Saturday, November 12, 2005


Justin Huggler - can that really be his name ? Straight from a 60s thriller - is writing in the Independent about Multan, where the lads put up a fine display today against Pakistan and where apostate Mohammed Yousuf (formerly known as the Catholic Yousuf Youhana - and described in the BBC report as a 'new batsman') got 5. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.

This is the Indie, so naturally the ignorant must be told how different this place is, of the passionate devotion of the locals to their Muslim faith and how we should be careful to respect the local culture.

"Any of the womanising, for which certain other members of the team have a reputation, could be a very dangerous proposition indeed."

Indeed. Just as it was for a young black man in the Southern United States until sixty or so years ago. The spectre of the lynch mob and the necktie party must have cooled the ardour of all but the bravest.

We called those locals murderous racist bigots. To be fair, a local womanising in Multan would also be dicing with danger - probably more so than a white womanisr in the South.

But it's this that gets me :

" ... the locals were overwhelmingly hospitable to the English fans in town yesterday - all the more striking when you consider the city's troubled colonial past. In 1848, the British tore down the Fort here in revenge for the killing of an officer. "I don't know the history," said Shaukat Khan, a local yesterday. Perhaps it is just as well".

Neither, it seems, does Justin Huggler. In 1848 Multan was ruled by the Sikh, not the British Empire - an Empire in which the Muslims were given as hard a time by the Sikhs as they had previously (when the area was part of the Amir of Kabul's dominions) given the Sikhs. The arrival of British troops in the service of the East India Company, ostensibly in support of the Sikh Durbar, was seen by the local Muslims as indubitably a Good Thing. It was a Sikh mob (or more exactly a crowd of "Mazbis - outcasts, turned Sikh") who killed the two officers in 1848.

Today there are a lot fewer Sikhs in Multan, indeed in all the Western Punjab, following the unfortunate events of 1947.

UPDATE - Oops ! 1947 link is now corrected.

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