The world of scent


Culture By Amtul Jamil


As a kid, I accompanied my mother to Lucknow Perfumery located near the entrance to Anarkali Bazaar. I enjoyed the feel of the shop and the ritual of smelling ittars offered for selection. My mother’s favorite was Khus, and she wore it all summer long.

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The word ‘ittar’ or ‘attar’ is an Arabic word that means ‘scent’. Ittar is a natural scent derived from herbs, flowers and wood; it is widely used in Pakistan, India, the Middle East and the Far East. It is highly concentrated; only a drop is used, and a small bottle lasts for months. Ittar is worn directly on the body; it is long-lasting and body heat intensifies its smell.
One legend traces the origin of rose ittar to Empress Nur Jehan. The princess’s bath water was sprinkled daily with rose petals. Once, on a day when the princess did not bathe, her bath remained filled overnight. The next day, when preparing the princess’s bath, the servants added fresh rose petals after removing the old ones, but did not change the bath water. Nur Jehan exclaimed that her bath exuded a fragrance such as never before. Upon learning that rose petals had remained soaked overnight in the bath, causing them to emit oil because of the hot weather, she commanded that a vapor of rose perfume be prepared for her. And so gulab ittar was born!

Sufi worshipers use ittar during meditation circles and dances

The Mughal nobles loved ittar and it was a practice of nobility to offer ittar, in tiny crystal cut bottles known as itardans, to their guests when bidding them farewell. Oud, a rare aroma from the agarwood, was popular with the Mughal princes. Chameli was the favorite perfume of the Nizams of Hyderabad. The great poet Mirza Ghalib too was an ittar lover; when meeting his beloved in the winter months, he would rub Hina on his hands and face.
At one time, when the Emperor Humayun was engaged in a battle in Umer Kot, a son named Akbar was born to him. Now Humayun had no gifts to share with his companions to celebrate the birth. It is said that he opened his bottle of Muskh and gave a little to each companion saying:
"Pray that my son Akbar’s fame spreads far and wide just like the fragrance of Mushk spreads far and wide."
A Persian verse expresses the power of this aroma:
"Scent Speaks
The Perfumier does Not Need to tell
‘It Is Mushk’."

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Pink desi rose has the purest essence

Traditionally, a father on his daughter’s marriage presented her with a box containing six tiny bottles of ittar (girls before marriage were not allowed to use ittar as it could attract male attention). The box usually contained Gulab, Chameli, Motia, Hina, Sandal and Amber. In families with high social status, hand-painted crystal bottles stored the scents, and the boxes containing them were ornate and decked up. Ittar played a role in family life; its use complemented the comfort in the home.
Scent is curative and aromatherapy is popular in alternative remedies. The khushboo of ittar was handy for alleviation of maladies in Indian households. A cure for restlessness and anxiety was Lakhluba, wherein a fresh earthen glass was filled with water and a cucumber piece and a Khus stick were added to it; smelling it calmed restlessness. Sandal oil was rubbed on the forehead to cure headaches. The shamama smell is used for cold and flu. Khus prevents the effects of lu; if you apply Khus before riding a bicycle in the summer, you are protected from the effects of the hot weather. And when fatigued you must smell Motia. Rose petals have a medicinal value; as a matter of fact, all eye drops contain rose water essence.

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Of course scents too are subject to whims of taste and temperament. A friend narrated that her father wore Shamama, her mother Gulab and her aunt Khus. The ittar-wala would arrive in her home carrying a leather case containing an array of ittars. He put a dab on a small stick with cotton at the end; this was sent to the women’s quarters, and her mother, after smelling the offerings, chose the one she liked the best.
The girls in the Mughal harems were taught the art of enticement through dress, dance, poetry and knowledge of "how to attract the king through scent". In the khawab gah (dream room), a relaxation place for the king before retiring for the night, music, dance, poetry and fragrance filled the evening.

