Attock – If you have not heard of Attock, Read this Article

“Now the Pakistani Taleban are expanding their area of control in the settled areas of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and have reached Attock on the Indus river, which is really the cultural and social dividing line between Afghanistan-Central Asia and Punjab and the Indian subcontinent. This is a very dangerous development.” Said Journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of the new book “Descent Into Chaos” in which he describes the “failure of nation building” in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

We were shocked to read that the Pashtun Taleban have reached Attock. In fact, this quote is the trigger for our series of articles on Afghanistan-Pashtunistan.

The march of the Pashtun Taleban to Attock brings the Pashtuns at the very border of Panjab and creates the specter of a Pashtun-Panjabi struggle for control of Pakistan (see our article – “Afghanistan – Will the Sins of England be visited on America?”). Understand that Attock is only 80 km from Islamabad, the Capital of Pakistan.

If you doubt the importance of Attock, go to the New York Times website and type “Attock” in the search field. You will get 287 articles, the earliest being an article dated December 1, 1882.

Attock has a very special significance to the entire Indian sub-continent, culturally, historically and geographically. Simply put, when armies from India (Pakistani Panjab included) conquered Attock, that marked the domination of Indian Sub-Continent over Afghanistan. When the Afghans conquered Attock, it marked the ascendancy of the Afghans over Panjab and in some cases over North India.

Marauders from the Afghan-Uzbek-Tajik regions began sweeping down from Attock since 1000 CE and eventually many settled in Delhi culminating in the Mughal rule. Akbar, the Mughal King, built a massive fort at Attock in 1581 as defense against further attacks.

                               (Attock Fort)

The re-emergence of Indian rule in Pashtunistan or Pakistan’s NWFP province began with the conquest of Attock in 1751 by the Maratha Army from Pune. The Maratha Empire was serving notice to the Afghan Shahs of Kabul that India was taking control of Panjab and the land routes to Afghanistan. Imagine the strategic vision and will of the Maratha Empire. Over 250 years ago, when India was divided, the Maratha Empire from south-central India understood the significance of Attock and sent an Army from Pune, 120 km from Mumbai, all the way across North India to conquer Attock as a warning to marauders from Pashtun Afghanistan. (Compare this with the Strategic Will of the modern Indian Governments who take no steps to protect its people from Pashtun terrorists, the modern marauders from Pashtunistan – see our article – “Recent Terrorist Attacks in India and their Relevance to America” – August 2)

When the Maratha armies went back to North India, the Sikh Kingdom of Ranjit Singh took control of Attock and waged numerous battles with the Afghans.

The British took over from the Sikhs. In 1882, the British built a bridge across the Indus River at Attock. This event was considered so important that Lord Rippon, the Viceroy of British India visited this bridge. (See “Bridging the Indus”, New York Times, December 1, 1882  at  query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9E06EFDC1530E433A25752C0A9649D94639FD7CF )

This bridge at Attock allowed mechanized transport of the British-led Indian Army into Pashtunistan. In 1893, the British seized the entire Pashtunistan province and made it a part of India. Pakistan inherited this province in 1947 from the British. The 1893 Durand Agreement established current border, called the Durand Line, between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan does not accept the Durand Line as the border and continues to lay claim to Pashtunistan as a part of Afghanistan,

Why is this relevant today to America and the World?

The Durand Line prevents American Forces in Afghanistan  from entering Pashtunistan whereas the Pashtun Taleban can cross this border at will to attack the American Forces in Afghanistan and run back across the Durand Line after the attack.

The Durand Line and the 1883 British seizure of Pashtunistan, a province of Afghanistan, today stands between American Forces and Pashtunistan, the epi-center of global terrorism. 

An old proverb warns that the sins of the father are visited upon his children. That is why we call our next article “Afghanistan – Will the Sins of England be visited upon America?”


Editor’s Note: The great Mathematician and Grammarian, Panini was born near Attock. Panini wrote the “Ashtodhyayi”, the oldest surviving Sanskrut Grammar. Panini’s Grammar formed the basis of the grammar used by modern European Languages and German Grammar in particular. Attock is situated on “Uttarapath”, the ancient northern high road that linked India with Persia and China.

The oldest University
(6th century BCE) in the world was Taksha-Shila, located about 50 km from Attock.  Chanayka, the great Strategist, Diplomat and Teacher taught at Taksha-Shila. Chanayka’s masterpiece, “Arthashastra” (The Science of Money) is considered to be the first ever treatise on Economics and StateCraft. When Ambhi, the Prince of the Republic of Taksha-Shila, conspired with Alexander to attack the neighbouring kingdom of Purushpur (today’s Peshawar), Chanakya left Taksha-Shila in disgust and went to Magadh. There he got a young disciple, Chandra-Gupta. Thus began the story of the great Maurya Empire of Chandra-Gupta who defeated Selecus I, Alexander’s successor. (See our article “India & Greece – A long, ,deep and ancient relationship”- May 31).

 Emperor Ashok (273-232 BCE), the grandson of of Chandra-Gupta converted to Buddhism and was critical in the spread of Buddhism across North India, Persia and China.
Taksha-Shila continued to be a great center of Vedic and Buddhist scholarship. This means Taksha-Shila was a great University from 6th century BCE at least until 200 BCE, a span of 400 years, approximately the life span of Harvard (established in 1636).

It is tragic to see that a land that once housed the world’s greatest center of learning is today uneducated, steeped in poverty and a breeding ground for terrorism. Below are pictures of ruins at Taksha-Shila from Wikipedia)


   
(Carvings at Taksha-Shila)                     (Ancient Buddhist Monastry)                    (Dharamrajika Stupa)

According to legend, Taksha-Shila was founded by Taksha, the older son of Bharat who is renowned in history as the faithful brother of Shri Ram. Taksha founded the Kingdom of Taksha-Khand or today’s Tashkent which is located in Uzbekistan, the country to the north of Afghanistan. The younger son of Bharat, Pushkal, founded a kingdom whose capital was named Pushkalavati which today is called Peshawar.

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