Monday, October 31, 2011

Reasons Why Qaddafi Had to be Killed

Reasons Why Qaddafi Had to be Killed
Saeed Naqvi

The irony is that a handful of small minded men in England and France have set up a tragedy of epic proportions in the Libyan desert which the blind have not yet seen. It will take a latter day Joseph Conrad, with his sweep of colonial history and a steady gaze on the depth of the human soul, to put it all together. But lesser works will come sooner. At the moment events have numbed us all. Chaos will follow like a hurricane. The story will begin all over again.

It is a pity that Philistinism, an essential companion to unbridled Mammonism, has taken its toll of artistic creativity. Jack Keruak, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlingetti, the great writers of protest, the Beat generation who cleared the air for the youth eruption at Haight Ashbury, the hippies who, despite their depravities, had the instinct to set up a platform for Ravi Shankar and Allah Rakha at Woodstock. That verve and spirit has not yet broken through the ranks of Occupy Wall Street. But that too will happen.

Remember, David Hare’s most pertinent play, Stuff Happens was on London’s West End within months of Bush, Cheyney, Rumsfeld and Condi blundering into Iraq. Even as George W. Bush was campaigning for re election, the play Guantanamo was shaming the Washington establishment off Broadway. From Sardi’s Bar in New York’s theatre district, hoardings for “Enron”, America’s 2G, were going up.

The liberal conscience, in other words, has not exactly died in the midst of the West’s money making orgy. But what about the 5,000 year old civilization called India where Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra One is the only aesthetic enterprise? Enron, after all, took India for a ride. A government was cobbled up for 14 days so it could sign the Enron deal. Likewise scripts on the Qaddafi saga will follow as Stuff Happens did on Iraq.

Qaddafi must have heard stories from the elders of his tribe – how Libyans had to walk in drains at the sight of an approaching Italian soldier. Libya in those days was under the control of Ottoman Turks, a fact which explains the presence of a young Turkish officer, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (remembered as Ataturk) is several battles with the Italian occupiers. It was about this time that the legend of the Libyan hero, Omar Mukhtar was being born.

Two decades earlier, a 23 year old Winston Churchill, ranked a captain but a correspondent for the Morning Post graphically described the British exterminating “the Mahdi’s army in Sudan”.

But the Mahdi, Mukhtar and later, Qaddafi, were all victims of what Churchill called “the mechanical scattering of death which the polite nations of the world have brought to such monstrous perfection.”

I can see eyebrows being raised at Qaddafi being placed alongside a Libyan hero like Omar Mukhtar. Mukhtar challenged the colonialists for 20 years, until the Italians captured and hanged him in 1931. Well, Qaddafi was proud of his record: over 40 years he had defied the “imberialists” (imperialists).

Ofcourse he was vain, possibly even a narcicist contemplating himself as a Mao-Nasser amalgamation, a fountain head of wisdom contained in his unreadable Green Book. But (it must be added in parenthesis) there was something mesmeric about the theatrical way he carried himself, upright, which was a huge contrast to the obese Arab potentates seated on Western laps. He was audacious to the point of being cheeky: “Israel should have been settled in Alsaice and Lorraine!”

When the West’s very favoured were being blown away in the “Arab Spring”, how could the West permit the survival of a person whose entire persona over four decades has evolved in defiance of them.

Ofcourse, oil wealth, the miraculous Great river project, his record of support for Palestine, for the IRA, his brazen contempt for Saudi rulers, his unbreakable links with Africa were all good reasons for his termination. But what was totally unacceptable to the West was his fierce independence. He was realistic enough to notice the currents of history. That is why he made peace with the West once the Soviet umbrella was torn to shreds. And yet he could not help hoping that the trend could be reversed. When he asked Atal Behari Vajpayee to initiate moves for a reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, it was a crazy dream and he knew it. “I know, I know” he said “But remember they make us fight to remain powerful. We should unite and take them on.”