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The Mughal nobles loved ittar and offered ittar, in tiny crystal cut bottles known as itardans, to their guests when bidding them farewell

An elderly neighbor of mine told me that her uncle was a smell lover; he kept a room full of ittar. When his sawari drove down a street, people knew by the aroma in the street that he had passed that way. Every year, when his itardans were cleaned, the cotton balls used for cleaning were saved; in the winter a couple of cotton balls were placed on the coals whenever the heating stove was lit; the whole house filled with fragrance. Upon his death, his ittars were bequeathed to his family members – a fragrant part of their inheritance!
A special ittar, a mixture of Hina and Amber, was created before Partition, though in those days ittars were not usually mixed; the caption read ‘Special Quality’; a thread was tied to the neck of the bottle and the bottle placed in a special box. This ittar was bestowed as a gift to the beloved. But its unique combination recipes, inscribed in Persian, are now lost forever. Though ittar was a Muslim tradition both Hindus and Muslims used it as a symbol of love.

Wearers claim Gil smell gives taskeen to the rooh (peace to the soul); some put it on curtains at home during the rainy season to enjoy tranquility

Just as flowers are seasonal so too are fragrances; ittars are worn according to the seasons. Khus in the summer, Gil (the aroma of earth after the first raindrops) in the monsoon; wearers claim Gil smell gives taskeen to the rooh (peace to the soul); some put it on curtains at home during the rainy season to enjoy tranquility. Hina is a winter smell, Gulab is used all year round.
Ittar has its rituals; if one wore Khus in winter or Hina in summer, the wearer was deemed to be an ignorant boor not versed in the culture of ittar. Eid was a special occasion and all children received a dab. If Eid came in winter, Hina was worn; and Khus if Eid came in summer. Suhag was a special blend for brides and it was said the fragrance permeated the mind and heart of the couple forever. Shamama was usually worn for Friday prayers.
Ladies took a drop, rubbed their palms together to wake up the smell, applied it to wrists and neck and rubbed it on their dupatta so the khushboo could soak in there. The ladies added khushboo to their last mug full of bath water to keep smelling nice. Some would dilute a drop of Khus, Gulab or Hina, in rosewater to soften the smell. At a Mehndi function, a drop of Hina was added to the mehndi and the bride’s hennaed hands smelled sweet.
Perfumery is a prosperous industry. The nose of a perfumer is very precious. Indeed, the French insure the noses of their perfumers. It is tradition that when you visit an accomplished perfumer, you are given gifts of perfume samples or invited to smell her very special fragrances. When I visited a perfumer recently, I was offered a whiff of mushk, a divine and unforgettable smell!
Some prices quoted by a wholesaler: Gulab – Rs. 10,000/12,000 per tola. Khus, Rs. 2,000 per tola. Mushk (an extract from the navel of the black deer) is the most expensive and costs more than Rs. 50,000 per tola; it is almost impossible to get.
Pink desi rose has the purest essence. Pink roses have become rare in Pakistan as growers turned to planting red roses; there was more money in red roses as they are used in bridal functions and in the garlands worn by the bridegrooms.
In Shahdara, Lahore, there is still an old garden of pink roses where perfumers go to purchase their flowers.
Even before Partition, perfumers would come to Lahore from all over India to buy roses. The older a rose bush the more the smell. The more the petals the greater the essence; The desi rose has 36 petals, the wild rose 24. In Shahdara, there are four hundred to five hundred pure varieties of roses.
Ittars are made very early in the morning at fajar. Flower petals are put in the still soon after the flowers are cut for that is when their smell is most intense. As the day progresses, flowers lose their smell to heat.
In Pakistan and India, some essence extraction is still done in the old way. Round copper stills called degs are taken to a flower plantation; one maund of petals and one maund of water are put in a deg overnight; a wood fire is lit under the deg; the boiling water steam is routed via a pipe to a big cauldron, kept in a nearby lake for cooling. The steam turns into water in the cool cauldron and water and oil become separated in the condensed steam vapor; the oil floating on top is called absolute. Absolute is pure essence (also called ‘rooh’). Absolute flies from clothes in 15 minutes. Sandal oil is added to stabilize the essence so scent can last for 24 hours. These days, Pandari is used to stabilize as sandal oil has become very rare.
The city of Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh is the home of ittar making. In Kanauj even the water gulleys in the streets have khushboo. Every house is into perfume making; one house makes Chameli, another makes Gulab and so on.
A strong connection is often established to a particular fragrance and one person will apply only Gulab, another only Hina; a person may become hooked to a smell and feel a lack when he does not smell it. The ‘shaukeen’ have a selection of fragrances: they reserve one smell for Thursday, another for Friday and so on.
Aging a smell releases the essence, the ‘rooh’. In the old days, people bought 1 tola of ittar, such as Oud, put it in an itardan and then used it after 10 years; the ittar bottles were made of leather or glass. When essence is left in a bottle, the smell will grow stronger; in colognes or perfumes with an alcohol content, the smell vanishes when the alcohol evaporates.
Ittar has an effect on the body; warm ittars such as Musk, Amber and Oud increase body temperature and are used in winter. Cool ittars such as Rose, Jasmine, Khus and Kewda are cooling for the body and are used in the summer.
In our times, there is an explosion of smells; there are around 400 smells; new fragrances are created by blending two or more blends. Smells come from nature and cannot be manufactured by mixing chemicals; even when chemicals are mixed a drop of smell has to come from nature to create fragrance.
In ancient times scent was linked to the sacred. The use of aromatic materials was limited to religious and medical use and was the domain of the clergy and apothecaries. However, the use of fragrance passed to the public when with the advent of Islam all Muslims were enjoined to use perfume (if they could). Fragrance was recommended for the Friday congregational prayer, for preparation for the pilgrimage, and purification during the washing ritual of the dead.
According to the mystics, all senses except smell give pleasure to the body; the sense of smell gives pleasure to the soul. Sufi worshipers use ittar during meditation circles and dances.
We "see" the world largely through our eyes and ears and our sense of smell is under-used. Yet mothers can recognize their babies by smell, and newborns recognize their mothers in the same way. A smell attracts and makes us want to know another or repels us and makes us avoid another; it is part of the biology of attraction.
Smells retain an uncanny power to move us; a whiff of a long-forgotten scent takes one back to a bygone moment: the memories evoked have a haunting quality. Indeed, the smells that surround us affect our well-being throughout our lives.

