Weekday Squib: Don’t name your missiles after our heroes

An Afghan objection to Pakistani missile taxonomy

Makhdom Raheen, the Afghan information minister, said Kabul recently sent a letter through its Foreign Ministry to Pakistan over its use of names including Mohammed Ghauri, a 12th-century Muslim conqueror. One series of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles is called Ghauri. “We asked them not to use the names of great elders of Afghanistan on weapons of mass destruction or other war equipment,” Raheen said. [DT]

So again we ask, will it be Qasim next?

9 thoughts on “Weekday Squib: Don’t name your missiles after our heroes”

  1. Another example of Pakistanis being confused about their heritage. I’m surprised that no one caught that before, may be because Taliban government was essentially Pakistanis themselves.

    They keep reminding themselves that their religion came from west, but they keep hiding the fact that atleast half of their ancestors were ‘kafirs’ themselves, whom they leave no opportunity to berate.

  2. Sachin: it’s truly amusing when Qadeer Khan – nuclear Robinhood extraordinaire – resident of Bhopal till 1950 – commissions some revisionist history of his family tree to “descend” from Shahabuddin Ghori. I wonder if he could have been an Abdul Kalam had he stayed back. Secular Right and raven have interesting takes.

  3. Pakistan’s borrowed hero’s, borrowed heroic exploits syndrome has always puzzled me.

    The syndrome is certainly widespread and not just limited to naming missiles. There we certainly have grounds for the Afghan’s being peeved given that we have the Ghauri missile named after an Afghan born Turko-Persian Mohammed Ghor and Ghaznavi missile after a Afghan born Turk, Mahmud of Ghazni.

    Go through the official Pakistan Navy website page on the Type 21.{http://www.paknavy.gov.pk/type21.htm}.

    Among the details the page gives, is an explanation on the significance of the ship’s names.

    I was rather surprised to note that almost all the ships have been named after either individuals or events that are not linked to Pakistan (ie : where individuals, they were neither born or principally based within the present territorial confines of Pakistan; where events, once again the events were not located within the present territorial confines of Pakistan.,)

    Thus the first ship (in the order named in the page) was named after an Arab (PNS Tariq/Tariq bin Zayed), the second after an individual born in Southern India (PNS Tipu/Tipu Sultan) and one who never set in foot within the present territorial confines of Pakistan, the third after an individual born in Uzbekistan who headquartered himself in India (PNS Babur/Babur), the fourth after a Saudi Arabian battle (PNS Khaibar/ Battle of Khaibar), and the sixth once again after a Saudi Arabian battle (PNS Badr/ Battle of Badr).

    Surely there cannot be a problem of trying to find heroic individuals born within the present territorial confines of Pakistan.or for that matter heroic events ?

    I can immediately think of a heroic individual born within the present territorial confines of Pakistan, namely Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

  4. They use names from great Muslim warriors and military leaders or famous battles in muslim history. Badr and Khaibar are important battles in early muslim history.
    Tariq bin Ziyad was the Arab general who led the attack on Spain in the medieval era.

  5. history_lover,

    Surely those are great names from the muslim world, which a declared muslim state should be justly proud of.

    But should a whole nation’s thinking come out of ONLY religion that it follows? If that is so for one religion and country, shouldn’t the non-muslim nations be forgiven (which they shouldn’t ideally) for being ‘not-so-hospitable’ to the minorities and immigrants who actually hate them?

    Can followership of a religion (born in another culture) transplant the history that the local peoples have gone through?

  6. Hari Om, history_lover: interesting data. The Ranjit Singh data point (also Manmohan Singh and LK Advani for that matter) is fascinating. Declaring Ranjit Singh a hero in Pakistan would be treasonous. But declaring Tipu Sultan, “an individual born in Southern India” is OK. Amusing. Just a little reality check for the text-book writers in Pakistan: “Hindustan ka Badshah” referred to the ruler of Delhi – not Lahore, not Karachi – certainly not Islamabad 🙂

  7. I am not sure why Islamic Pakistan cannot name missiles after Afghan warlords. After all, India — and I am told with good authority that it is a secular republic — names its road and towns after conquerors that defeated and ruled over it. Anyone know the history of, say, Aurangzeb?

  8. Some Sunday levity from Dawn.

    New Missile Crisis: Now this is an altogether curious affair. The Afghan government is reported to have objected to Pakistan naming missiles after Afghan heroes — Ghauri, for instance. An Afghan minister has said Pakistan has been asked “not to use the name of the great elders of Afghanistan on weapons of mass destruction or other war equipment”; it was welcome to use the names for peaceful things’ like memorials, monuments, etc. Why did Ghauri and Abdali and other warriors come marauding south? our foreign office should’ve replied. If they had stayed in Afghanistan, we wouldn’t have treated them as our heroes and been content to look around for indigenous heroes. This would’ve been a difficult, agonizing search.

    Scratch our heads as much as we can, and we can’t come up with a really local hero for a Pakistani weapon. Our political and military leaders have been thoroughly discredited by one another. We can’t possibly name missiles after our mystics, poets and writers, who would turn in their graves at being associated with anything war-like. We could have a Musharraf missile or a rocket called Qazi I or Fazl II (hoping it wouldn’t fizzle out) or a tank dubbed Bhutto. But critics might say they have all proved to be rather loose canons and are best left untouched. We came up with Ghauri because India named one of its missiles Prithvi. The solution to the new missile crisis is simple — stop building missiles and other deadly weapons. No missiles, no need for names. Thank God, no one in the subcontinent has yet thought of finding a name for a nuclear bomb. And, meanwhile, is it possible, despite the militarization of society, to stop putting up war-like monuments in public places? [Dawn]

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