(On the occasion of 84th death anniversary of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jouhar who died on Jan 4, 1931)
And, Maulana Muhammad Ali, was one such nerve-centre in Indo-Muslim society during the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Indeed, he was one such strategic point in the onward march of Indo-Muslim politics that eventually found culmination and crystallization in the emergence of Pakistan. Actually, no one else represented the tone, tenor and temper of the romanticist, Khilafatist era (in the 1910s and 1920s) as he did in his hectic life, his revolutionary activities, his numerous discomfitures, and in his tragic death.
Whether he led a hectic life, whether he took recourse to a revolutionary path, or whether he goaded himself to die a tragic death outside the frontiers of his motherland cataclysmically, in whatever he did, consciously or unconsciously, he carried forward the campaign of Indo-Muslim history: the redemption of Islam in India and abroad. In other words, he stood above all, for an honourable existence for Muslims in India and in the rest of the troubled Muslim world in the existential crisis that convulsed Muslim India and that world.
This campaign he had headed during the post-loyalist, Khilafat era, immediately before and after the First World War; and to this campaign he had dedicated himself wholeheartedly all through his life. "And of his greatness consists in [just] being there", in courageously directing it, in zealously dedicating himself to it, in joyously suffering for it – physically, psychologically and materially.
Early Phase Born (Rampur, 1878) in purple, but cradled in adversity (his father having died a year later), young Muhammad Ali was educated and trained under the benign influence of his stolid and stoic mother, the Bi Amma of the Khilafat movement. After the fashion of the age in which he was born, he received education at the Maktab, later at the M.A.O. School and College at Aligarh, and, still later, at Oxford, but failed to secure a place in the Indian Civil Service.
Till 1911, when he entered public life, he held a number of important posts in various states, and was deeply involved with his alma mater, having belonged to its first generation. He was also associated with the All India Muslim League (AIML) since its founding in 1906 and had helped to popularize it. Much later (1913), he collaborated with Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) and Wazir Hasan (1874-1947), the indefatigable and long serving AIML Secretary, to get the Muslim League disenchanted from its erstwhile loyalist embrace and, at Jinnah’s instance, got the twin goals of self government and Hindu-Muslim unity incorporated in its plank. Thus, the AIML was brought in line with the Indian National Congress (f. 1885). Early in 1911 Muhammad Ali launched his weekly Comrade – "comrade of all and partisan of none" – from Calcutta, the then capital of India. Remarkably though, it was immediately acclaimed as a "new star in the firmament of Indian journalism". Later, he also founded the Hamdard to reach his message to the Urdu knowing public – the Muslim middle class. For their free and frank criticism of the bureaucracy and its "mad ways”, both these papers were first black-listed and, subsequently, their open and bold espousal of the Turkish cause during the First World War got them officially subjected to their suppression.
Radical Transformation Interestingly though, Muhammad Ali did not start out on his public career with bitterness towards the British. But, erelong, he lost faith in British promises, British justice, British conduct, even as his co-religionists did. In retrospect, the annulment of the Partition of Bengal (1911), the British complicity in the Italo-Turkish (1911) and the Balkan (1912-14) wars, British opposition to the upgrading of the Aligarh Muslim College (1910-12) to university status, and, finally, the Cawnpore Mosque affair (1913) – all these had a hugely deleterious impact on Anglo-Muslim relations in India. The breaking of a plighted word on the partition issue, the gross injustice to the Turks, the setback to the onward march of Muslim education, and the misconduct in Cawnpore finally and irrevocably conspired to wean the Muslims away from Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Muhsin-ul-Mulk’s loyalist plank and hurtled them headlong onto an unchartered anti-
British, pan-Islamic-cum-nationalist course. The radical transformation that Indian Muslims had undergone during 1911-14 had turned Muhammad Ali into a revolutionary and the foremost symbol and spokesman of their revolutionary fervour. For good or ill, he was now in clash and conflict with the government, more often than not, and to his end. And he came to be widely acknowledged as the stormy petral of Indian politics.
Inevitably, he whole heartedly took up the cause of the Turks which, he thought, was Islam's, too. To its espousal he dedicated himself and his papers. The fate and choice of the Turks became the sole determinant of his future policy and programme. And he was obsessed with this and the dismaying fortunes of the fast crumbling Ottoman empire to a point that it goaded him inevitably and inexorably to a fire-eating revolutionary role, reach incomparable dizzy heights, and, consequently, to a hectic life of storm, strife and sacrifice.
