t inspire people.”
  • Author Fatima Bhutto has criticised Khan for “incredible coziness not with the military but with dictatorship” as well as some of his political decisions.

In popular culture

During his cricketing days, Khan featured in many advertisements and television commercials as a celebrity brand endorser. These included Pepsi Pakistan, Brooke Bond, Thumbs Up (along with Sunil Gavaskar), and the Indian soap brand Cinthol, at a time when Bollywood legend Vinod Khanna was also endorsing the same product. His popularity in India was such that it was “unmatched in an era when there were no smartphones to take selfies. He was mobbed everywhere he went.” The late veteran Bollywood actor Dev Anand even offered him a role in his sports action-thriller movie Awwal Number (1990), that of a cricket star in decline opposite an upcoming cricketer essayed by Aamir Khan, and as he refused, citing his lack of acting skills, the role eventually went to Aditya Pancholi. In 2010, a Pakistani production house produced a biographical film based on Khan’s life, titled Kaptaan: The Making of a Legend. The title, which is Urdu for ‘Captain’, depicts Khan’s captaincy and career with the Pakistan cricket team which led them to victory in the 1992 cricket world cup, as well as events which shaped his life; from being ridiculed in cricket to being labelled a playboy; from the death of his mother to his efforts and endeavours in building the first cancer hospital in Pakistan; from being the first Chancellor of the University of Bradford to the building of Namal University.

Personal life

He had numerous relationships during his bachelor life. He was then known as a hedonistic bachelor and a playboy who was active on the London nightclub circuit. He had numerous girlfriends during his bachelor life. Many are unknown and were called ‘mysterious blondes’ by British newspaper The Times.

Some of his out of marriage relationships included relationship with

  1. Zeenat Aman,
  2. Emma Sergeant
  3. Susie Murray-Philipson
  4. Sita White
  5. Sarah Crawley
  6. Stephanie Beacham
  7. Goldie Hawn
  8. Kristiane Backer
  9. Susannah Constantine
  10. Marie Helvin
  11. Caroline Kellett
  12. Liza Campbell,
  13. Anastasia Cooke
  14. Hannah Mary Rothschild
  15. Jerry Hall
  16. Lulu Blacker
  • His first girlfriend, Emma Sergeant, an artist and the daughter of British investor Sir Patrick Sergeant, introduced him to socialites. They first met in 1982 and subsequently visited Pakistan. She accompanied him on various Pakistani cricket team tours including in Peshawar and Australian tour. After long separations, his relationship with Sergeant was broken in 1986. He then had a short relationship with Susie Murray-Philipson whom he invited to Pakistan and had dinner with in 1982.She also made various artistic portraits of Khan during their relationship.
  • In a book published in 2009, Christopher Sandford claimed that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Imran Khan had a close relationship when both were students in Oxford. He wrote that Bhutto at the age of 21 first became close to Khan in 1975. They remained in a relationship for about two months. His mother also tried to have an arranged marriage between them. He further claimed that they had a “romantic relationship”, which was refuted by Khan who said they were only friends.
  • His most well known relationship was with heiress Sita White, daughter of British industrialist Gordon White, Baron White of Hull. They remained in the relationship for about six years having met in 1987–88. According to Sita White, Khan agreed for a child in a 1991 meeting. Tyrian Jade was born on 15 June 1992 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center but Khan, according to White’s allegation, refused to accept her because she was a girl. Khan had urged White to go for an abortion. Tyrian looked extraordinarily like Khan. Later in 1997, Los Angeles court announced the verdict which was put by his former partner Sita White and her lawyer Gloria Allred that Imran Khan is the father of a five-year-old girl named Tyrian-Jade White.
  • His former wife Reham Khan alleged Khan told her that Tyrian was not the only child fathered by him out of wedlock, there were four others, some of them had Indian mothers and the oldest of his children is 34 years old. In a later interview, Reham conceded that she did not know where these children were, who they were and whether Khan was only boasting about it, and said that she “didn’t even know if it is true also because you can never make out whether he tells the truth.” In 2004, after Sita’s death, Khan agreed to accept Tyrian as his child and welcomed her to join their house.
  • On 16 May 1995, at the age of 43, Khan married 21-year-old Jemima Goldsmith, in a two-minute ceremony conducted in Urdu in Paris. A month later, on 21 June, they were married again in a civil ceremony at the Richmond registry office in England. Jemima converted to Islam. The couple have two sons, Sulaiman Isa and Kasim.
  • Rumours circulated that the couple’s marriage was in crisis. Goldsmith denied the rumours by publishing an advertisement in Pakistani newspapers. On 22 June 2004, it was announced that the couple had divorced, ending the nine-year marriage because it was “difficult for Jemima to adapt to life in Pakistan”.
  • In January 2015, it was announced that Khan married British-Pakistani journalist Reham Khan in a private Nikah ceremony at his residence in Islamabad. However, Reham Khan later states in her autobiography that they in fact got married in October 2014 but the announcement only came in January the year after. On 22 October, they announced their intention to file for divorce.
  • In mid-2016, late 2017 and early 2018, reports emerged that Khan had married his spiritual mentor (murshid), Bushra Bibi. Khan, PTI aides and members of the Manika family denied the rumour. Khan termed the media “unethical” for spreading the rumour, and PTI filed a complaint against the news channels that had aired it.
  • On 7 January 2018, however, the PTI central secretariat issued a statement that said Khan had proposed to Manika, but she had not yet accepted his proposal.
  • On 18 February 2018, PTI confirmed Khan has married Manika.
  • According to Khan, his life has been influenced by Sufism for three decades, and this is what drew him closer to his wife.
  • Khan resides in his sprawling farmhouse at Bani Gala. In November 2009, Khan underwent emergency surgery at Lahore’s Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital to remove an obstruction in his small intestine.
  • He owns five pet dogs, who reside on his estate.

Controversies

On 1 August 2017, Ayesha Gulalai came forward with allegations of harassment against Khan and claimed that she had been receiving offensive messages from him since October 2013. In an interview, Khan said that he suspected that the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) had used Gulalai for the allegations of harassment against him. Later, Ayesha Gulalai said that she will forgive Khan if he apologises.

On 19 February 2019, Imran Khan gave a speech regarding the 2019 Pulwama attack in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir; he was criticised by the Indian media on not offering condolences to the Indian soldiers but was praised worldwide for his efforts in bringing the conflict to an end by releasing the captured Indian air pilot to India as a gesture of peace .

Literary work

Khan has published six works of non-fiction, including an autobiography co-written with Patrick Murphy. He periodically writes editorials on cricket and Pakistani politics in several leading Pakistani and British newspapers. It was revealed in 2008 that Khan’s second book, Indus Journey: A Personal View of Pakistan, had required heavy editing from the publisher. The publisher Jeremy Lewis revealed in a memoir that when he asked Khan to show his writing for publication, “He handed me a leather-bound notebook or diary containing a few jottings and autobiographical snippets. It took me, at most, five minutes to read them; and that, it soon became apparent, was all we had to go on.”

  • Khan, Imran (1975). West and East. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 978-0-3339-0059-8.
  • Khan, Imran; Murphy, Patrick (1983). Imran: The autobiography of Imran Khan. Pelham Books. ISBN 978-0-7207-1489-0.
  • Khan, Imran (1989). Imran Khan’s cricket skills. London : Golden Press in association with Hamlyn. ISBN 978-0-600-56349-5.
  • Khan, Imran (1991). Indus Journey: A Personal View of Pakistan. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-3527-0.
  • Khan, Imran (1992). All Round View. Mandarin. ISBN 978-0-7493-1499-6.
  • Khan, Imran (1993). Warrior Race: A Journey Through the Land of the Tribal Pathans. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-3890-5.
  • Khan, Imran (2011). Pakistan: A Personal History. Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0-593-06774-1.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

T.E. Lawrence on his role with the Arabs

In these pages the history is not of the Arab movement, but of me in it. It is a narrative of daily life, mean happenings, little people. Here are no lessons for the world, no disclosures to shock people. It is filled with trivial things, partly that no one mistake for history the bones from which some day a man may make history, and partly for the pleasure it gave me to recall the fellowship of the revolt. We were fond together, because of the sweep of the open places, the taste of wide winds, the sunlight, and the hopes in which we worked. The morning freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to re-make in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep: and it was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find that it was a vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did. I meant to make a new nation, to restore a lost influence, to give twenty million of Semites the foundations on which to build an inspired dream-palace of their national thoughts. So high an aim called out the inherent nobility of their minds, and made them play a generous part in events: but when we won it, it was charged against me that the British petrol royalties in Mesopotamia were become dubious, and French Colonial policy ruined in the Levant.

I am afraid that I hope so. We pay for these things too much in honour and in innocent lives. I went up the Tigris with one hundred Devon Territorials, young clean, delightful fellows, full of the power of happiness and of making women children and glad. By them one saw vividly how great it was to be their kin, and English. And we were casting them by thousands into the fire to the worst of deaths, not to win the war but that corn and rice and oil of Mesopotamia might be ours. The only need was to defeat our enemies (Turkey among them), and this was at last done in the wisdom of Allenby with less than four hundred killed, by turning to our uses the hands of the oppressed in Turkey. I am proudest of my thirty fights in that I did not have any of our own blood shed. All our subject provinces to me were not worth one dead Englishman.

For my work on the Arab front I had determined to accept nothing. The Cabinet raised the Arabs to fight for us by definite promises of self-government afterwards. Arabs believe in persons, not in institutions. They saw in me a free agent of the British Government, and demanded from me an endorsement of its written promises. So I had to join the conspiracy, and, for what my word was worth, assured the men of their reward. In our two years’ partnership under fire they grew accustomed to believing me and to think my Government, like myself, sincere. In this hope they performed some fine things but, of course, instead of being proud of what we did together, I was continually and bitterly ashamed.

It was evident from the beginning that if we won the war these promises would be dead paper, and had I been an honest adviser of the Arabs, I would have advised them to go home and not risk their lives fighting for such stuff: but I solved myself with the hope that, by leading these Arabs madly in the final victory, I would establish them, with arms in their hands, in a position assured (if not dominant) that expediency would counsel to the Great Powers a fair settlement of their claims. In other words, I presumed (seeing no other leader with the will and power) that I would survive the campaigns, and be able to defeat not merely the Turks on the battlefield, but my own country and its allies in the council-chamber. It was an immodest presumption: it is not yet clear if I succeeded: but it is clear that I had no shadow of leave to engage the Arabs, unknowing, in such hazard. I risked the fraud, on my conviction that Arab help was necessary to our cheap and speedy victory in the East, and that better we win and break our word than lose.

