Connect with us


Promises that divided the Muslim World

The Kashmir Monitor




By Abdullah Izzadin

Following the end of World War One in November 1918, the victorious Allied Forces came together to discuss their preferred terms for peace and how to divide the spoils of war. This gathering in Paris, known as the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, lasted a whole year with thousands of delegates from around the world attending to petition and negotiate; seeking trade, independence, influence, and so on.

Five major treaties were prepared, each dealing with one of the defeated powers, whilst the League of Nations was formed with the aim of maintaining world peace; an organisation which was later replaced by the United Nations in 1948 after World War Two. Amongst the treaties, the key one affecting the West was the Treaty of Versailles, which included detail of the measures to be placed upon Germany; particularly, expensive reparations totalling 132 billion gold marks (US$ 33 billion at the time).


The years ahead would see the emergence of Adolf Hitler, and many argue that the excessively harsh terms placed on Germany contributed to his rise to power. He was seen as a saviour to the underdog complex created, who could bring back German pride and power, eventually leading to World War Two which left Europe decimated and established the USA as the world’s superpower.

The McMahon Promises and the Arab Revolt

Focusing once more on the Ottoman and Muslim lands, a useful starting point might be the role of T.E. Lawrence, also known as “Lawrence of Arabia”. He was a young British Intelligence Officer stationed in Egypt who worked closely with General Allenby during the war in defeating the Ottomans and taking control of Arab lands.

Lawrence was fluent in Arabic and is known to have received £200,000 per month from the British government to aid his intelligence activities in forming alliances with various Arab nationalists, and ultimately provoking a civil war in Muslim lands.

In his role, he formed strong relationships with a number of Arab-nationalists who wanted to split from the Ottomans and, in particular, he worked very closely with the Emir of Makkah, Sherif Hussein ibn ‘Ali al-Hashimi; a direct descendent of the Prophet (sallAllahu?alayhiwasallam) whose family had been granted rule over Makkah for over 700 years.

In 1915, the Sherif made it known to the British that he was willing to lead an Arab revolt against the Ottomans. Although he had initially remained loyal to the Ottomans, his son ‘Abdullah was worried about their increasing nationalistic aims and influenced his father to begin secret discussions with the British. Given the Sherif’s lineage, he was seen by the British as someone who would be given legitimacy by fellow Arabs and therefore an ideal partner for their plans.

In a series of letters between the Sherif and the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon (who was the highest-ranking British diplomat in the Middle East), an agreement was reached to break from the Ottomans and grant the Sherif his own caliphate; an independent Arab state spanning the Hejaz, Syria and Mesopotamia, which in today’s terms is much of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, Iraq and beyond. This grand plan became known as the McMahon Promises.

Thus in June 1916 the Arab Revolt began, under the guidance of T.E. Lawrence, with the Arabs attacking Ottoman forces and quickly severing the railway which linked the Arab peninsula to Damascus and hence preventing Ottoman reinforcements from arriving. The Arabs were soon in control and the Sherif declared himself the King of the Hejaz in October 1916.

The Arabs were now waiting for McMahon to make good on his promises, but this wait would continue until the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, before which, it would emerge that the British had conflicting deals in place with other parties as well.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement

Between November 1915 and March 1916, the British held secret negotiations with the Russians and French, planning on how they would carve up the Ottoman Empire between themselves in the presumed event of its collapse. The Russians wanted much of Turkey and Armenia, whilst the French were interested in Lebanon and Syria, and the British had their eyes on Palestine and Arabia, including Jordan and Iraq.

Led by Mark Sykes (Britain) and François Georges-Picot (France), they gathered around a map and drew arbitrary lines to carve out lands based on various assumptions and preferences, giving no thought to existing ethnic groups and the various sectarian differences that existed across these lands. Neither Sykes or Picot had any real knowledge of the Muslims lands, and neither had travelled there; rather it was just an exercise on a map, which still largely represents much of the Muslim countries in that part of the world today.

The secret agreement was signed by the British and French in May 1916, with the approval of the Russians. However, the Russians would later face an internal revolution, with the Bolsheviks coming into power in 1917. The new leadership sought to discredit the former Tsar and made the Sykes-Picot agreement public, resulting in the Russians losing claim to Ottoman lands.

To the embarrassment of the British, news of the agreement was reported worldwide and their double-dealing was now clearly exposed. Sir Henry McMahon resigned in response, and his replacement Sir Reginald Wingate successfully, although completely disingenuously, managed to convince the Sherif that the promises would still be upheld in time.