Supreme Leader This new phase came in the wake of the First World War when he (along with his brother, Shaukat Ali) was interned, and his paper suppressed for his bold, fiery and brilliant reply to the London Times’ leading article, "The Choice of the Turks". And by the time they were released on December 15, 1919, the Khilafat agitation was already in full swing. No wonder, they decided to ride the crest of the movement and were, in turn, readily accepted as the leaders. For the next four years Muhammad Ali became the supreme leader, and an idol par excellence. inspiring Muslims to endless strivings and supreme sacrifices in the cause of Islam, the Khilafat and Indian independence.
In 1920 he led a delegation to England to present the Indian Muslim viewpoint on the Allied Turkish treaty of Severs and the Khilafat. Disappointed in his mission and back from the continent, he, in concert with Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), launched the Khilafat-cum-non-cooperation movement. He toured the country far and wide, reaching the Khilafat message to the farthest corner, and the people readily responded to his call as never before. Indeed, a revolution had overtaken India: people not only said quit to government sponsored educational institutions, to government service, to courts, to titles, but they also demonstrated, and joyously courted arrests. Muhammad Ali himself was arrested, tried for “sedition" at Khaliqdina Hall, Karachi, and gaoded.
However, romantic and out of tune with the objective realities as the movement was, it was in its very nature that it should not succeed. To his eternal credit, Gandhi, to whom the Muslims had deliberately surrendered the movement’s supreme leadership, if only in order to win over Hindu cooperation, kept the emotion-laden movement peaceful and non-violent, keeping a close check on violence, whether physical or verbal. And when it did finally go out of hand, as in the bloody Chauri Chaura incident on February 5, 1922, when an agitated mob burnt alive a dozen or more policemen who had taken refuge in a police station, he had to call off the movement on February 12. Once disbanded, however temporarily, the movement lost its tempo, and could never be revived. Most of Gandhi’s colleagues have disagreed with him, for his critical decision, castigating him for having lost a moment of opportunity for dismantling the British citadel. But, in retrospect, Gandhi was not too far wrong in his assessment, and in damming the movement in time, to preclude its spiralling itself into unmitigated violence and unremitted anarchy.
But, perhaps, what pained Muhammad Ali more was the bleak situation as it presently developed in India and in the rest of the Muslim world. For, by 1924, the Turks had decided upon a nationalist dispensation for themselves while the Arabs had opted for such a dispensation eight years earlier – in the Arab Revolt of 1916. For now, the Arabs faced a division of their lands between France and Britain (under whose inspiration and encouragement the Arabs had insisted upon their separation from the Ottoman Empire during the First World War) and the spectre of the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine, while Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the hero of the Turkish "war of liberation" (1919-22), abolished the institution of Khilafat itself and sent the last caliph into exile, with bag and baggage, on March 3, 1924. All this much to the chagrin of Indian Muslims and the rest of the Muslim world. In any case, the Turkish decision (1924) was a stab in the back of the Indian Khilafat Movement, denuding it of its very raison de'etre and the Khilafat leaders of their most basic and telling appeal.
But the Khilafat Conference, of which Muhammad Ali was the supremo, lingered on and met periodically till his death. The Conference in Lahore in late December 1929 caused a stir and registered a major contribution when its Reception Committee Chairman, Nawab Sir Muhammad Zulfikar Ali Khan (1875-1933) proposed exclusion of demographically dominant non-Muslim areas such as Ambala to get the Muslim provinces more homogeneous and more Muslim concentrated. He also called for partition of the subcontinent into Muslim majority and Hindu majority regions. This was the first time that the partition proposal was raised formally from a political platform. Allama Iqbal, besides a host of Muslim luminaries, was present on the occasion. This address, which was reported extensively in Inqilab (Lahore) on January 3, 1930, came one year before the consolidated north-western state proposal was presented by Iqbal at the Muslim League’s Allahabad session in December 1930.
Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy’s rise to the echelon of Muslim League’s leadership in Bengal in the 1930s also underlines the popularity of the Khilafat Conference long after Ataturk had aborted the Khilafat institution itself, since Suhrawardy owed his popularity for his role as the Khilafat Committee’s Secretary in Bengal.
Even so much to his dismay, Muhammad Ali found his erstwhile Hindu colleagues and non-cooperators launching upon, or openly supporting, or at least tacitly approving the anti-Muslim Shuddhi and Sanghatan movements. More tragic: the two communities which he, along with Gandhi, had done so much to bring on a common platform in the Khilafat Movement, had become antagonistic as never before, flying at each other's throats on an ever-increasing scale. Above all, he found that the Congress itself had, in the meantime, disowned its "national" credo and grown exceedingly communal.
