Is the Pakistan army martial?

Published: September 29, 2012
The writer is an Indian columnist and former newspaper editor

The writer is an Indian columnist and former newspaper editor [email protected]

Are Punjabi Muslims martial? Do they have a history of war and conquest or at least of resistance to conquest? I ask because there’s no evidence of their martial character in our history. No general, no subedar, no thanedar, no wazir, no bakhshi of the Mughal empire was a Punjabi Muslim so far as I know.

I might be wrong about this but there are only two Punjabi Muslims named in Mughal texts. The first is Kamaal Khan Gakkhar, who submitted (without fighting) to Akbar in 1576, according to Akbarnama. The second is Jalal Khan Gakkhar, an old man named among the victims by Jahangir in a skirmish with Afghans in 1620. A third reference is indirect, the name of the author of Shah Jahan’s Padishahnama is Shaikh Abdul Hamid “Lahori”. The Ain-e-Akbari has one joint reference to Janjuas and Awans, calling them tribes conquered by Afghans. There are of course Punjabi Hindus (mainly Khatris) who fought for the Mughals with distinction. Like Todar Mal, who led the sapping at the siege of Chittorgarh against the Sisodiya Rajputs, and also settled the revenue system for Akbar. Maathir ul Umara says Todar Mal was born in Lahore, though British scholars thought this was Laharpur in Awadh.

Where are the Punjabi Muslims? The fact is that the Punjabi Muslim is a convert mainly from the peasantry (Jat) which is not martial. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is Gakkhar, a caste that claims Rajput ancestry. The second Rohtas fort was built by Sher Khan Suri to pacify the Gakkhars. In his Tuzuk, Jahangir makes the remark in passing that the Gakkhars are warlike, but adds that they only fight among themselves. Meanwhile Rajput, Afghan, Maratha, Sikh, Jat (Hindu) and tribal Hindu generals all fought for and against Mughal armies. Rajputs had to be continually submitted by force, except for the loyal Kachwahas of Ambar (Jaipur). Right down to Aurangzeb, according to Maasir-e-Alamgiri, Mewar’s Sisodiyas and Marwar’s Rathors resisted the emperor. I clarify here that Muslims other than Punjabis fought the Mughals, and some very well.

Uttar Pradesh’s Rohilla Afghans were enemies of the Mughals and one of them (Najibud Daulah) ruled from Mughal Delhi for 10 years. Turkish-speaking Turani Sunnis and Farsi-speaking Irani Shias were the most important parties in the Mughal court. The former ranked as better fighters than the latter, who were better administrators. The fiercest Indian-origin Muslims were Shias, the Syeds of Barha (in Uttar Pradesh). The Maratha light cavalry was devastating and ended Muslim rule over India. The Sikhs captured Punjab and raided west up to Kabul and east up to the Doab. The Jats south of Delhi made life miserable for the later Mughals. Even the Baniya general Hemu showed martial character, almost ending Mughal rule before falling at the second battle of Panipat.

What exactly did the Punjabi Muslim do? Invaders who got past Peshawar could then only be stopped at Karnal or Panipat because they went through Punjab undisturbed. It is true that the armies of both Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali were harassed in Punjab on their return with Mughal booty, but their attackers were Sikhs, not Muslims. Punjab was a quiet state. Punjabi Muslims neither rebelled against Mughal Delhi nor fought any invader whether Afghan or Persian. Was this because the Punjabi did not want to fight other Muslims? Not really, because he did not even resist being conquered easily by Sikhs.

It is the Englishman who 150 years ago gave the Punjabi Muslim a rifle and taught him how to use it. But this did not require any martial background. The British Bengal army was full of UP Brahmins (like Mangal Pandey). It is only after this formation of the modern regiments, that Punjabi Muslims are called martial by writers like GF MacMunn. After the English left, the record of Punjabi Muslims at war under their own generals is not sterling. I count one draw and one loss and I’m being charitable. Against the Pashtun Talib the record is not encouraging, despite the thousands of martyrs. Nadir Shah said of Indian Muslims after the battle of Karnal that they “know how to die, but not how to fight”.

This is fine and many states of India are not martial. Few soldiers were produced by Bengal’s Hindus for instance, and not many by Gujarat even today. But they don’t have the militant bombast of the Punjabi Muslim (who apparently equals 10 Hindus). I’m just wondering what this bombast is based on because I cannot figure it out.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (95)

  • ulta pulta
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:00AM

    Will you count Dullah Bhatti, who rebelled against the Mughals, as a Punjabi martial whatever? !!


  • Khan Jr
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:16AM

    Unlike the writer I can’t say much about the Punjabi mussalmaan’s role as a warrior during the Mughal days, but history does make it clear it was thousands of Punjabi mussalmaan’s who helped the British storm the rebel barricades and conquer Delhi in 1857 and put an end to the 1st War of Independence. Following the defeat of the heroic ‘miscreants’, thousands of these mussalmaans from Punjab served in the British Indian Army loyally until 1947.


  • it'sfunnytoreadthisblog
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:24AM

    Here comes the tide of defence and explanations in 5 4 3 2 1……….