The dismal of Sir Henry McMahon confirmed my belief in our essential insincerity: but I could not so explain myself to General Wingate while the war lasted, since I was nominally under his orders, and he did not seem sensible of how false his own standing was. The only thing remaining was to refuse rewards for being a successful trickster and, to prevent this unpleasantness arising, I began in my reports to conceal the true stories of things, and to persuade the few Arabs, who knew to an equal reticence. In this book also, for the last time, I mean to be my own judge of what to say.

By courtesy

Pakistan: the Geo-Political Context

Pakistan’s sensitive geo-political situation to the east of the Persian Gulf and in close proximity to Russia, China and India has given rise to it being termed a garrison state in which the military role is inevitably over-developed. Critics of militarism have seen the army as turning to its advantage enmity with India and regional Western strategic concerns, firstly derived from the Cold War and latterly the War on Terror to transform Pakistan into a permanent insecurity state. The cost of the army’s positioning and repositioning itself as the state’s predominant institution has been Pakistan’s neo-vassal status.

The fact that Pakistan was carved out of the British Indian Empire has meant that its history has been profoundly influenced by relations with its mighty neighbour Indian attitudes have been coloured by the fact that Pakistan is seen as a secessionist state; while in Pakistan there has been the abiding fear that India will seek to undo the 1947 Partition. This intensified with the breakaway of its eastern wing to form Bangladesh in 1971.

Pakistan had emerged in 1947 with its eastern and western wings divided by over 1,000 miles of Indian territory. While this geographical absurdity by no means condemned it to division, the remoteness of Dhaka from the federal capital, first in Karachi and then later in Islamabad intensified the sense of marginality of the Bengali political elites. I feel a peculiar sensation when I come from Dacca to Karachi, the Bengal Chief Minister Ataur Rahman Khan declared early in 1956; I feel physically, apart from mental feeling, that I am living here in a foreign country. I did not feel as much when I went to Zurich, to Geneva . . . or London as much as I feel here in my own country that I am in a foreign land. This perception was materially based in the different topographies, landholding structures and population densities of the two wings and the fact that over 1 in 5 of East Pakistan’s population was non-Muslim, whereas the figures for West Pakistan were less than 1 in 30. The loss of the eastern wing profoundly transformed Pakistan in terms of its demography. It also encouraged the country to look more to the Middle-East than to South Asia as its neighbourhood region in cultural and economic terms. It was not fully recognised at the time but the federal government’s use of Islamic irregulars (Razakars) drawn from the Urdu-speaking Bihari population in East Pakistan in 1971 encouraged notions of Islamic militants’ value as strategic assets in the enduring rivalry with India. Pakistan was greatly weakened in relation to India by the loss of its eastern wing, but this did not abate their enduring rivalry, which was rooted in the Kashmir issue.

While Pakistan’s territorial dispute with India over Kashmir has symbolised the distrust between the two countries over the past six decades, it also inherited another disputed border with Afghanistan. In July 1949 the Afghan parliament formally renounced the Durand Line border which the British had negotiated with Amir Abdur Rahman Khan in 1893 to demarcate the frontier of the Raj. Kabul laid claim to the territories it had lost to Pakistan. This was a serious threat because of Pakistan’s immediate post-Partition weakness and because it occurred in the context of Afghanistan’s support for ethnic Pakhtun nationalists across the Durand Line in Pakistan, who sought to create their own Pakhtunistan state. The date of 31 August was earmarked in Afghanistan as the official annual celebration of a Greater Pakhtunistan Day. The goal of a Greater Pakhtunistan was designed not only to increase the power of the Afghan state, by absorbing a Pakhtunistan area carved out of Pakistan, but to cement the ethnic dominance of Pakhtuns within it at the expense of the Hazaras, Uzbeks and Tajiks, Kabul’s posture exacerbated Pakistan’s insecurity, which was already fevered by the 1947-8 clash with India over Kashmir. The geo-political imperative for a strong military received further encouragement. Within less than a decade of independence, Pakistan and Afghanistan became part of competing Cold War alliance systems within the region. Pakistan became a member of the US Central Treaty Organization (CENTO). Although India and Afghanistan retained the fiction of non-alignment, they received increasing amounts of aid from the USSR. Soviet assistance encouraged closer ties between Kabul and New Delhi, adding a further antagonistic element to Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.

During the Cold War and the post 9/11 War on Terror,  Pakistan has found itself in the front line of an international conflict because of its geo-strategic location. Pakistan’s support was vital in the October 2001 war which removed the Taliban regime from power. It also became an important ally as NATO battled to contain the Taliban-led insurgency from 2006 onwards. By 2010-11, around 40% of all fuel and 80% of all containerised cargo for Western forces was passing through the country.

 Some authors have gone so far as to declare that Pakistan has been a prisoner of its geography. The region’s geo-politics since the 1980s have brought Pakistan economic benefits, but high costs in terms of internal instability arising from the ‘blowback effects’ of weaponization, the influx of Afghan refugees and the support afforded to militant and sectarian expressions of Islam. The US strategy of encouraging jihad in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the early 1980s did not initiate the Pakistan state’s alliances with Islamic proxies, but it profoundly influenced their development:

  • firstly, by introducing large numbers of foreign fighters into the region;
  • secondly by flooding weapons into the country;
  • thirdly by increasing the power and influence of Pakistan’s ISI and its links with militant groups;
  • fourthly by providing a template which Pakistan was to adopt in its strategic aims to dominate post-Soviet Afghanistan and to wear down India in Kashmir.

Since 9/11 Pakistan has feared encirclement as a result of growing Indian development assistance to Afghanistan, which it had hoped to dominate itself. By the end of 2007, India was second only to the US in the provision of aid. Moreover, non-Pakhtun minorities which have traditionally looked to India for support had gained a measure of power in Hamid Karzai’s regime. The resentment this generated, fuelled the growing Taliban insurgency, for since the foundation of the modern Afghan state in the mid-eighteenth century it has been ruled by Pakhtuns, with the exception of the brief Tajik hold on power during the reign of Habibullah II and the post-Soviet presidency of Burhanuddin Rabbani. Pakistan has seen the Pakhtuns as its natural allies in Afghanistan following the decline of an irredentist Pakhtunistan threat. The policy of securing influence in Afghanistan through the backing of Pakhtun Islamic militants pre-dates the 1979 Soviet invasion, but received major Western and Saudi backing at that juncture. It has persisted to the present day with Islamabad seeing its strategic interests being served through successive Pakhtun groups of Islamist and Deobandi militant clients, ranging from Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Mullah Omar and the Taliban to the Haqqanis at the time of the post-2005 Taliban insurgency against the government of President Hamid Karzai.

The Tribal Areas which comprise the seven protected agencies of

  • Bajaur,
  • Khyber,
  • Khurram,
  • Mohmand,
  • Orakzai 
  • North Waziristan and
  • South Waziristan,

form a 280 mile wedge of mountainous land along this sensitive western border with Afghanistan. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have frequently been uneasy in this region. Contemporary Afghanistan presents itself as the victim of repeated cross-border incursions by Islamic militants based in this region, but it has not always been the case of one-way traffic. The Pakistan army for example had to repel major Afghan incursions into Bajaur in 1961.

Pakistan has continued the colonial strategy of regarding the Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan as a buffer zone in which rule was indirect, with stability being provided by the Political Agent working through tribal jirgas. Further legacies were the provision for the imposition of collective punishments under the Frontier Crimes Regulations and the absence of a permanent military presence in the tribal heartland. Another historical inheritance which pre-dated the colonial era was the raising of tribal revolt by charismatic Muslim leaders in the Pakhtun tribal areas abutting Afghanistan. This tradition can be linked as far back as the jihad against the Sikh rule led by Sayyid Ahmed Barelvi (1786-1831). The Hadda Mullah’s jihads against the British in 1893 and 1897 were in response to colonial encroachment into the region. Hadda Mullah and his successors fused religious revivalism with the allegiances arising from the traditional Sufi ties between pirs and their murids.

The unanticipated ramifications of inducting Pakistani troops into the area in pursuit of foreign militants linked with Al-Qaeda will be discussed later in the volume. Suffice it to say here that home-grown militancy directed increasingly not against the Afghanistan state, but Pakistan itself, can be explained in part by the region’s continued isolation from political and socio-economic change elsewhere in the country, the sixth Five Year Plan declared the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to be the least developed area of Pakistan, with an adult literacy rate of just 15%. This has perpetuated extreme social conservatism and a history of sporadic uprisings against state encroachments led by unifying Islamic leaders. Despite a dramatic increase in educational expenditure from 2005, militancy and state counter-insurgency measures, with their attendant population displacement, resulted in the FATA annual school census report for 2009-10 revealing a dropout rate in government primary schools of 63% among boys and 77% among girls.

 Pakistan’s geo-political location provides economic possibilities as well as strategic dangers. Pakistan could form an important hub for trade and energy transmission if regional relations were improved, with the country providing interconnecting links between Iran, Afghanistan and India. New Delhi has pulled out of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project because of US disquiet, which became institutionalised in the June 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Disinvestment Act. It is signed up however to the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline project which was agreed at Ashgabat in December 2010. This could eventually supply 30 billion cubic metres of gas a year from the Caspian Sea region. The pipeline would have to cross strategically sensitive areas of south-eastern Afghanistan, including Helmand and  Balochistan. It would however not only provide transit route fees of up to $160 million a year, equivalent to half of its national revenue and jobs for Afghanistan, but clean fuel for both Pakistan and India. US state department officials have termed TAPI’s route as a stabilising corridor which would link regional neighbours together in economic growth and prosperity. This has been echoed by an eminent Pakistani expert, who sees TAPI as having the potential for reshaping the security discourse in South Asia’ away from conflicting geo-political rivalries to mutually beneficial ‘geo-economics.