Amtul Jamil is a freelance contributor

FOREIGN POLICY: Don’t Be Spooked by Pakistan


A CIA veteran’s prescription for how the United States can get along with an ally it doesn’t trust.
By Milt Bearden

More than two months after the raid by U.S. Navy SEALS on the Abbottabad compound of Osama bin Laden, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan is at its lowest point in the almost six decades of a rocky, on-again-off-again alliance.

The United States has suspended some $800 million in military aid, and the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, is traveling to Pakistan this week for what is certain to be a chilly meeting with his counterpart, Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Maybe these developments are not altogether bad, for amid this turmoil the leaders of both countries, if not their vocal populations, are beginning to understand that a new, interests-based regional partnership must be forged before some political point of no return is crossed. Pakistan and the United States need a new paradigm for cooperation, one that will not only guide the bilateral relationship through the endgame in Afghanistan , but also influence Pakistani and U.S. policies in an Indian Ocean region on the verge of a new Great Game for mineral resources and economic domination.

The main players in that game are India and China ; the prizes are Afghan and Pakistani resources and overland trade routes to the Arabian Sea . The United States ‘ role is important, even critical, but it is as yet undefined by American political leaders.

Ultimately, the United States may have to shift part of its security and political focus from its Atlantic relationships to the Indian Ocean region.

The mineral resources of Afghanistan and Pakistan — copper, gold, rare-earth elements, iron, the list goes on — will play a major role in driving the hungry Chinese and Indian economies through the 21st century. Afghan minerals alone, valued by the U.S. Geological Survey conservatively at about $1 trillion, could follow a natural route south from Afghanistan through Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, itself mineral rich, to the newly completed port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. From there, the minerals would find markets in China , India , and the West, producing along the way a greatly expanded Pakistani mining industry and transportation infrastructure, as well as tens upon tens of thousands of jobs for dangerously idle young Baluchi men.

But none of this will likely happen until Pakistan takes a bold leap into the 21st century, shedding its 1947 mindset of believing that it is just a hair trigger away from war with India and that it must at any cost be buttressed against Indian encroachment on its western flank in Afghanistan . To become a player in this new Great Game, Pakistan will first need to rework its relationship with the United States and, following that, with Afghanistan and India .