  • Saad BP
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:35AM

    Saw the movie “The Countess” a few days back, the narration in one scene goes:
    “History is a tale written by the victors”.
    This quote says it all, numerous accounts of Punjabi warriors like Dullah Bhatti, Shah Hussain, Rai Ahmed Khan Kharal and Chawa have survived in folklore but no historical account exists because the victors: the British and the Mughals, wrote their own version of events.
    Why is it that there is no word in Punjabi language to show submission or apologise?
    If the Eastern Sub-Continental (Hindustan) are superior warriors, why were they ruled by people from the West for 1000 years?
    The article is good for samosas btw.


  • usman
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:35AM

    There is no concept of maritial race in Pakistan and if so why most of the its chief’s are non-punjabi General Ayub, General Musa, General Yahya,General Gul Hasan, General aslam Baig,General Waheed, General Musharaf.


  • Qamar Abbas Khokhar
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:43AM

    Why are you trying to excite the peace-loving people of Punjab?


  • unbeliever
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:13AM

    @Saad BP:

    thry offered resistance, and lost. but you just let invaders pass through.


  • F
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:29AM

    Might the bombast is based on religious supremacy? In 1965 and 1971 wars that was the myth fed to the people and the jawans.


  • gp65
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:34AM

    Interesting read Aakar. Did not have most of this information.


  • C. Nandkishore
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:37AM

    I always had this doubt. But you put is quite nicely. Going a little back was there a mention of Punjab in Mahabharata . There is a mention of Sind and Kandahar.


  • Arijit Sharma
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:46AM

    @author: ” … Nadir Shah said of Indian Muslims after the battle of Karnal that they “know how to die, but not how to fight”. … “

    Easy to explain. The promise of 72 virgins in the after life.


  • Arijit Sharma
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:55AM

    @Saad BP: ” … If the Eastern Sub-Continental (Hindustan) are superior warriors, why were they ruled by people from the West for 1000 years? … “

    Does it not occur to you that India is predominantly Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist/Jain because Hindustanis put up a fight ?


  • Bijou
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:56AM

    Please remind me of a war, any war, won by the glorious Pakistani Army, when run by the Sher Dils of Pakistani Punjab, or any other place in Pakistan.

    Unless you want to include the Bengali Mukti Bahini. Technically, they were Pakistani until they liberated Bangladesh from the Pakistani tentacles.


  • Rsingh1200
    Sep 30, 2012 - 3:51AM

    Fabolous article which certainly take air out Punjabi Musalman balloon .


  • @plarkin
    Sep 30, 2012 - 4:59AM

    I think this comes from the native soldiers who served during WW2 in Burma and North Africa. Their British officers said, perhaps apocryphally, that the Punjabi Muslim was the best infantryman in the world.


  • gp65
    Sep 30, 2012 - 5:01AM

    @Saad BP: “If the Eastern Sub-Continental (Hindustan) are superior warriors, why were they ruled by people from the West for 1000 years?”

    They were NOT ruled by people from present day Pakistani Muslims that’s for sure. Also present day Pakistan may have been ruled for 1000 years by Muslim invaders. That is certainly not a true statement for present day India.


  • Sep 30, 2012 - 5:19AM

    To this day, the vast majority of Pakistani soldiers and policemen come from the Potohar Plateau region, not the rest of the Punjab and the plains where the land is more fertile.


  • ozman
    Sep 30, 2012 - 5:43AM

    What a load of utter nonsense , Muslims ruled most of India for approximately a thousand long years.


  • Sep 30, 2012 - 5:51AM

    Please don’t put divisions between Pak-British friendship.

    We are a peace loving people and the Pakistan does not equal to Punjabis and Pak Army is not equal to Punjab. Sorry but you guys are not being cool. Why are Indians writing propaganda pieces in Pak newspapers ? Please be nice and love us! we are you are neighbors!.


  • Concerned
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:07AM

    Perhaps the title of this article should be, ‘Are Punjabis martial?’ The Pakistani army is not exclusively made of Punjabis and its character is distinctly nationalistic, not ‘Punjabi’ but ‘Pakistani’. Furthermore, your articles predominantly tend to suggest that ethnicity, or caste, tend to determine success in military/administrative spheres – and it is disappointing to note the absence of other equally determinants.

    I concede, Pakistan’s military record against the Taliban isn’t stellar, but arguably nor is the record of the American military or its NATO allies – on the Pakistani side because of religious and cultural reasons, and on the US/NATO side presumably because of Afghan resistance and/or sympathy for the Taliban. Psychological factors play an exceedingly important role in any war – the resistance of Lahoris during its siege in 1965 prevented its capture by Indian troops – was it ethnicity that determined this, or was it the determination of Pakistani troops and ordinary civilians to prevent its fall?

    The bombastic propaganda of the Pakistani army is admittedly over-the-top, but I feel that this article fails to analyze other crucial factors that form the backbone of military culture and gives too much importance to ethnicity.


  • Mahakaalchakra
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:19AM

    I read somewhere that Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been the only son-of-soil who ever ruled the Punjab after the fall of indigenous Hindu and Buddhist regime. Punjab had always been under the occupation of foreign invaders until 1947.

    Correct me if I had wrong impression.


  • Dipak
    Sep 30, 2012 - 7:57AM

    Who cares Aakar? I don’t see the need to open up conflicts that both countries are trying to avoid.


  • Sep 30, 2012 - 8:03AM

    I’d like to leave a comment just to find out what Pakistanis from Punjab have to say about this.