Courtesy of:

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Muawiya the Umayyad, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain

Hasan bent down to kiss his father’s wounded brow. He then went out from the house to announce the death of their Imam to the people of Kufa. It was still Ramadan and so the streets around the great central mosque, and the aisles within, were packed with Muslims listening to the all-night recitations of the Koran that were such a feature of the holy month of fasting. Hasan had been born with a slight speech defect but he had conquered this disability to become a slow but deliberate speaker, whose measured pace was in effective contrast to his quick-tongued and fiery contemporaries. That night he described his father as a man whose acts were unrivalled and would for ever remain so. He reminded the congregation of his father’s bravery and how in battle he had often protected the Prophet with his own life. As his legal legatee, Hasan also formally reported to the people that Ali held no government loans, no treasury hoard of bullion that now needed to be returned, just a purse of 700 dirhams that he had been saving up from his salary in order to be able to acquire a servant. At the memory of the man they had now lost, fit to stand beside Abu Bakr and Omar for the absolute moral rectitude of his administration, the thirty-seven-year old Hasan found himself too moved to continue his speech. The congregation wept for him, and at the end of his father’s elegy, Ubaydallah ibn Abbas stood up and called the people to pledge their loyalty to the grandson of the bringer of good tidings, the son of the warner, the son of the summoner to God (powerful and exalted) and with his permission, the shining lamp. The congregation needed no such prompting, Hasan was adored by all.

He was also, by all accounts, the spitting image of his grandfather, and a charming conversationalist, who never spoke evil of any man. He was also a genuine ascetic, who had already performed the pilgrimage twenty-five times, travelling the whole 250 miles between Medina and Mecca on foot. He was one of the great unsung heroes of Islam, a pacifist, a scholar with a totally independent mind that looked to the true nature of a cause. Typically it was Hasan who had stood guard over Uthman’s door until rendered unconscious by the assaults of the mutineers. For despite his own father’s opposition to Uthman’s last six years of rule, Hasan had always looked beyond the day to day disagreements over policy and appointments. He had appreciated Uthman’s brilliant achievements and also had a personal sympathy for this gentle, clever, scholarly man and could empathise with the personal reticence of his aristocratic and uxorious uncle. Above all, Hasan shared with Uthman an innate understanding that mercy, forgiveness and compassion were at the root of Islam. His Islam was such that he desired neither evil nor harm to anyone and enormously admired Uthman for being prepared to die for his beliefs but not to cause the death of any man. When he preached, he summoned up, out of the teachings of the Koran, not a cause for war but the call for peace. Again and again he stressed that the lesser jihad, the armed struggle, should be just a preparation for the greater jihad which was the lifelong struggle to master oneself. He quoted Sura 2, verse 216, God has prescribed the jihad for you though it is a loathsome duty.

Hasan was ahead of his time in his vision of Islam as religion of peace-perhaps he would still be if he were with us now. The soldiers of the Kufa garrison, the same men who had refused to fight for his father on the fourth day of Siffin and after that tragic day at Nahrawan, now angrily demanded he lead them to war.

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Those two decades of endless victories when the Arab armies had conquered half the known world had introduced a very dangerous imbalance into early Islam. For far too many young Muslims had grown used to the idea that their faith would be reflected in military victory. They erroneously saw glorious triumphs in this world, fame, glory and wealth as proofs of the rightness of Islam. They could no longer understand that Muhammad’s message was entirely about the individual’s relationship to God and was not a charmed banner under which they were destined to conquer the world.

In vain did Hasan preach that like all true Muslims they should aspire to abandon worldly ambition, that shame is better than hellfire and that he sought not a worldly dominion but to seek the favour of God, and to spare the blood of the people. Instead the soldiers began to publicly abuse their prince until they had worked up their passions into a riot. Hasan’s house was looted, his prayer mat was ripped from underneath him and his tunic pulled from his shoulders. Only the protection of the mounted warriors of the Rabi tribe, devoted partisans of Ali and his family, stopped Hasan from being martyred that day. The violence only made Hasan absolutely determined to end the schism within Islam and halt any further bloodshed between Muslims.

Muawiya for his part moved with speed and tact, once he began to fully appreciate that Hasan was not indulging in some per-fight propaganda but was genuinely seeking lasting peace. He led his army out of Syria, but showed a gracious forbearance to his opponents as he advanced ever closer to Kufa and Basra. He responded to Hasan’s pious modesty by dropping all his own claims to imposing titles of power, so that the correspondence between the two over the peace was simply addressed between Hasan ibn Ali and Muawiya ibn Abu Sufyan. Another chronicler recorded that Muawiya sent his seal already attached to a completely blank draft of the proposed treaty – so that Hasan could fill in whatever terms he desired. These charming gestures may well have occurred, a public duel in chivalry, even if no one was in any doubt of the true issues at hand. Hasan agreed to relinquish all authority to Muawiya in exchange for an agreement not to harm any of the supporters of Ali, and to govern by the book of God and the example of the Prophet. This he would do by letter and by word, explaining to the congregation in the Kufa mosque that he had ceded his right to rule for the best interest of the community and for the sake of sparing blood. Muawiya acknowledged that the reign would belong to Hasan after him (although this would soon be quietly forgotten) and that to avoid all future strife the next Caliph was to be decided by a formal electoral council. Hasan was assured of an annual salary of a million dirhams, with which he could generously support his companions, all the Beni Hashim and the old clients of his father.

In July 661 Hasan and his younger brother Husain rode out of Kufa and took the road back to Medina, Hasan had ruled for just six months

with the skills of the Arabs in my hand, for they were ready to make war on whomever I declared war, yet I abandoned it, seeking instead the face of God.

His enemies would later attempt to blacken his saintly pacific nature by naming Hasan al-Mitlaq, the great divorcer. Tales of his extravagant wedding parties, his boundless generosity and the hundred wives that he took in Medina, some for no more than a night, read like episodes from The Thousand and One Nights. Though the details of these fantasies are a still relished element of popular culture they must also be recognised as the traces of black propaganda designed to discredit this man of peace. Hasan’s seven marriages and descendants are exceptionally well chronicled, for practically all of the thousands of families of Shareefs that claim descent from the Prophet Muhammad trace their descent through one of Hasan’s two surviving sons, Zayd and Hasan.*

* The families who trace their descent from his brother are customarily known as Sayyid.

Muawiya entered Kufa as the sole recognised Caliph of the Arab Empire. He promised forgiveness to all those in the Kufa garrison who immediately came forth to pledge allegiance, though he warned that after three days the season for pardon and protection would be at an end. He also promised the assembled soldiers a vast new horizon for their ambitions: an ever-expanding Arab Empire to be forged from their future conquests. Salaries would be paid punctually from now on, wars would always be fought in the territory of the enemy, with campaigning seasons for border raids set a six months, while for more ambitious conquests the Arab warriors should be prepared for a whole year’s absence from their base camps and their families.

The armies of the Caliphate were soon to be on the march again, further extending the frontiers of the empire. Muawiya had always believed that the way to keep an army of Arabs obedient was to keep it well occupied. At the head of these Arab armies stood a man whom Omar had prophetically described as the Caesar of the Arabs. Muawiya was indeed a prince among the Quraysh, tall, tanned and handsome. He also had the common touch of Caesar, the ability to charm, persuade and delegate rather than merely to command. Muawiya had grown up in the political heart of Mecca with an instinctive grasp of Arab political culture: when it was expedient to listen, when it was time to consult and when to be patient. His most consistent military opponent, the Greek speaking Byzantine Empire, got to know the measure of the man through the constant shuffle of ambassadorial diplomacy. It is therefore especially intriguing that the Byzantine historian, Theophanes chose to describe Muawiya as neither the king if the Arabs nor their emperor but as their first counsellor. For as long as Muawiya could lead and direct the Arab armies to victory there was no doubt that they would accept his counsel. As a commander-in-chief, Muawiya was a near-genius, and the range of his strategic vision is astonishing to behold.

On the western front, the battle hardened nephew of Amr, Oqba ibn Nafi was dispatched to complete the conquest of North Africa. In 670, to facilitate this, an advance base would be established some 1500 miles west of Fustat in central Tunisia. This kairouan, a temporary halting place of the Arab cavalry army, was well sighted: it not only dominated the good grazing grounds of the steppe but it allowed Oqba to drive a strategic wedge between his two opponents, the walled Byzantine cities of the coast and the fierce Berber principalities of the mountains. Oqba’s halting place would eventually grow into the holy city of Kairouan. There was a setback, for after the death of his old uncle Amr (in Egypt) Oqba would row with the new governor-general and, like his uncle before him, Oqba would be sacked. But like his uncle, he would also return to take command and exact his revenge. In 681 he would make his exploratory ride across the southern steppe lands of North Africa, stopping only when he reached the end of the road, the shores of the Atlantic – known to the Arabs as the Sea of Obscurity. Here he protested that if there was a ford, he would cross it, in order to find new lands to conquer in the name of God. On his ride back Oqba would be killed by a Berber prince, Kusayla, outside the oasis of Biskra (in southern Algeria) after which the witch-queen of the mountains, the priestess Kahina, would raise the Berber tribes in a widespread revolt against the Arab Muslims. With this extraordinary narrative of events, North African Islam created its own historical mythology.

On the northern frontier, the Arab navy that Muawiya had so patiently created over the past two decades was at last given free rein and let loose on the sea lanes of the southern Aegean. Sicily and Crete were both repeatedly attacked and in 672 Rhodes was occupied. An Arab inscription recently found carved into a church floor in Cnidus (on the Turkish coast opposite Rhodes) may date from these swashbuckling years – in which case it is one of the earliest Arabic inscriptions in existence. An Arab colony was then settled on the island of Rhodes and an enterprising merchant from this vanguard community would make a fortune by smelting down the Colossus of Rhodes, the great brazen statue of Helios that had been toppled by an earthquake some 300 years before.

Using Rhodes as an advanced base, Muawiya launched his most ambitious operation, a marine-based assault on the triple-walled city of Constantinople. The siege, a series of attacks by the sea, would last for ten years, from 668 to 678. The mosque that was established at Eyup, the base camp just outside the land walls of Constantinople, would be rediscovered by Ottoman archaeologists in the fifteenth century and restored in magnificent style to become the oldest Muslim prayer hall in Europe. It was an extraordinary achievement to have kept an army in the field for that length of time so far from their homeland. They were entirely dependent on control of the sea route, so that when an Arab fleet was defeated by a Byzantine squadron, at the battle of Syllaeum in 678, Muawiya wisely called off the siege which had been commanded by his first-born son, Yazid. In the process of this orderly withdrawal, a truce was agreed with Byzantium that woulda last for a whole generation. The Muslim world would have to wait another 800 years before it had a leader who could breach the walls of the city of the Caesars. The Byzantine land frontier, embedded with the dozens of stout castles that guarded all the important passes through the Taurus mountains, had remained firmly in place throughout the ten-year siege. On this frontier Muawiya had raised up one of Khalid’s surviving sons, Abdal Rahman, to become governor of Homs and to lead the summer raids of the Arab armies against the mountain redoubts.