The Balfour Declaration

Amidst the double-dealing mentioned, the British were having yet another conversation about Muslim lands. The powerful World Zionist Organization (WZO), established in 1897 by Theodor Herzl, was set up with the primary goal of establishing a homeland for Jewish people in Palestine. Jews across Europe were facing increasing anti-Semitism and hence there were growing calls from within to establish their own state.

At first, the British offered the Zionists a 5,000 square mile area in East Africa as their official homeland; this was known as the British Uganda Program, although the land is now part of modern-day Kenya. The proposal was discussed by the WZO in 1903 and eventually rejected – the goal remained Palestine. The British government was largely supportive of the Zionist cause, for a number of potential reasons, including:

– Political gain; the Jewish population in England were relatively wealthy and powerful, and hence there was political capital to be gained in supporting the Zionist cause.

– A key leader in the WZO was Chaim Weizmann; one of Europe’s richest men, who became a close acquaintance of the then Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour around 1905. Weizmann would later convince Balfour to support the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Weizmann’s business was the production of acetone, an essential ingredient in the manufacture of bombs and explosives. When the Great War began, the price and availability of acetone naturally became of vital strategic importance and he was asked to increase production by 1,000%.

Thus the need for the British to keep Chaim Weizmann happy is rather obvious. When the issue of payment for this acetone was mentioned, it is said that he was not interested in money; only Palestine would do.

– Another potential reason for the British support at the time was the Christian connection with Judaism, and the fulfilment of the promise of the second coming of Jesus. This is evident today as well with many Christians, particularly Evangelical denominations, being more pro-Zionist than some Jewish groups themselves. The Prime Minister Lloyd George (1916 – 1922) was himself an ardent Evangelical Christian. Their desire for the Jews to be in Palestine is not driven by any agreement with Judaism, but rather they believe it is a precursor to the return of Jesus.

It is also worth noting that the Americans at this stage were not particularly supportive of the Zionist agenda. In fact, many mainstream Jews in the US scoffed at the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and only began to support Zionism after Hitler’s emergence some decades later.

With the above in mind, days after the war against the Ottomans broke out, talks began in the British cabinet about promising this homeland to the Zionists. These continued until August 1917, when the cabinet voted to support the motion, despite the strong objections of the sole Jewish member of cabinet, Edwin Samuel Montagu, who pointed out that such a move would cause great alarm in the Muslim world and create enemies which did not previously exist.

Edwin Samuel Montagu, a practicing Jew, was aware of the implications of Zionism, which he labelled a “mischievous political creed”.He appreciated that Muslims and Jews were not enemies for the bulk of history, and that the Jews had always found sanctuary in Muslims lands from Christian persecution – but this motion would now create enmity. At the time, Jews only made up 5-10% of the population of Palestine.

However, Montagu’s views were the minority; the motion passed. The Foreign Minister at the time, Sir Edward Balfour, eagerly wrote to Lord Rothschild on 2 November 1917 to declare the news and for it to be passed on the WZO. The short declaration read:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

With the above three conflicting promises in mind, much was up for grabs at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 where British attempts were made to keep all parties happy. The Muslims were clearly aware of this embarrassing display of double-dealing by the British, yet were still somehow on side with them and naively believing their empty promises.

(Nest Friday, in the final part, read the outcomes of the 1919 discussions and consider some of the implications that followed.)

The Kashmir Monitor is the fastest growing newspaper as well as digitial platform covering news from all angles.



The contours of contest ahead

The Kashmir Monitor



By Mahesh Rangarajan

This summer will see a carnival of democracy in the general election. Much has changed in just five years. The elan of Narendra Modi’s party is more muted this time. Last weekend, key opponents, the Samajwadi Party and the BahujanSamaj Party, joined forces in Uttar Pradesh, making the contest real and not a walkover. The Index of Opposition Unity cannot predict outcomes but no one can afford to ignore it.

The Congress’s victories in the Assembly elections in three north Indian States have given it a shot in the arm. Equally important, the older party is firming up alliances in the southern States. The 131 Lok Sabha seats in five States (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana) and two Union Territories (Lakshadweep and Puducherry) have been critical to it in times of trouble.


The Telangana poll outcome was sobering for both the large national parties. Regional nationalism is not new to Indian politics: Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu were precursors. Regional formations have long governed West Bengal, Odisha and now Telangana. They may well hold the keys to power in New Delhi.