  • anwar
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:03AM

    Shortsighted people dont make good fighters


  • rashid Khan
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:10AM

    All I can say is the you’ve stirred the hornet’s nest and also punctured the bombast balloon.
    I can honestly state that I agree with Ahmad Shah Abdali- their fighting skills are questionable.
    They are somehow strongly imbibed with dying uselessly without making the live lost worth its while.


  • Mian
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:14AM

    After 1947, Pakistani Punjabis in army took all the blames for all the wrong doings of army in East Pakistan, Sindh and later in Baluchistan. Does that reinforce the idea of Punjabis are martial race?


  • Selvam
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:22AM

    A psychologist would probably explain the dominance of Punjabi’s in the Pakistani armed forces as a compensationary move to cover up fears.
    A political scientist would probably explain the dominance of Punjabi’s in the Pakistani armed forces as a clear sign of the shrewdness of Punjabi politicians to grab all the khaki goodies from less populated states like Sindh till today but even from East Bengal before 1971.


  • Hashmi
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:00AM

    The writer bases his premise on a false criteria.. Punjabi is not a race, it is a language.

    To see the martial aspect he needs to study sub-castes such as Awan, Araein, Rajput, Janjua etc.


  • Explorer
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:18AM

    Can someone tell me who Purushottham, ( Porus as he was called by theGreeks) who fought against Alexander the Great, was. Was he a Punjabi or a Pashtun?


  • Raj Kafir
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:20AM

    Punjabis regardless of religion are martial nation declared by British. Punjabi Muslims love their land and they are not missionaries of any religion. You will not find any Punjabi Muslim who has left his land and preached his religion outside his own lands.


  • Maestro
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:41AM

    A Pakistani newspaper has the confidence to let this biased Indian columnist write a defense for the …what shall we say…poor record of Hindu fighting heritage. It is a known fact that Hindus do not put up a fight. It is just the character of the ppl. I am sure they are better in other things, but fighting and valor is not one of them.

    I know a few patriotic Indian Sikhs who laugh and scoff at the Hindus. They say, that if it were not for them, the present day Indian army would be without its teeth. How true is that? Well, history points to a lot.

    Patel sahib would do well to read history with an unbiased view point.


  • Maestro
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:43AM

    @Arijit Sharma: Simple. Muslims did conquer and rule Indian for hundereds of years but Mughals were for the most part tolerant. Also, Islam never spread with the sword. I hope that answers your question.


  • ishtiaer hussain
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:49AM

    Yes, you are correct. Punjabis (first, Hindus and then Muslims) never resisted to any invaders who came from the west after crossing the famous Khyber pass and guided them towards the interior heartlands of India. Only once in our history, they faced an invader (British) coming from east which they also never resisted and guided them to the west to fight with Pathans and Afghans. Punjabis are good at pitting one against the other and try to live peacefully under subjugation. This is the lesson they learnt over mellenia. King Poris tried to resist Alexander but lost. But when he surrendered he was made king of Punjab once again. Punjabis took this lesson to their heart.


  • Khalid Akhtar
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:50AM

    Nadir Shah said of Indian Muslims after the battle of Karnal that they “know how to die, but not how to fight”.

    “Nadir Shah said that about the INDIAN Muslims not Punjabi Muslims. AND, Pakistan Army is 60% non Punjabi.”


  • Roy
    Sep 30, 2012 - 9:55AM

    But they don’t have the militant bombast of the Punjabi Muslim (who apparently equals 10 Hindus). I’m just wondering what this bombast is based on because I cannot figure it out.

    he he he he.

    Nice article. Hope the Punjabi army is reading :P


  • Mirza
    Sep 30, 2012 - 10:06AM

    Just one word “Wow”.


  • S
    Sep 30, 2012 - 10:18AM

    Bengal Hindus killed the most number of British personnel in the entire British empire except NWFP, a war zone. Does that count?


  • gp65
    Sep 30, 2012 - 10:34AM

    @Saad BP: ” … If the Eastern Sub-Continental (Hindustan) are superior warriors, why were they ruled by people from the West for 1000 years?

    Hindustan was not ruled by Muslims from Punjab. Secondly present day Pakistan may have bee ruled by invaders for a 1000 years and you may even be proud of that. Present day India was not ruled by Muslims for a 1000 years.


  • Ranjit
    Sep 30, 2012 - 10:48AM

    Aaakar Patel is wrong………the ancestors of Punjabi muslims were the Hindushahis, the Hindu Janjua rulers from Potohar who ruled from Kabul…….they ruled eastern Afghanistan and Punjab……..they offered very severe resistance to muslim invasions of the subcontinent for centuries absorbing the shock of those attacks………that is why the rest of India was spared and did not have to convert……..the Ghaznavids had to fight tooth and nail to subdue to hindushahis before Punjab fell……..afterwards, the ghakkars and khokars always resisted the invaders, including assasinating Shahabuddin Ghauri……….dullah bhatti fought for 20 years against Akbar………these are facts that are not mentioned in history………

    An interesting observation is that Punjabi muslims never tried to spread Islam in the rest of the subcontinent…… fact, they did not even convert all of Punjab……..this is in spite of muslim political rule in all of North India which would have supported them…….unlike Afghans who tried to convert neighboring Punjab, Punjabis never bothered about converting their neighboring hindus……we can only interpret that Punjabi muslims converted after military defeat and were unenthusiastic converts to Islam……I have read that even until 100 years back, Punjabi muslims would have both a pandit and a maulvi at their weddings……..therefore, when we see religious fundamentalism in Pakistan today, it is very strange and does not fit with their actual history…..