Did he have a premonition of his eventual end when Ronald Reagan had Tripoli bombed in 1986. “If they gill”(kill) me, they will not know where to bury me because “beoble” (people) will find my grave.”

So, after much procrastination they have put him away in a secret location in the great Sahara desert where in compulsive reversal to his beduin roots, he sometimes pitched his tents with his camel in tow. And now they will not let his son Saif ul Islam live: he knows too much.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tripoli Diary

Tripoli Diary

Nostalgia in Tripoli
The first meeting with Muammar Qaddaffi was the most dramatic. It was exactly a week after President Ronald Reagan ordered the bombing of this city on April 15, 1986.

In a sense, the current Anglo-French enthusiasm for Qaddaffi’s elimination completes the circle begun with Reagan’s air attacks. Remember, the Reagan-Maggie Thatcher combine had taken upon themselves the daunting task of reversing the process of Western decline after US defeat in Vietnam, emergence of communist governments in Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua plus powerful communist parties in Italy, France, Spain. The attack on Libya was part of Reagan’s counter offensive, climaxing in the Star Wars project leading to Soviet implosion. This alas was followed by Neo Cons overreach and the fall of rampaging capitalism, Occupy Wall Street. The Anglo-French rush into Libya is (partly) to keep the wolf from the European door.

Yes, that memorable first meeting. Past midnight I find myself being driven to Bab el Azizia, the fort like compound where Qaddaffi lives. Foreign Minister Kamel Maqhour greets me at the gate. Then, past a series of rectangular spaces to a dimly lit room with low ceiling, like a spruced up army camp. Behind a rectangular table, in air force over alls, a black embroidered gown over his shoulders, and flanked by gorgeous, well chiseled women body guards, (one ebony black the other, its marble counterpart) stands Qaddaffi. It is a stunning trio, like an ad for a fitness parlour.


Man for Thatcher
The conversation bristles with self conscious sexuality. Reagan attacked him to impress Margaret Thatcher, he laughs.

“He is a failed actor who became President of a great power and he wants to show he can move fleets, big war machines. He is suffering from old age. He wants to finish the world before he goes. I have studied psychology. I know what I am talking about. He has a special relationship with Thatcher – he wants to prove to her that he is a man.” Men from Sirte, reared on camel’s milk, are known for flaunting their macho sexuality.

He looks athletic compared to the Kings and Sheikhs who populate Arab summits. His arrogant carriage is itself something of a taunt. Occasionally he adds insult to injury by calling them “lackeys of imperialism” provoking outbursts some of which have become part of Arab summit folklore. At a summit at Sharm al Sheikh Prince Abdullah (now King of Saudi Arabia) screamed across the table, pointing at Qaddaffi, “Kalb” which means “dog”.


Rajiv Gandhi’s initiative
At Rajiv Gandhi’s initiative, Non aligned foreign ministers decide at their meeting in New Delhi that a delegation of foreign ministers led by India’s Bali Ram Bhagat should proceed to Tripoli in the spirit of NAM solidarity.

Rajiv asks me “aren’t you covering the story?” His special assistant Ronen Sen navigates my request for an interview with Qaddaffi through diplomatic channels. At Tripoli’s hotel Mahar, I buttonhole Bhagat and hand him a copy of my interview request to be handed to “the leader”. I was granted the interview, but, ironically, Bhagat was sacked soon upon his return. Reagan apparently threw a ginger fit at the Indian initiative.

Qaddaffi, meanwhile stepped up his diplomatic contacts with New Delhi. His son, Saif ul Islam visited India with a “sealed” letter from Qaddaffi for Prime Minister Vajpayee. This was in 2001, after Qaddaffi had made his peace with the West. In those days Qaddafi was a ghost of his former self, like an actor without a stage.

The letter is his “new internationalism”. He urges Vajpayee to take the initiative to “reunify” India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, a reversal to the pre 1947 structure! Vajpayee is amused. He should take up the project first with Pakistan, Vajpayee suggests with a glint in his eye.


