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http://www.myspace.com/pakhtunwali scroll down a page and click on the top youtube video about isreal/lebanon.

If you hear the background music and watch that news clipping you will hear some terrorist propaganda. I could see a young terrorist listening to this stuff before blowing himself up and others. Most of the people are depressed and the vibe makes them do stupid things. I was looking around and saw on a profile when I typed "sikh" popped up and It read :

Winston Churchill described it the best: "The Pathan tribes are always engaged in private or public war. Every man is a warrior, a politician and a theologian Every large house is a real feudal fortress....Every family cultivates its vendetta; every clan, its feud.... Nothing is ever forgotten and very few debts are left unpaid.They are fearless guerilla fighters who know the hills and valleys intimately, are crack shots and wear clothes that blend with their surroundings. No one has ever managed to subdue or unite them: the Mughals, Sikhs, British and Russians have all suffered defeat at their hands. . . . ."

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Actually, it was the Sikhs that defeated the Pathans. The Sikhs under Hari Singh Nalwa went deep into Pathan territory and even had Jamraud Fort at the mouth of the Khyber Pass from which Jalalabad in Afghanistan could be seen. Peshawar, Naushera, etc. were all Sikh territories.

If there is anyone that has defeated the Afghans/Pathans, it is the Sikhs.

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The Pathan territory of NW frontier was a part of the Khalsa nation. The Sikhs took those territories very easily. In fact, the Pathans of Multan probably gave a stiffer resistance to the Sikhs than the Pathans of NW frontier. The only major problem Sikhs ever faced in the NW frontier was from the Wuhaabi fanatic Syad Ahmad Barailvi whose large army was defeated by a smaller Sikh army. Infact there is still a city in NW frontier called Haripur named after Hari Singh Nalwa.

The Sikh army not only defeated the Pathans, but also the brave Gurkhas when the two armies faced each other for the control of Himachal Pardesh. If it wasn't for the betrayal by the Dogras, the Sikh army would have defeated the British army during the battle of Sabraon.

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Had it not been for the British arrival in the Indian subcontinent I believe the Khalsa Raj would have stretched far into afghanistan and possibily into persia. The afghans/pathans had long conducted raids into Indian kingdoms looting inhabitants of their richs and women. It is only the Sikhs who stood upto them and gave them a taste of the blade during maharajh singhs era that eventually pathans and other afghan tribes were subdued who had to defend afghan land rather than advance onto others. Sikhs captured peshawar, attock and many other afghan lands that today do not feature in the map of afghanistan but pakistan because of this. The British/western historians are very quick to turn a blind eye to the success of Khalsa armies in that region because of their own losses at the hands of the afghans. Many afghans also embraced Sikhism also during Sikh rule. A few muslim historians even who witnessed Sikhs fighting in the battlefield could not help but be impressed such as Qazi Nur Muhammed.

It is from the Jang Namah alone that we learn that the Sikhs under the Bhangis had crossed the Indus and had extended their conquest as far as Multan and Deras by the middle of 1764 in a few months after the conquest of Sirhind. Moreover, Jang Namah is the only detailed account, known to us, of the seventh invasion of Punjab by Ahmed Shah Durrani.

So far as the Sikhs are concerned Jang Namah is an invaluable source of information. It visualises Sikhism and Sikh society as a separate entity, different from Hinduism.

The conviction of Nur Muhammed was fully shared by his mentors, and perhaps, this was the reason that Ahmed Shah Abdali's anger was directed against Darbar Sahib which was the chief source of inspiration to the Sikhs.

The Sikhs offered resistance to Ahmed Shah Abdali in the manner that evoked praise even in the hearts of their detractors. Nur Muhammed inspite of his sympathy for his comrades-in-faith and hatred for the Sikhs could not help describing their excellent conduct, their experience in battlefield, their liberality and their valour, intrepedity, agility and grand physical appearance. This he did most probably to impress upon the soldiers of the invading armies that Sikhs were strong enough to withstand their onslaught because in moral conduct they were excellent and none surpassed them.

