shiv wrote:Has anyone thought how a powerful king in the old days could ever survive and still keep nobles and vassals loyal to him although each of those nobles/vassals had armies available to them? Not easy - requires real leadership but the following is an approximate description.
First the king would have a very powerful loyal army led by good trained men and loyal generals. The best generals and men would be rewarded with land, wealth. wimmens, villages etc. This "kingdom" would then be able to attack a neighbouring kingdom. Either the neighbouring king would be killed and a loyal general given the throne there, or the neighbouring king might agree to become a vassal. In every case the vassal/general would require to have an army to help support the king, but the king himself would also require a separate "Kings guard" of his own in case any of the general/vassals got uppity - so that they could be defeated. The Nizam of Hyderabad had a Nizams army of Arabs who were his own private guardsmen to serve this role.
What has this got to do with Pakistan? Believe it or not this is the exact model used by the Pakistani army to retain control of Pakistan. It is also a model used by the USA in NATO and "Warsaw pact" to have vassal nations to fight proxy wars for USA/NATO. The USSR did it too, as did the British empire.
The Pakistani army treats the Army chief as "King/President". The army itself is the Presidential Presidents private guard. Loyal generals are awarded large tracts of land as gifts. Islamist groups are the vassals. They are armed and allowed to fight the Pakistan army's enemy (India mainly, but also Hindus, Sikhs, Shias and Ahmedis).
Shiv's thesis here gives me the opportunity to articulate something tangential thoughts I've been having about the nature of Islam and Indian nationhood in general.
What Shiv describes is essentially the feudal model which, having moved past in their own lands in the post-Enlightenment era, European colonialists reinforced as a tool for the imposition of their own will in colonized lands such as India. It is also very much akin to the "Kabila" model that Islamic empires have employed for expansion and governance throughout their history.
The essential similarities between Western feudalism (transplanted to colonized countries in the colonial era) and Islamic "Kabila" imply that it is not only the "West" which has been a colonial entity as far as societies like ours are concerned... Islam itself is equally a foreign colonialist entity in our subcontinent, as fundamentally alien and predatory to our land, our culture and our way of life as the British or Portuguese or Dutch ever were. The atavistic howls issuing from their minarets five times a day are, indeed, cries of triumph and domination in a foreign language... the language of the colonizer shouting down the colonized.
Ramana has written extensively on the "Kabila" model... it roughly translates to "government as armed camp." Essentially there is a sultan who, with his generals and their troops, constitutes the ultimate fount of power in the political hierarchy. This is unwaveringly typical of the manner in which various political groups and dynasties have consolidated power in West and Central Asia, and North Africa, since the very advent of Islam.
The "Kabila" worked very well in the lands where Islam originated, and where it spread in the early centuries of its expansion. Why? Because the lands themselves were amenable to being governed in this form. In the deserts of West Asia, the arid mountains of Persia and the steppes to the North, the circumstances of nature favour a form of political dominance which relies on armament, maneuverability and mobility. This is because resources are scarce and concentrated in a few areas... an oasis here, a valley there. With a strong group of highly mobile armed men on horseback, you can easily forge an empire in such places. All you have to do is seize control of the few well-defined supply centers, the market centers (city states) and the trade routes between them. Most of the land is junk anyway. Once you're able to do this, and especially to destroy any civilizational affinity to pre-Islamic forms in the market centers (hence the Islamic obsession with temple breaking and idol smashing) you have, effectively, an empire. It doesn't matter if the thousands of useless square miles in between are physically under your domination or not; as long as you have no challengers in these particular small foci of power, you're an unchallenged monarch.