In the troublesome east Muawiya would leave nothing to chance. He chose the most resilient power-politicians of the day to govern the two potential trouble spots: the Iraqi cities of Kufa and Basra. So once again that one-eyed rogue Mughira was promoted to rule over Kufa, while his fellow Taif-born protege Zayyad, watched over Basra. Trusting in no one’s good faith, they established the infrastructure of state power complete with a police force (the dreaded shurta) , law courts, prisons, treasury officials and curfews as well as covert agents to report on the mood on the markets and the gossip at the doors of the mosque. Under these two political bosses the two garrison cities of Iraq were made to concentrate their energies ont the coordinated conquest of the far eastern frontiers of Persia. Muawiya had skilfully bound Zayyad into a position of personal loyalty by settling the delicate matter of his social origins (for he was literally the bastard son of a whore), by officially recognising Zayyad as one of his father’s lost sons. Zayyad was no longer to be referred to by the tongue-in-cheek patronymic ibn Abihi, the son of his father, but as the son of the great warlord of Mecca, Abu Sufyan. Later Muawiya would heap further rewards on this new brother by making Zayyad’s son Ubaydallah the governor of the new 50,000 strong garrison city in Khurasan, while Caliph Uthman’s son Saeed was given command of the newly conquered forward post of Bukhara.

Throughout Muawiya’s nineteen-year reign (AD 661-680) the centre of administrative power was firmly located upon Damascus. No longer did foreign ambassadors, confidential agents, officials and delegations make the long and arduous journey across central Arabia to Medina. Instead they once again made their way to the old commercial capital of Byzantine Syria, now doubly glorious as the new political centre of a worldwide empire. There was, however, no attempt to coordinate the vast conquests into a coherent Arabic -speaking-empire. Each conquered province continued to use its own language, it’ own indigenous class of state officials and units of measurement as well as retaining the exact units and shapes of the traditional coinages, the gold dinar of Byzantium and the silver dirham of Persia. The simplicity of the Prophet’s life and rule had now been totally transformed, so that even one of Muawiya’s deputy governors was now surrounded by the panoply of power consciously modelled on the Byzantine and Sassanid courts, and a visiting foreign ambassador could observe a crowd of silver-sticks and lectors, and at his gate 500 soldiers mounted guard.

At the beginning of his rule as Caliph, Muawiya had made the journey from Damascus to the oasis of Medina in order to accept the oath of allegiance from all the old revered Companions of the Prophet who dwelt there. Few came to the mosque to pledge their obedience, for though they might reluctantly accept the efficiency of his administration and the continued success of his armies, they could manage only a passive tolerance of his usurpation and would not give him their active support or blessing. It is remembered that Muawiya tried to take them to task over this indifference. He asked, How come all the people have come to swear allegiance except those from Medina? To which the laconic reply was, We have no riding camels. Muawiya, knowing full well that all the Companions now possessed sizeable herds, replied in the same offhand spirit, But what became of all those camels you used to use for fetching water? They were lamed when we chased after you and your father after the battle of Badr was the derisive reply. To drive the point home further they proceeded to inform Muawiya that the Prophet had warned them of a state of calamity after his death, to which he commanded us to be resigned. That was to be the extent of the loyalty he could expect from all the chief men of Islam-patient resignation. Others in the oasis remembered that Muhammad had predicted that the succession to his prophethood would last for thirty years, to be followed by a biting kingship. These beliefs were to be codified with the pleasing prospect of eternal damnation for the usurper Caliph, by a poet of Medina who sang at this time:

The Prince of the Faithful, Muawiya, we greet him
In his message from the Prophet’s own city:
We will be resigned till the Day when we meet him,
The last Day of Judgement,the Day without pity.

Towards the end of his reign Muawiya would once again try to win over the chief men of Islam to his rule. The empire had been ceaselessly expanded in every direction, their annual stipends had been paid with relentless punctuality and efficiency, but when the leading Muslims of the second generation of Islam heard that Caliph Muawiya was coming again to Medina they voted with their feet. Husain ibn Ali, Abdur Rahman ibn Abu Bakr, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Abdullah ibn Omar waited until the old ruler was within a few days ride of the oasis before they saddled their camels and rode out of town. They feared that he had come to force them into accepting his son Yazid as a suitable candidate for the Caliphate. It was not just that Yazid was debauched and addicted to hunting that horrified them, for like his father he was also an experienced administrator and a proven army commander as well as being a poet and a patron of learning. What was even more insulting to them was that Yazid was being imposed upon them like a crown prince who had first been hailed by Muawiya’s generals and governors at the sycophantic court of Damascus. The shura, the Council of Companions at Medina, had been brushed aside and with it all their claims to an honoured place in the new society. All the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs had first been acclaimed by the people of Medina but this right and duty had now been brushed aside in favour of the courtiers at Damascus. Muawiya had also broken his solemn pledge to hold a shura, which had been part of the peace agreement with Hasan. None of the previous Caliphs had thought to impose their own sons on the community, and had looked beyond the narrow loyalties of a family towards their brothers in faith. Muawiya was turning a community of believers into a hereditary kingdom to be based on the military power of distant Syria. Rather than accept this ultimate degradation, these young men, the heirs of all the chief Companions of Muhammad and the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs, would each in his own way be prepared to die. This would form the last bitter act in the long-drawn-out tragedy of the Heirs of the Prophet.

In 680 the seventy-seven-year old Muawiya was buried, his body decorated with a carefully hoarded treasury of relics, for the nail clippings and hairs from Muhammad’s head and beard had already acquired a totem-like reverence that would have appalled the Prophet.*

*Though this treasury would be destroyed eighty years later by his dynastic rivals, his tomb can still be found in Damascus’s old cemetery.

In Damascus Yazid was acclaimed as the successor to the Prophet of God by all his father’s loyal placemen, that court of governors, generals, police chiefs and treasury officials that Muawiya had commanded for half a lifetime.

In Medina the mosque was filled with groans and silent tears at the decisive emergence of a dynastic monarchy triumphing over the religion of God. From Kufa streamed a series of messengers, calling upon Husain in Medina to ride north and lead them against the usurpation of the Islamic world by the thirty-seven-year old Yazid and to reclaim his rightful place at the head of the community. Husain, urged on by the chief men of Medina decided to respond and follow in his father’s footsteps by riding out of the oasis to assume the leadership of the true armies of Islam. Having summoned the last grandson of the Prophet to lead them out of slavery, they now failed to honour their own appointment. Watched over by the police and the secret agents of their implacable governor, not a man, not a youth left the teeming garrison city to join Husain on the desert trail. Instead Husain’s young cousin, Muslim, who had secretly journeyed up to Kufa and gone to ground in a safe house to await Husain, was betrayed. He was arrested with his host Hani by the shurta and led away to his death.
The governor Ubaydallah (who had succeeded his father Zayyad to both Basra and Kufa) now felt secure enough to order his own army out into the desert. Husain and his small body of devoted followers and family, numbering around thirty horsemen and forty warriors on foot, would not be deterred from their mission. The Bedouin tribes, through whose territory he rode, looked longingly at their potential young Caliph, though none of the chiefs (having heard of the silence at Kufa) would commit to rallying their men to the true cause. A fervent supporter, the poet, Farazdaq, rode out to warn Husain of the treachery of Kufa,

for though the heart of the City is with thee, its sword is against thee.

Still Husain rode on.

A detachment of cavalrymen under the command of Hurr from the Kufa garrison now emerged to bar the direct path to Kufa but also to stop Husain’s small caravan from turning back to Mecca. Then a few weeks later, a much larger force of 4000 cavalrymen issued out from Kufa to surround Husain and his men. They were now forced to make camp at Kerbala,* just above the bank of the Euphrates about 25 miles from Kufa.

* also spelled Karbala.

The commander of this new cavalry force was Amr, one of the sons of Saad ibn Abu Waqqas, the victor of al-Qadisiya. He had been ordered by Ubaydallah to deprive Husain and his supporters of any access to water until they had pledged unconditional submission. Husain for his part asked only to be allowed to meet Yazid face to face; or if that was impossible to be allowed to join the jihad on some forgotten frontier against the enemies of Islam. Despite the crippling thirst imposed upon his young family and his few faithful followers, Husain refused to submit to the unconditional pledge demanded of him. The dignity with which he conducted himself had by now so impressed Amr ibn Saad that he began to waiver in his mission. However, the arrival of Shamir, a confidential agent of Ubaydallah who demanded to take over the command if Amr proved himself incapable of acting, stiffened the resolve of the army. That evening Husain’s little camp at Kerbala, a cluster of tents reinforced by a small fence formed out of brushwood and thorns, was placed under close siege.

Husain now feared the worst, and on the evening of the 9th of the month of Muharram (9 October 680) he ordered his close kinsmen and young family to leave the camp and seek refuge with the enemy. This they would not do, even though Husain’s young son Ali now lay delirious with fever and there was no longer so much as a drop of water with which to relieve the parched lips of the Prophet’s infant great-grandson. That night the muffled cries of the children mingled with the sobs of the women and the soft screech of the whetstone as the small band of desiccated warriors carefully sharpened their swords and their lances for their last battle. In the morning they drew up their battle line, 70 men ranged against over 4000, and again Husain proudly offered his terms. As the small band advanced they were cut down by the massed ranks of archers, who fired shower upon pitiless shower, so that the arrows fell like a hailstorm upon them. Neither Husain’s ten year old nephew Kasim, nor even his infant son, was spared, as one by one the family of Muhammad fell writhing to the ground. Then the members of this mortally wounded clan were trampled into the dust by a cavalry charge, after which their heads were hacked off by swordsmen. Before dusk had settled over the fields of Kerbala, seventy heads had been rolled out from bloodied leather sacks on to the palace floor of the governor of Kufa. As Ubaydallah carefully turned these grim relics over with his staff, the better to make a positive identification, one of the old judges attached to his court cried out, Gently, it is the Prophet’s grandson and by God I have seen those very lips kissed by the blessed Apostle himself.

