Those who shower titles, awards, dollars and positions on “moderate” Muslims need to read between the lines of their moderate mantra. Muslims are aware of their benighted opportunism in the name of “enlightened moderation.” It is the West that needs to double check the "moderates’" presentation of history, interpretation of Islamic sources and their leg-less argument.

No matter how much they may attempt to brandwash their particular type of Islam, exposing their feet of clay needs only revisiting the relevant facts. Hussain Haqqani’s June 2, 2004 article in the Nation is an excellent example of the "moderates" irrational exuberance coupled to unconscionable avarice for credit from the hands that rock their cradle.

Right from the beginning, Mr. Haqqani lays out the battle lines between the neo-cons defined evil and good forces –” the much dreaded “jihadist movement” and “moderate Pakistanis” with “members of the international community” respectively.

Haqqani goes on to reject any concerted effort against Muslims on the part of Zionists or Hindus. To him, although “a large segment of Pakistan’s population” believes so, but this “collective state of mind” is the result of brain washing by “Jihadists” and “the Pakistani establishment.”

Of course, there are no angels in the Pakistani establishment. However, here we witness baseless argument, blanket statements and the feet of clay on which “moderates” attempt to establish their version of the appeasing reality. In this case it shows as if the establishment did nothing but feeding “fictitious accounts of history to the Pakistani people.” 

School curriculum in the Muslim world is the target of US administration, chocking in tight grip of the neo-cons. Note the angle from which the argument is launched:

“Young Pakistanis are taught not to question clichés about their nation’s greatness and unique place in the world. Alternative worldviews are discouraged and their exponents described as ‘traitors’. The result is general ignorance about causes and effects and a tendency to believe in an “only if” approach to life. From ‘Only if the British had not patronised South Asia’s Hindus’ to ‘Only if the Americans would keep their commitments and help Pakistan get Kashmir’, simplified formulae obstruct analytical thinking.”

If the alternative world view and actual account of history is to exonerate the British and US of their crimes, it is not likely to purge the alleged “extremist” thinking from Pakistan’s political culture, because these alternative theories have no legs to stand on.

How, for instance, can we deny that the British has not patronised Hindu’s in India, when Hindus and British themselves accept it. This is not what the establishment in Pakistan is promoting. This is part of the history written by others.

Prof B. N. Pande’s speech in the Indian Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, made on July 29, 1977 is one of the many examples that clarify that history is not something cooked up by “jihadists” or the Pakistani establishment” and that specific classes of Hindus and Muslims were specifically patronised. He says:

"…. The Secretary of State Wood in a letter to Lord Elgin [Governor General Canada (1847-54) and India (1862-63)] said: ‘We have maintained our power in India by playing off one part against the other and we must continue to do so. Do all you can, therefore to prevent all having a common feeling.’ George Francis Hamilton, Secretary of State of India wrote to Curzon, ‘I think the real danger to our rule in India not now, but say 50 years hence is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation organisation and if we could break educated Indians into two sections holding widely different views, we should, by such a division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack which the spread of education must make upon our system of government. We should so plan educational text-books that the differences between community and community are further strengthened (Hamilton to Curzon, 26th March 1886). …. Cross informed the Governor-General, Dufferin, that ‘This division of religious feeling is greatly to our advantage….’ (Cross to Dufferin, 14 January, 1887)." [1]

Mr. Haqqani argues Muslims are “brought up to think that soldiers of Islam cannot be defeated except through the treachery of their own.” He thinks the brain washed Muslims “are applying the [same] notion to the [Pakistani] establishment itself.” The question is: Who is responsible for the repeated U-turns: the establishment or the US, which runs the establishment in Islamabad? It is interesting that the author admits, “the establishment is forced to make a U-turn in policy,” but keeps on blaming the exploitee and not the exploiter.

The most important part of the leg-less argument is the assertion that the British defeat of Nawab SirajudDaula of Bengal in the battle of Plassey in 1757 was not the result of the defection of Mir Jaffer. That the British “might have had superior armaments and strategy, and that Jaffer’s decision to support the British might have been the result of their military superiority.”

What weight repetition of “might have” from the “moderates” carry when the British admits superiority of their weapons and buying out of Mir Jaffar. This is the point that clearly proves as to who is brain washed and who is trying to wash their brand of Islam for acceptability by the sole super power of the day.