Dawn of Realism Tragic indeed was this and his situation. In order to serve Islam, both abroad and inside the country, he had taken up the cause of Khilafat, and of Hindu-Muslim unity, which he along with others considered the condition for Indian freedom. But, for now, in the Muslim world, his Khilafat ideal stood repudiated, and in India, his Hindu-Muslim unity plank surrendered. This two-pronged disillusionment awakened him (and Muslim India) to a new sense of realism. And they finally came to the conclusion that should Muslims wish to carve out a destiny of their own, a destiny commensurate with their due status under the Indian cosmos, they should take to the path of self-reliance and should become the sole arbiters of their destiny. This led to the calling, among others, of the All-Parties Muslim Conference (APMC) on January 1, 1929 under the redoubtable Aga Khan at Lahore, and the formulation of minimum Muslim demands in more precise terms. This as a counter to the Nehru Report (1928), the Congress’ blue print for the future Indian constitution, which inter alia had repudiated the Lucknow Pact of 1916 and the Muslim right to separate electorate. For now the Maulana owned up the APMC resolution and, later, Jinnah’s Fourteen Points (1929). His views on the Hindu-Muslim question and on the future polity of India were succinctly set forth, among others, in his addresses to the (first) Round Table Conference (1930-31) and his letter to the Prime Minister on January 1, 1930.
"It is a misnomer to call the Hindu-Muslim question a question of minorities", he declared. "A community that in India alone must now be numbering more than 70 million", he argued, "cannot easily be called a minority in the sense of Geneva minorities...." Moreover, he demanded that "in Muslim provinces, Muslims should be allowed to have their majority...as the Hindus have everywhere else"; and that "the Central Unitary Government should not over-ride them [Muslims] everywhere."
This was Maulana Muhammad Ali's last political testament, as he discussed the Indian constitutional problem on his death-bed at the Round Table Conference on January 1, 1931. Three days later, this ailing delegate to the Conference was dead. And with him had passed away the foremost Muslim revolutionary of the age. In concurrence with the Mufti of Jerusalem, his mortal remains were later taken to Palestine and buried in the Masjid al-Aqsa; obviously in recognition of his services to Islam, and Palestine.
Conclusion Great as Maulana Muhammad Ali was as an orator and writer, as a leader of men and as a freedom fighter, he was equally great as a man. The Maulana had such “a juxtaposition of grace and brilliance with tremendous and deadly earnestness” that it induced Sir C. P. Ramswamy Iyer, one-time Dewan of Travancore, to hail him in eloquent terms: “A man of varied learning, a fine and effective speaker, and wielder of a style which can be delicate as well as trenchant, above all, an idealist who strove to revivify Muhammadan public life and breathe reality into its political activities, Muhammad Ali will always be counted as one of the creators of the New Islamic spirit in India”.
The Maulana, it is rightly said, “had the heart of Napoleon, the tongue of Burke and the pen of Macaulay”, but, above all, he was every inch a Muslim. This is the key to his personality, to his achievements as well as to his actions, however misguided they might seem – as, for instance, his agitation for the shut-down of Aligarh, the premier Muslim educational institution. In the early 1920s, no one else had wielded such an enormous influence over the Muslim masses, inspired them to such energetic action and goaded them to such supreme sacrifices. He was the man of the hour, the man of their destiny. And his contribution to the evolution of Indo-Muslim politics was such that.
…till the future dares Forget the past, his fate and fame shall be, An echo and a light unto eternity.
The writer is an HEC Distinguished National Professor, who has recently co-edited Unesco's History of Humanity, vol. VI, and The Jinnah Anthology (2010) and edited In Quest of Jinnah (2007), the only oral history on Pakistan's Founding Father.
"A great man", says Justice Oliver Wendell, Jr., "represents a great ganglion in the nerves of society, or to vary the figure, a strategic point in the campaign of history, and part of his greatness consists in being there.”
