Every evening since 1959, the armed forces of Pakistan and India have performed a joint military
ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border. There are is a highly-choreographed set of moves, including high leg raises, kicksteps, and a handshake, before the gates are opened. The flags are folded, two soldiers shake
hands, and the gates close again. The event is attended by crowds and occasional celebrity guests.
The ceremony is known as “Beating Retreat” and symbolizes the cooperation and the competition between Pakistan and India.
The Neolithic Revolution, also known as the Agricultural Revolution, occurred about 12,000 years ago. For those, like me, who are not the best at math, that is around 10,000 BCE. There was a global trend away from nomadic hunting and gathering and towards sedentary farming. It appears to have arisen independently in multiple places in the Middle East, as well as in China and Papua New Guinea. Egypt and the Indus River Valley may have independently developed agriculture as well, or gotten the idea and the seeds from the Middle East or China.
Cereals, like barley in the Middle East and rice in China, were likely the first to be domesticated, eventually supplemented by protein-rice plants like peas and lentils. As people began to settle down they also domesticated animals. The earliest archaeological evidence of sheep and goat herding comes from around 10,000 BCE in the Iraq and Anatolia. Animals could be used as labor in the fields, or as sources of additional nutrients and calories to supplement the new cereal-heavy diet.
The Neolithic Revolution did not happen everywhere, and not all at once. And there remain a variety of hypotheses as to why humans stopped foraging and started farming. Population pressure may have caused increased competition for food and the need to cultivate new foods; people may have shifted to farming in order to involve elders and children in food production; humans may have learned to depend on plants they modified in early domestication attempts and in turn, those plants may have become dependent on humans. Whatever the reason, the Neolithic Revolution changed humanity – and our world – for good.
Pakistan was the first Muslim nation to elect a female prime minister. Benazir Bhutto served as the 11th prime minister from 1988 to 1990, and the 13th prime minister from 1993 to 1996. Ideologically a liberal and a secularist, she chaired or co-chaired the center-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from the early 1980s until her assassination by a suicide bomber in 2007.
The ancient Sumerians are known for having created one of the earliest agricultural civilizations in the world. A new discovery in southern Iraq suggests they also conducted some of the earliest maritime trade.Remains of brick ramparts, docks, and an artificial basin created to be the town’s port have been found at the site of Abu Tbeirah since 2016. That suggests they knew how to build boats and fish, at least. But what about maritime trade?
At the same site, researchers found some unusual artifacts that show the ancient Sumerians almost certainly had long-distance contacts, likely by sea. Vases made of alabaster, a stone not found in Mesopotamia. Carnelian beads from India. A necklace in the style of the Indus River Valley; the Indus River Valley civilization flourished at the same time as Sumer.
Ancient Sumerian texts mainly talk about agriculture, and little about maritime trade. The is understandable. Agriculture required the most organization, and effort by the state. Archaeology is uncovering a relatively hidden aspect of ancient Sumerian life. They had farmers, yes, but also sailors.
India tested its first bomb in 1974. Pakistan tested their first in 1998, trying to catch up to their rival. And it was not long before Pakistan was threatening to use it. In May of 1999, the two nations were in the middle of a border war. The Pakistani army crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir, and got ready its nuclear weapons, with official pronouncements like “[Pakistan will] not hesitate to use any weapond in its arsenal to protect its territorial integrity.” The world was very afraid that India and Pakistan would start a war that, for the first time, would involve nuclear weapons being actively used.
But there was more, and it was even more terrifying. When US President Bill Clinton attempted to mediate the crisis he found out that the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, did not know that his country’s nuclear arsenal had been deployed! Sharif ordered the Pakistani ary to withdraw in July of 1999. The threat of a nuclear war was no longer immediate.
After the crisis, it came out that the decision to deploy the nuclear arsenal may have been taken unilaterally by the head of the Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf, without informing his government. And though India and Pakistan’s longstanding hatred has not heated up to that level since – but nuclear weapons are now on the table, and given what has happened in the past, it is enough to make anyone uneasy about what could happen in the future.