One obvious starting point will be redesigning the relationship between the CIA and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, Pakistan ‘s most powerful intelligence agency.

During a swing through the region in June, I spent many hours with senior ISI officers in remarkably free exchanges on the relationship between their agency and its U.S. counterpart. From those meetings, I concluded that both sides view rebuilding the overall U.S.-Pakistan relationship as possible and necessary.

But both sides also see this as a daunting task, one with little support from either the American or the Pakistani people. Nevertheless, with the announced withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan over the next three years, and with the development of a new American strategy for counterterrorism, the moment is right to begin overhauling the partnership.

As Gen. David Petraeus leaves Afghanistan and takes over at the CIA, one of his first tasks will be sitting down with his Pakistani counterpart, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, a man he has met in the past as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan .

The two generals are a perfect and, indeed, an even match. Petraeus goes to Langley from multiple combat commands; Pasha is an experienced combat operations commander in his own right, having led military operations in Pakistan ‘s turbulent tribal areas. Both generals are thoughtful, perhaps even brilliant tacticians — Pasha madeTime’s 2011 list of the 100 most influential people in the world — and each has a keen sense of political imperatives.

They can enter the relationship fresh; cut through the shrillness, the schoolyard taunts that characterize what is visible to the public in the current feud between their services; decide on what is worth fixing; agree on important common goals; and get to work.

They will come to their first meeting understanding the depth of CIA-ISI problems, based on hard intelligence — on what is known. They will be able to discount the often rococo and venomous accusations and counteraccusations that form the basis of American and Pakistani public opinion. It will be a tough slog for the two generals.

One example of the disconnect will be the four recent "intelligence tests" — the passage of U.S. intelligence to Pakistan on bomb-making sites in the tribal areas and the apparent compromise of that information before military action could be taken. The "tests" are viewed by American intelligence as an example of double-dealing by the ISI. But the ISI views those same events as an American trap: Midlevel officers believe the Americans tipped off the bomb-makers to embarrass the ISI.

At their first meeting (perhaps a one-on-one without note-takers) Petraeus and Pasha will have to decide how to cut through the distractions. They will inevitably discuss such matters as:

The so-called trust deficit. In my discussions with senior ISI officers, the question of the "trust deficit" quickly arose and was equally quickly dismissed. Forget about trust, I was told. The ISI and CIA should be prepared to work together, without trust, on common interests and goals. How much was trust an underpinning of our common goal of driving Soviet forces out of Afghanistan during the 1980s?, I was pointedly asked.

In reality, institutional trust played no role. Indeed, institutional trust is not a critical element of a functioning intelligence liaison with any foreign intelligence service. In my years of working with the ISI as the CIA chief in Pakistan during the late 1980s, there was a single common goal — get the Soviet Army out of Afghanistan .

Within that narrowly defined mission there was close cooperation, even friendships that have endured to this day. On occasion I put my life in the hands of individual ISI officers, but there was never a sense of institutional trust. In executing that joint mission there were, to be sure, serious frictions as each side fused its own sovereign policy goals into the common mission — Pakistan concentrated its assistance almost entirely on favored Pashtun elements of the Afghan resistance while the CIA strove to provide broader assistance to include other ethnic groups in northern and western Afghanistan .

But as long as the primary mission remained valid for both sides and as long as progress was being made, the differences were managed. In effect, the United States and Pakistan went their own ways when their national policies demanded it, but we got along.

Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. Afghans profoundly believe that the ISI is behind most of the attacks on Afghan soil. The Kabul rumor mill already sees a Pakistani hand in the recent attack on Kabul ‘s Intercontinental Hotel. Some of the accusations may be real; some may be a self-serving deflection of blame for security gaps on the ISI bogeyman.

In discussing this issue, Pasha might relate to Petraeus a conversation he had with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which he pointedly asked the Afghan leader which country, aside from Afghanistan, has suffered most from the Afghanistan war; which country, aside from Afghanistan, would benefit most from peace in Afghanistan; and how could Pakistan benefit from doing the things it is accused of.

These are reasonable questions.