It is the memory of this fearful day* that unleashes the annual passion of regret and self-recrimination which is the Ashura (the tenth) on the 10th day of Muharram. Acknowledged by both Shia and Sunni as a day of mourning, the passionate commemoration of Ashura is perceived to be one of the distinctive signs of a Shiite community.

*The only survivor among the men was Husain’s son Ali Zayn al-Abidin, who lay transfixed by fever in his tent but would later recover his health.

The news of Kerbala sent a ripple of horror around the entire Islamic world. In Medina and Mecca, Abdallah ibn Zubayr now openly led defiance against those officials of Muawiya who sought to enforce the rule of his son Yazid. To complete the mortal tragedy perpetuated at Kerbala, there was now to be a physical defilement of the Holy Cities. Three years after Kerbala, in 688, an army sent out from Damascus, bolstered by regiments of Christians from Syria, first slaughtered the defenders of Medina in a battle fought out in the volcanic landscape of the Harran hills and then sacked, looted and raped its way through the capital of Islam for three days. Then holy Mecca itself was besieged. Two months into this offensive, the Kaaba was burned down to the ground when it was accidentally hit by the naptha-treated arrows launched by the besiegers. The sacred black stone that had been set into the Kaaba wall during the manhood of the Prophet Muhammad was fractured into three pieces by the heat of the blaze, like the torn bosoms of mourning women. This stone believed to be the altar of Abraham would henceforth be held together only by rivets of silver. At about the same time, the forty-year old Caliph who had ordered this conflict expired in his isolated hunting palace in the Syrian desert. A creative Persian poet commemorated his death with the immortal lines

the dead body of Yazid
lying in his pleasure palace at Hawwarin
with a cup next to his pillow
and a wineskin whose nose was still bleeding

When the news was brought to his army, they halted the siege and prepared to return to Damascus.

It was just fifty years since the death of Muhammad. A vast empire had been conquered from out of which poured an annual tribute of millions upon millions of gold and silver coins, which first filed into the coffers of the Caliph’s treasury in Damascus and from there flowed out to support a salaried ruling class. A hundred thousand Arab warriors now dwelt in half a dozen garrison cities, housed in comfort, equipped with the finest weapons, armour and horses cared for by the labour of slaves in a manner beyond the wildest dreams of their grandfathers. In Mecca the house of God was a burned-out ruin and in a neglected field at Kerbala the headless corpses of the murdered family of the Prophet of God lay buried. It was as if the things of this earth had been won but in the process the kingdom of heaven had been forgotten.

All Muslims feel the horror of this transformation, the gradual corruption of the moral rule of God as established by the Prophet Muhammad to a mere temporal empire ruled over by Muawiya’s heirs, the Umayyad dynasty. This forbidding example helps explain the political fatalism that is so often encountered among Muslim communities. If it was just fifty years after they had buried the Prophet of God that the godly rule of the saintly Companions was so decisively overthrown, what hope have we in this even more corrupt and less religious age? Did not the Prophet himself declare, No time cometh upon you but is followed by a worse and that The best of my people are my generation; then they that come after them; then they that come after them? Is it not true that this world is for the likes of Muawiya, Mughira, Amr and Zayyad rather than the saints?

To make a safe haven of the brief period of the true Islam on earth, the majority of Muslims continue to look back upon the rule of the first four Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman and Ali, 632-661) as the Eden of good government before the fall from grace. This is the Sunni position. Others see even this period as a flawed and corrupted version of true Islam, and instead like to imagine the shape of a Muslim state if the true spiritual heroes, Ali and his sons, had been the leaders of this community of faith. That is the difference between how the Sunni and the Shia regard the story of the Heirs of the Prophet. From this small but passionately important detail, two distinct paths of Islam would develop, each with its own history of who is the true heir of the Prophet. There is no group within the vast body of Muslims, either now or back in the seventh century, who see the triumph of Muawiya and his brilliant team of political operators, Mughira, Amr and Zayyad, as other than a profound tragedy.

Those who have been born outside the Muslim heritage of faith are free to honour both pathways and to remember that two rival narratives can yet become one. For while the Sunni version tells of how the Prophet Muhammad died on the lap of Aisha, and while the Shia tell of how the Prophet Muhammad died leaning on the shoulder of Ali, we know that both versions may be literally as well as figuratively true.

Ten days before he had died the Prophet Muhammad had prayed over the tombs of the dead, Peace be upon you, O people of the graves. Rejoice in your state, how much better is it than the state of men now living. Dissensions come like waves of darkest night, the one following hard upon the other, each worse than the last.
It is a dispiriting testimony from a brilliantly successful leader at what is otherwise considered to have been the triumphant conclusion of his life. But then the future leadership and political organisation of mankind was never his purpose. As the Koran so clearly states (Sura 42:15), God is our Lord and your Lord. We have our words and you have yours. There is no argument between us and you. God will bring us together, for the journey is to him.

If one looks to find a true Heir to the Prophet Muhammad, look not for thrones, or through dynastic lists of kings, look not to the triumphant progress of a great conqueror or at the beaming smiles and promises of a popular politician. Look out for on who journeys towards God.

By courtesy

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KEY DATES IN POLITICAL AND MILITARY HISTORY FOR THE FIFTY YEARS AFTER THE DEATH OF THE PROPHET, MUHAMMAD, AD 632-83

Please note that the dates of all the key battles of the conquest cannot be definitive and may vary by as much as four years

632

  • Death of the Prophet, Muhammad, as an army under the command of Zayd’s young son, Usama, is mustered for a raid to avenge the defeat at Mutah in Syria in 629.
  • Accession as Caliph of Abu Bakr, who decides that the paying of the charitable tithe will remain the defining test of which tribes have accepted Islam; widespread opposition.
  • Death of Fatimah, leaving Ali to care for their two children, Hasan and Husain.

633

  • The Ridda Wars – the so-called War against Apostasy.
  • Abu Bakr appoints Khalid, army commander, who wins three victories:
    a. Battle of Buzakha-defeat of Ghatafan tribe and allies.
    b. Battle of Aqraba, day of the garden of death-defeat of Beni Hanifa tribe and death of their prophet Musaylama.
    c. Battle of Ullais, ‘river of blood’ (against Arab tribes loyal to Persian Empire).

634

  • Invasion of the Holy Land by four Arab armies, three advancing from Medina, one from the Iraq front under the command of Khalid. Three military victories in Palestine, Wadi al-Arabah, Ajnadayn and Dattin, and one in Syria, Marj al-Suffar.
  • Death of Abu Bakr in August; accession of Omar to Caliphate.
  • On Iraq front, Persian army defeats Muslim force at battle of al-Jisr just outside Hira.

635

  • Muslim armies occupy chief cities of Syria and Palestine.
  • On Iraq frontier, ibn Harith manages to repel Persian counterattack at battle of Buwayb.

636

  • Arab armies evacuate all their territorial gains in Syria and Palestine as full force of Byzantine Empire sent into battle.
  • In mid-August, Khalid destroys the Byzantine field army at the decisive battle of Yarmuk and speedily reoccupies all of the Near East.

637

  • Counter-offensive by imperial army of Sassanid Persia. Yazdegird’s (last Sassanian emperor) experienced commander Rustam drawn into four-day of al-Qadsiya.
  • In the aftermath of victory, Muslims occupy all of Iraq, while Sassanian forces withdraw into Persian mountains.
  • Surrender of Jerusalem by Patriarch Sophronius to Caliph Omar.

638

  • Muslim Arab armies push into northern Iraq and advance into Persia and northern Syria.

639

  • Year of plague and famine

640

  • Caliph Omar presides over conference of army commanders at Jabiyah.
  • Amr ibn al-As leads raid into Byzantine Egypt while bulk of Muslim forces engaged in advance on Anatolia and Persia.
  • Victory against Byzantine army in Egypt at battle of Heliopolis.
  • Amr advances north into Nile Delta, fights battle of Nikiou and attempts siege of Alexandria.

641

  • Emperor Heraclius dies in February.
  • Byzantine counterattack into Syria and rebellion among Arab tribes of Syrian desert.

642

  • Surrender of Alexandria to Amr by Cyril. Amr establishes Fustat as new garrison/administrative centre for Egypt.
  • Muslim victory at battle of Nehawand in Persia.

644

  • Assassination of Omar by Abu Lulu Firoz, a disgruntled prisoner of war/slave.
  • Election of Uthman by council of six leading Companions.
  • Amr and his nephew Oqba ibn Nafi return in triumph to Fustat having raided and conquered parts of Libya and the Sahara.

645

  • Widespread revolts against the Muslim Empire throughout Persia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and in Egypt, aided by the arrival of the Byzantine navy. General Manuel reoccupies the Nile Delta.

646

  • Amr (briefly appointed as commander) leads reconquest of Egypt with second battle of Nikiou and siege and sack of Alexandria.

647

  • Uthman’s governor of Egypt leads a 40,000 strong army out of Egypt into the west, defeating army of Byzantine governor of Tunisia at battle of Sbeitla.

648

  • Arab fleet skirmishes successfully with Byzantine fleet found off Alexandria.

649

  • Muslim occupation of Cyprus in combined operation organized by the Arab garrisons in Egypt and Syria.

650

  • Definitive edition of the Koran completed in Medina.

651

  • Uthman loses the seal of the Prophet.

652

  • Death of Yazdegird.

653

  • After renewed threat from Byzantine fleet, Cyprus is reconquered in second invasion the same year that an Arab army secures Armenia.

654

  • Rhodes raided by Arab fleet.

655

  • Battle of the Masts: Arab fleet wins command of the Aegean in naval battle fought off the coast of Lycia.

656

  • Assassination of Uthman in Medina by dissidents from army garrisons in Fustat, Kufa and Basra.
  • Ali acclaimed fourth Caliph in Medina.
  • Aisha plots rebellion in Mecca backed by Talha and Zubayr. Aisha and her confederates seize control of army garrison in Basra. Ali’s son, Hasan, takes command of garrison at Kufa.
  • Battle of the Camel outside Basra. Talha and Zubayr are killed and Aisha is returned to Medina having recognized Ali as Caliph.