A very simple search of the relevant facts shatters this theory for appeasement. Nikhil Dighe, an Indian web site, states:

“The battle was won even before it was fought. Robert Clive, the plucky representative of the East India Company employed persuasive diplomacy and offered Mir Jafar, a general of Bengal’s Nawab Siraj-ud-daullah, the Nawabship after the war, in return for staying away from combat. Clive also bought over the chief financier of the Nawab called Jagat Seth. Clive had 3,000 troops and Siraj-ud-daullah 50,000. But this seemingly disproportionate array of forces was neutralized by the fact that Mir Jafar’s forces of about 16,000 – which included cavalry and heavy guns – did not participate.” [2]

Even Jawaharlal Nehru, in The Discovery of India (1946), describes Clive as having won the battle "by promoting treason and forgery." [3] An Hindu Professor, Vinay Lal, at UCLA writes: “Mir Jafar, was induced to throw in his lot with Clive, and by far the greater number of the Nawab’s soldiers were bribed to throw away their weapons, surrender prematurely, and even turn their arms against their own army.”

Without any personal stakes involved, are not these Hindu writers more truthful than our "moderate" Muslims? Their words prove that history is not written by “jihadists” or Pakistani establishment. It is now the "moderates" who want to re-write history against the words of those who were part of these historical events only to please their masters.

As regard better weaponry of British, Sir Robert Clive writes in one of his letters: “we soon entered into engagements with Meer Jaffier to put the crown on his head. All necessary preparations being completed with the utmost secrecy, the army, consisting of about one thousand Europeans and two thousand sepoys, with eight pieces of cannon, marched from Chandernagore on the 13th and arrived on the 18th at Cutwa Fort…. At daybreak we discovered the Nabob’s army moving towards us, consisting, as we since found, of about fifteen thousand horse and thirty-five thousand foot, with upwards of forty pieces of cannon.” [4]

Coming to another favourite theme of the war lords in Washington, Haqqani writes: “Take the widespread anti-Americanism as an example. Most Pakistanis believe that the U.S. let Pakistan down by not fulfilling its commitments under the bilateral defence treaty of 1954.”

What Mr Haqqani is describing is the methodology of betrayal; he does not (indeed cannot) deny betrayal itself. India and Israel use the same methodology. They sign a document after a lot haggling to give an impression of seriousness. But they implement only the part that that suits them or they are forced to implement. The rest they make the subject of controversy and endless sterile debate resorting to vile abuse, blackmail and feigned anger to get their way. That is why most political pundits now agree that the only good relations with America, India or Israel are no relations. They are best kept at a distance.

America got many Muslims states – mostly in the Middle East – to sign up as members of bilateral and multilateral military alliances. The Baghdad Pact – which later became CENTO and moved its HQ to Ankara after a coup d’etat in Iraq – was the only multilateral alliance the Muslims signed with the USA. The inducement offered for roping in the Middle East and Pakistan was it covered ALL threats not merely the Communist threat. Brigadier Usman Khalid writes: “I was the Principal Staff Officer to Pakistan’s Permanent Military Representative in CENTO from 1966 to 1970. When it came to drafting guidance for military planning, it was drafted for the Communist and the Communist inspired threats. When it came to other threats (that included one from India to Pakistan) even a draft was not produced on the grounds of lack of consensus.”

Most importantly, it is not only Muslims who complain of the US betrayal. Writing in Seattle Post-intelligencer on April 30, 2004, Mary Pneuman, chairwoman of the Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, highlights that the US has betrayed international community. [5] Similarly Gunter Grass writes in Los Angeles Times (April 07, 2003) that the US “betrays its core values.” This is the fact and these are the truths which should not be considered as an exception from the Muslim mouth. 

By the time one reaches the final part of the article, one notes that condemning “global Jihadi movement,” challenging Pakistan’s identity, highlighting Anti-Americanism, good relations with India and recognising Israel, are the main themes skilfully interwoven for achieving the ultimate objective of such a write up.

Such write ups are eye openers for the public in the East and the West to understand how “moderates” are busy these days in brand washing their approach to grinding a personal axe.

The best way out is to shun and marginalise Daniel Pipes, Thomas Friedman and others who promote this kind of divisions and a war within Islam. On the other hand, everyone needs to realise that the self-proclaimed “moderates” who carry out this war are opportunists of the worst kind among Muslims, whose words and deeds need to be stigmatised and seriously condemned.


[1]. History in the Service of Imperialism, by Dr. B. N. Pande Source:

[2].  See: 

[3]. “The "battle" lasted no more than a few hours, and indeed the outcome of the battle had been decided long before the soldiers came to the battlefield. The aspirant to the Nawab’s throne, Mir Jafar, was induced to throw in his lot with Clive, and by far the greater number of the Nawab’s soldiers were bribed to throw away their weapons, surrender prematurely, and even turn their arms against their own army. Jawaharlal Nehru, in The Discovery of India (1946), justly describes Clive as having won the battle "by promoting treason and forgery", and pointedly notes that British rule in India had "an unsavoury beginning and something of that bitter taste has clung to it ever since." Battle of Plassey, From a web site created by: Vinay Lal Associate Professor of History, UCLA

[4]. From: Oliver J. Thatcher, ed., The Library of Original Sources, (Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co., 1907), Vol. VII: The Age of Revolution, pp. 59-64. Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text. This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. 