  • Ayesha Siddiqa
    Sep 30, 2012 - 10:49AM

    @author: the story of the martial races was spread because the British wanted to raise an army from this region instead of from the areas from where the Royal Indian army traditionally came from. The Muslim Punjab army was a response to the armies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras presidencies especially after 1857. Land was distributed amongst those who could be recruited into a more loyal army. There was, however, resistance in Punjab from characters like Ahmed Kharal or Dulla Bhatti. These were the local forces of rebellion which are not mentioned in most histories written in modern day Muslim Punjab. I am sure you must have read Tan Tai Yong’s Garrison State to understand where the myth came from.Recommend

  • Zaigham
    Sep 30, 2012 - 11:04AM

    i need you to reconsider on following counts.
    What makes one martial?
    Were Mughals locals and why should they had appointed Punjabies as their officers?
    Punjab has faced aggression since ages and this is what has turned punjabies martial.
    Will you call Rajputs and Sikhs non martial?
    If so I pity your judgment.


  • Rahul
    Sep 30, 2012 - 11:08AM

    @Saad BP: ” … If the Eastern Sub-Continental (Hindustan) are superior warriors, why were they ruled by people from the West for 1000 years? … “

    Indian History does not start from 1000 yeras. Just 2200 years back Asoka ruled frm Mayanmar in east to Afganistan in west. Bamiyan buddhas which Taliban blew up, are testimony of Indian footprints.Earlier Alexander The Great Had to turn back to grrece when He found out after Battle of Hadypesis(Jhelum) That more than 3,00,000 Indian troops r standing in next conflict.The First muslim invasion of Sindh was supported by Jats (I m a Jat Myself) because jats were treated as Shudras in his Kingdom.The Fact is after decline of Asoka Empire, Indian state got divided into local greedy Kings who supported invaders to settle their local grudges.Yes for last 1000 yrs the chapters of our history r blood stained, but this r just few pages, in a Civilisation- which is know as Oldest in the world- The INDUS VALLEY CIVILISATION. And if , i take ur point that we people r so weak, thn how come in JUST 1000 yrs(According to yu) u lost ur influcence-Politically,Socially,Economically on the region? The fact is 99% Muslims of sub-continent r Coverted because of various reasons- Forced/Depopulation/Upper Caste oppression/Untouchability and so on.


  • Prakash
    Sep 30, 2012 - 11:24AM

    It is time we stop glorifying the aggressors of the past, even if at times they were victorious. There aim was nothing more than destruction and loot, and thus they should be put in same category as thugs and bandits.


  • Sep 30, 2012 - 12:08PM

    Seems a well argued article but a few facts must be mentioned. Frankly history of India is Delhi specific. Invasions are counted when attackers reached Doab/ Delhi. Their previous attacks by the same invaders are not mentioned. For example Alexander had to return without conquering India and could not cross Jhelum River because of Punjabi resistance. Two thousand years later Mehmood of Ghazna made 17 attempts reached Kathiawar. 16 were unsuccessful and he had to return from Punjab. Whey. Was it not because of Punjabi resistance. 600 years later Ahmed Shah Abdalli had to made six unsuccessful attempts before defeating Marathas at Panipat. Will the writer tell me where the Huns and Mangols were stopped?
    It will not be correct to state that Punjabi Muslims meekly surrendered to Sikhs. My own small tribe resisted Sikhs for ten years between 1820 and 1830 in Murree/Hazara mountains. The tribe tried to repeat history against British in 1857 but was out numbered and out gunned. As far as India Pakistan contests are concerned in the eastern sector even the “lost match” drawn, though in the east India won more because of Bengali insurgency than bravery of Hindustani troops. [Here I use Hindustan instead of India as it was most of present day India was mentioned in Punjab before partition/independence].Recommend

  • RK Singh
    Sep 30, 2012 - 12:32PM

    Not surprisingly they lost 4 wars- in spite of having the best equipment at their disposal.


  • Ali Sadozai
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:05PM

    Brilliant article. born and brought up in Lahore I also wondered about it and found no martial tradition amongst Punjabi Muslims (not Punjabis in general) to explain the current militaristic bombast. One possible although controversial view could be that Punjabi Muslim was always predominantly an underclass in areas that mattered. At best they had to benefit from every political upheaval brought by another Muslim invader which displaced upper classes, or at worse, they just had to survive stressing their muslim rather than punjabi credentials.


  • Raza Khan
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:11PM

    How about Maulla Jat!Recommend

  • David Smith
    Sep 30, 2012 - 1:15PM

    @Qamar Abbas Khokhar
    Lovely sense of humor. No wonder your comment has been recommenced the most!


  • nishant
    Sep 30, 2012 - 2:19PM

    Blasphemy least to say.
    The Punjabi Muslim is as dedicated and as brave as anyone else.
    Leadership is certainly a matter of debate;
    But to snatch martial tag from these brave people is unfair.
    I belong to East of Sutlej and share an ancestral and genetic relation with the West less the religion of course.
    But saddens me when opinions to discredit them like this is published.
    Modern History ,Mr Patel is what thou needs to read least to say.
    Mr Editor– Please for the love of God do not stake your reputation on such a columnist.