صبح کا وقت تھا‘ پشاور کے آرمی پبلک سکول کے گراؤنڈ میں سارے بچے اسمبلی کے لئے جمع تھے‘ شاعر مشرق علامہ اقبال کی مشہور نظم ’’لب پہ آتی ہے دعا بن کے تمنا میری‘‘ جوش و خروش سے پڑھی جا رہی تھی ۔ ایک جانب تمام اساتذہ کرام سنجیدگی اور متانت کے ساتھ کھڑے تھے اور طلبہ و طالبات امید کے دیے آنکھوں میں روشن کئے سنہرے مستقبل کا خواب دیکھ رہے تھے۔ چمکتے دمکتے چہروں کو دیکھ کر کون کہہ سکتا تھا کہ چند گھنٹوں بعد یہ پھول سے چہرے خاک و خون میں لتھڑ جائیں گے۔ ان کے اجلے یونیفارم ان کے اپنے ہی لہو میں تر ہو کے سرخ ہو جائیں گے اور 43سال بعد پھر 16دسمبر کو قوم کو ایک بڑے صدمہ سے دوچار ہونا پڑے گا۔ 1971میں وطن عزیز دولخت ہوا تھا۔ آج اتنے برسوں بعد ٹھیک اسی دن پاکستان کی تاریخ کا بدترین المیہ رونما ہوا۔ ظلم اور درندگی کی ایسی داستان رقم ہوئی کہ جس کی مثال نہیں ملتی۔ پاکستان کے صوبے خیبرپختونخوا کے دارالحکومت پشاور کے آرمی پبلک سکول میں بچوں کا قتل عام کیا گیا۔
آہ! معصوم کلیوں کو مسل دیاگیا‘ غنچوں کو چٹکنے سے پہلے ہی نوچ کے پھینک دیا گیا‘ اساتذہ کو زندہ جلا دیا گیا‘ نازک جسموں کو بموں سے اڑایا گیا اور قوم کے معماروں کو اندھا دھند فائرنگ کر کے خون میں نہلا دیا گیا۔ چشم فلک حیران ہے‘ پوری دنیا گنگ ہے‘ انسانیت منہ چھپاتی پھر رہی ہے‘ دماغ جیسے ماؤف ہو رہاہے‘ کیا کوئی اتنا بھی ظالم ہو سکتا ہے؟ آخروہ کون سا مذہب ہے ‘ وہ کون سا نظریہ ہے‘ وہ کون سا عذر یا تاویل ہے جو اس بھیانک عمل کو درست قرار دیتا ہے؟ جنگ کے بھی کچھ اصول ہوتے ہیں‘ اسپتالوں‘ سکولوں‘ عورتوں‘ بچوں‘ بزرگوں‘ کھیت میں کام کرنے والے دہقانوں پر کوئی حملہ نہیں کرتا‘ کوئی چاہے کتنا ہی شقی القلب کیوں نہ ہو‘ ایسی وحشت و درندگی کا تصور بھی نہیں کر سکتا کہ جس کا مظاہرہ پشاور میں ہوا۔ تفصیلات کے مطابق اس افسوس ناک واقعے کی منصوبہ بندی افغانستان میں کی گئی۔ حملہ آوروں نے باقاعدہ پلاننگ کے تحت سکول پہ حملہ کیا۔ وہ چوری کی گاڑی میں آئے‘ پہلے گاڑی کو آگ لگا کر لوگوں کی توجہ اس جانب منذول کرائی‘ پھر عقبی دیوار پھلانگ کر سکول کے احاطے میں داخل ہو گئے۔ دہشت گرد غیرملکی تھے اور زبان بھی غیر ملکی بول رہے تھے۔ ان کو افغانستان سے مانیٹر کیا جا رہا تھا اور وہ وہاں سے باقاعدہ ہدایات بھی لے رہے تھے۔ صبح سے شام تک معصوم بچوں کے خون سے ہولی کھیلی گئی۔ پہلے سکول کے آڈیٹوریم میں گھس کے بچوں کو مارا‘ پھر لیبارٹری‘ کلاس رومز اور کاریڈورز کو مقتل بنا دیا گیا۔ ہر طرف بارود کی بو پھیل گئی‘ معصوم بچوں کے خون سے فرش رنگین ہو گیا‘ جو بچے ڈر کے مارے بنچوں کے نیچے چھپ گئے تھے‘ انہیں بالوں سے پکڑ کر گھسیٹ کر نکالا گیا۔ ان کے سر اور گردن میں گولیاں ماری گئیں۔ جس بچے پہ شبہ ہوتا کہ اس میں جان باقی ہے۔ اسے ٹھوکر مار مار کے چیک کیا گیا اور اس پر بھی تشفی نہ ہوئی تو مردہ بچوں پر فائرنگ کی گئی۔ ہائے بے بس ماں نے کس پیار سے اپنے جگر کے ٹکڑے کو پالا ہو گا‘ کس محبت سے سکول بھیجا ہو گا‘ اس بدنصیب کو کیا معلوم تھا کہ اس کا لال سکول نہیں بلکہ قتل گاہ جا رہا ہے جہاں سے وہ نہیں بلکہ اس کا خون آلود بستہ اور کتابیں ہی واپس آئیں گی۔