The ISI leader might also share a belated realization within the Pakistani Army that Pakistan’s exclusive focus on Afghanistan’s Pashtun population as Pakistan’s strategic reserve on its western flank no longer makes sense, if that ever did. This Pashtun-centric policy was the unfulfillable dream of "strategic regional consensus" of late Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, a new Mughal Empire that Zia envisioned from Ankara to Islamabad counterbalancing India to the east. Zia’s dream always began with a co-opted, Pashtun-dominated Afghanistan .

It was handed down to his successors at Army House over the next quarter-century, but it was as unachievable then as it is today. Pakistan ‘s current military leaders know this. Their challenge is to convince the Pakistani population. Pakistan ‘s military leaders understand that their country’s relationship with Afghanistan must be broadened. They also know that Pakistan would ultimately find the Pashtun Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan a national disaster, one that would before long spread to India, fulfilling the prophecy of the hair-trigger event that has so occupied the Pakistani Army for decades.

Afghanistan is a good starting point for Pakistan to reorder its regional relationships, and the United States can play a limited, but important role of arbiter.

North Waziristan. Pakistani Army leaders understand that this remote, mountainous region must be cleared of foreign fighters and associated groups, but it cannot now appear to succumb to American demands that the Army launch a full-scale assault on the terrorist-infested tribal agency.

Pakistani military operations just launched in the Kurram agency fit with Pakistani plans to move against neighboring North Waziristan in the coming months, but any such operation must be recognized as being in Pakistan’s interest to do so, not occurring because Americans have demanded it. The Pakistan Army will have fresh ideas and will expect the Americans to hear them out. An underlying concern that the Americans must overcome will be Pakistan ‘s conviction that U.S. forces are moving toward the exits in Afghanistan .

Memories of being left holding the American bag run deep. The Army leadership remembers the Soviet exit from Afghanistan in February 1989, American sanctions imposed on Pakistan the next year, the end of U.S.-Pakistan military-to-military contacts, and the Americans turning their back on Pakistan and Afghanistan for a decade. The rest is sad history.

Pakistan-India. Pakistani Army leaders understand that fundamental change is needed in Pakistan ‘s relationship with India . The Kashmir question could be deferred indefinitely, the Army leadership is convinced, as a new relationship with India is developed and a new set of national goals for Pakistan are devised to make the country a player in the region.

It is understood within the Pakistan military that India has a historically based interest in Afghanistan and that India ‘s exploitation of Afghan mineral resources need not be a zero-sum game. Indeed, India has indicated it may be prepared to use the southern route through Pakistan ‘s Baluchistan province for the export of iron ore from its massive mining claim at Hajigak in Afghanistan ‘s Bamiyan province (an alternate, politically more challenging route would be from Afghanistan through Iran to the Iranian port of Chabahar on the Arabian Sea ).

Similarly, another economic imperative that demands Pakistan-India cooperation is a proposed 1,700-kilometer gas pipeline, TAPI, which will bring gas from the massive Dauletabad fields in Turkmenistan , through Afghanistan and Pakistan , and into the Indian energy grid at Fazilka in India ‘s Punjab state. TAPI, a huge, multibillion-dollar project, offers the best solution to the energy needs of all the countries on the pipeline’s route, according to negotiators of the four countries involved in developing the project.

These issues of potentially vital cooperation between India and Pakistan would be difficult under any circumstances, but without a reasonably functioning U.S.-Pakistan relationship based on common interests, they may well be unachievable.

It is often said that Pakistan never misses a chance to miss a chance. If it misses this one, the world will pass it by, and its isolation will only deepen. The same may hold true for the United States .

Its influence in the Indian Ocean is slipping as China and India flex their growing economic muscle. It will have to make a course correction as it approaches the end of its military enterprise in Afghanistan . Pakistan is as good a place to start as any, and the two generals, Pasha and Petraeus, might be the right players for the first step.

The Murder of a General by Generals

Received by email authenticity unknow

* Who’re the two generals who killed V.S. Naipaul’s brother-in-law Gen. Faisal Alvi?

* Why British journalist Carey Schofield is hiding names of the accused generals?

By Habib R. Sulemani



Late Major-General Ameer Faisal Alvi.—image via Google

A CRIMINAL gang of serving generals of the Pakistan Army first humiliated then allegedly killed a fellow general who wanted to expose the gang’s involvement in terrorism—secret deals with the Taliban.