  • Hillarious
    Sep 30, 2012 - 2:42PM

    Those who question martial power of ex-Indians , then they should remember that we ,Indians had stopped the so-called Great Alexander who was famous for his victory over persia .Now don’t say Alexander was very tired , because someone has already said history is written by victors and I fully agree with him. Britishers played mind games , that to with fool Mughal leaders who were killing each other even their parents .But the real martial races are Gorkha ,skih and Rajputs .But those who think that martial races can’t be peaceful , then they should take references from the above mentioned races .There is a difference between nuisance and martial race .


  • punit
    Sep 30, 2012 - 3:39PM

    mangal pandey belonged to bhumihar brahmin caste,thats an martial caste,they drove rajputs out of modern bihar.


  • G.A.
    Sep 30, 2012 - 4:01PM

    I cannot understand the logic of such a racist and bias article at this time. What this writer is up to from such a talk? Moreover he requires to have more knowledge about Punjabi Muslims and their backgrounds…….most of the Jats and other castes of Punjabi Muslims were used to be Sikhs and there is no doubt on their martial character.


  • Pakboy
    Sep 30, 2012 - 5:13PM

    @RK Singh:
    Only You disillusioned indians say we lost 4 wars. Correct your history, kid.


  • Saad BP
    Sep 30, 2012 - 5:26PM

    @gp65, @arijit sharma, @rahul: What happened to having same blood, culture, cuisine, DNA? Are you all not accepting that Hindus and Muslims are 2 distinct races with nothing in common? Two-Nation Theory anyone? No?
    It is funny how my Indian friends dragged religion in when given the bait. It is time you all came out of your cocoons of bigotry. The attitude Indians show on this website is described as (for the lack of a better word): Bhing*


  • usman
    Sep 30, 2012 - 5:43PM

    Who was porus. Ancestor of current Janjua Rajput clan(mostly of them are muslim) and he stopped Alexandar not in India’s heartland but in Jhelum(in Punjab).History tell u that fall of Punjab means fall of India. Marhata only start resistance when Mughal Empire due to internal rifts and poor rule is at verge of fall.Areas comprising of current india are good in one thing i.e. Passion. Wait and see when time come to get Lion’s share.While punjabi no matter which religion they follow do things spotaneously.


  • Sushant
    Sep 30, 2012 - 5:54PM

    @Khan Jr:
    Shame on them, that’s the role one could expect from them. When hindus and muslims fought against british, these martyial men shown their true colours of backstabbing , that’s what they are


  • Sushant
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:02PM

    Perhaps you should read more abt marathas,rajputs,sikhs, etc, whole hindu history is full of valor, its lacking in your pakistan only, u let ur people killed by americans becoz ur own culture and selfishness made them like that, devastated thier childhood with radical brainwashing.. shame on pakistani punjabis


  • Boota Gujjar
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:20PM

    What utter rubbish.. The only purpose of writing this kind of articles is to put a certain community down.


  • Non-Punjabi
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:28PM

    Pakistani Punjabis have always been dominated and governed by Afghans and Turks for the last 1000 years. That is perhaps the reason why they proudly cite that “India” was ruled for 1000 years by Muslims.

    Wrong! Pakistani Punjabis were ruled by Muslims for 1000 years, not the present day India. I wouldn’t be proud of such an ignominious record of my own people, but hey I don’t begrudge the Punjabis pride in their subjugation by Turks and Pasthuns. Only in the last 60 years have the Pashtuns been subjugated by Pakistani Panjabi state after the creation of Pakistan. The drone sttacks and bombardment by the Pakistan army occur in tribal areas. This gives the impression that Pakistani elite would sacrifice the buffer tribal areas to the West as long as Punjab remained untouched. Pak Punjab=Pakistan.

    In East and South of the subcontinent Muslim rule was short lived and only concentrated around the cities in North India. The interiors of present day India were always in constant revolt. There is no reason why else India would still remain overwhelmingly Hindu in-spite of the religious zealotry of each successive ruler who sat on the throne of Delhi, save for Akbar and Sher Shah Suri. Medieval India was a time of endless revolts and bloodshed unlike the smooth transition from one ruler to another as history books tell us.

    But I guess a simplistic flow of history is easy to understand. Simple ideas but untrue ideas are always popular. Like “Muslims ruled India for 1000 years,” or “Punjabis are a martial race,” and “1 Mussalman = 10 Hindus.” They are equuivalent of the catchy slogans which might not have any foundation in truth but are taken to heart by the masses.


  • bmniac
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:33PM

    @Saad BP:
    1000 years
    Still in delusion! wake up please!
    looting and killing was not a proper activity according to Dharma!


  • Mahakaalchakra
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:40PM


    How old are you? Do you have internet? Do you still have Google? Then Google what Air Marshall retd Asghar Khan of Pakistan tells the world.

    If not you are in DELUSION and DENIAL.


  • bmniac
    Sep 30, 2012 - 6:40PM

    Also, Islam never spread with the sword.
    is it amnesia or have you not read history?
    You have a right to innocence but where is the need to go public in the matter?