Shikar Trophy
The straightforward colonial solution as to what to do with Qaddaffi’s body would have been to hide it from people who might be tempted to build a shrine around which might grow popular movements – like the last Moghul emperor dispatched to Yangoon to die in the garage of a junior officer or, better still, like Osama bin Laden tossed in the sea.

Why did the West want him to be killed? In his appraisal to me, Qaddaffi was on target: oil, one of the world’s largest reserves of under ground water, an angry clergy choked by his secularism, his links with Africa, promotion of African population in Libya annoying the Mediterranean Arabs, unwavering support for Palestine and, ofcourse, “my fierce independence”.

Only when the mist lifts shall we know how many of Libya’s six million population divided into 140 tribes will agree on a leader through the democratic route.

It must enthuse the faithful that every kick on Qaddaffi’s body was accompanied to the sound of “Allah o Akbar”. Is this not poetic justice for a man who had banned the Mullah? The most educated in a community could lead the Friday prayers. He had opened the World’s first military academy for women, something women in Saudi Arabia will have to wait for a hundred years.

For such misdemeanours he was shot at close range and even as his body lies in a freezing room, a BBC camera brings a young, unknown reporter into focus, kneeling next to the body, with the triumphant look of a shikari over a trophy.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

West Sets Up The War Within Islam

West Sets Up The War Within Islam
Saeed Naqvi

Concerned European powers should instantly round up Libyan immigrants by way of evasive action just in case they get very angry at the sight of Qaddafi’s body being dragged through the streets of Sirte, kicked and punched. In time, anger will pass even as TV cameras dwell selectively on the unspeakable chaos in Libya, which will skirt oil installations. Pull back the camera and take a wide angle view of the larger picture.

The scene is now set for a first class conflict within Islam (Libya included) stretching from Pakistan right across the Arab world, North Africa embracing large swathes of sub Saharan African. On occasion this conflict within will spill over as terrorism abroad.

When the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan got into a scrum to launch a programme of manufacturing triple distilled mujahideen Islam in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets the seeds were sown for a conflict within Islam as well.

The three had the same agenda but different emphases: the US wanted to oust the Soviets; Saudis a Wahabized Islam as a bulwark against Shia Iran. Pakistan’s Zia ul Haq saw in the Islamization project in the vicinity an end to his country’s existential problem of national identity. Hard “Arabized” Islam would replace a more “Indianized” Islam.

Reverberation from the Iranian revolution were felt in pockets of Shia dominance in Bahrain, oil rich eastern province of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Lebanon, but the tremors were mild. What shook the regimes which host these Shia populations was the consequence of US occupation of Iraq – emergence of a Shia ruled Iraq,

The psychological effect on Syria of a Shia dominated Iraq was considerable. Sunnis are a bigger majority in Syria than Shias are in Iraq. Yet, the minority Alawis in Syria control the reins of power. Even though the Alawis, being Baathists, were quite as indifferent to religion as Kemalist Turks were, the consolidation of Shia power in Iraq (in addition to the continuing patronage from Iran) has had the effect of causing them to admit to their Shia tilt. If the Baathist blanket frays a little more (and it is fraying) a potential can be developed for Sunni-Alawi tensions.

In Lebanon, the Hezbollah derives directly from Iran and Syria. But sectarianism here can be overdrawn. Consider the trio’s resolve behind largely Sunni Hamas in Gaza.

This embarrasses Riyadh which seeks status in the Arab street where Iran, a non Arab entity, is miles ahead in the popularity stakes on account of its strident support for the Palestinian cause. Little wonder, former ambassador to Washington, Turki al Faisal, has warned the US that Riyadh will break ranks with Washington if a two-state solution for a Palestinian is not swiftly found to wrest the initiative on this score by the “two pariah states”, - “Syria and Iran”. Never has a Saudi Prince spoken more bluntly. Saudis, he said, would adopt an “independent and assertive” foreign policy “like our recent military support for Bahrain’s monarchy, which America opposed”. Saudis would pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States, “including opposing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq and refusing to open embassy there despite American pressure to do so”.