In 2014, it was the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that led in securing allies. Between then and now, BJP president Amit Shah has helped expand its footprint. Not only does it have more MLAs than the Congress, but its cadre fights every election like there is no tomorrow.

The challenge lies elsewhere. The Congress may have lost in 2014 and come down to a historic low of less than one in five votes cast. Yet, only a decade age, in May 2009, the roles had been in reverse. It was Congress that had then polled 29% and the BJP just 19% of the popular vote.

This time is different. It is 1971 that will be the textbook case for the ruling party. When the Grand Alliance said it would oust Indira Gandhi, she replied she wished to banish poverty. She won hands down.

Mrs. Gandhi did not have to contend with a powerful Dalit-led formation in the Ganga valley which commands 20% of the vote. Many of today’s regional parties were yet to be formed. She captured the public imagination. It was a gamble and she won hands down. Mr. Modi too will fight to the last voter. He will try to be the issue. He has sounded the tocsin against dynasty, caste and corruption. Hence the record in getting visible benefits to the individual and the family. The gas cylinder, the light bulb, that rural road: each will, he hopes, add to his appeal.

History has another instance too. The 2004 general election was held early. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was confident that ‘India was Shining’. The dream came apart on counting day. Rather than a unified Opposition (for there was none in the all-important State of Uttar Pradesh), ground-level discontent denied the ruling alliance another chance.

And yet, there is the cloud of the horizon. Even in 2004, the Congress was only a whisker ahead of the BJP — just seven seats more in the Lok Sabha. The Congress had 145 seats to the BJP’s 138. The key was on the ground, where the mood had shifted. The economic upturn began in 2003, but voters did not see gains early enough for the ruling bloc to reap an electoral harvest.

In 2014, the challenger drew on the tiredness with a decade of a Congress-led government and promised a fresh start. Runaway inflation and the spectre of corruption undercut the appeal of the Congress. This time the issues have changed. It is the squeeze on farm incomes and rural debt that are the key poll planks. Similarly, the issue of jobs is more pressing than ever. Cultivators across all strata and young people seeking productive employment want answers.

Two States are key. Maharashtra, a State critical in the histories of both the Congress and the BJP, is not only seeing a coming together of Opposition forces; it is undergoing drought and rural distress. Ominously, key farmer-led allies have walked across. Uttar Pradesh, a bastion of the BJP, has rival Dalit- and Mandal-led parties coalesce for the first time in a quarter century. Both States have something in common. In both, sugarcane cultivation is a determinant of electoral fortunes.

Cane (not caste) and jobs (not community slogans) may hold the key. Ganna and Naukri, not reservations or the emotive Mandir issue. What matters more: bread or identity? Even when both count what takes precedence?

Government policy has had a key role in this denouement. By according priority to consumers in cities (who want low prices for cereals, oil seeds and pulses), the government did not have to pay heed to rural residents who need to earn more. The latter, as producers, are larger in number and percentage than in any other democracy.

India still lives and votes in its villages. Under Mr. Shah, the cadre, organisation and outreach have made the BJP a vastly larger party than any other. But economic policies can strain such organisational gains.

Democracy is about more than development. In a polity where people can throw their rulers out, it is centrally about politics. Since 1999, there has been a bi-nodal system, and the choice is not simply between Mr. Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
We have effectively a one-party government with a firm hand on the wheel (but with the danger of an over-centralisation of power).

Against this, is ranged a looser coalition in which regional forces and rural interests have more play. Needless to add, the latter will be rockier, more contentious and tough to manage in a coherent fashion.

The Modi government is driven by ideology and not pragmatism on a range of issues. This is the first ever BJP government with a view of culture, history and politics that seeks to remake history as much as the future. Is this the party’s agenda or the country’s? This is a question in the background: if the Ram temple issue comes to the fore, it will be a major choice for the voter.

The pluralism and Hindutva debate have another dimension more so than ever, namely the federal question. Across the Northeast (including Sikkim), far more important to the country than its 25 Lok Sabha seats indicate, the idea of citizenship is at variance with the new Citizenship Bill passed by the Lok Sabha. Across the country, State-level parties see an accretion of powers in the federal government unseen since the 1980s.

True, Mr. Modi has a wider mass appeal than any one since Mrs. Gandhi. But history is witness that such appeal can also have limits if voters decide that enough is enough. Has that point been reached? We simply do not know.

More central is the question of questions. Are you better off than you were five years ago, and if not, why not? If so, and even if not, do you think we are moving in the right direction?