  • Kamran Zia
    Sep 30, 2012 - 7:29PM

    And yet ruled for 1000 years! Ha!Recommend

  • PakPunjabi
    Sep 30, 2012 - 7:32PM

    The term ‘martial’ was attributed to Punjabi Muslims based on their performance in the First and Second World Wars. It was given by ‘neutral’ British. They could have called the Hindus martial but they did not….


  • Selvam
    Sep 30, 2012 - 7:51PM

    “The Muslim Punjab army was a response to the armies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras presidencies especially after 1857. Land was distributed amongst those who could be recruited into a more loyal army”

    The only thing that changed is that before the paymasters were the Brits and now it is the Yanks/ Saudis. The Colonial distance to the suppressed population is still there: Balochistan, FATA, Baltistan “Azad” Kashmir.


  • Zeeshan
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:09PM

    “They were NOT ruled by people from present day Pakistani Muslims that’s for sure. Also present day Pakistan may have been ruled for 1000 years by Muslim invaders. That is certainly not a true statement for present day India.”

    And when did people from “present day India” ever rule India except for the small territory to the south which even that could easily be defeated by the marching Mughal? Pakistani Muslims also include descendants of Mughals and Pathans, So, they did rule much of “India” if we are playing the descendants game here”. Secondly, no Muslims are invaders for Muslims. Only Hindus and Sikhs called them invaders. So, don’t impose your Hindu’s “two-nation theory” on Muslims.


  • Zeeshan
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:33PM

    Some “bombast” is self-fed, others are affirmed by outsiders.The martial identity imposed by the British post-1857 played a role in shaping the psyche of Punjabis as a whole, not just Punjabi Muslims.

    One has to ask Indian Hindus themselves what they think of “Punjabis”? Why are “Punjabis” especially Sikhs who were massacred in 1984 could be elevated by Indians as the “most decorated Indian regiment” and fed the idea of being “warriors” and allowed to rule the mantle of India’s army? Punjabi Sikhs have very poor record in defeating Afghans or Mughals except when these civilizations were at their weakest points; so Ranjit Singh alone would not be able to explain the supposed myth that “Sikhs protected Hindus”. But that myth continues to be embraced. So much so, Hindus now celebrating that Sikh man as the “first son-on soil” who ruled Punjab in “1000 years of Muslim invasions”.

    Punjabi Sikh as equal to 10 Hindus does not sound like a bombast or myth to the Hindus. Hindus internalized this martial race theory to give hope and trust to the Sikhs to defend their supposed homeland. So, ask why it becomes “bombast” only to Punjabi Muslims when Hindus internalized much of this “bombast” when it comes to Sikhs?

    The point being whether based on facts or not, Punjabis as a whole viewed themselves as warrior and brave compared to others. This might not be based on “reality” but by self-perception which is affirmed by others. Hindus included.


  • nrmr44
    Sep 30, 2012 - 8:41PM

    The title of the article is “Is the Pakistan Army Martial?”
    But the article leads with “Are Punjabi Muslims martial?”. (Thereafter, the whole
    article is about Punjabi Muslims, not about the Pakistan Army).
    I conclude from this that:
    (a) The “Pakistan Army” is virtually synonymous with “Punjabi Muslim Army”.
    (b) The author believes in the British theory of martial races. (Note that the British
    never applied that theory to their own country, or to other European nations)
    (c) Records of post-1947 Indo-Pak wars are not as relevant as pre-WW1 tales
    (d) No other Pakistani ethnic group is evaluated, so they don’t matter
    (e) Analysis of gallantry awards of the Royal Indian Army in WW1 and WW2
    are not necessary. Ditto for gallantry awards of post-1947 Pakistan Army.
    (f) It is possible to publish an end result without the pain of research, just so long
    as it will excite and entertain.
    Moreover, he has created a template which can be applied, at choice, to practically
    any ethnic group in Pakistan.
    And in a Pakistani paper, too!
    As a fellow-Indian I congratulate the author.

  • Gratgy
    Oct 1, 2012 - 12:22AM


    Secondly, no Muslims are invaders for Muslims. Only Hindus and Sikhs called them invaders.

    When they invaded your ancestors were Buddhists and Hindus. Your ancestors became Muslim much later


  • Seema
    Oct 1, 2012 - 12:45AM

    @ibnarastoo: actually they share same history and half of Punjab is on their side….. he gave a true analysis with examples from history and recent history justifies his analysis… after independence,there were wars and none is won by our military…. 1965, 1971 they surrendered.. Kagil Siachin…. and if yo really want to defend come forward with some examples.


  • Oct 1, 2012 - 1:01AM

    What is this unfair generalization of Punjabis or Muslims? What useless scholarship. It is first of all not cool to make these kind of generalizations about a people in general, and, second, the author is drawing a weird, and perhaps inapplicable, continuum. Punjab wasn’t always as it is now. It wasn’t as massively populated before irrigation canals were dug, it’s boundaries were different, the south was kingdoms and princely states (which, one would assume, kept and used armies), etc. There has been continuous ferment in populations, religions, boundaries, rulers, and other characteristics of modern Punjab. As for the capacity for violence, perhaps the author is overlooking the internecine bloodshed of 1947. All of this article is founded on a wrong premise.