In his account, he dwells on the qualities of the Sikhs about which every Sikh should feel proud. We present a liberal translation of Qazi Nur Muhammed's narration which elucidates their (Sikhs) high conduct, their mode of fighting, their faith and courage, etc:

"Do not call the dogs (the Sikhs) dogs, because they are lions (and) are courageous like lions in the battlefield. How can a hero, who roars like a lion be called a dog? (Moreover) like lions they spread terror in the field of battle. If you wish to learn the art of war, come face to face with them in the battlefield. They will demonstrate it (art of war) to you in such a way that one and all will shower praise on them. If you wish to learn the science of war, O swordsman, learn from them. They advance at the enemy boldly and come back safely after action. Understand, Singh is their title, a form of address for them. It is not justice to call them dogs; if you do not know Hindustani language, then understand that the word 'Singh' means a lion.

"Truly, they are lion in battle, and at times of peace, they surpass "Hatim" (in generosity). When they take the Indian sword in their hands they traverse the country from Hind to Sind. None can stand against them in battle, howsoever strong he may be. When they handle the spear, they shatter the ranks of the enemy. When they raise the heads of their spears towards the sky, they would pierce even through the Caucasus (in the process). When the adjust the strings of the bows, place in them the enemy killing arrows (and) pull the strings to their ears, the body of the enemy begins to shiver with fear. When their battle axes fall upon the armour of their opponents, their armour becomes their coffin.

"The body of every one of them is like a piece of rock and in physical grandeur everyone of them is more than fifty men. It is said that Behram Gore killed wild asses and lions. But if he were to come face to face with them even he would bow before them (Singhs). Besides usual arms, they take their guns in hand (and) come into the field of action jumping (and) roaring like lions and raise slogans. They tear asunder the chests of many and shed blood of several (of their enemy) in the dust. You say that musket is a weapon of ancient times, it appears to be a creation of these dogs rather than Socrates. Who else than these (dogs) can be adept in the use of muskets. They do not bother (even if) there are innumerable muskets. To the right and the left, in front and towards the back, they go on operating hundreds of muskets angrily and regularly.

"If you do not believe in what I say, you may enquire of the brave swordsmen who would tell you more than myself and would praise them for their fighting. This bears witness to (my statement) that they faced thirty thousand heroes in the battlefield. If their armies take to flight, it is a war tactics of theirs. They resort to this deception in order to make the angry army grow bold and run in their pursuit. When they find them separated from the main body and away from help and reinforcement, they at once turn back and fight more ferociously (literal translation - they set fire even to water).

"Did you not see that while fighting the Pathans, they took to flight which was deceptive. A world famous wrestler wielding high esteem and respect alighted from his horse and showed his great style as if he were Tuhmatan ( a great warrior of Iran). O valiant fighter, do justice to their (act of ) war. One of their armies invaded Multan and put the city to plunder and devastation and killed many of its inhabitants and carried away an immense booty. I am not sufficiently strong in mind to express what the dogs did there. But as God willed it, each of us has to submit to His Will.

"Besides their fighting, listen to one more thing in which they excell all other warriors. They never kill a coward who is running away from the battlefield. They do not rob a woman of her wealth or ornaments whether she is rich or a servant ("Kaneez"). There is no adultry among these dogs, nor are they mischieveous people. A woman, whether young or old, they call a "Burhi". The word Burhi, means in Indian language, an old lady. There is no thief amongst these dogs, nor is there amongst them any mean people. They do not keep company with adulters and house thiefs though all their acts may not be commendable.

"If you are not acquainted with their religion, I tell you that the Sikhs are the disciples of the Guru - that glorious Guru lived at Chak (Amritsar). The ways and manners of these people were laid down by Nanak who showed these Sikhs a separate path. He was succeeded by Guru Gobind Singh from whom they received the title of Singh. They are not part of the Hindus, who have a separate religion of their own.