149معصوم زندگیوں کے چراغ بجھا دئے گئے‘ اساتذہ کو بھی نہ بخشا گیا‘ سکول کے عملے کو بھی شہید کیا گیا‘ دہشت گردوں نے خواتین ٹیچرز کو نذر آتش کیا‘ سکول کی پرنسپل جنہوں نے بچوں کو تنہا چھوڑنے سے انکار کیا‘ انہیں بھی شہید کر دیا‘ خدا جانے اس سفاک عمل کے پیچھے کیا محرکات تھے؟ اس بہیمانہ قتل عام کو کس سے تعبیر کریں‘ سمجھ میں نہیں آتا۔ یہ دہشت گرد انسان نہیں‘ وحشی درندے ہیں‘ ان کی درندگی پر ابلیس نے ان کو اپنے سے بڑا شیطان مان لیا ہے۔ بچوں اور بڑوں کو بے رحمی سے شہید کرنے والے جہنمی یقیناًاپنے حصے کا عذاب بھگتیں گے مگر وہ والدین جن کے بچے اس سانحے میں جاں سے گزر گئے‘ جب تک زندہ ہیں اولاد کی اچانک اور تکلیف دہ موت کا صدمہ جھیلتے رہیں گے۔ اپنے سرمایہ حیات کو یوں دہشت گردوں کے ہاتھ لٹا کر کون سا خاندان سکون سے جی پائے گا۔۔۔؟ جدائی کا داغ مٹ نہ سکے گا‘ خون کے دھبے دھل نہ سکیں گے‘ زندگی کی آخری سانس تک بچوں کی معصوم شکلیں اور ان کے ننھے کفن ماؤں کو رلاتے رہیں گے۔ کتنے افسوس کی بات ہے کہ برسوں سے سزائے موت پانے والے قیدیوں کو جیلوں میں رکھا گیا اور پھانسی کی سزا پر عملدرآمد نہ ہو سکا۔ خدا کا شکر ہے کہ اب اس سزا کو بحال کر دیا گیا ہے۔ اس سے دہشت گردی کے خاتمے میں مدد ملے گی۔ دوسری اہم بات چیف آف آرمی سٹاف جنرل راحیل شریف کی افغانستان روانگی اور افغان صدر سے ملاقات ہے جس میں انہوں نے تمام ثبوت و شواہد مہیا کئے اور مطالبہ کیا کہ دہشت گردوں کو انجام تک پہنچایا جائے۔ امید ہے کہ اس حوالے سے قوم کو جلد خوشخبری ملے گی۔ پوری قوم پاک فوج کے ساتھ ہے اور آپریشن ضرب عضب کی حمایت کرتی ہے۔ ڈی جی آئی ایس پی آر میجر جنرل عاصم سلیم باجوہ نے پریس کانفرنس میں واضح الفاظ میں کہا ہے کہ دہشت گردوں اور ان کے سہولت کاروں کو نہیں چھوڑیں گے۔ ایسے وقت میں جب پورا ملک سوگ میں ڈوبا ہے سیاسی جماعتیں بھی ایک پلیٹ فارم پہ جمع اور متحد ہیں۔ سانحہ پشاور میں شہید ہونے والے اب واپس تو نہیں آ سکتے۔ مگر مجھے یقین ہے کہ فردوس بریں میں ان کا مقام ہو گا۔اﷲتعالیٰ ان کے لواحقین کو صبر جمیل عطا فرمائے۔ زخمی ہونے والے بچے ہسپتالوں میں زیرعلاج ہیں۔ بہت سے بچے عمر بھر کے لئے معذور ہو چکے ہیں‘ زخموں سے چور معصوم بچوں کے گھاؤ خدا کرے بھر جائیں مگر ان کے ذہن و دل پہ جو وار ہوا ہے وہ جانے کیسے ٹھیک ہو گا؟ یہ بچے پاکستان کے بلند ہمت اور بہادر سپوت ہیں جو گولیاں کھانے کے بعد بھی دہشت گردی سے لڑنے کا‘ علم حاصل کرنے کا اور دوبارہ زندگی کے دھارے میں شامل ہونے کا عزم رکھتے ہیں۔ اے عظیم ماؤں کے عظیم بیٹو! ہمیں تم پر فخر ہے۔
خدا کرے کہ مری ارضِ پاک پہ اترے
وہ فصلِ گل جسے اندیشۂ زوال نہ ہو
یہاں جو پھول کھلے وہ کھلا رہے صدیوں
یہاں خزاں کو گزرنے کی بھی مجال نہ ہو
He had said “We will fight them until the last drop of blood”, and he indeed fought them till the very last drop of his blood. How often had we seen an animated Chaudhry Aslam, a top counter-terrorism police officer, on our TV screens, belligerently talking about hunting down the militants.