Without mincing words, Turki al Faisal, has sketched the sectarian faultlines Saudi Arabia is excavating.

In Pakistan, the civil society moderation towards India, for instance, is occasionally scuttled by “the India centered” army. In the context of the Afghan war and particularly after the Lal Masjid fiasco in 2007, the civil society itself is fractured, the moderates now on the backfoot. After the killing of Osama bin Laden, a somewhat cornered army is wary of the Haqqanis of this world, for whom moderation is anathema. Is the Army itself divided between Haqqanism and its exact opposite which is continuously losing ground. The conflict is raging.

In Afghanistan, the Pushtoon are divided between Durranis and Ghilzais who together are in conflict with Tajeks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.

In Egypt and Tunis, the softer Islam bequeathed by the Fatamids between the 10th and the 12th century is not exactly comfortable with a thin band of Salafism in the Muslim Brotherhood, hardened because of the Mubarak dictatorship, and his use of the war on terror to keep the hard state in place. Zaidis and the Huthis in Yemen, the Arab and African Muslims are the Central faultline exemplified by Darfur. Both varieties of African Muslims run into potentially the most violent faultline between Muslims and Christians in North and South Nigeria.

With this thumb nail sketch of the backdrop, consider the effects of the “Arab Spring” with those horrible pictures of a dead Qaddafi fresh in our minds. When authoritarian Muslim societies open up, mosques play a decisive role because they have been the only social, political ventilators. And, when the choice is between soft and hard Islam, it is the latter which keeps determining the tempo of the discourse, raising the decibel level as it responds to external stimuli like the NATO bombing of Libya, War on terror, Mid East Peace, unilateral US action in Pakistan’s tribal belt, rubbing of Hamas election results, pulverizing Syria, Lebanon or Gaza by sanctions or any other means when the scramble begins for oil and gas in the waters of the Levant, threatening to leave Afghanistan but building bases larger than a dozen Red Forts.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

For Love of Democracy West Prefers Islamisation In Syria

For Love of Democracy West Prefers Islamisation In Syria
Saeed Naqvi

The luxury bus leaves downtown Cam hotel to Qassion mountains for a panoramic view of the world’s oldest, continuously inhabited city, Damascus. The picture has to be sketched because outside Syria everyone is counting on the level of chaos we did not see.

There are diplomats, journalists, scholars, some NGOs too, invited by a Syrian think tank to study the current situation. Edward Lionel Peck, former US ambassador to several Arab countries was in the group. From the Ahlatala Café at the Qassian heights, the vast expanse looks the very picture of tranquility. The city’s calm is all the more noticeable because, thanks to the media, we have been conditioned to expect tension, conflict, street protests.

“No fireworks here” the manager of the Café intervenes. Derra, Alleppo, Homs, Hama – “those are the cities where you might see some action”.

An Indian businessman invites me to spend the evening with a Syrian Sunni family he has known for long years. The husband is a retired civil servant; the wife dons a white chiffon scarf. She has a sad, beatific smile on her face. Her two daughters in frocks are constantly replenishing the centre table with fruits, baklavas, scones, soft drinks, Turkish coffee – endless hospitality.

The negative media focus on Syria in recent months has erased from minds the continuing reality: the country is among the few remaining parts of the Arab world where elegant, gracious living is still possible.

“But it may end soon” the wife says, wiping her tears. “Can you imagine – I have to wear this scarf now”. She is Sunni who are supposed to be with the Islamist rebels opposing the Alawi ruling elite. Then why is she unhappy wearing a scarf? Syrian social order is in turmoil.