    Finally, in that Pakistan Army is an ARMY, it is martial by definition. Enough said!


  • unbeliever
    Oct 1, 2012 - 1:16AM


    that is what writer is trying to point out, that other than RAJPUTS, and save few other tribes in punjab, not many resisted the invaders.

    however, what is the percentage of population of rajputs in pakistan.

    if you get that, you would know how much of the population resisted, and how much just sat idly during war and, converted when confronted with swords.


  • Arijit Sharma
    Oct 1, 2012 - 2:16AM

    @Gratgy: ” … When they invaded your ancestors were Buddhists and Hindus. Your ancestors became Muslim much later … ”

    Muslims suffer from the Stockholm syndrome. Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Oct 1, 2012 - 3:05AM

    @Arijit Sharma; @Gragty,

    It seems the sword theory is very prominent among Indians. Muslims were ruling Delhi since 1200s. Why weren’t your Hindustan forefathers become Muslims? Wait, let me answer on your behalf: “our forefathers refused to submit to Islam and they fought gallantly on behalf of all Hindus…”

    tired old rubbish from Hindutvadis.


  • Arijit Sharma
    Oct 1, 2012 - 5:45AM

    @Zeeshan: ” … our forefathers refused to submit to Islam and they fought gallantly on behalf of all Hindus…”

    O.k lets assume that Islam wan not spread by the sword. What that means is that Islam did not appeal to us and we remained Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist/Jain.

    You lose either way.


  • Maria
    Oct 1, 2012 - 7:44AM

    When a writer from India tries so hard to discredit the notion of the martial Punjabi Muslaman soldier, I can only conclude he is spitting in the wind. The British carried out exhaustive analysis on the peoples they ruled – they knew how to govern them, their strengths and their weaknesses. They recognized the Punjabi Musalman as being the backbone of the British Army in British India because of obvious physical and mental traits including bravery. If all this were nonsense why did so many of them serve with distinction against the Germans and Japanese in World War 1 and World War 2 where there are ample references to their bravery. To repeat, the British choose them to fight along them in their life and death struggles against the Germans. Rather than beat this point further, just ask yourself if you were in a trench fighting would you want a martial Punjabi Musalman at your side or one of your own Indian races of Telagus, Bihairis Gujratis etc? I think you will quickly understand why the British would prefer to have Punjabi Muslims fighting and dying at their sides given the ability of these other races!


  • Karma
    Oct 1, 2012 - 7:52AM

    Porus (purushottam) was not “Punjabi”. There was no ‘Punjab’ then as a ethnic/cultural/linguistic entity. He was a Hindu (because there was Hindu civilization and identity then) and nothing more. Also, Alexander was deterred not by Porus but by the mighty Nanda Empire to the east which was ready to roll over the tired Greeks who wisely mutinied and refused to venture into mainland India.

    By the way, nice article with lots of information. I laugh whenever someone boast about their “martial” ancestry. They are ignorant fools who dont know any history and are full of themselves. Did anyone know about the Mauryan Empire which defeated the Greeks and extended the empire right into Iran or the South Indian Satavahana Empire who defeated the Shakas or the South Indian Vijayanagar Empire which single handedly stood as a bulkwark against muslim kingdoms for close to 400 years and it had to take 7 muslim sultanates to bring it down or the mighty South Indian Cholan Empire which occupied present day Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and was the overlord of south east asia for centuries. Have you ever heard the humble South Indians boasting about their “martial prowess” as some people routinely do ? Every region of India was ‘martial’ at some point or the other and that’s the reason why India is the oldest continuous civilization in this planet and Hindus the most ancient people of all still surviving while their ancient contemporaries were wiped out long time back.


  • SyedJaffry
    Oct 1, 2012 - 8:18AM

    Look up the races classified by the British as martial.. Do you even know that Yadavs (of Laloo fame) were classified as one?


  • Arijit Sharma
    Oct 1, 2012 - 10:11AM

    @Maria: ” … Rather than beat this point further, just ask yourself if you were in a trench fighting would you want a martial Punjabi Musalman at your side or one of your own Indian races of Telagus, Bihairis Gujratis etc? … “

    The “martial race” and “aryan invasion” theories are hoaxes perpetrated by a colonial power to justify their occupation. Believe them at your own peril.


  • Seema Faraz
    Oct 1, 2012 - 10:22AM

    I often thought about it, and the writer brings it down with pen. Great Piece of Work Aaker Patel. It was sad to see that for every attack in the old times, retaliation was only seen once the forces crossed Punjab. All i hear about the heroes from Punjab are the stories of Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal etc. etc.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Oct 1, 2012 - 10:53AM


    Have you ever heard the humble South
    Indians boasting about their “martial
    prowess” as some people routinely do ?

    I belong to one of those very orthodox South Indian martial castes that fought Muslim invaders. Even today you never find anything hateful or disrespectful being said about Islam in our homes. As a matter of fact, as children we are taught never to even playfully wield a kitchen knife!! Never give even a smallest chance for the mind to be tempted towards violence. After all, you cant be a warrior if can’t even conquer the violence within yourself.

  • Salman
    Oct 1, 2012 - 11:28AM

    @Arijit Sharma
    why red-Indians(North America) and aborigines (Austrailia) almost went instinct, while the Hindus remained a majority till this day. if it was for Sword Hindus would have been a small minority in Indian sub-continent. Your sword theory makes no sense.

