Riaz Haq writes this data-driven blog to provide information, express his opinions and make comments on many topics. Subjects include personal activities, education, South Asia, South Asian community, regional and international affairs and US politics to financial markets. For investors interested in South Asia, Riaz has another blog called South Asia Investor at http://www.southasiainvestor.com and a YouTube video channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkrIDyFbC9N9evXYb9cA_gQ
Why did Pakistan Supreme Court's 5 judge panel unanimously vote to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding elected office after Panama Leaks JIT? What was the basis for it? Can it be compared with the conviction of Chicago gangster Al Capone who was convicted for lesser charges of tax evasion, not multiple murders? Are those crying "conspiracy" right? Was the apex court influenced by the military? What is next for Pakistan? Will this decision help reduce corruption in high places? Will democracy be weakened or strengthened by continuing accountability of politicians, generals and bureaucrats?
Politicians Dominate Names of Offshore Company Owners in Panama Papers
Why did the Indian Army's vice chief say "Pakistan probably has better defense industrial base"? Is it out of frustration with the performance of India's defense industry? How's Prime Minister Modi's "Make In India" initiative doing since 2014 when it was launched with a lot of fanfare? Has India's dependence grown or shrink since then?
Why is the White House in such chaos? Who's responsible for it?
President Donald Trump? His top aides? His outgoing chief of staff Reince Priebus? or his newly hired communications director Anthony Scaramucci? Will General Kelly as the new chief of staff bring an end to the infighting and restore order in the White House?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ali Hasan Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Five Pakistani companies are featured in the Forbes magazine’s latest annual ranking of the 200 best companies with under $1 billion in revenue in the Asia-Pacific region. Pakistan's representation of 5 on the list is down from 7 last year. The number of Indian companies on the list is down to 3, less than half of the seven companies that made it in 2016.
Among Pakistan's five companies on the list is Ferozsons Laboratories which is making its debut this year. The company's revenue jumped 93% last year.
The list highlights 200 Asia-Pacific public companies with less than $1 billion in revenue and consistent top- and bottom-line growth. This year’s candidates come from 13 countries and averaged 55% growth in sales, a 24% profit margin, and 113% growth in earnings per share.
China tops the Forbes 200 list with 71 companies followed by Japan 41, Taiwan 30, South Korea 22, Vietnam 10, Singapore 7, Australia 6, Pakistan and Malaysia 5 each, Thailand 4, and Hong Kong and India 3 each.
The Pakistani companies on the list are Agriauto Industries, Cherat Packaging, Ferozsons Labs, Gandhara Industries and Searle Companies. There are 3 Indian companies on this list: 8k Mile Software Services, Kellton Tech Solutions and Manpasand Beverages.
Of the 5 Pakistani companies on the list, two are in auto industry, two in pharmaceuticals and one in package manufacturing. Here are brief descriptions of the companies as published by Forbes:
Agriauto Industries Ltd. manufactures and sells components for automotive vehicles, motorcycles, and agricultural tractors. Its products includes shock absorbers and struts; motorcycle shock absorber and parts; sheet metal press parts; and other parts such as manual type window regulator and door/door hinges. The company was founded on June 25, 1981 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.
Cherat Packaging Ltd. is engaged in manufacturing, marketing and selling of paper sacks and polypropylene bags to the cement industry in Pakistan. It provides cement bags made from kraft paper and polypropylene granules. The company was founded in 1991 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.
Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd. engages in the manufacturing and trading of pharmaceutical products. It produces tablets, capsules, syrups, suspension, creams, and ointments. The company was founded on January 28, 1954 and is headquartered in Lahore, Pakistan.
Ghandhara Industries Ltd. engages in the manufacture and market of vehicles. Its products include pickup, trucks, and buses. The company was founded by M. Habibullah Khan Khattak on February 23, 1963 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.
Searle Co. Ltd. engages in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and a low calorie sweetener. It also engages in selling of food and consumer items and manufacturing of pharmaceutical items for other companies. The company operates through the following segments: Pharma, Consumer and Investment Property. Searle was founded on October 5, 1965 and is headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan.
Pakistani companies are riding the rising tide of the nations's middle class consumption. They are benefiting from increasing consumer confidence and growing demand for cement, branded food products, pharmaceuticals and vehicles. Overall consumer products and services companies have been on the rise on Forbes Asia list, an indication of Asia’s success in moving towards a consumer economy.
The Big Sick, a cross-culture romantic comedy based on actual events, breaks new ground by casting a brown-skinned Pakistani-American in a lead role in a movie produced and widely screened in the United States. Acquired by Amazon Studios for $12 million after a bidding war at Sundance film festival, the film has already grossed over $25 million so far.