But it is difficult to imagine there will be no Chaudhry Aslam who put up a brave face even after his own house was attacked by the terrorists in 2011. “I will bury the attackers right here,” he told the media, pointing to the two-metre-deep bomb crater, and vowing to launch his own 'jihad' against the assailants. “I didn't know the terrorists were such cowards. Why don't they attack me in the open?”
Better known for leading daring police raids Aslam had survived several attempts on his life but he was assassinated along with two other policemen in a targeted attack on his convoy on the Lyari Expressway in Karachi. Hailing from village Dhodial in Mansehra, it was 29 years ago that Aslam had joined the police force as an Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) in 1984 and soon he went onto take the higher ranks of police because of his dedication, bravery and conviction to the cause.
Having been posted in Karachi, Aslam was part of both the operations to restore law & order in the 1990s. And in the post-9/11 scenario he captured many Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants so much so that earlier that day when he was assassinated, he had killed three TTP terrorists in a raid. Many fondly called him 'Super Cop' as he headed the counter-terrorism section of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) and was known for encounters with the leaders of different banned militant groups. The man who lived on the edge died for a cause that was greater than his own self. “Just cried my heart out after hearing about the cowardly fatal attack on a police officer who stood up when the nation was hunkered down, unable to handle the threat from the cancer that continues to bleed our country,” wrote the son of a police officer, who saw his father combating terrorists and criminals.
Just how a routine it has become, as soon as the news of his death broke, the news tickers start scrolling with tributes, condemnations and condolence messages from high-profile politicians and officials on the assassination. The social media frenzy had also begun soon our Facebook and Twitter timelines were trending with Chaudhry Aslam trivia. They all were suddenly united in this tragedy. They termed it a “hero's death” that “his courage and conviction is the stuff that heroes are made of” that “he stood up for what most people don't even dream of”.
As a silent onlooker one just couldn't really gauge the in-the-moment feelings, but what kept coming back was our society's behaviour: Will all these people even remember Chaudhry Aslam in a week's time? What impact will his death have on us as a society that usually likes to look down upon the police wallas?
Or does it even matter in times when so much is happening around us and we have somewhat become indifferent to death as long as it is not of anyone close to us. Will this only be a moment of cyber space sloganeering, to see and be seen civil society vigils or do we plan to take a moment to understand as a society what Chaudhry Aslam really meant for us? “For me Chaudhry Aslam was an individual who was not only just doing his work but protecting and standing up for my fundamental right to life and freedom,” says 21-year-old Iftikhar, a student from Karachi. “I do understand that he represented our law enforcing agencies and how hard it is for them to fight against such cowards, yet he stood firm.”
“It is sad how we thrive on demeaning our police, we will talk endlessly about how corrupt and inefficient they are but we never realize the hardships and challenges they face,” says 27-year-old Saira, a social worker from Lahore. “This is true that police (officers) low-rank or higher officials are in the eye of the storm and the government has really nothing on plan for the onslaught.”
With the killings as high-profile as that of Chaudhry Aslam, in the mass media there is always an outside chance of trivializing the matter by calling it a 'conspiracy'. This has become a fashion to term everything a trend. Whenever we as a society want to shy away from our responsibilities we tend to paint it under fancy words such as 'conspiracy'. His heroic death should infuse a new resolve in all stakeholders rather than just shamefully terming it conspiracy and running away.