"Kabila" differs from European feudalism because of the emphasis on mobility... horsemen and artillery could be moved to engage a challenger in very short order. A necessary corollary of the Kabila model is un-rootedness. If you have to move fast you cannot afford to be tied down. Therefore, you do not invest in the land or the people, you see them only as objects to be controlled and squeezed for every drop of utility against the hard anvil of history. You position mullahs in population centers to be your spies, propagandists and social monitors... weeding out unorthodoxy and rebellion at the stage of ideation before it becomes necessary to smack down an armed rebellion. But ultimately you, and your apparatus of mullahs, constitute an extraordinarily parasitic, locust-like and virulent form of colonialism. This is something that Western studies of post-colonialism (with their essentially Euro-centric historiography) entirely ignore... they see the Islamic virus as something that was indigenous somehow to the lands they conquered. They do not realize that it was merely a more rapacious and less invested form of colonial imperialism.
Indeed, the more invested Muslim rulers became in their territories, the less "Islamic" they became, of necessity taking on the administrative, social and traditional trappings of pre-Islamic statehood. This made them vulnerable to "purer", mobile and less-invested Islamic conquerors. Hence the Delhi sultanate was prime fodder for Timur and Babar... Baghdad for the Mongols... and Mughal Delhi, again, for Nadir Shah. In each case the less-civilized, more predatory and more essentially savage Kabila prevailed over the more "settled" and "urbanized" Muslim state. When you do not carry the baggage of civilization or of feeling responsibility for the people you rule, you have much more maneuverability and ruthlessness at your disposal. Taking advantage of the Kabila's inherent strengths, the West was able to lead roving bands of armed Arabs in a devastatingly effective rebellion against the settled Ottomans during the 1st World War.
Why do I bring all this up with relevance to Pakistan?
As I said before... the "Kabila" system worked very well to dominate places where resources were scarce and concentrated in well-defined locations. However, it never worked quite as well in India.
That is because our Bharatvarsha is quite unlike those lands where Islam originated and expanded in the early centuries of its being. In Bharatvarsha, the land is almost never inhospitable or forbidding. In Arabia, a band of people displaced from an oasis had two choices: submit to the peaceful orthodoxy of a triumphant Muslim conqueror, or go out into the desert and die. In India, not so. A displaced people had only to go fifty or a hundred or two hundred kilometres in any direction... and mother Bharat in her generous embrace would provide fertile lands, rich orchards, abundant and plentiful fields. How many generations and what huge extents of such flights were supported by the bounty of Bharatvarsha become apparent if you study the migration of the Saraswats, originally from Kashmir... one branch traveled from there south of the Vindhyas, to Goa, and then again uprooted themselves in the face of Portuguese onslaught and proceeded to what is Dakshin Kannada in Karnataka today.
This had two effects: first, it made Indians in general indifferent to the fact of an Islamic conquest. If they took away our old fields and seized our city... well, we would just move over a little bit and build a new city, cultivate new fields. Our Gods and families are safe, let the Turk or Afghan have the old land, because there is enough for everybody if we simply adjust our location a little bit: this was how our forefathers dealt with Islamic expansion.
The second effect, of course, is that Hindu society survived, largely unscathed, as an essentially Indian identity. In Mesopotamia or Egypt, the Muslim idol-smashers and temple-breakers could effectively carry out cultural genocide because their targets were all in one place and immobile... where could you build another Baghdad or Luxor? The inheritors of the old culture had no choice but to surrender before the savagery of Islam's harbingers, and participate willingly in the extinction of their pre-Islamic cultural identities, if they wished to survive at all. In India, we would take our Gods, our families and our few possessions and head out a few more miles into the vast green hinterland and endless bounty of Bharat-mata, who would provide lovingly for us to begin our lives over again as Hindus.
This is essentially why we were saved from being extinguished by the onslaught of Islamic colonialism... Bharatvarsha herself sheltered her children and empowered them to preserve their way of life.
Now what you have in Pakistan today is the continuance of the Kabila system. The West realized soon enough that without the depredations of Islamic colonialism that denuded the civilizational wealth of the East for nearly ten centuries, sapping the power of the old Asiatic states and erasing their very identities... without this, the West would have had a much harder time pursuing their own colonial expansions. In fact, Islamic colonialism prepares the ground for Western colonialism...
a fact that remains as true today as it was before the Battle of Plassey. Hence, everyone from Olaf Caroe to Zbignew Brzezinski sees a utility for the West in maintaining Islamic Kabilas even when the armies and viceroys of the West have gone home. The Kabilas will never construct a state of sufficient power to threaten the West; but they will keep Asia weak for the day that the West might want to return, in one form or another.