“The Big Sick” is based on the life of HBO's "Silicon Valley" star Kumail Nanjiani, 39, who plays himself. A Pakistani American man, a part-time Uber driver struggling to succeed as a stand-up comic in Chicago, Kumail notices a heckler named Emily (Zoe Kazan), during one of his performances. Thus begins a relationship characterized by a series of emotional highs and lows with a lot of laughter in between.
Co-written with his wife, Emily V. Gordon, the romantic comedy (romcom) is a somewhat fictionalized account of the first year of their relationship, when a sudden medical crisis forces her to be put in a medically-induced coma for several days.
Kumail meets Emily's parents when they come to Chicago to care for their daughter in hospital. After some initial hesitation, Emily's parents (played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) hit it off with Kumail. When Emily's father asks Nanjiani what he thought of the 911, the comedian responds: "It was tragic. We lost 19 of our best men" and then smiles, thus breaking the ice between the two.
Nanjiani says that "I feel more Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years". "I feel way more defined by my ethnicity now," Nanjiani says. "If there's an ethnicity that is maligned and attacked and demonized ... I'm with you. I stand with you. Because it's unavoidable that people are seeing me a certain way, I kind of want to own it. I feel more Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years", he told USA Today.
Kumail has interspersed the movie with a running presentation on his country of birth that shows him singing the first few lines of Pakistan's national anthem out loud. Nanjiani also brings out his love of cricket and the fact that Pakistan has the world's largest contiguous farm irrigation system.
While Nanjiani repeatedly acknowledges his Pakistani-American identity, he's less certain about his religious identity. Brought up as a Shia Muslim, he even makes fun of the fact that his people still mourn the killings in the battle of Karbala that occurred 1400 years ago. Kumail tells his father (played by Anupam Kher) that he doesn't know what he believes.
The story line of The Big Sick is partly about Nanjiani’s refusal to accept an arranged marriage that his parents wished for him. It is a reasonable position but the way he does so demeans the Pakistani-American women who are introduced to him by his parents.
Kumail lacks the courage to tell his parents upfront that he wants no part of an arranged marriage, allowing the Pakistani-American women suitors to suffer the indignity of being paraded in front of him. The movie stereotypes these Pakistani-American women who are forced to speak in fake foreign accents even though they have lived in the US longer than Pakistan-born Kumail has.
Overall, it's fun to watch The Big Sick as a ground-breaking cross-culture romantic comedy with a Pakistani-American male lead.
What is India-China standoff in Bhutan's Doklam about? What are the risks of either side miscalculating? Can this border conflict spiral out of control and escalate into a full-scale war like the the 1962 war? Can it lead to a wider regional conflict? How would such a war conclude?
What are the political implications of the ongoing Panama case hearings in Pakistan Supreme Court? How are the media and political parties lining up on this? Will the Supreme Court disqualify and remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding office for corruption? Will it be seen as normal democratic process of accountability or a conspiracy to subvert an elected government?
Why are Indians among the top 5 asylum seekers in the world along with Syria? What's driving Indians to seek refuge in OECD nations? Is it lack of economic opportunity or increasing religious violence? Or something else?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Is China ripping off its all-weather friend Pakistan by charging high interest rates on loans and exorbitant guaranteed returns on investments in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects? That's a question that is being asked on a frequent basis by Pakistan's friends and foes alike. While friends of China-Pakistan ties are concerned about an undue burden on Pakistanis, the foes see CPEC as an opportunity to create a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt about it and its benefits for Pakistan's economy and society. Who's right? Who's wrong? Why? Let's dive into it.
CPEC Projects in Pakistan
Claims by CPEC Detractors:
Many Western and Indian opponents claim that the cost of CPEC financing will be so high that Pakistan will not be able to bear it. They assert that China is attempting to catch Pakistan in a debt trap from which the country will not be able to escape, eventually turning it into a Chinese colony. The financing costs for Chinese loans and investments they claim are in high teens.
Misguided Pakistani Analysts' View:
Many well-meaning Pakistanis, including serious economists, seem to echo detractors' claims without any serious examination or comparison with prevailing bench-marks. They do not mention how similar projects in other parts of the world are financed and what sort of interest rates and return-on-equity are guaranteed.
CPEC Finance Rates vs Benchmarks:
About two-thirds of Chinese CPEC funding is for power projects while one-third is for infrastructure projects like roads, rail lines and ports.
The Chinese soft loans for CPEC infrastructure projects carry an interest rate of just 1.6%, far lower than similar loans offered by the World Bank at rates of 3.8% or higher.
Chinese companies investing in Pakistan power sector are getting loans from Chinese banks at commercial interest rates. These loans will be repaid by the Chinese companies from their income from these investments, not by Pakistani taxpayers.
The rate of return guaranteed by Pakistan power regulators to the Chinese power companies is about 17%. Is it too high, as some claim? Let's compare it to the US market considered among the safest investments in the world.
Rate of Return in United States:
The average return on equity for almost 8,000 US firms is 14.49%. The power utility companies – with an average of 10.13% – are on the lower end of the spectrum because they are viewed as less risky investments.