657

  • Ali’s candidate, Muhammad ibn Bakr, becomes governor of Egypt.
  • Ali marches on Syria to depose Muawiya from the governorship of Syria.
  • Four day battle of Siffin culminates in a surprise decision to seek arbitration.
  • Schism as Kharijites attempt to secede from Ali’s Caliphate in fury at the decision to arbitrate.

658

  • Farcical chicanery at arbitration conference in Jordan as Amr outwits Abu Musa.
  • Muawiya is proclaimed Caliph by his supporters in Damascus.
  • Ali forced to fight militant Kharijites at battle of Nahrawan.

659

  • Amr, supported by Muawiya, takes command of Egypt for the third time in his life.
  • Death of Muhammad Ibn Abu Bakr.

660

  • Muawiya renews assault on Byzantine Empire.

661

  • Ali is assassinated in Kufa.
  • Ali’s son, Hasan acclaimed as Caliph but in order to halt bloodshed surrenders his title in Muawiya’s favour.

662

  • Zayyad and Mughira rule over Basra and Kufa as tough-minded governors of Muawiya.

663

  • First Arab raid on Sicily.

669

  • Muslim siege of Constantinople supported by command of the sea route.

670

  • Foundation of Kairouan as the advance base for the conquest of North Africa by Amr’s nephew, Oqba ibn Nafi.
  • Merv established as the new advance base for the conquest of Central Asia and Khorassan by drafts from Basra and Kufa.
  • Hasan dies at Medina.

671

  • Kharijite revolt suppressed by Zayyad.

678

  • Defeat of Arab fleet at battle of Syllaeum requires that the Arab siege of Constantinople be lifted.
  • Thirty-year peace is made between the two empires.

680

  • Muawiya dies and is succeeded to the Caliphate by his son Yazid.
  • Husain responds to calls of soldiers of Kufa garrison to lead them in revolt against this new hereditary monarchy. Abandoned by those whom he had come to aid, he and his band of followers are killed at Kerbala.
  • In Medina and Mecca, Abdallah, son of Zubayr leads revolt against Yazid.

681

  • Oqba ibn Nafi reaches the Atlantic coast of Morocco at the end of his legendary ride across North Africa

683

  • An Umayyad army marches from Damascus to Medina. It wins the battle of Harran, sacks Medina, then advances and places Mecca under siege. The city’s Kaaba is accidentally burned to the ground.
  • Yazid dies

By courtesy

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Haqqani and Abbottabad; Haqqani’s Article Revives Tale of OBL Raid; Ready to Give Statement to Commission, says Hussain Haqqani

WHATEVER we may think or say about Husain Haqqani — and his role, statements and explanations — he was not primarily responsible for the US assault in Abbottabad on the night of May 1 and 2, 2011. The final decisions about the fateful incident were not his to make. Whatever he did or did not do,  he claims he did not exceed his authorization and instructions. He denies he had anything to do with the planning and execution of the assault, and despite widely held and deep-rooted reservations about his conduct as ambassador in Washington (which may or may not be justified), nothing has surfaced that contradicts his denials.

However, his recent statements do raise questions. In a recent article in the Washington Post Haqqani states

“the relationships I forged with members of Obama’s campaign team … eventually enabled the US to discover and eliminate bin Laden without depending on Pakistan’s intelligence service or military which were suspected of sympathy toward Islamic militants”.

This language, without explicitly saying so, strongly suggests, whether intentionally or not, an active and purposeful interaction with US security officials which enabled the discovery and elimination of OBL

“without depending on Pakistan’s intelligence service or military”.

This interpretation of Haqqani’s own statement is neither far-fetched nor unreasonable. But equally Haqqani’s article is not a confession. He goes on to say in the article that

“friends I made from the Obama campaign were able to ask, three years later, as National Security Council officials, for help in stationing US Special Operations and intelligence personnel on the ground in Pakistan. I brought the request directly to Pakistan’s civilian leaders, who approved”…

and these locally stationed Americans proved invaluable when Obama decided to carry out the operation without notifying Pakistan. Once again, while not explicitly saying so, there is here an even stronger suggestion of an active role and a sense of pride in achieving a shared objective.

Our leaders are focusing on the person of Haqqani rather than the real tragedy of Abbottabad itself. So?

Pakistan was under an international obligation to cooperate in the apprehension of OBL. An elected government apparently decided to act upon this obligation. The leaders of this government instructed their ambassador in Washington accordingly. They also sent specific instructions to enable the ambassador to facilitate the rapid issue of necessary visas to US Special Operations and intelligence personnel — who obviously disguised their real identities in their visa applications — and who proved “invaluable” when the time for action came. What is wrong or illegal about this? And if there was anything, who should be held responsible: the subordinate and active ambassador or the elected leaders who gave him instructions while allegedly keeping the military and intelligence out of the loop?

But, then, why not stand up and say so — publicly as well as in testimony to the Abbottabad Inquiry Commission? In fact, the president, the prime minister and the COAS declined to meet with the Commission. Haqqani who did meet with the commission has always publicly criticized the US attack on Abbottabad and has similarly denied all prior knowledge of or involvement with the attack. Despite some possible misstatements to the commission regarding the issue of visas there has been no proof of his involvement until the suggestions he has himself made in his recent article. Why is he simultaneously denying any purposeful involvement with the US assault on Pakistan and strongly suggesting the contrary in his recent article in the Washington Post?

Whatever conclusions one may draw about the consistency and purpose of his statements and the credibility of his behaviour as Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, they do not add up to treachery. He was, at most, a willing instrument of his political superiors. Unfortunately, that is what politically appointed ambassadors are now expected to be. Nevertheless, in embellishing his personal role — for reasons one can only speculate about — while distancing himself from any responsibility for what occurred, Haqqani has effectively pointed a finger towards his civilian leaders at the time. No wonder, they are denouncing him and calling for another commission of inquiry!

Our media and political leaders, however, are concentrating on the person of Haqqani rather than the real tragedy of Abbottabad itself. This is a measure of their immaturity and irresponsibility which ensure their continuing irrelevance for the suffering people of Pakistan.

In 2013, PILDAT (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency) noted a leaked interim draft of the Abbottabad Commission, and concluded that the Abbottabad assault was the

result of inadequate threat assessments, narrow scenario planning and insufficient consideration of available policy options. If the institutions and whole system of governance were ‘dysfunctional’ they were so because of irresponsible governance over a sustained period, including incorrect priorities and acts of commission and omission by individuals who had de jure or de facto policymaking powers”.

PILDAT further noted that according to the draft report the

“government’s response before, during and after May 2 appears in large part to be a story of complacency, ignorance, negligence, incompetence, irresponsibility, and possibly worse at various levels inside and outside government. Institutions either failed to discharge responsibilities that legally were theirs or they assumed responsibility for tasks that legally were not part of their duties, and for which they were not trained. This reflected the course of civil-military relations and the power balance between them.”

The leaked draft also observed the ISI had

“become more political and less professional”.

Because of a lack of consensus in the Abbottabad Commission,  the final report submitted to the then prime minister,  comprised a main report, and a dissenting report.

Very irresponsibly, the government has not presented the full report to parliament or made it public despite a unanimous resolution of the Senate and National Assembly.

The Commission of Inquiry Act of 1956, moreover, is expected to be replaced by a new act which will require the government to make such reports public within 30 days of submission. The prime minister, accordingly, should now release the main and dissenting report without further delay. This matter, and not hounding Haqqani, should be our urgent priority.

Author: Ashraf Jehangir Qazi; the writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan. He was a member of the Abbottabad Commission; ashrafjqazi@gmail.com; Website: ashrafjqazi.com

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2017

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Haqqani’s Article Revives Tale of OBL Raid

WASHINGTON: Some people in Pakistan did help US officials in getting to Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, says Husain Haqqani, the country’s former ambassador to US, as does renowned US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Talking to Dawn on the strong reaction to his article published in the Washington Post on Friday, Mr. Haqqani said:

“Some people helped, but they did so independently. Yes, there’s some truth in Seymour Hersh’s story.”

In the Post article, Mr. Haqqani indicated that the contacts he made with the Obama team during the 2008 election campaign ultimately led to Osama bin Laden’s elimination in May 2011

“Of course, I was right. I believe it even more now, as I know more than I did when I wrote the piece,”

said Mr. Hersh when Dawn asked him if he still believed the article he wrote in May 2015 for the London Review of Books was right. The article was later included in his book, The Killing of Osama bin Laden, published last year. Mr. Haqqani said the May 2, 2011 US raid that killed Osama in a compound in Abbottabad was

“a bleeding wound”  for most Pakistanis “who still want to know why it happened and how.”

Although Pakistan formed a commission to probe the US raid, its findings were never made public, leaving the space open for rumours and speculations.

Mr. Hersh recalled how

a retired Pakistani military officer tipped the US embassy in Islamabad about Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, received $20 million as reward, was relocated to the United States and was now living in a Washington suburb with his new wife.

Former diplomat says he’s surprised over reaction to his write-up as he has made no disclosure in it.

“Your government knows who he is. [Former US president Barack] Obama should not have talked about it right after it happened. He was to be shown in the Hindukush, not Abbottabad. That was the arrangement,”

Mr Hersh said. He said that he mentioned the name of the then CIA station manager in Islamabad, Jonathan Bank, in the article because he knew he would never deny it. “He is an honourable man. That’s why he did not deny it.”All the CIA had to do was to produce Bank and have him deny it, but he did not, so they produced another retired CIA official,” Mr. Hersh said.

However, Mr. Hersh heavily relied on a single unnamed “retired senior intelligence official” in the article that contradicts the Obama administration’s account. Mr. Hersh also claimed that Bin Laden had been in Pakistan’s custody since 2005. He reported that his housing and care were being paid for by the Saudis; and that once Bin Laden’s location was revealed to the US,

Pakistanis agreed to let US special forces raid his compound with the explicit understanding that Bin Laden was to be assassinated.

Americans were also supposed to delay announcing that Bin Laden had been killed for a few weeks and claim that he died in a firefight on the Afghan side of the mountainous Afghan-Pakistan border. Mr. Hersh claimed that Obama administration officials were so eager to cash in politically that they reneged on their pledge and disclosed the true location of the raid almost immediately.

Reviewing Mr. Hersh’s book for The Los Angeles Times in April 2016, Zach Dorfman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, wrote that there exists “a plausible historical pattern, which lends credence — if not absolute credibility — to his account”.