The population of Syria consists overwhelmingly of Sunnis – say 80 percent. The biggest minority are Alawis, in their origins a Shia Sect but as a result of decades of Baath party training, have shed their religion. They are secular in a non religious sort of way, rather in the image of Mustafa Kemal Pasha or the more Socialist, left leaning Jawaharlal Nehru, a blend of an abiding local culture and western education.

Until the Ayatullahs came to power in 1979, Teheran, Istanbul, Beirut, Cairo, Amman, Damascus, Baghdad, Algiers, Tunis and any city in Morocco, and even Tripoli had among their populations the most secular elites. The secular enclaves may have been few but emphatic secular presence was a check on mindless religiosity. How was the secular stamp rubbed out in most of these societies in the space of three decades? Each city has a different narrative. The narrative of Damascus is currently in the making.

With the world’s media arrayed on the other side, it is difficult to persuade those who would care to listen, that it is secularism which is fighting with its back to the wall in Syria.

But the narrative the media beams about Syria is: Assad brutalizes his people.

It can be nobody’s case that Arab monarchies and dictatorships, Kemalist Turkey and Shah’s Iran were paragons of liberal democracy, if that be such a non negotiable value. But a certain elegant urbanity was available in these enclaves. In Cairo and Beirut, this urbanity came along with a sparkling intellectual life. Mubarak’s Cairo stilled the fizz. An anti intellectual aridity crept in which gradually overwhelmed most of the cities listed above. Damascus, believe it or not, is the last bastion where one can sit with friends and discuss ideas.

What, then, is our hostess that evening so distraught about? The growing religiosity travelling from across a post Kemalist Turkey and post Saddam Hussain Iraq have generated peer pressure for the scarf. And now, the impulses which brought in the scarf are providing hospitality for Islamism to topple the Baathist structure. Islamism is being preferred to secular Baathism by the US, Europe, Israel (Saudi Arabia) because the move removes Syria from the Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas chain. The regional chessboard changes.

Historically, in Syria Sunnis owned most of the lands and the rather poorer Alawis gravitated towards the army and other services. Just as the great Red Army, in the ultimate analysis, turned out to be a Russian army, the Yugoslav army, a Serbian army, the Syrian army is mostly an Alawi army. This army is the backbone of the Baath structure. Much the largest membership of Baath party comes from the Sunni majority for the obvious reason.

But they do not have as much of a “control” on power as the Alawis do particularly since the ascent of Hafez Assad in 1971.

There has always been a little bit of Muslim Brotherhood of varying strengths throughout the Arab sub stratum. The Iranian revolution in 1979 and breakdown of the Lebanon power sharing system after the Israeli occupation caused something of a stir in the central city of Hama, inviting a brutal crackdown by Assad in 1982.

The “Arab spring” broke up into three theatres – North Africa upto Egypt. Britain and France are to this day trying to manage the mess they have created in Libya. The Saudis are at the wheel on Bahrain and Yemen. Syria appeared to have been spared. Then Turkey began to look like a good model for Arabs in search of the electoral route. Moreover, if Syria can be fitted into that scheme, Iran will lost an ally and Turkey will gain influence.

The media has taken up the project with its concoctions and exaggerations. Double check this last fact with Ambassador Peck who is quite as puzzled. Meanwhile the lady with the scarf will swear by the holy book that she and her family in Alleppo have seen arms being funneled in for the protestors from Turkey. Others talk of Protesters being armed from Iraq and Jordan, a story the media will not investigate.

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All Talk Of US leaving Afghanistan Premature

All Talk Of US leaving Afghanistan Premature
Saeed Naqvi

The Indo-Afghanistan strategic partnership is also an important backup for the region because of uncertainties on account of the run upto the US Presidential elections in November 2012. During the campaign Barack Obama faces the impossible task of explaining American policy on Afghanistan. After 1,500 lives lost and $500 billion spent, what will the President’s men put out in the public domain as achievements of the Untied States in Af-Pak?

Obviously a theme projecting some sort of success has to be gradually given shape. Towards this end a meeting in Oslo, Norway, has prepared for the important Foreign Ministers summit on Afghanistan to be held in Istanbul under Turkish auspices in early November.