In the United States, rate of return varies significantly from state to state, as each state regulator has exclusive authority to regulate utility operations as they choose.
In Advance Energy Economy (AEE) Power Portal database, which tracks ROE for over 100 investor-owned utilities across the country, the highest allowed ROE belongs to Alabama Power Co., at 13.75% while the lowest belongs to United Illuminating Co. (CT) at 9.15%.
Within the US states, Alabama being seen as relatively less safe for investment, offers 13.75% return. So why is it such a surprise to see Pakistani regulator offer Chinese investors a higher rate of return of 17%?
Growing Infrastructure Gap:
Development of physical infrastructure, including electricity and gas infrastructure, is essential for economic and social development of a country such as Pakistan. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor financing needs to be seen in the context of the large and growing infrastructure gap in Asia that threatens social and economic progress.
Rich countries generally raise funds for infrastructure projects by selling bonds while most developing countries rely on loans from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to finance infrastructure projects.
The infrastructure financing needs of the developing countries far exceed the capacity of the World Bank and the regional development banks such as ADB to fund such projects. A recent report by the Asian Development Bank warned that there is currently $1.7 trillion infrastructure gap that threatens growth in Asia. The 45 countries surveyed in the ADB report, which covers 2016-2030, are forecast to need investment of $26 trillion over 15 years to maintain growth, cut poverty and deal with climate change.
Summary: China is financing CPEC projects at rates that are comparable to similar projects elsewhere. Chinese loans for infrastructure projects such as rails, roads and ports are at rates (2% or less) below those (3.8%) offered by the Asian Development Bank and the the World Bank. The rate of return on power project investments under CPEC is 17%, somewhat higher than the 13.75 offered by much safer US state of Alabama.
Development of physical infrastructure, including electricity and gas infrastructure, is essential for economic and social development of a country such as Pakistan. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor financing needs to be seen in the context of the large and growing infrastructure gap in Asia that threatens social and economic progress.
An unrelenting campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been unleashed in the media in recent weeks. This strategy harkens back to the aggressive marketing techniques used by the American computer giant IBM in the 1970s to fight competition. Part of the motivation of those engaged in FUD against CPEC appears to be to check China's rise and Pakistan's rise with its friend and neighbor to the north. As in IBM's case, the greatest fear of the perpetrators of FUD is that CPEC will succeed and lift Pakistan up along with rising China. Their aim is to preserve and protect the current world order created by the Western Powers led by the United States at the end of the second world war. Pakistani government should respond to the FUD campaign against CPEC by countering it with facts and data and increasing transparency in how CPEC projects are being financed, contracted and managed.
India is among the the top 5 sources of migrants seeking asylum in OECD countries, according to OECD's International Migration Outlook 2017. The other four are: China, Syria, Romania and Poland. Is increasing religious violence in India, like Syria, contributing to growing numbers of asylum seekers from the South Asian nation?
UP CM Yogi Adiyanath with Indian PM Modi
Indian asylum seekers rank 2nd in New Zealand, 4th in Latvia and 6th in Finland and United Kingdom and 8th in Australia, the OECD report says. The numbers of Pakistanis seeking asylum remains stable but they still show up among the top 3 asylum seekers in some OECD nations such as the UK, Ireland, Italy, Greece and South Korea.
Indians have sought political asylum in more than 40 countries over the years, according to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
There's a long history of India's religious and ethnic minorities seeking asylum abroad after being persecuted at home, starting with the exodus of 8 million Muslim refugees fleeing to Pakistan after the Partition of India. Many more millions of Dalits, Muslims and Sikhs have left India to find refuge in Canada, Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Pakistan, too, has seen members of its religious minorities leave the country after persecution by the majority community.
Europe has historically seen a large number of new asylum applications from Indians---6,300 in 2012 and 2013. The United States has also experienced an increase in the number of Indian asylum seekers in recent years. Media reports show 2,100 Indians receiving asylum in the United States between 2012 and 2014. The rise of extreme right wing Hindu Nationalists and increasing violence against minorities are likely to further accelerate the trend.
Pakistani journalist Anthony Mascarenhas' sensational story headlined "GENOCIDE", published by London's Sunday Times on June 13 1971, had a profound effect on all subsequent media coverage of East Pakistan, according to veteran BBC South Asia correspondent Mark Tully.
Mascarenhas (1928-1986) worked for "Morning News", a Karachi-based English language daily, when he was sent to report on East Pakistan in 1971. It's not clear how he ended up reporting for Sunday Times (now owned by Rupert Murdoch) but it's known that he and his family moved to take up residence in England before the publication of his "GENOCIDE" story. Here's how the BBC reported it: "Pretending he was visiting his sick sister, Mascarenhas then travelled to London, where he headed straight to the Sunday Times and the editor's office".
