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Kandahar: Medium-term plan 3

(fiction, continue 30)

At the city of Kandahar, in south central current Afghanistan, Artax appointed a women officer to be General in Chief of all the armed forces in southern Afghanistan. This tactic secured two major benefits;

first, the woman general would hold fast to the new system that secured and solidified women rights, and

second she would allow the force the necessary time to strengthen its grip on the region:  the enemy was assumed not to take that seriously a force headed by a woman and thus insure valuable time to taking hold on the mind of the population.

Slowly but surely, the vision and planning of Artax were materializing in flesh and bones around the perimeter of the Persian Empire.

As for the “pilgrimage journey” to China, Artax selected the famous chronicle Battoukha to discover the wonders of China and to dispatch him the diaries: if Artax could not experience in the flesh the discoveries then Artax would share the excitement by the mind.

Marco Polo and before him Ibn Battouta (at least 8 centuries later) relied heavily on the manuscript of Battoukha to plan for their famous journeys to the Rising Sun China.

On the Southern Army

The adventure of the Southern Army of Artax, led by the vizier Khorsheed, was fantastic.  This brave army made a series of successful landings in fishing villages and proceeded according to master plans.

Soldiers would enter a town, plaster the scrolls of the Constitution and Bill of Rights on the walls of shrines and local institutions, read them in front of the public; install one judge accepted by the inhabitants then horde the other judges and clerics to a remote training camp for indoctrination.

Educated and learned people in the community were encouraged to disseminate the new system.  Young boys and girls were sent to schools.  People bent on mischief and who took advantage of a confused central authority was apprehended to give evidence of who is the real authority in maintaining law and order.

Dangerous news arrived to Artax from his Southern Army which stopped his grandiose plans on their tracks: unless Artax assembles a strong naval force in the Persian Gulf, his Southern Army might not hold its terrain against the onslaught of the usurping Monarch.

This vast desert area along the coast requires constant supply of fresh water and food for his army that was dying of thirst and heat strokes. Artax had to advance along the Indus River which empties in the Indian Ocean.

He had to hire and stock enough ships to rescue the Southern Army or eventually to evacuate it honorably in an orderly fashion.

The lousy desert parts of his Kingdom were of no concerns to Artax anymore, though he had to support his army there in order to divert the forces of the usurping Monarch from the more critical parts of his secured bases in the Kingdom.

The rear bases of Artax stretched from the fertile lands of current Karachi in Pakistan to Goa in India.   Artax messengers were carrying orders and instructions to all armies and governors along secured routes.  In every region that the King authority was entrenched, municipal elections were held and the spirit of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were disseminated, gradually but surely.

Changes in societies need time, patience and genuine zeal in convictions to make any headway.

Artax primary duties to his people was to keep close contacts, involvement, and interactions with the institutions and taking close attention to the training camps programs for the reeducation of the newer generations as to the spirit of the articles in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The dissemination of information about the new cultures in remote lands was a most important ingredient in Artax educational system.  Artax motto was: ignorance and isolation from other civilizations is the drug of choice exploited by the religious extremists who abhor civil supervision of any governing body.

Balkh: Medium-term plan 1

(fiction, ch. 29)

The First Queen of the Son-God Incarnate Artax was from a district located in the north-eastern parts of the Empire, in Mazar Al Shareef and close to the current Central Asian States; she was not at all friendly with the usurping Monarch.

Artax made his move to establishing a presence in the city of Balkh, a center for learning and commerce in north Afghanistan and close to the Central Asian Estates. He dispatched his wife, clandestinely, to her home district along with countable numbers of security officers and a regiment of the army clothed as civilians in a routine caravan trip.

She was to re-affirm the loyalty of her people and exhort youth to travel east and join Artax army.  He ordered the Queen never to be guarded by more than 6 formal soldiers and 12 soldiers in civilian attires as front and rear guards during her displacement throughout the district because the smaller the number of personal guards the more confidence she would convey to her people.

The Monarch told the Queen: “Good impressions are worth an entire division of an army.”

Southern Desert: Medium-term plan 2

One of his liked viziers named Khorsheed and from the southern desert like parts of the Empire, expressed the desire to return home and investigate the possibility of securing a base there.

The vizier was dispatched to his district, accompanied with a security officer and another regiment.  The same strategy of taking firm hold of parts of the Kingdom in every direction ensured destroying the capacity of the usurping “Magnificent Khosro” to focus and concentrate his forces at one area.

In order to maintain presence in the desert region, frequent supplies were to be delivered from the sea.  Consequently, it was necessary to navigate the Indus River and secure a port and ships.

The town of Deb was then the ideal port.  Two old merchant ships were purchased and refurbished to play the dual task of supply and soldier carrier tanker: it was essential never to mix business with military exigencies.