The script from Istanbul will help shape the agenda for the important conference in Bonn in December.

This conference is, in some measure, at Hamid Karzai’s initiative. At the NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010, Karzai asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to host a follow up conference ten year after the 2001 Bonn conference. Merkel has given a signal for a conference of a 1,000 delegates from 90 countries.

The contact group for this conference, consisting of Special Representatives for Afghanistan from 50 countries, met in March in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In other words, the energetic Turkish-Saudi duet on Afghanistan are exactly the ones playing an aggressive role in the Arab theatre.

By design or accident, Turkey’s quarrel with Israel enlarges the country’s constituency in the Arab street.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erodgan has the endorsement of the Saudis to co-ordinate moves with the Muslim Brotherhood to pressure Assad, either to vacate or to accommodate the “Brothers” in a new Syrian dispensation.

At the other end of the Muslim world, Saudis are also hand-in-glove with Islamabad in regional and GCC enterprises. For example the Kingdom of Bahrain leans on Saudi military support which, in turn, uses its influence in Pakistan to hire mercenary soldiers for several GCC countries particularly Bahrain.

Turki al Faisal, former Saudi Ambassador to Washington and Intelligence Minister, has in a recent article in the New York Times, said if the US does not support the Palestinian bid for statehood, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the US will be seen to be toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims. In which case Saudis may part company with the US in pursuance of their own policy in Afghanistan too.

What is the implication of this threat? It is a pithy statement considering that the Saudis in large measure financed and accorded logistical support to the “Mujahideen”, a project which later morphed into Al Qaeda and Taleban. Not just the Haqqani network but the entire militant project in the Af-Pak region is not exempt from Saudi influence. The Saudis will work hard for damage control in the current Pak-US spat too.

Equally, Saudis and Pakistanis have their ears close to the ground on secret negotiations on a “long term” security arrangement between Washington and Kabul. An agreement would imply American military presence in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline by when 1,30,000 US troops are supposed to leave. Saudis are comfortable with this arrangement because it fits into their anti Iran strategy but their allies, Pakistanis are unhappy with anything that limits their influence in a future Afghanistan.

Numbers of US troops departing are quite as unpredictable as the shifting deadlines for the date of their departure. First, Americans were to leave by 2011. Then the Obama team changed the deadline to 2012 when the “American departure from Afghanistan” could be laced into a script being prepared for the Presidential campaign.

Meanwhile at the UN sponsored Kabul conference in July, 2010, Hamid Karzai declared himself President until 2014.

Is it anybody’s case that Karzai will have captured the hearts and minds of the Afghan people by 2014? What happens to him after that date? Also will an Afghan army capable of guaranteeing the nation’s security be in place when the US troops clamber onto departing aircraft? Everyone knows the US will never vacate bases in Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Shindand, Mazar-é-Sharif and so on.

Some sort of script will be firmed up in May 2012 when President Obama has invited NATO allies and sundry others for an Afghan summit in Chicago, barely six months before his bid for a second term.

How the Afghan script will change after the US elections will depend on whether Obama wins or loses. Until then all talk of US troop departure is grossly premature.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Did Pataudi Derive From Urdu Composite Culture Too?

Did Pataudi Derive From Urdu Composite Culture Too?
Saeed Naqvi

I thought the din had died, but the memorial meeting in New Delhi triggered some more nostalgia on Tiger Pataudi.
Miliye us shaqsh se ki jo adam hovey,
Naaz apne Kamal par usey kam hovey.
(Meet the person who is, above all, a human being! Who carries his achievements with modesty)

There is no fuss in Mir Taqi Mir’s description of the man he holds in high esteem. Tiger Pataudi is probably chuckling somewhere at this somewhat pretentious reference. But the simple couplet goes some distance in explaining the aura in which Tiger has been shrouded these past few weeks. No fuss: that was the cardinal ingredient in Tiger’s carriage.