In a radio interview, Tully said in Urdu: "There are still significant questions in my mind as to whether the media coverage of Pakistani military crackdown in 1971 was balanced.....it (balanced coverage) became especially difficult after the Mascarenhas' exclusive dispatch (headlined "Genocide") published in The Sunday Times".
Mascarenhas' "Genocide" story was accepted on face value and widely disseminated by major western and Indian media outlets without any verification or fact-checks. Decades later, Sarmila Bose, an Indian journalist and scholar, finally scrutinized the story and found it to be "entirely inaccurate".
Bose's investigation of the 1971 Bangladeshi narrative began when she saw a picture of the Jessore massacre of April 2, 1971. It showed "bodies lie strewn on the ground. All are adult men, in civilian clothes....The caption of the photo is just as grim as its content: "April 2, 1971: Genocide by the Pakistan Occupation Force at Jessore." Upon closer examination, Bose found that "some of the Jessore bodies were dressed in shalwar kameez ' an indication that they were either West Pakistanis or ‘Biharis’, the non-Bengali East Pakistanis who had migrated from northern India". In Bose's book "Dead Reckoning" she has done case-by-case body count estimates that lead her in the end to estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed on all sides, including Bengalis, Biharis, West Pakistanis and others, in 1971 war.
Here are the relevant excepts on the Mascarenhas story in Sarmila Bose's Dead Reckoning:
On Page 10: "An interesting example is Anthony Mascarenhas' famous report in Sunday Times published on 13 June 1971. His eyewitness description from Comilla of how a Bengali, especially a Hindu, could have his life snuffed out at the whim of a single army officer serves as a powerful indictment of the military action, but his description of the army's attack on the Hindu area of Shankharipara in old Dhaka on 25-26 March--where he was not present--given without citing any source and turns out to be entirely inaccurate according to the information obtained from my interviews with survivors of Shakharipara".
On Page 73: "In his (Mascarenhas') book that followed his report in the Sunday Times condemning the military crackdown in East Pakistan, Anthony Mascarenhas wrote ," In Shankaripatti an estimated 8000 men, women and children were killed when the army, having blocked both ends of the winding street, hunted down house by house:". This is not an eyewitness account, as Mascarenhas was not there, and he does not cite any sources for his information---which in this case s totally wrong in all aspects.
Mascarenhas' reports, like many foreign press reports in 1971, are a mixture of reliable and unreliable information, depending on where the reporter is faithfully reporting what he has actually seen or is merely writing an uncorroborated version of what someone else has told him.......According to survivors of Shankharipara, the army did not go house to house. They entered only one house, Number 52".
Aided and abetted by the Indian and western media with stories like Mascarenhas', the Bangladeshi Nationalists led by the Awami League have concocted and promoted elaborate myths about the events surrounding Pakistan's defeat in December 1971.
Sheikh Mujib's daughter and current Bangladesh Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina alleges "colonial exploitation" of Bengalis by Pakistan and "Bengali genocide" by the Pakistan Army. They claim economic disparities between East and West Pakistan as the main cause of their "war of independence" in which "Pakistan Army killed 3 million Bangladeshis".
Let's examine the Bangladeshi claims on the basis of real facts and data known today as follows:
1. The per capita income in West Pakistan was 60% higher than in East Pakistan in 1971. But they never tell you that the per capita income in East Pakistan was higher than in West Bengal and India. They also don't tell you that the ratio of per capita incomes between Bangladesh and Pakistan has changed little in the last four decades since "independence'.
2. Bangladeshi nationalists claims that "three million people were killed, nearly quarter million women were raped". These claims have failed the scrutiny of the only serious scholarly researcher Sarmila Bose ever done into the subject. Bose's investigation of the 1971 Bangladeshi narrative began when she saw a picture of the Jessore massacre of April 2, 1971. It showed "bodies lie strewn on the ground. All are adult men, in civilian clothes....The caption of the photo is just as grim as its content: "April 2, 1971: Genocide by the Pakistan Occupation Force at Jessore." Upon closer examination, Bose found that "some of the Jessore bodies were dressed in shalwar kameez ' an indication that they were either West Pakistanis or ‘Biharis’, the non-Bengali East Pakistanis who had migrated from northern India". In Bose's book "Dead Reckoning" she has done case-by-case body count estimates that lead her in the end to estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed on all sides, including Bengalis, Biharis, West Pakistanis and others, in 1971 war.
3. Dr. M. Abdul Mu’min Chowdhury, a Bengali nationalist who actively participated in the separatist cause, in his publication "Behind the Myth of 3 Million", challenges the falsehood. Citing an extensive range of sources to show that what the Pakistani army was carrying out in East Pakistan was a limited counter-insurgency, not genocide, the scholar discloses that after the creation of Bangladesh, the new de facto government offered to pay Taka 2,000 to every family that suffered loss of life but only 3,000 families claimed such compensation. Had there been three million Bengalis dead, a lot more of such families would have come forward. The actual fighting force of Pakistan was 40,000 not 93,000. They were given the responsibility to maintain law and order and protect civilians from the India-backed insurgents of Mukti Bahini. India's Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw praised the professionalism and gallantry of Pakistani soldiers facing the Indian Army's 50:1 advantage in the 1971 war.