We must not hide behind pretences, explanations and condemnations alone. We must stand up against all threats to our society and country. Chaudhry Aslam was the face of Pakistani police in the international media – The Guardian called him “Pakistan's toughest cop”. His achievements included a Pakistan Police Medal, Quaid-i-Azam Police Medal and the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz awarded by the President in 2013. He is among the nearly 150 policemen to have died since September 2013 ever since the ongoing operation in Karachi against criminals began. The operation has so far resulted in the arrest of thousands of suspects, of which some 350 are alleged to have been involved in targeted killings, kidnapping for ransom, terrorism, extortion, etc. More than 700 have been arrested for murder, robberies and other street crimes, while 366 proclaimed offenders and 3,500 court absconders have been apprehended.
Unfortunately, in a society like ours one has to die to be proclaimed a hero and with the tragic assassination of Chaudhary Aslam may we as a society realize that these sentiments should not only be restricted to such happenings alone. Instead, there has to be a greater sense of ownership towards our policemen and the discourse to a war that we are in. Most of the people choose to live, and they live. Few choose not to live and die for a greater cause, they live forever!
Rawalpindi is usually associated with Taxila when it comes to historical sites. But if one draws a circle of 100 kms (01:30 hour drive) around Rawalpindi, it is startling to find that there are many sites with echoes of history spread over thousands of years. Choha Saidan Shah, Sat Garha Mandar, Mirpur Fort and Rohtas Fort are few of the most famous. Yet another is the tomb of famous Sultan Shahab-ud-Din Ghori, whose name is as associated with Raja Pirthviraj and conquest of India as Alexander the Great's name is with Raja Porus for near similar reasons. The tomb itself is located at an hour and thirty minutes drive from Rawalpindi near the town of Sohawa, District Jhelum. A narrow but metalled road meanders off east to the village Dhamik at 12 kms from the GT Road.
On 15 Dec 2013, I along with my wife decided to visit the tomb and spend some time there, a kind of picnic cum history refresher. On reaching there, we found a four sided tomb majestically perched in a tranquil beauty of broken country side, next to the village Dhamik. Thanks to personal efforts of Dr Qadeer Khan, the architecture of tomb is fairly successful in reflecting the stature attributed to Sultan Shahab-ud-Din Ghori. The combined effect of architecture, isolation of the tomb from its surroundings and a feeling of proximity to such an imposing personality tends to captivate one’s thoughts, especially the one who draws pleasure through indulgence in history. The whirlwind of unstoppable thoughts seems agitating and exciting, throwing images and intriguing questions. One starts to ask oneself, what happened to the Ghori rule in India after his death? Where did he come from and what enabled him to accomplish which could not be achieved by Alexander, 1400 years ago and arguably by Sultan Mehmud Ghaznavi, 150 years before him, etc? And above all, what was the Muslim World elsewhere when he was conquering India?
A little research back home together with chronological arrangement of events lifted the cloak of mystery revealing some interesting history. Which, I thought, I am obligated to share, besides urging the reader to visit the tomb with children.
Shahab-ud-Din Ghori was born as Mu`izz-ud-Din in 1162 AD into a Persian-Turk family in Ghor – an isolated and desolate region located east of Herat. This remote and seemingly landlocked area is known to have been Islamized by Sultan Mehmud Ghaznavi in 1010 AD. At the time of Sultan Shahab-ud-Din's birth, his father, Sultan Baha-ud-Din Suri, was the local ruler of Ghors who were now challenging the then Ghaznavi Kingdom. Muhammad Ghori began his career as a General who assisted his brother in his conquests in the west against the expanding Khwarezimid Empire. It was also the prince, Mu`izz-ud-Din, who was destined to finally take the city of Ghazni in 1173, while his brother, Sultan Ghyias-ud-Din Ghori, succeeded his father as king of Ghors. It was after the successful takeover of Ghazni when he was bestowed upon the title of Shahab-ud-Din. Soon after the consolidation of his rule in Ghazni, his lashkars rode towards the Muslim states of Multan and the fortress of Uch; 1175-76. In 1179, similar attempts towards Gujrat proved unsuccessful but three years later, Sultan Shahab-ud-Din was back to take Peshawar and Sialkot, where he built a fort. In 1187, in alliance with the
Hindu Raja of Jammu, Vijaya Dev, he attacked Lahore and brought an eventual end to Ghaznavids' rule in India. He returned after 10 years to extend his rule beyond Bias River and faced the powerful Raja Prithviraj Chauhan, the ruler of Delhi, Ajmer and its allies. Ghori was injured and defeated in this battle i.e first battle of Tarain, 1191. The resilient and undaunted Sultan Ghori returned the very next year with vengeance and thoroughly defeated isolated Prithviraj Chauhan in 2nd battle of Tarain, 1192. This decisive victory came as a result of his unparallel speed in preparation and then returning to India i.e in merely one year, delay of other Hindu Rajas in joining Pirthviraj before the battle and an unconventional pre-dawn attack by Ghorid Army on orthodox Hindu Rajputs on the day of battle. He took the captured Prithviraj back with him to Ghazni, where he was executed the same year.