[5]. MARY PNEUMANN, “Our Place in the World: U.S. betrays international community,” Seattle Post   Friday, April 30, 2004 .


Response to this article

Published on PIDL: June 22, 2004

Several friends have asked me to respond to Abidullah Jan’s article titled ‘Brandwashing’, which purportedly responds to an article of mine. It begins with the proverb "The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread", implicitly calling me and other moderates dogs seeking bread.
As someone who believes in pluralism among Muslims, I welcome Abidullah Jan and others countering our arguments with theirs. But while I never impute motives to any individual, some people cannot respond to an argument without accusing the other of kufr or treachery. It is this attitude that causes some of us to use the label "extremist". Open as I am to discourse I have always been willing to treat my Muslim brethren with such views with respect in debate, something I wish they too were capable of doing. Motivated by my beliefs, I am prepared to countenance the fallibility of my beliefs. How can one describe those who believe in the infallibility of their opinions with such passion that they do not entertain even the possibility of their being wrong –ever — to the extent of losing even a modicum of respect for an opposing view.
In the anger that is thrown back, the argument gets lost. For example, one of the points I made in my original article was how the manner of teaching Muslim history in Pakistan makes people ignore the importance of technological superiority in the victory of the British in the Battle of Plassey of 1757. I never denied that Mir Jafar had sided with the British and did not address the question of why he did so. The main point was that seeing events as an "Us" and "them" conflict prevents introspection and self-improvement.
The angry response, beginning with the insinuation that my views are shaped by my being someone’s pet dog simply proves my point. Those full of anger, and seeking conformity of views among Muslims, simply cannot reconcile to the notion that reasonable people can have different opinions on many things, from history to theology. What they seek to destroy may not be considered worthy of destruction by others. And that difference of opinion is the motive for drawing lines within the Muslim community, which ironically the Jihadis/extremists/ [please choose your own label except the claim that you’re the only true Muslims] also do, albeit in a more self righteous and indignant way.
The game of fatwas of kufr and treachery or being on the payroll of imperialists has gone on since the day Muslims were confronted with western power and had to decide whether they should learn from the west or simply fight it. Those opting to fight have always labeled the other side as kafir or traitor or something like that. Many a fatwa has been given and many individuals condemned to death. The violence of western powers has been laid at the door of moderate Muslims and the convoluted argument made is that ‘since you are preventing our concerted effort against Zionists or Hindus or America you are one of them’. "Moderates", ranging from Sayyid Ahmed Khan to several contemporary thinkers, never condemned their rivals the same way as they were condemned themselves.
It is time the distinction between sentimental rantings and true discourse is observed. Everyone should be free to argue their case but only the list’s moderator can decide if the purpose of discourse is served by language befitting pamhleteers and slogan chanters.
While I can remember at least two occasions when Abidullah Jan has attacked my motives, I invite him to think of even once when I laid out my argument in terms of him (or anyone else) being motivated by anything other than beliefs. The fact that some people cannot see the possibility of others having beliefs different to theirs without being someone’s agents shows us their inability to respectfully disagree — the defining element of moderation. There must be a reason that I am concerned about civility in discourse and my attacker is not.


Abid Ullah Jan’s reply

Dear Hussain Haqqani


I am pleased to read your response with a focus on the Purtuguese proverb and nothing but the proverb. No reference at all to the facts that I have mentioned in response to your article criticizing brainwashing by others, but actually practicing the same in an attempt to wash the brand of Islam promoted by the likes of Daniel Pipes, whom you openly supported ( in his bid to the board of the United States Institute of Peace in the Wall Street Journal (May 22, 2003).

Other than dog, you did not point out any “extremist argument,” “sentimental ranting,” “anger,” “fatwa” and any reference to “belief” in my response. I would appreciate your pointing out any of these in my article in response to yours. It is good that the Portuguese proverb was there to your rescue. Your response remains typical of your style: leaving the facts aside and trying to score points with discussing issues that are not there in my articles in the first place.

As far your undue stress on the dog’s proverb, you definitely have succeeded in generating undue sympathies, as you try to do, but those who carefully read my article would understand that the Portuguese proverb comes in the beginning of the article and the first para describes very clearly as to who this proverb is referring to: Those who are showered with "titles, awards, dollars and positions." If you consider yourself one of those, it is up to you, but who I have in mind is very clear. Your article is discussed as an example of "irrational exuberance" with solid references from history written by non-Muslims, for which you are blaming the establishment in Pakistan.