In 2014, The Economist observed that if India had the per capita wealth of Gujarat, the country would rank with Spain. Has that dream come true or it is unravelling and fast? How voters answer that will show who they stand with.

(The writer is Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Ashoka University, Haryana. Source: The Hindu)

Continue Reading


Headwinds rock Rahul, Modi

The Kashmir Monitor



By Jawed Naqvi

Recent headlines have offered clues about the way the wind is blowing before the general elections in India. A make-or-break element in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s re-election bid in May lies in Uttar Pradesh. It was here that he swept the 2014 polls on the back of anti-Muslim blood and gore set off in Muzaffarnagar, what some in the prime minister’s choral media have praised as ‘Modi Magic’. Spurring his win in the country’s most populous state was a palpably disharmonious opposition. That may have changed this year — or has it?

Let’s quickly scour the headlines. My first story refers to the Congress party’s bizarre plan to contest all 80 parliamentary seats in UP on its own. What then becomes of the promised coalition?


The second story seemed facetious at first but it describes a crippling fallout on the BJP of its ban on slaughter of cattle in UP. The alarmed party must now contain unwanted cattle in their post-productive state when they become a load on the farmers. Will the revered holy cow be artificially inseminated to produce more cows than bulls, as the animal husbandry minister says? How serious is the looming crisis in a political season?

A fourth story is The Hindu’s damning report by a former Indian supreme court judge, which gathered dust in the vaults of the apex court for over a year, on fake encounter deaths in Gujarat. Will it haunt the BJP together with an equally strong concern expressed by UN rights officials about allegations of widespread killings in Yogi Adityanath-ruled Uttar Pradesh?

And finally, the party’s national convention addressed by Modi where he offered himself as the only choice to lead India, which needs a ‘mazbootsarkar’, a strong government. The opposition alliance can only produce a ‘majboorsarkar’, says he, a government weakened by its own political compromises.

Two of the stories should suffice to indicate the headwinds ahead. The Congress party’s announcement of fighting all seats in UP, came not surprisingly a day after the backward caste Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Dalit BahujanSamaj Party (BSP), once bitter rivals,

declared a joint campaign in 76 constituencies, leaving four for Congress, presumably. In the last vote count, BSP (22.23 per cent) and the SP (28.07pc) totalled more than BJP (41.35pc) and Congress put together. Congress is an insignificant player in UP, and its irresponsible claim to contest all seats makes it a laughing stock given the high stakes in May.

What lies behind the absurdity? The fact is that Congress, perennially described a family enterprise of the Gandhis, is actually a coalition of powerful satraps, usually but not always shored up by Mumbai businessmen.

The business clubs have a chronic allergy to the Gandhis, though they are not averse to backing a Narasimha Rao or a Manmohan Singh in Congress. The allergens are old and damning. Nehru had jailed their leading businessman for corruption, Indira Gandhi had shut their banks, and Rajiv Gandhi ordered them to get off the backs of Congress workers. The tycoons came back hard at him with the Bofors smear though.

In the recent elections in Madhya Pradesh, a local Congress chieftain deemed close to a particular business family, opposed and subverted an alliance with Mayawati’s Dalit party. Congress won but not cleanly and it needs the BSP to sustain a majority. In Uttar Pradesh, the SP has strong ties with key business families, including the one that Rahul Gandhi has named in the Rafael warplanes scandal.

Given the state of play, the young Gandhi should ideally decide whether he wants to be a compromised representative of disparate, even contrary interests as prime minister, something his satraps would like him to be. Or should he be nudging the opposition parties, bereft of common ambition, with a Nehruvian vision to forge a truly durable secular polity?

The left had done this successfully with Indira Gandhi. The model can only strengthen Congress and its essentially left-leaning mass base. See it as a Tony Blair-Jeremy Corbyn moment within the Indian equivalent of the Labour Party. Else, the system in India, a tycoon-run deep state, would continue to harness Congress satraps and the BJP in a bind that undermines the constitution’s fair promise.

Signs of disarray in the opposition should comfort the BJP, but evidently the party for the first time is looking mortally afraid of losing. From ‘Congress-free India’, Modi is now talking about ‘a weak opposition government’. There’s more evidence of panic in Omar Rashid’s story in The Hindu about a cattle market that has collapsed, about stray cows raiding UP farms as impoverished farmers abandon their hungry animals.