The assassinated officer, Major-General Ameer Faisal Alvi (1954-2008) is said to be a unique general of the Pakistan Army who considered himself a professional soldier not a power-broker.
General Faisal Alvi was the brother-in-law of British writer Sir V. S. Naipaul who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001. Lady Nadira Naipaul, sister of General Alvi, was a glamorous journalist in Pakistan. Her column, Letter from Bahawalpur, used to appear in a daily English language newspaper of Lahore. However, she left the profession and country after her marriage to the Trinidad-born British writer in 1996.

General Faisal Alvi was a former chief of the Special Services Group (commonly known as SSG or commandos). He had joined the Pakistan Army in 1974 and was forcefully retired in 2005.

Two colleagues reportedly played the traditional dirty espionage game. They made a sex scandal about General Faisal Alvi and the wife of a junior officer. Then they secretly recorded General Alvi’s remarks about the then President General Musharraf—when the despot military dictator heard it, he gave General Alvi the sack without more ado.

When the current Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, took over in 2007, General Alvi wrote a ‘confidential letter’ to him — the new King of the Islamic Republic — exposing the alleged conspiracy of his colleague generals. (At the end of this email)
The three-page letter is a historic document which shows the sick culture within the ranks of the Pakistan Army. The letter speaks louder than the many engineered books on the so-called inside stories of the Pakistan Army. It shows what an almighty general feels when he retires—probably a fish out of water!
After reading this letter, one can understand the politics of military awards and after-retirement-lucrative-civilian-jobs—in particular vice-chancellorship of government-run universities at home and ambassadorial positions abroad (this could be solid reason for the destruction of our education system and visionless foreign policy).
General Alvi’s letter shows how helpless civilians are in the militarized and Talibanized nation-sate.


Sir V. S. Naipaul with wife Lady Nadira Naipaul.

It’s said that General Kayani mysteriously kept silent as Dawn newspaper dubs him the silent soldier. When General Alvi didn’t get any response from the Army Chief (General Kayani has not responded to my letter either for the last 15 months), he smelt threat to his life and gave a copy of the letter to a British journalist, Carey Schofield.
"It hasn’t worked, they’ll shoot me," General Alvi reportedly told Ms. Schofield.

The Pakistani General obviously trusted a British journalist than a scribe in the militarized and Talibanized media of Pakistan. But General Alvi didn’t know that the self-styled independent journalist/writer (Ms. Schofield) would breach his trust—was it for the big bucks or something else? Let’s discuss it later in this blog post.

Anyway, as predicted, on November 19, 2008, General Alivi along with his driver was shot dead in Rawalpindi. In a typical action, the authorities immediately blamed the Taliban and al-Qaeda for the assassination, and picked some former military-officials-turned-militants according to the written script—but later they were set free for “lack of evidence" as it happened in the assassination case of Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti recently.

The British government just paid lip service! Unfortunately, the literary circles, especially in the West, didn’t take notice of this gruesome murder of a relative of a Nobel Laureate. May be thinking: the bloody civilians have no right to meddle in the affairs of a militarized Islamic country—it’s the Murder of a General by Generals (I’ve no plans to write a novel with this title currently. From solitary confinement, I can write blogs only).

General Alvi’s daughter, Mehvish Zahra Alavi, bravely defended her father when the callous multi-million cyber propaganda brigade of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) started character assassination campaign against the assassinated General in the media, saying that the late General was not a practicing Muslim, lacked patriotism, was a drunkard, womanizer and gangster. It was perhaps an effort to dilute the anger of the people especially the SSG commandos who loved General Faisal Alvi as a true commander.

To divert the attention of the public, the rumor-mills of the ISI and MI spread their outdated conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of General Alvi. They didn’t forget their pet trick of involving family members, friends or neighbors in an assassination besides the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The touts of the agencies said that family members of General Alvi were involved in his assassination as he was “morally corrupt” and his wife was not living with him (the secret agencies have done it recently in Supreme Court judge Justice Javed Iqbal’s parents’ gruesome murder besides the assassinations of Senator Habib Jalib Baloch, Gilgit-Baltistan MLA Saifur Rehman and many others).