Mr. Dorfman noted that two senior US investigative journalists, Carlotta Gall and Steve Coll, also said that their own reporting corroborated, to various degrees, Mr. Hersh’s account. Mr. Dorfman pointed to the decades-old relationship among the American, Pakistani and Saudi intelligence agencies and noted that the Obama administration did little to probe OBL’s presence in Abbottabad, although their reaction would have been completely different had Bin Laden been found in a Tehran neighbourhood.

Mr. Haqqani, in his conversation with Dawn, appeared more interested in the reaction to his Washington Post article than in how and why Bin Laden was found and killed in Abbottabad.“The reaction in Pakistan surprises me. I said nothing new,” he said.

He said what he wrote about his close diplomatic ties established during the 2008 Obama campaign was also already in the public domain.

“So, there’s no admission or confession in my article. Seems that some people read into things what they want to read.”

He noted that relations established during the 2008 campaign advanced to a relationship with the United States, which helped them to find OBL. This, he said, was being misinterpreted in Pakistan as him having enabled the operation against OBL, which he said was not what he wrote.

Mr. Haqqani said Americans stationed lot of people in Pakistan during that period who helped in the OBL raid.

“Again, I made no statement to the effect that anybody in the embassy helped that. The article clearly says that Pakistan was not taken in the loop about the raid.”

Mr. Haqqani said he gave no unauthorized visa to any US citizen.

“It is sad that in Pakistan, to this day, no effort has been made to find out more about OBL being in Pakistan, and how Americans were able to find him when our own agencies could not.”

Responding to a question about some Pakistanis helping Americans in catching OBL, he said:

“I wish Pakistanis would be happy to take some credit for eliminating the most wanted terrorist in the world instead of abusing me for re-stating known facts.”

Meanwhile, the PPP, which appointed him Pakistan’s 24th ambassador to Washington in April 2008, has disowned him. During a parliamentary debate on Monday, PPP leader Syed Khurshid Shah said Mr. Haqqani’s Post article was

“an act of treason”.

SEYMOUR Hersh is an investigative journalist and author of The Killing of Osama Bin Laden and The Dark Side of Camelot among other books.

Author: Anwar Iqbal; Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017

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Ready to Give Statement to Commission, says Hussain Haqqani

Dawn.com, Updated March 16, 2017

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, said on Wednesday evening that he was ready to record his statement with a parliamentary commission if an investigation into recent claims he made in an op-ed published by the Washington Post is pushed forward.

Journalist Mehar Bukhari, who hosts the ‘NewsEye’ show on DawnNews, had asked Haqqani if he would appear before a commission — if one was set up — to which the former ambassador responded in the affirmative.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had earlier on the same day called for a commission to probe Haqqani’s claims that his ‘connections’ with the Obama administration enabled the US to target and kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

“Many commissions have been set up and a report also released, but until today the Supreme Court has not taken action on this report,” Haqqani claimed.

“Someone sitting outside the country can stay there and give a statement. If a commission wants a statement from me, they should ask in writing… I will give a statement via video link,”

he said. However, he maintained that

“nothing new has been said that must be denied.”

In his article published in the Washington Post on Friday, Haqqani had defended the Trump team’s contacts with Russia during and after the 2016 US presidential elections, saying he had also established similar relations with members of the Obama campaign during the 2008 elections.

Those contacts “led to closer cooperation between Pakistan and the United States in fighting terrorism over the 3 1/2 years I served as ambassador” and “eventually enabled the United States to discover and eliminate bin Laden without depending on Pakistan’s intelligence service or military, which were suspected of sympathy toward Islamist militants,” the op-ed said.

Haqqani on Wednesday added that

“the Americans took advantage of the ties that we facilitated and conducted an operation … I also wrote that in this operation, we were not taken into confidence. This includes the army and the civilian government.”
“The problem arose when the discussion took place about the increasing number of Americans in Pakistan, because they’d given us a very large aid package — $7 billion. When they increased their numbers, some of our people said if we’re taking their aid, we should let them come here too.”
“A spy does not inform you that he is a spy before he visits … Many Americans came in larger numbers; surely there were spies present among them,”

he said.

“I wrote that this is what happened, but I did not say that anyone intended this on purpose,”

he added.

“The point is that Central Intelligence Agency operatives who notified and came to Pakistan, they all notified the Inter-Services Intelligence. They didn’t phone me and say I’m a CIA man, I’m travelling, please give me a visa,”

he alleged.

“Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan not because someone was issued a visa, but because he was in Pakistan,”

Haqqani added.

 

The False Mahdi

Early in the morning of November 20th 1979,  an event occurred which would transfix the whole Muslim world and shake the Saudi royal family to its very foundations. It was the first day of the Muslim year 1400. The Grand Mosque in Mecca was crowded with worshipers for the dawn prayer. Many of them had slept in the mosque overnight huddled up on the floor, some of them accompanying coffins bearing the bodies of relatives upon whom they hoped the imam would bestow a blessing of the kind that could only be obtained in such a sacred place. Just as the imam completed the dawn prayer with the sacred call for the blessing of peace, shots suddenly rang out from within the crowd. As the people turned around in amazement and fear – to fire a weapon within the precincts of Islam’s holiest site was a grave sin – gunmen brandishing automatic weapons and clad in the simple white robes of pilgrims, began to emerge from the edges of the crowd. More and more of them, all converging on the sacred Ka’aba. Members of sacred mosque’s own police force, who were armed only with sticks, rushed forward to intervene but were unceremoniously gunned down. Turning in panic towards the mosque’s gates to flee, the tens of thousands of worshipers found that all the gates were barred, each one chained shut with groups of wild-haired, ruffian looking, gun wielding fanatics guarding them. Meanwhile yet more wild-eyed ragged-haired, bearded men were unloading yet more guns from some of the coffins– coffins which they had carried into the mosque the night before under the pretense of being mourners.

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Juhayman Ataiba shortly after capture by Saudi Security Forces

Now a slender man with dark burning eyes, flowing black hair and a beard, his head bare and wearing the simple white robe of a pilgrim appeared from deep among the shadows of the mosque. With an obvious air of authority and purpose he strode through the crowd, across the open marble-floored courtyard to the Ka’aba. He was Juhayman Ataiba, the son of the former Ikhwan warrior who had fought alongside Ibn Bijad at the battle of Sibilla in 1929, the one – time student who had attended lectures given by bin Baz. Over the intervening years, Juhayman had turned into a fiery Islamic preacher and founded a small, militant, fundamentalist reform movement-The Movement of Muslim Revolutionaries of the Arabian Peninsula. Snatching a microphone from the elderly imam who had been conducting the dawn prayers, Juhayman barked a set of military orders to his followers, instructing them to immediately shoot down any government soldier or policeman who attempted to intervene. Then, with his voice booming over the Grand Mosque’s loudspeakers into every corner of the building and out from the loudspeakers at the top of the almost three – hundred – feet- tall minarets over the surrounding city of Mecca, Juhayman began to address the crowd. ‘Mecca, Medina and Jeddah are all now in our hands’, he told them. He and his fellow rebels had come to cleanse the Kingdom of materialism and corruption, to end the rule of the sinful and unjust Al Saud, and to terminate the country’s relations with ‘infidel powers‘. Then Juhayman handed the microphone to one of his fellow rebels. Addressing the crowd with obvious authority and in the cadences and tones of the classical Arabic of a learned Muslim scholar, this new speaker told them that the wicked ways of the House of Saud were a clear sign to all true believers that the world was coming to an end and that, in accordance with prophecy, Islam’s final triumph over unbelief was at hand. The preacher listed a whole catalogue of sins and corruptions for which the Saudi state was responsible: the debauchery of many of those who ruled over them-the governor of Mecca, a brother of the present King, was singled out for special opprobrium; the corruption fuelled  by television, the pollution of minds brought by infidel Westerners to the very cradle of Islam, the desecration of the moral  purity of women caused by their employment, the pagan scourge of the newly introduced game of soccer, the fact that the royal family had become mere pawns of infidel foreign powers.

All these things and many more rendered the Al Sauds no longer worthy to rule over true Muslims in the birthplace of Islam, the land of the Prophet Muhammad Himself. The people’s oaths of allegiance to the Saudis were therefore no longer valid. They were null and void. But, he was too proud to tell them, relief was now at hand! Citing relevant Hadith, and other prophecies dating back to the centuries immediately after the Prophet Muhammad’s death, the rebel preacher announced that the Mahdi had arrived and was here in the Grand Mosque with them. At that moment the gunmen started pushing back the crowd of worshippers to open a corridor through them to the Ka’aba. Then from within the deep shadows of the mosque’s encircling arches there emerged a tall, pale, fair-haired young man, his head loosely covered in a red chequered headcloth and carrying a sub-machine gun. With no outward show of emotion ‘the Mahdi’ approached the Ka’aba, the crowd gasping at his youth. Having reached the Ka’aba, he turned and stood impassively as one after another the gunmen knelt before him and in turn kissed his hand, pledging their allegiance in the same words with which the first Muslims are reported to have pledged their allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad: “We will obey you in weal and woe, in ease and hardship and evil circumstances . . . except in what would disobey God.” The ‘Mahdi‘ then launched into an hour-long sermon denouncing the House of Saud and the corruptions, sins and deviations from the true path of Islam of the Kingdom they had created.

The figure of the Mahdi ( literally ‘the Guided One’) is common to all branches of Islam but also controversial, especially among Sunnis. He is not mentioned in the Qur’an although he does appear in one Hadith and later prophecies and learned Muslim texts. He is prophesied to be going to appear at the end of time, just prior to the Day of Judgement. He will bear the name Muhammad and, in a time of strife, when ‘the princes have corrupted the earth’, he will be sent to ‘bring back justice’. Throughout history there have been people who have claimed to be the Mahdi, perhaps the best known being the ‘false’ Mahdi who led an uprising against the British during the 1880s which resulted in the humiliation of a British and Egyptian army and the death of the charismatic General Gordon-Gordon of Khartoum

The ‘Mahdi’ that Juhayman Ataiba and his fellow rebels presented to the crowd in the Grand Mosque in Mecca on the morning of November 20th 1979 was Muhammad Abdullah al-Qahtani. Young Qahtani came from Asir, the poor region in the south west of the country. He had met Juhayman a few years earlier while he had been studying Islamic law at the Islamic university of Riyadh where the writings and sermons which Juhayman had begun to deliver had started to attract a considerable following amongst the most ardently Islamic students. It was Juhayman and his followers who first convinced the rather dreamy and impressionable young Qahtani that he was the Mahdi who, as promised in the Hadith, would come to cleanse Islam and redeem all true Muslims. As Juhayman pointed out to the worshippers in the Grand Mosque on that November morning, young Abdullah al-Qahtani  fulfilled the specific prophecies made about the coming of the Mahdi: after all the wars and revolutions that had wracked the Muslim world in recent decades he did indeed come ‘in time of great discord’, at the start of a new Muslim century, at a moment when the princes were ‘corrupting the earth’ and Muslims had been drifting away from the faith; he bore the first name Muhammad and had features similar to those attributed in the Hadith to the Mahdi–he was tall, had a fair complexion, a large birthmark on his cheek, and claimed descent from the family of the Prophet Muhammad. He came now, Juhayman and his fellow rebels assured the crowd in the mosque, to fulfil the prophecy, to lead the true Muslims in a cataclysmic encounter with the forces of evil, to overcome those forces of evil and to ‘fill the Earth with peace and justice as it will have been filled with injustice and tyranny before then’.