4. Now declassified US State Department transcript of an April 6, 1971 conversation between then Secretary of State William Rogers and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger reveals that the US diplomats in Dhaka were also misled by false media reports of mass graves. Kissinger told Rogers that a reported mass grave of 1,000 dead Bengali victims of "genocide" turned out to be baseless.
What Happened in East Pakistan (Yuri Bezmenov Former KGB Psychological Warfare Expert). Yuri Bezmenov ex KGB Psychological Warfare Expert Explains What Happened in East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) in This Video
Why did the Modi government ban cattle slaughter across India? Why did the Indian Supreme Court block it nationally? Was Modi government targeting India's Muslim minority that depends on the $16 billion meat and leather industry? Are such steps consistent with the constitution of a "secular democracy"?
Sharif Family Being Investigated by Panama JIT
How historic is Pakistan's corruption investigation into the allegations against a sitting prime minister and his family? What is in the JIT report about country's ruling Sharif family? Is it hard evidence of Sharifs' corruption as its supporters believe? Or is it just rumors and innuendo and part of a conspiracy to unseat Prime Minister Sharif? How will Pakistan Supreme Court deal with it? Will it lead to disqualification and removal of Prime Minister Sharif from office? How will it affect Pakistan's political stability and economy?
What was the Trump tower meeting of June 9 2016 meeting about? Was Donald Trump Jr attempting to collude with the Russian government as alleged to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton? Is this illegal or improper? How will it affect the ongoing Congressional and Special Counsel investigations into Trump Campaign's alleged collusion with Russia?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com).
Colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of the British policy to divide and conquer India, says American history professor Audrey Truschke, in her recently published book "Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King". These misrepresentations of Muslim rule made during the British Raj appear to have been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists but also by at least some of the secular Hindus in India and Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan, says the author. Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries, the author adds.
Madhav Golwalkar, considered the founder of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".
Professor Truschke systematically dismantles
myths about India's Muslim rulers as being hateful and bigoted tyrants who engaged in rape and pillage of Hindus and carried out widespread destruction of Hindu temples across India. Hindu Nationalists led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who considers Golwalkar "worthy of worship, are using false history to play victims of "brutal" Islamic rule and to justify their hatred and violence against Indian Muslims today.
Hindu Nationalists' False Narrative:
Truschke explains how the Hindu Nationalists have used colonial-era distortions of history and built a false narrative to justify their hatred and violence against India's Muslim minority. Here's an excerpt from her book:
"Such views have roots in colonial-era scholarship, where positing timeless Hindu-Muslim animosity embodied the British strategy of divide and conquer. Today, multiple websites claim to list Aurangzeb's "atrocities" against Hindus (typically playing fast and loose with the facts) and fuel communal fires. There are numerous gaping holes in the proposition that Aurangzeb razed temples because he hated Hindus, however. Most glaringly, Aurangzeb counted thousands of Hindu temples within his domain and yet destroyed, at most, few dozen.....A historically legitimate view of Aurangzeb must explain why he protected Hindu temples more often than he demolished them."
Misguided Pakistani View:
The false narrative about Aurangzeb has been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists in India who use it for their own purposes, but also by at least some of the Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan. Truschke singles out Pakistani playwright Shahid Nadeem to make this point in her book:
"Across the border in Pakistan, too, many endorse the vision of an evil Aurangzeb. As Shahid Nadeem, a Pakistani playwright, recently put it: " Seeds of partition were sown when Aurangzeb triumphed over [his brother] Dara Shikoh". Such far-fetched suggestions would be farcical, if so many did not endorse them."
Some British educated secular Indian leaders have also been misled colonial-era historical narrative of Muslim rule pushed by the British. For example, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, thought Aurangzeb was too Muslim to rule India. Nehru described Aurangzeb as "a bigot and an austere puritan" and called him a dangerous throwback who "put back the clock". Here's a quote from Nehru used by Truschke to make her point:
"When Aurangzeb began to oppose [the syncretism of the earlier Mughal rulers] and suppress it and to function more as a Moslem than an Indian ruler, the Mughal empire began to break up".