Army Chief Gen. Kayani, right, with ISI chief Gen. Pasha

Ms. Alvi, besides writing for the Jang Group, also defended her father very bravely in the cyberspace. She seemed like a lioness fighting for life among a hungry group of hyenas.
“My father had no one in Pakistan Army to favor him. He came as a boy from another country (British national). He made it to the rank of a Maj-General all due to his own hard work, no one helped him. Unfortunately, even in the military there is politics at the higher level. That is something you have no control over,” the daughter of General Faisal Alvi reacted in the cyberspace during a discussion (archived here).

"I do not know who killed him (General Alvi) but yes the weapons were 9mm military weapons. And from what I have heard the attackers came into the car to make sure he was dead. Normal bullets could not kill my father. He was shot three times in the brain too. There were numerous witnesses to the incident yet how come no one has come forward to identify the attackers. No one will. Everyone is scared."
Everyone is scared and terrorized in Pakistan. This is the reason that Ms. Alvi couldn’t continue her fight for justice in the lawless Islamic Republic.

After General Alvi’s assassination, Carey Schofield wrote in The Sunday Times that the General was murdered "after threatening to expose Pakistani Army generals who had made deals with Taliban militants.” General Alavi had “named two generals in a letter to the head of the Army. He warned that he would ‘furnish all relevant proof’. Aware that he was risking his life, he gave a copy to me (Ms. Schofield) and asked me to publish it if he (General Alvi) was killed.”

The real story starts from here.
There are three basic questions to ponder over this typical Pakistan-style assassination:

1. Who’re the two generals whom General Faisal Alvi feared they would shoot him?

2. Why Ms. Schofield dishonored General Alvi’s will and hid names of the accused generals?

3. What compelled a Westerner to breach the trust of the Dead General—editorial policy of the British newspaper, pressure from the Pakistan Army or just self-interest—an opportunity to make quick bucks?

A description of Ms. Schofield’s latest book, Inside the Pakistan Army, says: "Having spent five years so closely embedded in the Pakistan Army that they (the Army) even had a uniform made for her (Ms. Schofield)."
It says a lot!
Now again the questions:

1. Did Ms. Schofield hide the names of the accused generals (who may have served her as typical hosts) for personal gain to be near the Pakistan Army and complete her book?

2. Did Ms. Schofield barter General Alvi’s letter for her book on the Pakistan Army unscrupulously?

3. Ms. Schofield refused to give a copy of General Alvi’s letter to his daughter, Ms. Alvi, who says: "I contacted her (Ms. Schofield) asking a copy of the letter. She agreed but then refused." Why?

In the past, Pakistani generals have commissioned many western journalists and writers, especially female, for writing engineered reports and books as a part of their media war (ground battles have become an impossible thing for the commercialized and politicized generals in Pakistan).

Slain journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad had hinted on the dangers from the ISI in emails and it has taken the country by storm. In his letter, General Alvi has taken names of the accused serving generals with details but shamelessly, the so-called independent journalist (Ms. Schofield) is hiding the names even after three years of the murder.
After the assassinations of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Governor Salman Taseer, Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, General Faisal Alvi and elderly parents of a serving Supreme Court judge, Justice Javed Iqbal, people have been demanding independent investigation into the heinous crimes.
And after the recovery and killing of Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan and attack on the Naval base… the 180 million people of Pakistan are now demanding accountability of the military that failed to defend the country although it digests 80 percent of the annual budget.
Ms. Schofield’s revelation of the names of the accused generals can bring positive changes in the terror-hit country. And this would also affect the U.K. and rest of the world positively. Global leaders especially the U.S. should realize that there is no way but to bring the brains behind global terrorism to justice. Deals will never work in the long run!
What is the truth? It couldn’t remain hidden for a long time in this cyber age as the global scenario is rapidly changing. Ms. Schofield’s book has been published. Therefore, now, the Pakistani people expect that she would make the unedited letter of General Faisal Alvi public. It’s an opportunity for her to make her conscience clear! An intellectually dishonest person can’t get peace of mind despite successes in the world.