I stand by my using this proverb not only because it has worked more than any number of articles, but also because, fortunately or unfortunately, most words of wisdom are described in fables and proverbs related to animals ( This proverb alone is enough to help people identify opportunists at three levels:

It is time for the Western public to identify their friends and foes. Was Challabi worth 350,000 dollars a month for them? Bush and his company’s lies came long after Chalabi’s opportunism. But was he a moderate alternative to Saddam Hussain? Of course not. Are Karzai and Mushrraf worth what they are being blessed with? They are, nevertheless, the leading moderates: rather "enlightened" moderates – one step ahead from the pack. (See: Benighted Opportunism –
It is time for Muslims to identify who wants to be future Chalabi in their respective countries and who is genuinely interested in debate for reform.
It is also time for the “moderates” to have a look a their ranks. There are persons from Musharraf to Manji who are taking advantage of this label with opportunist ranting, whereas there, undoubtedly are persons among "moderates" who seriously believe in what they promote and sincerely work without any hope for titles and rewards.

I too am victim of the establishment in Pakistan, but I don’t need to unnecessarily blame it for all the wrongs in the world in an attempt to please specific quarters abroad. My response to your article proves that the establishment is wrongly blamed for re-writing history which it did not. You, however, tried the same with your article.

You claim: “I never denied that Mir Jafar had sided with the British and did not address the question of why he did so.” If I could not understand your words properly, let the readers decide as to what you actually mean, when you say:

“This historically incorrect account matches the version of events in Pakistani textbooks, which convince junior school students that the British defeat of Nawab SirajudDaula of Bengal in the battle of Plassey in 1757 was made possible only by the defection of another Muslim Nawab, Mir Jaffer of Murshidabad. That the British might have had superior armaments and strategy, and that Jaffer’s decision to support the British might have been the result of their military superiority rather than the other way round is not held out as an option.”

I stressed that the “historically incorrect account of history” in our school books is not because of the establishment as you state. Secondly, in the words of Clive himself, the defeat was mainly possible with the defection of Mir Jaffar and thirdly, he admits to military superiority of SirajudDaula. There are solid historical references to all these points which wash away your “might have” argument off its feet. This is just one example of your wrong presentation of history and leg-less arguments. If people do not have time to dig out facts and respond to it word by word, it does not mean that your are right and others are responsible for everything even if they were not involved in it, like the writing of history in this case.

The point I am trying to make is if you criticise others for brainwashing for something that they didn’t do, you are doing counter brainwashing. It becomes brand washing because you do it for justifying a particular brand.

A last word of advice: Your write ups will appeal more, if every para of it does not so obviously reflect as to whom you are trying to please with it. Politics and impartial analysis do not go hand in hand. As I explained earlier, no matter how much we try to conceal ourselves; no matter how much we cover ourselves with fine labels, we hardly succeed in concealing ourselves. It does not matter if people do not respond negatively to it. In the end they help us achieve what we seek. We get awards and rewards, we get fame and ephemeral honour, but our work hardly makes an impact.

Lastly, you might try to turn the Portuguese proverb towards yourself, but it was absolutely not specifically mentioned to target you. It is meant, as I clearly stated for making all aware that there are persons among Muslims who try to take full advantage of the Western fear in many many ways.

The proverb might offend you, but I believe the it still does not fit properly because dogs are far more loyal than those whose hands are littered with the blood of their fellow brethren. Imagine if there were no Chalabi and company, Musharraf and his junta, Karzai and his fellow CIA agents. Who among them would say that he is not moderate? And come down to the street level, where I personally know Muslims working with the intelligence agencies and telling lies about other fellow Muslims only to stay in the job.

When 9 children died in Ghazni due to wrong GPS points provided by the local agents working with the occupation forces, one of them responded to my comment: “Did you see the result of taking GPS points for the US commanders.” He replied: “Destroy your enemy by making him your friend – Abraham Lincoln.”

Showing videos and other stuff to his bosses this agent also claims “I am a moderate Muslims.” I am coming again to the beginning of my article. We need to recognise opportunists among "moderates," but more than Muslims the West needs to identify who is waging his tail for its bread, while thinking of the words of Abraham Lincoln in his heart. Who is the enemy, who calls a spade a spade, and who drags the US into occupations and supporting dictators with deadly consequences both for the East and the West?

See also: "Islamic terrorism": A sinister construct (

Author’s latest book, “The Musharraf Factor: Leading Pakistan to Inevitable Demise,” is now available.

Also see: .