Explaining the dilemma, BJP’s minister for animal husbandry said: “UP is a state of small and minor farmers, with two crop seasons. For 15 days of ploughing, a farmer no longer wants to feed two bullocks all year round.” To solve the problem the government has started a sex-sorted scheme under which the chances of a cow producing a female calf would be as high as 90pc to 95pc. Simultaneously, the BJP government is imposing a 0.5pc gaukalyan (cow welfare) cess on liquor and road toll collections, besides doubling an existing 1pc levy on the incomes of wholesale produce markets. The proceeds will fund construction and maintenance of new cow pens.

While the kitten entangles itself in the ball of wool, the opposition should be taking control of the narrative. But Congress, far from offering a vision, which only it could, is saddled with its recent promise to make cow urine economically viable while discussing the grade of the Brahminical thread Rahul Gandhi wears, neither of which is part of the winning calculation for the SP and the BSP.

Continue Reading


The social fibre is in disarray

The Kashmir Monitor



By Tawfeeq Irshad Mir

Kashmir lost its claim to heaven a long time ago but the debate today is not about ‘why’ but ‘who’ caused the paradise to fly away, leaving behind its miserable and yet romantic claimants.Say Kashmir, and the sweet aroma of pine takes over the mind fluttering among images of valley flowers,

While the valley is brewing to shivered cold, resorting to bone ache, and suddenly you get to hear the act, that tender your muscles and your brain starts oscillating in agony. While I was on the way to home, and as usual my phone keeps on beeping with variable feeds, and at a moment my eyes stuck to a feed, mentioning that a baby was thrown outside in a cartoon enveloped in polythene, across the road from the city’s maternity hospital Lal Ded. Not the first time, I got to hear such inhuman act, previously such incidents have filled the social networking sites with tetra byte data.


Kashmir, a Conservative populace with rigid religious beliefs, where such incidents dwindle the heart, to the core and ionise in the surroundings within fraction of the second.

,,, “oh foetid soul, you aren’t a burden,
Your cravings, your presence, is sacred,
” unworthy are those, who abandon you,
,,, “you are born to take nap at the realm of GOD,

This mischievous act is on surge in Kashmir citing numerous incidents in the past, Now concerning the aetiology of this social chaos, : over the years there has been a paradigm shift in the psychological, behavioural, living style of the people inhabiting valley, leading to variant changes, pertaining to psychosexual onslaught, Now we see pre-marital sexual relations, a non-serious concern leading to apathy in the ethos of society, the ramifications of this are vivid and perturbing, the couple especially in their teen ages, moved by their sudden hormonal changes engage in sexual relationships, and in certain cases, unaware of its complications, maybe due to lack of knowledge, debarring the use of protective devices, the female counterpart conceives and remains unaware for most of the time, as fear of surroundings, the societal rejection, the client fears to express the event to parents, till she develops such symptoms, and in reaction, either they go for illegal termination of pregnancy or wait for the term to deliver remaining in isolation carried out in privacy, and later the baby is abandoned.

In certain cases, the baby delivered from legal couple, go for termination, if it’s unwanted, or a female,, called female infanticide “in Kashmir such incidents are on record where foetus laden with blood were found in toilets, on the footsteps of shrines, some years back, an abandoned baby, caught by mob of dogs was noticed outside Lal Ded hospital, such incident shocked the consciousness of people,.

Congenital defects :Every single creation of God is not futile, but I can say, a sheer ignorance, the babies who are born with genetic defects have every right to continue life, even Stephen Hawkins was born with hereditary defect, still he rose to prominence, even normal human couldn’t think ever, contributes to the cause of abandoning babies, recently a horrendous incident captivated the conscious minds of valley where a father tried to Bury his live baby, citing the reasons of poverty, that he can’t afford the care of baby born with genetic defect.

Now describing the risk factors, loosening bondages from religious acuity, problems in socialisation, faults in upbringing, difficulties in coping up with puberty, lack of education, accelerate such incidents.

The treatment is more of a belief than literal.The old age adage holds true everywhere, we should focus on preventive strategies, we should be more religious, because not a single religion advocates such horrendous act, be more conscious when you go for such a relationship, we should profoundly act on such incidents, awareness schedule should be set up,
We need to develop legal resolutions for those abandoned, because we have many childless couples, so as to create balance.

Certainly at the end, those who abandon live births, are abandoning the humanity, the moment they opt for such gigantic mischief, they turn into wilds, and their ability to be human seizes.

(The writer is perusing graduation in Nursing at GMC, Srinagar. He can be reached at: [email protected])

Continue Reading

Subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Kashmir Monitor and receive notifications of new stories by email.

Join 980,004 other subscribers


January 2019
« Dec