In a general sense, a triple hierarchy defines the highest rungs of the Indian elite. The princely order, for one, would come under the broad feudal category. Second, two hundred years of British experience left behind another category – Macaulay’s elite. Third has been the most durable, if not the most glamorous, caste elite.

A combination of the three would appear to be a compelling formula for unbeatable charisma. But, it turns out, mere possession of these attributes does not make for an outright winner. There were other, compulsory pre conditions for a winning combination – good looks, speech, demeanour, carriage and that inexplicable agent of attraction called phiromenes, which some people exude to attract others of their kind.

For all these elements to come together is a rare enough occurrence, but Tiger Pataudi exceeded even this rare configuration. His achievement as a cricketer, youngest ever Indian captain, one who knit together the greatest quartet of spin bowlers in world cricket, authoured the country’s first overseas series win, stroked the ball along a silken carpet and that supple agility in the covers which earned him the title, Tiger.

If this is hyperbole, where does one fit in other details: his sporting lineage, for instance, in addition to the princely one. His father, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, played for England and captained India. He had a gentleman’s disdain for Douglas Jardine’s Bodyline tactics to contain Bradman. “This is not on” he said. “This isn’t cricket.” This lack of obsequiousness was a trait Tiger inherited.

It is so appropriate that Tiger should have held Jawaharlal Nehru as something of a model. They shared several elements in their background – aristocratic demenour, education, achievements in totally diverse fields.

Put it down to my biases, but that extra élan they had, derived from a shared composite Urdu culture.

Pandit Nehru’s “mother” tongue was not Kashmiri: it was Urdu. This, because like hundreds of Kashmiri Pandit families, the Nehrus had settled in Oudh. In fact they played a pioneering role in shaping Urdu literature.

Tiger’s grandmother came from the family of the Nawab of Loharu with which the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib also had links.

The word “Nawab”, unlike “Raja”, resonates in Urdu. The basic character of Urdu derives not from religious texts, but elegant agnosticism, a certain irreverence bestowed on it by its poets. It is this broad Catholicism which explains Nehru’s aversion to religious rituals at his funeral. He shunned religious rites. Nehru most lyrically wanted his ashes to be sprinkled on the Ganges, the Himalayas.

Did Tiger have any “will”, for his funeral, that he should be buried according to a strict religious code? If I know anything of him, he must have left his family totally confused where to look for a “moulvi” of suitable affiliations to perform the last rites.

In the framework sketched by Urdu poets, a distance from dogma associated with the clergy is an essential pre condition for realization of my Truth. Little wonder, throughout the annals of Urdu poetry there is not a single passage of any note which has a good word for orthodoxy, dogma, wares that the clergy peddle.

I have dwelt on the Urdu component in Tiger’s personality because it also gives him an indigenous platform on which is settled his very anglaise persona, making for an integrated human being, rather like the person he held up as a model. Without the Discovery of India, Nehru would have been something of a rootless person, neither here no there, complaining to his father, Motilal Nehru, that he had made an outrageous mistake in hiring an English governess for his sister, Vijaylaxmi, in total violation of custom prevalent among the British aristocracy which placed a premium on French governesses. Mrs. Vijaylaxmi Pandit told me this story. But proximity to Mahatma Gandhi and the national movement changed all that.

With his insights into the game why did Tiger not commentate more or serve on cricket boards and so on? Also, why did he not join politics? Because he could not. That would involve what the vagabond poet Jafar Zatalli calls, “ghusar phusar”. He told an interviewer “I don’t think I would have achieved very much more by running around”.

Yaas Yagana Changezi warns “Dawar-e-Hashr” or “Creator”, not to lose sight of the profound distinction between “banda-e-naumeed” and “banda-e-beniaz”, a disheartened loser and the elegantly indifferent, one who couldn’t do the “running around” and which others including “Princes” do all their lives for pointless prominence.

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