When Qahtani finished speaking some hundreds among the thousand-strong crowd were convinced. Falling to their knees, they hailed him as the Mahdi and volunteered to join the rebels in the fight. The rebels then opened more coffins and handed out yet more guns to these new followers. The rebels then allowed most of the able-bodied worshippers who had not volunteered to join them to begin making their escape through the mosque’s narrow windows, while keeping back a few hostages.

In the streets around the mosque, as word of what had happened spread, people started to flee. When a police car approached the mosque to investigate, it was riddled with well-aimed fire by rebel gunmen stationed in the Grand Mosque’s minarets and most of the policemen in the car were killed. Throughout the rest of that day other armed policemen or soldiers who approached the mosque were also summarily gunned down.

As news of what had happened reached Riyadh, members of the royal family came together in anxious huddled conference. What should they do? Crown Prince Fahd, responsible for day-to-day rule in the Kingdom, was not even in the country. He was in Tunis attending a conference of Arab leaders. Prince Abdullah, the Head of the National Guard, was holidaying in the south of France and the prince who headed the security service was with Fahd in Tunis. A total blackout of information was ordered on broadcasting stations and all lines of communication out of the country were disconnected.
It was the following day before Crown Prince Fahd discovered the details of what had happened. Meanwhile the rebels continued broadcasting their demands out over the city of Mecca from the Grand Mosque’s loudspeakers, while on the streets of the country’s major towns leaflets mysteriously began to appear detailing the rebel’s accusations and demands. The rebels demanded the dismissal of named corrupt high-ranking princes, the end of sales of Saudi oil to Western countries, a return to the true canons of Islam and the expulsion of all foreign military advisers from the Kingdom.

Back in Riyadh King Khalid and the senior princes had decided that they could not negotiate with the rebels: their demands were wholly unacceptable. The rebels had to be overpowered and control of the Grand Mosque wrested back. By seizing Islam’s holiest site and issuing their demands and accusations, the rebels were challenging the very foundations of the Al Saud’s claim to the right to rule. The rebels posed the most serious threat to the Al Sauds that they had faced since Ibn Saud had put down the Ikhwan rebellion fifty years earlier.

But dare the Saudis order their forces to attack the Grand Mosque? The rebels had already committed one of the gravest of sins by shedding blood in it. So dare the Al Sauds, who claimed to be the true guardians of Islam’s Holy Places, now desecrate the holiest site of all by risking damaging it with gunfire and killing perhaps many hundreds of worshippers? Not even a bird was allowed to be killed inside the precincts of the Grand Mosque, nor a plant uprooted. Khalid issued an urgent summons to bin Baz and the Kingdom’s other senior ulema.

It took until the next day to assemble the ulema, many from the farthest corners of the Kingdom. But once they were gathered they concluded, after careful consideration of all the known facts about the rebels and their actions, that not all the preconditions set forth in the prophecies about the coming of the Mahdi had been met. Al-Qahtani, the young man being hailed by the rebels as the Mahdi, could therefore not be the true Mahdi. So he must be another impostor, like all the previous impostors who down the centuries had claimed to be the Mahdi. King Khalid asked the ulema to issue a fatwa against the impostor, officially declaring him not to be the Mahdi, condemning the rebels and sanctioning the retaking of the Grand Mosque by force. Without such a fatwa the call by the rebels for the ending of corruption in the state and a return to the full rigours of the Islamic moral code might prove very attractive to many Saudis disillusioned with the behaviour of some of the royal princes and what they saw as the growing moral anxiety that was sweeping the Kingdom.

Bin Baz was quite happy to issue a fatwa denouncing the Qahtani’s claim to be the Mahdi and condemning the rebel’s action in seizing the Grand Mosque and shedding blood. However, the rebel’s call for an end to corruption and return to the true path of Islam was very attractive to him and his fellow ulema. The rebels were in many ways true Wahhabis and their movement was one which bin Baz and his fellow conservative clerics had done much to help to inspire. So bin Baz and the ulema drove a hard bargain. They would give the King what he wanted. They would permit the King and his forces to drive the rebels from the Grand Mosque, would issue a fatwa proclaiming that al-Qahtani was not the true Mahdi and reaffirm the regime’s Muslim legitimacy, but in return they required the King and the state to live up to its Islamic obligations. The policies of liberalization must be halted and where possible rolled back. There must be an end to licentiousness and the drinking of alcohol, to women appearing on TV and gaining employment, and to the screening of ‘lewd’ western films. And a greater part of the billions of dollars of oil money flowing into the country must be put to shoring up Wahhabism in the Kingdom and spreading the faith around the world. As some of the royal princes who were present at the negotiation put it, it amounted to the ulema demanding that King Khalid adopt Juhayman’s agenda in return for their help in getting rid of him.

But even after the ulema had issued their fatwa and their condemnation of the rebels as ‘renegades‘ and ‘deviationists from Islam’ had been broadcast across the country on Riyadh Radio, the regime’s forces were still faced with the serious practical problem of how to retake the mosque and overcome the rebels. They could not just go in ‘all guns blazing’, smashing up the Grand Mosque and killing hundreds of people in the process. It was clear that the rebels were well prepared and skilled in using firearms. In fact, many of the rebels were disillusioned former National Guardsmen from the Bedouin tribes which, like Juhayman’s own tribe, had been involved in the Ikhwan rebellion on 1929. There were somewhere between two and three hundred of these rebels well-embedded in good positions throughout the mosque. They had been joined by some hundreds of volunteers from among the original worshippers, making a total opposition force of perhaps one thousand. The regime’s forces were therefore going to have to attempt to retake the mosque by unconventional means, a fact which became more obvious when their first attacks were easily repulsed by the rebels.

Although they deeply disapproved of Shi’ism and the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini, the rebels had concluded that if Khomeini and the Iranian students could overthrow a regime as powerful as that of the Shah, they could achieve a similar revolution in Saudi Arabia. Days passed and the rebels repeatedly beat off ineffective sorties by Khalid’s forces. But the rebels suffered one major disappointment. Although there were some scattered risings against the regime elsewhere in the country and a more serious uprising and rioting by Shia in the oil producing Eastern Province, there was no widespread general revolt such as had occurred in Iran. The Saudi rulers, for all their faults, were not as unpopular as the Shah, nor were they as brutal.

After days of unsuccessful attempts to dislodge the rebels, the Saudi authorities realized that their troops simply did not have the necessary know-how and specialized equipment to dislodge the rebels from the Grand Mosque on their own. However, they could not simply call in foreigners to do it for them. To do so would not only amount to a very humiliating public admission that the Saudi regime and their armed forces were not up to dislodging a few hundred fanatics from Islam’s holiest site, but to allow non-Muslims to enter the Holy City of Mecca, the Grand Mosque and even approach the sacred Ka’aba itself, would be totally haram–strictly forbidden under the most sacred laws of Islam. So a top-secret channel was opened between the highest levels of the French Government and one of the senior Saudi princes. As a result three French specialist commando officers with a great deal of experience of dealing with terrorist attacks and hostage crises were flown in the utmost secrecy to Saudi Arabia, together with a large amount of specially selected equipment and munitions, to devise a strategy, train one hundred and fifty of Saudi Arabia’s best and most fearless troops and supervise the operation.

The final assault on the mosque, exactly two weeks after the rebels had seized it, was fought mainly in the maze of cellars below the mosque. After almost twenty- hours of close-quarters fighting, in which large quantities of gas and chemicals were used as well as guns, the last of the rebels were either killed or captured. Qahtani was killed early in the operation, but Juhayman was captured alive. Asked by his captors, pointing to the desecrated shrine, “How could you do this?” Juhayman is reported to have replied, “It was God’s will.”

The official casualty figures were 12 Saudi officers killed, 115 other ranks, and 450 seriously  injured, 117 rebels killed, 26 worshippers killed and 110 wounded, many of them foreign nationals. The real figures were almost certainly a lot higher than this–American government sources suggested around 1,000. On January 9th 1980, Juhayman was executed in Mecca, while those of his fellow conspirators who had been captured were executed at the same time in Saudi Arabia’s other eight most important cities. The Saudi authorities were determined to leave Saudis across the Kingdom in no doubt about who ruled.

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Fatwa: an opinion or judgement given by a suitably qualified Muslim legal expert, a mufti, on legal or personal matters.

Hadith: accounts of the deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad compiled by scholars as an authoitative guide as to how individual Muslims and Muslim communities should live and act.

Ikhwan: literally ‘brothers’ or ‘brethren’, the name adopted by members of a radical Wahhabi religious and social movement which became a powerful fighting force.

Ka’aba: the cube at the centre of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in the side of which is the black stone, said to be part of what came down from heaven to provide light for Adam and Eve and which was subsequently rededicated to the worship of God by Abraham and his son Ishmael. Muslims perambulate around the Ka’aba during the Hajj and ritually touch or kiss it.

Ulema: learned men, authorities and guardians of legal and religious traditions of Islam.

Wahhabism: uncomprisingly pure and strict form of Sunni Islam, inspired by a mid-eighteenth-century Sunni preacher, Muhammad al-Wahhab, who formed an alliance with the Al Sauds. The dominant form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.

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With courtesy of : Ibn Saud by Michael Darlow & Barbara Bray, first published in the UK by Quartet in 2010