THIS is why the West was so determined to see a Pakistan constructed out of a large portion of Bharatvarsha. It is also why the West has been careful to destroy any alternative sense of nationhood or state-based form of governance in the Muslim world, other than Kabila. It is why the Arab nationalists of Ba'ath Egypt (Nasser) and Iraq (Saddam) had to be deposed, and the last scion of Ba'athism, Syria's Assad, is being systematically marked for elimination today. This is the reason why Gaddaffi in Libya was ousted, and why Iran is now at the head of the list of Western targets. Meanwhile the Kabila-state of Saudi Arabia is raised to paramountcy; while in smaller GCC nations... which are essentially city-states or market-centers like the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain... the US itself has taken on the role of Kabila.
In Pakistan that role has been given to the Kabila known as the Pakistan Army. However, let's remember... the land which the Pakistan Army Kabila seeks to dominate is not an arid expanse with tightly localized resource concentrations, as in the territories where the Kabila model has a natural advantage. No, the land of Pakistan is the land of Bharatvarsha... all-embracing and hospitable. It is much harder for a Kabila to control and dominate this "Pakistan" than a Persia or an Iraq.
Meanwhile, to the northwest of Pakistan is Afghanistan... a prime Kabila land, where a mobile and savage army unencumbered by investment in the people can always prevail over the forces of a more settled kingdom.
What happened over the last ten years is instructive. The Kabila (Pakistan Army) deputed by the West to control and enervate Western Bharatvarsha for colonial exploitation, has failed in its task. It has succumbed to the temptations of the land it occupies... Bharatvarsha... and become more "settled" than a Kabila has any right to be. It has become invested in private enterprise, legitimate ones like textiles and agriculture as well as illegal ones such as heroin supply. The Pakistan Army remains a true Kabila in that it still does not give a damn for the people in its charge; but it has become "softer" in the style of the Lodhi who was overwhelmed by Babar, or the Abbasid Caliph who was smashed by Genghis Khan. To compensate for its softness, the Pakistan Army has overemphasized the role traditionally played by Mullahs in the Kabila system, and set up a huge, hypertrophied apparatus of highly empowered political agents to subdue the population in the name of Islam... including all our favourite Tanzeems.
The big mistake that the Soft Kabila of the Pakistan Army made was to create another Kabila... the Taliban... in an attempt to colonize and subdue the people of Afghanistan. Taliban Kabila, being a classic, mobile, hard Kabila, was able to gain control over the prime Kabila-land of Afghanistan in record time back in 1996. However, with the force of historic inevitability... they have utterly lost regard and affinity for the soft, settled Kabila of the TSPA. They see no reason why they should take orders from this decadent, less-pure Sultanate; they have enjoyed repeated military successes over the TSPA over the past ten years; and worst of all, they have seen the TSPA do the bidding of the Kaffir by comfortably abetting the slaughter of Momin perpetuated by the Americans since 2001.
As a result, not only the Taliban, but many sections of the Kabila-apparatchik mullahs (who would ordinarily remain loyal to a strong, hard-Kabila) have turned against the soft and decadent Kabila of the TSPA.
Perhaps the most curious thing is how the TSPA and the Paki elite have responded to this state of affairs. Being themselves of Bharatvarsha... they have begun to do the classic Hindoo thing!
"Fine", they say, "let the fundoos have FATA/KP, after all we have much more productive land".... "fine, let them have a presence in Karachi/Quetta/Peshawar, not a blade of grass grows there"... "fine, let them expand into southern Punjab, after all we should keep them close so we can keep an eye on them." Rationalization after rationalization is articulated by these Pakis while their circle of influence shrinks; so far will our bounteous mother Bharat let them retreat into the welcoming folds of her sari that they blindfold themselves ever more tightly with her pallu and convince themselves that all is well.