The Real Aurangzeb:
Here's an excerpt from Truschke's article in Wire.in that explains how she sees "historical Aurangzeb":
"Aurangzeb, for instance, acted in ways that are rarely adequately explained by religious bigotry. For example, he ordered the destruction of select Hindu temples (perhaps a few dozen, at most, over his 49-year reign) but not because he despised Hindus. Rather, Aurangzeb generally ordered temples demolished in the aftermath of political rebellions or to forestall future uprisings. Highlighting this causality does not serve to vindicate Aurangzeb or justify his actions but rather to explain why he targeted select temples while leaving most untouched. Moreover, Aurangzeb also issued numerous orders protecting Hindu temples and communities from harassment, and he incorporated more Hindus into his imperial administration than any Mughal ruler before him by a fair margin. These actions collectively make sense if we understand Aurangzeb’s actions within the context of state interests, rather than by ascribing suspiciously modern-sounding religious biases to him."
Truschke is not alone in the above assessment of Aurangzeb. Marathi writer Nagnath S. Inamdar, the author of "Shahenshah: The Life of Aurangzeb", recalls visiting a prominent Hindu temple whose priest told him that it had come down in his family that not only had Aurangzeb left the temple intact, but also authorized a recurring annual donation for its maintenance. Further diminishing the idea of a puritanical figure, Inamdar also found old manuscripts with love sonnets composed by Aurangzeb.
Real History in Persian:
Truschke says the original history of the Mughal rule was written in Persian. However, it is the English translation of the original work that are often used to distort it. Here's what she says about it in her book:
"The bulk of Mughal histories are written in Persian, the official administrative language of the Mughal empire but a foreign tongue in India today. Out of necessity and ease, many historians disregard the original Persian text and rely instead on English translations. This approach narrows the the library of materials drastically, and many translations of the Mughal texts are of questionable quality, brimming with mistranslations and abridgments. Some of these changes conveniently served the agendas of the translators, especially colonial-era translations that tend to show Indo--Muslim kings at their worst so that the British would seem virtuous by comparison (foremost here is Elliot and Dowson's History of India as Told by Its Own Historians). Such materials are great for learning about British colonialism, but they present an inaccurate picture of Mughal India."
Comparison with Contemporaries:
On temple destructions, Truschke says that the "Hindu rulers were the first to come up with the idea of sacking one another’s temples, before Muslims even entered the Indian subcontinent. But one hears little about these “historical wrongs”".
University of Texas Professor Donald Davis, a scholar of Hinduism, agrees that “there is no question that medieval Hindu kings frequently destroyed religious images as part of more general rampages”.
Invasions of various parts of India by Shivaji Bhonsle's Maratha forces were extremely bloody and destructive affairs. Maratha raiders led by Shivaji raped, pillaged and plundered the people, mainly Hindus, in the territories they captured. Some of these events are documented in Sir Jadunath Srakar's Shivaji and His Times. Shivaji Bhonsle was a contemporary and rival of Aurangzeb. He is now revered by Hindu Nationalists as a hero who allegedly protected Hindus from Aurangzeb in the second half of the 17th century.
Aurangzeb-Shivaji Conflict Not Religious:
Professor Truschke debunks the Hindu Nationalist portrayal of Shivaji-Aurangzeb conflict as being Hindu-Muslim war. She argues in her book that "the Mughal-Maratha conflict was shaped by craving for raw power that demanded strategic, shifting alliances. Shivaji allied with numerous Islamic states, including Bijapur, Golconda, and even the Mughals when it suited him (sometimes against Hindu powers in south India). Shivaji welcomed Muslims within his army; he had qazis (Muslim judges) on his payroll, and Muslims ranked among some of the top commanders".
She says that "Mughal alliances and the imperial army was similarly diverse, and Aurangzeb sent a Hindu, Jai Singh, to besiege Shivaji at Purandar."
Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries. Colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of their policy to divide and conquer India, according to American history professor Audrey Truschke. Professor Truschke has systematically dismantled all the myths about India's Muslim rulers as hateful and bigoted tyrants who engaged in rape and pillage of Hindus and carried out widespread destruction of Hindu temples across India. Hindu Nationalists led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are using false history to justify their hatred and violence against Indian Muslims today.
Related Links: Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:
In "Purifying the Land of the Pure", the author Ms. Farahnaz Ispahani, the wife of Mr. Husain Haqqani who served as Pakistan's Ambassador in Washington from 2008 to 2011, asserts that "by 1949, the non-Muslim population of Pakistan had been significantly diluted.....the percentage of Muslims in the areas constituting Pakistan rose from 77% in 1941 to 83% in 1949".
In other words, the population of minorities, mostly Hindus, was 17% in 1949 in Pakistan. This included both east and west Pakistan. Let's examine what has happened to the minority population in Pakistan since 1971 when East Pakistan split off to form Bangladesh. More specifically, let's focus on the Hindu population that constitutes overwhelming majority of religious minorities population.
Hindu population of the areas that now constitute post-1971 Pakistan was 15% in 1931 India Census. It declined to 14% in 1941. Then first Pakistan Census in 1951 showed it was 1.3% after the massive cross-border migration of both Hindus and Muslims in 1947. During the partition, 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India from what became Pakistan, while over 8 million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan. Since 1951, the Hindu population of what is now Pakistan has grown from 1.3% to 1.9% now.