Alavi was born in Kenya as British national. He belonged to the Awan tribe of Pakistan. In 1966 at the age of 12, he came to Pakistan to study at Abbottabad Public School where he studied from 1966–1971. Out of his love and zeal for the military he renounced his British nationality. He got his Pakistani citizenship when he wrote to then President of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to be granted citizenship in order to be able to join the Pakistan Army.[3] He thus renounced his British nationality to join Pakistan Army. He was commissioned in the 49th PMA Long Course in 1974 in the 26th Cavalry Regiment of the Armoured Corps.




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Time to exit, but wait!


Eric S. Margolis (veteran US journalist)
27 June 2011, 7:22 PM

“Far-called our navies melt away

On dune and headland sinks the fire

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! “

-           Rudyard Kipling Recessional

War is waged to achieve political objectives, not to kill enemies.   In this sense, the United States has lost the 10-year Afghan conflict, its longest war.  Afghanistan remains the “graveyard of empires.”

The US has failed to install an obedient regime in Kabul that controls Afghanistan. It has made foes of the Pashtun majority, and, in pursuing this war, gravely undermined Pakistan. Claims that US forces were in Afghanistan to hunt the late Osama bin Laden were widely disbelieved.

Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama bowed to public opinion, approaching elections, military reality and financial woes by announcing he would withdraw a third of the 100,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer. Pentagon brass growled open opposition.

US allies France and Germany announced similar troops reductions. All foreign troops are supposed to quit Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Washington currently spends at least $10 billion monthly on the Afghan war, not counting “black” payments, CIA and NSA operations. The US has poured $18.8 billion in development aid into Afghanistan since 2001 with nothing to show for the effort. Pakistan has been given $20 billion to support the Afghan War.  The US deficit is heading over $1.4 trillion. The national debt, when unfunded pensions and benefits are added, is likely $100 trillion, according to the chief of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond trader.

Forty-four million Americans now receive food stamps; the national infrastructure of roads, airports, bridges and schools is crumbling from neglect. Unemployment, officially at 9.5 per cent, is probably closer to 20 per cent.

The cry is being heard: “Rebuild America, not Afghanistan.”

In spite of intense pro-war propaganda, over half of Americans now oppose the Afghan War. Even US-installed Afghan president Hamid Karzai calls it, “ineffective, apart from causing civilian casualties.”

So will the US really pull out of Afghanistan? That remains to be seen. There are contradictory signs.

Mid-level talks between the US and Taleban are under way. The US will probably keep some of its remaining 66,000 soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014, rebranding them training troops. The huge US bases at Kandahar and Bagram will be retained. 

Billions more will be spent on the Afghan government army and police. They have so far proved ineffective because most are composed of Tajik and Uzbek mercenaries who are hated and distrusted by the Pashtun.

A similar process is underway in Iraq where “withdrawal” means keeping renamed US combat brigades in Iraq, thousands of mercenaries, and US combat forces in neighbouring Kuwait and the Gulf. New US embassies in Baghdad and Kabul – huge, fortified complexes with their own mercenary combat forces – will be the world’s biggest. Kabul will have a staff of 1,000 US personnel. Bin Laden called them “crusader fortresses.”

In addition, the US will still arm and finance allied Tajik and Uzbek militias in Afghanistan. Financing Pakistan’s US-backed regime and Uzbekistan must also continue at around $3 billion yearly.  The US appears to be going and staying at the same time. By contrast, Taleban’s position is clear and simple: it will continue fighting until all foreign troops are withdrawn. US Special Forces, drones and hit squads have been unable to assassinate enough Taleban commanders to make the mujahidin stop fighting.

Americans never study history, not even their own. They don’t recall founding father, the great Benjamin Franklin, who said, “there is no good war, and no bad peace.” Or that the Pashtun Taleban and its allies are fierce, dedicated, undefeated warriors. I’ve been in combat with them and remain in awe of their courage and love of combat. The Pashtun mujahidin will keep fighting as always, as long as their ammunition lasts.   

America, for all its B-1 heavy bombers, strike fighters, missiles, helicopter gunships and drones, armour, super electronics, spies in the sky and all the other high tech weapons of modern war has failed to defeat some 30,000 tribal fighters with nothing more than small arms and legendary valour.  

The US has lost the all important military initiative in Afghanistan.  It may linger there, but it cannot win.

Eric Margolis is a veteran US journalist

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