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All images are from a series of sketches called "Business of War", courtesy - CWorks.

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LETTER FROM LAHORE
The Business of War

by F.S. AIJAZUDDIN

 

We once again present to you a column from Fakir Aijazauddin. Since he lives and writes his wonderfully insightful columns from Lahore, a city not only dear to Sikhdom but also central to much of the goings-on in the world today, we are pleased to present his "Letter from Lahore" on a regular basis.

Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, OBE, FCA, was educated at Aitchison College, Lahore, and at Berkhamsted School, England. He is a Chartered Accountant by qualification and has had a varied career in the textile, automotive, fertilizer, insurance and investment banking sectors in Pakistan, and in the oil and gas industry in the United Arab Emirates.

His previous books include a catalogue of Sikh and Pahari Miniature Paintings in the Lahore Museum Collection (1977), and a biographical study of Sikh Portraits in the Lahore Fort (1979). He is widely respected as a scholar in, inter alia, the area of Sikh art and history.

More recently, he has published an account of Dr. Henry Kissinger's secret visit via Pakistan to Beijing in July 1971, and a compilation of 209 secret declassified documents of Richard Nixon's presidency, titled The White House & Pakistan, Secret Declassified Documents 1969-1974.

Fakir Aijazuddin is also a direct descendant of the esteemed Fakir brothers who adorned Maharajah Ranjit Singh's court as three of his top ministers, advisers and confidants, and who remained loyal to Sikh interests through thick and thin during the tumultuous post-Ranjit Singh period.

Fakir Aijazuddin currently lives, teaches and writes in Lahore. He has, as of December 2008, taken over his latest responsibility as Principal of the legendary Aitchison College in Lahore.

 

THE BUSINESS OF WAR

It took the descendants of black slaves 400 years to produce Dr Martin Luther King.

It took John F. Kennedy's intervention and four generations of education to produce his successor, Barack Hussein Obama.

It is a tribute to the American system that it could make a public holiday out of a Dr King's public assassination, and that it could swear in a black as the 44th President of the United States.

But no black slave ever entered life with more shackles than does President Obama. He has every moment of every day to earn the respect of every white American who did not vote for him. He has to repay the confidence millions of his fellow-tinted Americans have placed in him to consummate their mandate.

He has to repair a bankrupt economy, salvage insolvent behemoths in the automotive industry, rescue banks from their own previous follies, and convince the American public that it cannot spend indefinitely beyond its own means and beyond the resources of other countries.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge President Obama faces is to persuade the military octopus whose tentacles radiate from the Pentagon that it is as much a victim of the recession as the rest of America's less lethal industries.

Today, wars are not fought for territorial gain. Battles are not fought for valour or aggrandisement. Troops are sent into conflict not to test their endurance. They are sent as guinea pigs to test the effectiveness of the software they carry on their backs and the hardware they carry in their arms.

How else can military contractors be kept in business, if the goods they manufacture with relentless regularity are not used up? How else do the Dick Cheneys of this world live if their friends in dark corners do not make landmines and rockets?

Of all the countries in the world in which the use of arms is still an integral part of its diplomacy, India is perhaps the one least hostage to its armament industry - the saga of Bofors notwithstanding. India's presidents do not shed tears - even after the Sino-Indian war - as Kennedy was found doing after the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

India's military knows that it is not an alternative government, nor a government within a government. If it is a government, it is a government contained within a cantonment.

That is, in a sense, what provides security in the last resort to its neighbours like Pakistan. However noisily sabres may rattle and however loudly tanks may rumble, there is a sense of security that war will be the last resort, the final abyss after the terra firma of diplomacy.

No one in Pakistan has any illusion that the nerves of India are raw and inflamed. No amount of rhetoric and no number of resignations in the Pakistan set-up are likely to assuage the deep sense of hurt and outrage felt by Indians.

Whether that pent-up rage erupts now or years from now, the 1971 war had its genesis in the dugouts of the inconclusive 1965 war, friends of India hope that wiser counsels will prevail where the military dares to tread.

Within Pakistan, battles are already being fought on too many fronts for yet another to be opened. We have too many amorphous enemies, too many intangible evasive demons to grapple with for us to take on a larger, better-equipped adversary.

Day by day, the schisms within our own body politic are making it all the more apparent to rational Pakistanis that the clash of civilisations exists not simply in Samuel Huntington's mind.

A conflict is raging between reason and religion, with dogma becoming a weapon instead of a tool towards better understanding. Religious extremism cannot be vanquished by half-hearted liberalism. It takes more than drawing-room platitudes to counteract determined fascism.

Whatever demons beset Pakistan, they have a parallel in India. Extremism in any country is no virtue, and resistance to it is no vice.

Fortunately, we in Pakistan do not have Hindu extremists on our side of the border.

It has taken India over 60 years to produce a Bal Thackeray. One wonders how long it will take to produce his antidote.

 

[This article first appeared in Covert Magazine, New Delhi.]

February 9, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Roger Broome (Martinsville, Virginia, USA), December 20, 2014, 5:12 PM.

I was at Berkhamsted in the 1950's (at St. John's ) with Syed Naemuddin Fakir, and am interested in re establishing contact with him. I would welcome hearing from him by e-mail.

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The Business of War"









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