Pew Research reported in 2017 that nearly half of India’s migrants are in just three countries: the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and the United States. About 3.5 million Indians live in the UAE, the top destination country for Indian migrants. Over the past two decades, millions of Indians have migrated there to find employment as laborers. Pakistan has the second-largest number of Indian-born migrants, with 2 million who, according to the World Bank, send nearly $5 billion a year in remittances to their poor Muslim relatives in India.
The biggest exodus of Muslims from India was from the Indian Punjab where the Muslim population declined from 32% in 1941 to 0.8% in 1951.
Contrary to the sensational media headlines about declining Hindu population in Pakistan, the fact is that Hindu birth rate is significantly higher than the country's national average. Although Hindus make up only 1.9% of Pakistan's population, it is among the worlds fastest growing Hindu communities today, growing faster than the Hindu populations in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
`Pakistan Census data. For 1931 and 1941, the figures are for West Pakistan in undivided India. For 1951 and 1961, the figures are for West Pakistan in undivided Pakistan. Data for 1971 could not be accessed.
Hindu population of the areas that now constitute Pakistan was 15% in 1931 India Census. It declined to 14% in 1941 India Census. Then first Pakistan Census in 1951 showed it was 1.3% after the massive cross-border migration of both Hindus and Muslims in 1947. During the partition, 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India from what became Pakistan, while over 8 million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan. Since 1951, the Hindu population of what is now Pakistan has grown from 1.3% to 1.9% now.
Hindu fertility rate (TFR) of 3.2 children per woman in Pakistan is much higher than national fertility rate of 2.86. With 3.33 million Hindus, Pakistan is currently home to the world's 5th largest Hindu population. By 2050, Pakistan will rank 4th with 5.6 million Hindus, surpassing Indonesia which is currently ranked 4th largest Hindu country, according to Pew Research.
While it is true that some Pakistani Hindus have been targets of religious bigotry and intolerance by some extremists in the majority Muslim community, there are also many many examples of mutual tolerance and respect between Hindus and Muslims in the country. In the city of Mithi in Sindh's Tharparkar district, for example, Muslims do not slaughter cows out of respect for their fellow citizens of Hindu faith, and Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites do not have marriage celebrations during the month of Muharram. Hassan Raza, a student journalist, quoted a resident of a village near Mithi as saying:
"In our village, Hindus and Muslims have been living together for decades and there has not been a single day, when I have seen a religious conflict. No loud speaker is used for Azaan at the time when Hindus are worshiping in their temple, and no bells are rung when it is time for namaz. Nobody eats in public when it is Ramazan and Holi is played by every member of the village."
"One of the most interesting elements of the trip was visiting my father’s town, Rohiri, his birthplace. I found there was still a sizeable Hindu community there. That totally took me by surprise. We still think there was a massive religious cleansing in Pakistan and there were no Hindus left. Then I came across this family of shopkeepers who said, “Don’t worry about anything. Stay with us.” They gave me lunch and dinner and put me on the night train to Lahore. Talking to this family in the neighbourhood where my father grew up and was married was fascinating. The question that came to mind was why did my father’s family leave Pakistan and why are these people still here? Official figures suggest 14 million people were displaced after partition and that half a million to a million people were killed. And yet 60 years later these Hindu people in Rohiri are still there. They felt connected to the place where they were born. In the three towns I passed through I kept meeting Hindus — traders, professionals. Their numbers were small, 300 or 400 families in each of these towns. They have their own places of worship. I dared to ask: “Are you happy here?” and they said, “Yes, this is the land where we were born.”"
Pakistani Fashion Designer Deepak Perwani in Karachi
A successful Karachi-based Hindu Pakistani fashion designer Deepak Perwani said the following while talking to Indian media in 2012:
"People keep asking me, 'Oh you guys didn't migrate?', 'How are you treated there?' and so on. The questions show a lack of awareness." Perwani is part of Karachi's flourishing Hindu community, which is small but visible and influential even today. One lakh of Karachi's 1.3 crore population is Hindu.
As Perwani puts it, a lot of what people say about Pakistani Hindus shows "a lack of awareness".
A spate of lynchings of Indian Muslims has highlighted the religious violence that has been rampant in India for decades. The 2014 election of Hindu Nationalist leader Narendra Modi to the office of Indian Prime Minister has further emboldened the Hindu Nationalists who have been the main planners, instigators and perpetrators of murderous rampages against India's religious minorities.
UP CM Adiyanath with Indian PM Modi
Modi was shunned by much of the world for over a decade for his part in the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Indian Muslims. His policies as prime minister indicate that he's not a changed man. Yet, he is now being embraced by the western leaders who claim to uphold human rights and religious freedoms.