    “What that means is that Islam did not appeal to us and we remained Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist/Jain.” yeah that could be the reason. Islam was a message and people made there own choice accepting it or rejecting it.


  • Tony Singh
    Oct 1, 2012 - 11:29AM

    Pakistani Army martial? You got to be kidding! The Pakistan army is a business congomerate with interest in real estate, transportation. food proccessing and manufacturing.


  • Waqar
    Oct 1, 2012 - 12:35PM

    and why is this article relevant?


  • Pro Truth
    Oct 1, 2012 - 2:11PM

    quite misleading write! Punjabi is race! and If we look into Indian and Pakistani armies even today! we will find on both sides one race more than others in the armed forces – Punjabi! Faith is adobted by race, and traits of a race remains regardless of their faith! Good effort to confuse readers!


  • vasan
    Oct 1, 2012 - 3:12PM

    Karma : Thanks for bringing in Vijayanagaram and Chola empires.


  • KT
    Oct 1, 2012 - 5:19PM

    @WajihAbbasi, The British could not defeat the tribes from Murree and Hazara. They conned them into signing a no-War pact and took a lease out on Murree town from the locals to cut timber. Once the British were on the higher ground, resistance was futile. It was not a military defeat. Some say it was a political stupidity while others cast it as wisdom as the locals would not have survived as an island within British India even on higher ground. Pathans from FATA prevailed over the British attempts to subjugate them as the Pathans were at the fringes of the empire and had support from Afghanistan. In fact some local historians regard Murree to be the last place in India to fall to the British.


  • Zalmai
    Oct 1, 2012 - 6:58PM


    Your post eloquently dispels all manufactured and fabricated myth making about martial races. All races and ethnic groups were martial at one point or another. Human beings across the board have the propensity to be martial or pacifist depending on geopolitics and the economy of war and peace.


  • PakPunjabi
    Oct 1, 2012 - 7:31PM

    Mistake 1 – Pakistan Army is not ‘Punjabi’ Army. Punjabis in Pakistan Army = 40-45%.
    Mistake 2 – Taliban in Pakistan not just Pashtuns. Taliban draw members irregard of race and ethnicity. ‘Punjabi Taliban’ are known to have carried out the most daring and sophisticated attack.
    Mistake 3 – Battle of Karnal fought between Mughals (Central Asians) and Nadir Shah (Persians) in North India. No indigenous fighter – Hindu, Sikh or Muslim was involved.
    PLEASE CHECK. This info is available all over the internet by neutral sources.


  • PakPunjabi
    Oct 1, 2012 - 7:36PM

    No research whatsoever. India was invaded and conquered by the Uzbeks/Tajiks, by Afghans, by Mughals, by Arabs, and by Britishers with much smaller armies. It is not pretty when for thousands of years your country has been ruled by armies much smaller.Recommend

  • Shahzad
    Oct 2, 2012 - 11:50AM

    The house wife who after dropping her kids to school somewhere in th USA drives to the airbase flies her B1 bomber all the way to the middle east and bombs the Taliban and flies back after arranging for her husband to pick the kids from school since she will be late, how martial is she.


  • ammar
    Oct 2, 2012 - 1:37PM

    The difference between punjabi muslim, hindu and sikh is their religion. They share they same ethinicty language and culture but different religion. Those who think that punjabis are not good fighters please read the history and you will see that all the invaders who came from north faced stiff resistance till Jhelum. Irrespective of their religion they fought the invaders I am a Gakhar and my ancestor who were muslim (converted to islam either before Ghazanvi or after Ghazanvi God know when) killed Shahbudin Ghori near Jhelum and Shershah Suri built a fort near Jhelum to control us (both were muslims). It is not about Martial races any more, the world has changed. Get over it guys, a black man son of a Kenyan became US president… and we ppl of subcontinent are still discussing martial races :)


  • Syed Shah
    Oct 3, 2012 - 4:13PM

    Sikhs have ransacked Lahore completely. You can see how they destroyed the beautiful parts of The Lahore Fort and the desecration of mosques inside. They took away the marble on the Asif Khan’s beautiful tomb. They destroyed all the beautiful work of art on the tomb to the extent their hands could reach. They have robbed the city of every thing precious. Punjabis did nothing to stop them. Wonder if they were cowards or thought what they did was right? I have seen the destruction myself and have photographs of the same.


  • stenson
    Oct 5, 2012 - 4:24AM

    @Syed Shah: At all times in history, Muslims have fought among themselves and let others abuse them – so too for the 50 year old Sikh rule over Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when Muslims betrayed their own people. It shows what happens when Muslims do not support each other but are selfish – you want to say that Arabs ( conquored by French and British) , Turks ( defeated by British), Central Asians ( conquored by Russia), Somalis(conquored by Italians) are all cowards? Try again- these same Punjabis were the among the best soldiers under the British who used them in 2 World Wars where they earned numerous citations for bravery and valour. I think that many commentators have already noticed this fact. I would believe British records over a jelous Indian writer any day.


  • N.R. Choudhury
    Oct 9, 2012 - 10:41AM

    @Saad BP:
    As the author makes clear, people from the West ruled over India as those in Punjab didn’t offer any resistance!


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