"Now that you have familiarised yourself with the behaviour of the Sikhs, you may also know something about their country. They have divided the Punjab amongst themselves and have bestowed it upon every young and old."

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The preface gives every biography's plot away. If it praises the person to the skies, you can be sure the book will be hugely subjective, it will blow out of all proportion the person's achievements and ignore the darker side. You can be sure, ten times out of ten, that such a book will be thoroughly unreadable.

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As I scanned the preface of Empire of the Sikhs, that sinking feeling set in rather quickly. Within minutes, it was very clear that for Patwant Singh and Jyoti M Rai, Maharaja Ranjit Singh is the ultimate hero. Singh has written a score of books on Sikhs and his adulation of the Maharaja is well known. The preface even compares him with Alexander, especially his magnanimity towards the enemies he defeated in the battlefield!

A thousand questions came to mind: Will the book deal with "uncomfortable" issues or sweep them under the carpet; will it talk about his love for the good life, his inability to build worthy successors, his political and military cunning?

By the time I had read the next 300-odd pages in three sittings spread over two days, my fears had dissipated. Well, almost all. Empire of the Sikhs tells the complete story of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It does not shy away from the controversies that dogged Sher-i-Punjab right from his childhood.

The young Ranjit Singh, it is said, had killed his mother after he suspected her of an illicit liaison after his father had died — a story the authors refuse to believe. And this is how his mother-in-law came to have a hold on him. Of course, once her ambitions overtook her, the Maharaja cut her to size.

In his own lifetime, he married a score of women including some Muslim courtesans, the most famous of them was a doe-eyed Kashmiri girl called Moran. Some of them even sat on his funeral pyre to end their lives. This included the daughter of Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra, whose kingdom he had taken and added to his own in return for driving away the Gurkhas from his doors. It was also an open secret that some of his heirs were not sired by him. But he disowned none of them.

His appetite for potent drinks with crushed pearls was as legendary as his love for horses. While his guests could not take more than a swig or two, Maharaja Ranjit Singh would be in full control even after he had downed several. This cut his life short and he died at 59 in 1839, having ruled over 40 years.

None of this takes away from the man his greatness. At its prime, his kingdom extended over all of Punjab north of the Sutlej, Kashmir, Ladakh, the hill states as well as the wild tribal areas of the North West — an area even the British could not hold for long. Peshawar, for long the bastion of Pathan pride, was inside Maharaja Ranjit Singh's kingdom and so were the imposing forts of Derajat.

Much of his success was because of his army — the artillery, cavalry and infantry. At his time, it was said to be the best in Asia after the East India Company. It was commanded by resourceful leaders, native as well as mercenary foreigners. It had Gurkhas on its rolls as well as a special contingent of fanatic Sikhs called the Akalis. It was these Akalis who raided forts of enemies with good effect after the Sikh artillery's cannons made a breach in the walls.

One question that has bothered Indian historians is why Maharaja Ranjit Singh never went to war against the British, though he was aware of their designs. Singh and Rai say this was because he was acutely aware of his limitations. With aggressive Afghans on his northern boundary, Maharaja Ranjit Singh could have ill afforded to open a new flank in the south against the British. This way, the Maharaja was able to keep the British out of his designs. He was, by any measure, a very pragmatic ruler.

No story of Maharaja Ranjit Singh can be complete without a mention of the fate that befell his sons and grandsons. The unkindest cut of all fate had reserved for his last son, Dalip Singh, born just a year before the Maharaja's death in 1839. After the Sikh empire had fallen to British forces, the young Dalip Singh became a Christian, with some gentle persuasion from his captors, and was exiled to England.

Till he died in Paris in 1893, Dalip Singh was allowed to come to Punjab only twice and that too on brief visits — once to take his ailing mother and next to immerse her ashes in the sacred waters of the land. And when he tried to steal away, he was caught at Aden and sent to Paris. That was a sad end to the great house that Maharaja Ranjit Singh built.

Empire of the Sikhs is a well-researched and well-told take on a great leader of men.

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