Pew Research Report:
A Pew Research report from data collected in 2015, about a year after Modi rose to power, found that the level of hostility against religious minorities is "very high". In fact, it said India scores 9 for social hostilities against religious minorities on a scale of 0-10. Other countries in "very high" category for social hostilities include Nigeria, Iraq and Syria. Pakistan's score on this scale is 7 while Bangladesh is 5.5.
Rise of Hindu Nationalists:
The situation for India's minorities, particularly Muslims, has become a lot worse in the last two years with Hindu mobs lynching Muslims with impunity. Recent election of anti-Muslim radical Hindu priest Yogi Adiyanath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, is seen as a clear signal from Mr. Modi that his anti-Muslim policies will continue.
Mohammad Akhlaq is believed to be the first victim of Hindu lynch mobs claiming to be protecting the cow. He was accused of consuming beef. For more than a week Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained silent over the incident and even after he spoke about it, he did not condemn it outright. The ruling BJP officials even tried to explain it as the result of the genuine anger of the Hindus over the slaughtering of a cow.
This year, The Indian Express, an English-language newspaper, found seven incidents between March and May of 2017 in which Indian Muslims were lynched by Hindu mobs. On June 22, three Muslims were killed in West Bengal state after being accused of cow smuggling. On June 27, a Muslim dairy owner in the state of Jharkhand was attacked by a mob after being accused of slaughtering a cow; the man was rushed to a hospital in critical condition after the police managed to save him from his attackers, according to Al Jazeera.
Paul Richard Brass, professor emeritus of political science and international relations at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, has spent many years researching communal riots in India. He has debunked all the action-reaction theories promoted by Hindu Nationalists like Modi. He believes these are not spontaneous but planned and staged as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth.
"Events labelled “Hindu-Muslim riots” have been recurring features in India for three-quarters of a century or more. In northern and western India, especially, there are numerous cities and town in which riots have become endemic. In such places, riots have, in effect, become a grisly form of dramatic production in which there are three phases: preparation/rehearsal, activation/enactment, and explanation/interpretation. In these sites of endemic riot production, preparation and rehearsal are continuous activities. Activation or enactment of a large-scale riot takes place under particular circumstances, most notably in a context of intense political mobilization or electoral competition in which riots are precipitated as a device to consolidate the support of ethnic, religious, or other culturally marked groups by emphasizing the need for solidarity in face of the rival communal group. The third phase follows after the violence in a broader struggle to control the explanation or interpretation of the causes of the violence. In this phase, many other elements in society become involved, including journalists, politicians, social scientists, and public opinion generally.
At first, multiple narratives vie for primacy in controlling the explanation of violence. On the one hand, the predominant social forces attempt to insert an explanatory narrative into the prevailing discourse of order, while others seek to establish a new consensual hegemony that upsets existing power relations, that is, those which accept the violence as spontaneous, religious, mass-based, unpredictable, and impossible to prevent or control fully. This third phase is also marked by a process of blame displacement in which social scientists themselves become implicated, a process that fails to isolate effectively those most responsible for the production of violence, and instead diffuses blame widely, blurring responsibility, and thereby contributing to the perpetuation of violent productions in future, as well as the order that sustains them." "In India, all this takes place within a discourse of Hindu-Muslim hostility that denies the deliberate and purposive character of the violence by attributing it to the spontaneous reactions of ordinary Hindus and Muslims, locked in a web of mutual antagonisms said to have a long history. In the meantime, in post-Independence India, what are labelled Hindu-Muslim riots have more often than not been turned into pogroms and massacres of Muslims, in which few Hindus are killed. In fact, in sites of endemic rioting, there exist what I have called “institutionalized riot systems,” in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. Further, in these sites, persons can be identified, who play specific roles in the preparation, enactment, and explanation of riots after the fact. Especially important are what I call the “fire tenders,” who keep Hindu-Muslim tensions alive through various inflammatory and inciting acts; “conversion specialists,” who lead and address mobs of potential rioters and give a signal to indicate if and when violence should commence; criminals and the poorest elements in society, recruited and rewarded for enacting the violence; and politicians and the vernacular media who, during the violence, and in its aftermath, draw attention away from the perpetrators of the violence by attributing it to the actions."
India is seeing a spate of lynchings of Muslims by Hindu mobs who have been emboldened by the rise of anti-Muslim Hindu Nationalist leader Narendra Modi since his 2014 election to the highest office in India. The elevation of fellow radical Hindu Yogi Adiyanath to the top job in Uttar Pradesh by Mr. Modi has further alarmed India's Muslim minority. University of Washington's Professor Emeritus Paul Brass, who has documented the history of anti-Muslim violence in India, describes it as "a grisly form of dramatic production" by well-known perpetrators from the Sangh Parivar of which Prime Minister Modi has been a member since his youth. Pew Research report on religious violence confirms India's status as a country with "very high" levels of social hostilities against religious minorities. There appears to be no relief in sight for them at least in the foreseeable future.