By 1194 his forces had captured areas beyond Delhi. Shahab-ud-Din Ghori became Sultan of the Ghorid Empire upon the death of his brother, Ghiyas-ud-Din, in 1202. This was the zenith of Ghorid Empire which now included areas from Herat to Ajmer. Their initial capital was in Firuzkuh in Ghor which was later replaced with Herat while Ghazni and Lahore served as regional / seasonal capitals. Besides being a strategic warrior, Shahab-ud-Din also had a lot of interest in art and culture, where he patronised scholars like Fakhr-ud-Din Razi and Nizami Uruzi. In 1204, Shahab-ud-Din Ghori had to repulse the advance of Muhammad II of Khwarzim close to Amu Darya; an evidence of his reach and resilience. However, his greatest success was the establishment of the Turkish Empire in India which added a fresh chapter in the Indian history. He himself chose to stay away from India and distributed conquered lands among his able Turkik Slaves; a common practice in that era among Turks.
Just four years after his takingover Ghorid Empire, on 25 March 1206, he was mysteriously killed at Dhamik while returning to Ghazni after crushing a revolt in Punjab. At the time of his regretful and untimely assassination, the Sultan was only 44 years old. Allegedly, his killers were Hindu Ghakhar or Hindu Khokher tribesmen of Pothohar or even radical Muslim Ismailies of Multan (to avenge the loss of their stronghold). Since he didn't have any offspring, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, his loyal Mamluk Slave, became his successor and ruled over Delhi, who later not only broke away from main Empire in Ghaznavi, establishing independent Sultanate in Dehli, but also extended the rule east upto Bihar. By 1212 Ghorids' empire was reduced and marginalised, though, short-lived and petty, its remnant states remained in power until the arrival of Timurids in late 14th Century. In regional perspective, Ghorids mainly succeeded Ghaznavids, a hard fact that in the wars of conquest, both interfaith and intra-faith clashes are inevitable. Unfortunately, it was Ghazni which bore the brunt of Ghorid expansion when it was burnt by Ghorids for seven days. Ghaznavi - Ghori rivalry mainly meant that no restive regions of Khorasan and Ghazni.
But in all of this, what were the happenings in the contemporary Muslim World elsewhere? In 1192, when Sultan Ghori finally defeated Raja Pirthviraj, the seat of Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad had become insignificant. Broke-away Kingdom of Khwarzim was expanding like many other petty states at the expense of the Caliph's authority. Sultan Salah-ud-Din had defeated the Crusaders and liberated Jerusalem ending the Christian occupation of 100 years, but his successors were unable to keep order. Fatimids, who challenged Abbasids, ruled Eygpt and the remnants of Umayyads who survived Abbasid persecution in Iraq were established far away in Spain. Internally, the Shia-Sunni divide was at its maximum, while externally, the entire northern portions of Islamic regions were under constant attacks of various tribes of Turks.
As a strange coincidence of history it was the year 1206, i.e Shahab-ud-Din's assassination near Jhelum, far away in Eastern Steppes of Mongolia, an unknown warrior adopted the title "Genghis Khan" by solidifying his authority over other tribes when he finally tamed the Kara Khatians, his last opponents in west. Mongols were now not only neighbours of Muslim lands but the Mongol horde was boiling to explode with all its ferocity and lightening speed. When it finally came in 1219, Indian Sultanate under Iltumash, a legacy of Ghorids chose to lay back in safety of Central India while a reduced Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad adopted the strategy of self denial and watched the decimation of Khwarzim cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. In the next 50 years, Mongols would devour all Muslim lands one by one from Lahore to Aleppo via Baghdad. The last Abbasid Caliph was killed by Halagu Khan in 1258.
One cannot help but ponder: had history taken the same path if the brave and untiring Sultan Shahab-ud-Din was not stabbed at the age of 44 while offering prayers at the village of Dhamik? Genghis Khan died at the approximate age of 70 i.e 22 years after Sultan Shahab-ud-Din. The Mongol hordes later rode through the lands of opposing Ghorid and Khwarzim Empires towards heartlands of Muslim World. Alas! the Muslims were united