The refurbished ships were not meant to belong within the business unit.  These small ships received the order to just reconnoiter the Persian sea shores for unusually military and trade activities for advanced intelligence; they also had the mission to listen to the complaints of the suffering villages and towns on the shore.

Two larger merchant ships were secured in the process of taking to the sea as back up resources and the landing of a whole regiment if needed.

Grand plan of Artax

 

            The ultimate goal of Artax was to weaken the religious clergy and liberate the mind of the people of centuries old misgivings of total reliance on the good wisdom and knowledge of the clergy since they monopolized learning and writing.  The medium-term strategy was to establish strong presence in the peripheries of the Empire and then fan in from many sides to the heart of the Empire.  The short-term strategy was to secure his rear bases and re-organize his army and project the impression that his forces are the armies of the people, from the people (obviously), and to the benefit of the people.  Deep in his guts, Artax knew that he had to fulfill a vow to making a sort of “pilgrimage” to China, a huge Empire, the center of all the mysterious tales and outlandish stories spread by travelers and merchants.

 

Short-term planning

 

            The short-term strategy took off by establishing sort of a cartel in the trade business.  The Silk Road was in its infancy and it was the cartel that played the catalyst into its future boom. The “Mogul” caravans used to bring silk, spices, fur, firework, and delicate Chinese products.  A specialized division of Artax army endeavored to barter its products of incense, wheat, woodwork, utensils, jewelry and any consumer goods manufactured in India and Pakistan in mid way at the town of Kashgar. The difference in prices was paid in gold coins.  On the return trip, the Artax caravans halted in Azarabad and from there caravans bifurcated in many directions. After satisfying the local needs and demands caravans crossed the Khyber Pass to serve the Persian Empire.  Other caravans headed by land eastward; the remaining merchandize were shipped on the Indus River or roads alongside the river to the port of Deb, on the estuary. (It is recounted that four centuries later, St. Thomas, the twin brother of Jesus, founded the first Christian community in Deb and that the Kushan princes were very favorable).  Commercial ships were loaded; some ships served the coast of Persia and the northern shores of the Arabia Peninsula for the ultimate port of Basra.  Other ships served the port of Adan in Yemen, the southern shores of the Arabia Peninsula for their last destination in Akaba.  Other ships crossed the Red Sea to serve the Egyptian market and the eastern colonies in Africa.

            Pirate ships were hired for the dual job of protecting the commercial ships, such as confronting other pirates or other navies long enough to permit the commercial ships to escaping, and the other job was to confiscate the cartel products of the other commercial ships or charge them steep taxes.  It goes without saying that representatives of the cartel boarded the pirate ships and they had the last words on the procedures.  The cartel trade machine became well oiled and the details for accurate accounting were ironed out after many pitfalls, misunderstanding and conscious pilferage.

The fat merchants, maharajas, and the Iskandaranian mafias had the right for representation in every sector of the trade from being affected to caravans, in pirate ships, and at headquarter in Azarabad where decisions were made on a bi-weekly basis.  Profit was split according to investment.   The major portion of expenses was paying the special Artax division, an excellent source for retaining and maintaining an army. Other divisions were specialized in escorting caravans on demands, on land, river, or in seas.

In the heart of the Persian Empire

 

            The newly installed “Eldest-Son of God Incarnate, “Khosro the Magnificent” was continuing to throw lavish parties and festivities in the vicinities of the two Capitals of Souze (the summer Capital) and Persepolis (the winter Capital).  The tradition observed a whole year of lavish and generous gesture toward the population as excellent omen and good augur of the emplacement of the constellations as concurred by the Highest Priest.

Artax was forgotten as an impotent Monarch who did not behave as Monarchs should; Artax was expected to direct his troops immediately for a major, all out frontal battle. Since Artax failed to follow the customs of the time then he was considered unfit for the throne.

 

The army is trained for new jobs

 

The Monarch Artax wanted to rely first on his army to disseminate the new political philosophy: at that stage Artax had no other disciplined manpower to rely on in the first place. Consequently, an intensive re-orientation of the educated ranks and files was programmed.  The army had to study, analyze and discuss new concepts and ideas that should secure a more solid structure for the society to grow and prosper for years to come.   His officers and soldiers will have to learn new concepts; they had the task to indoctrinate and spread his new philosophy to the common people. 

How his armies should go about different jobs that they were not trained for?  Tasks of proselytizing the new Constitution and Bill of Rights, how to win over the minds and hearts of the new generation, boys and girls, how to secure the acceptance of the older generations, how to infiltrate towns and cities and spread the new rights and responsibilities, and how to help the peasants in their fields and to keep the economy growing were not accessible if the only structure remaining intact was not involved on a wide scale.  Well, the trained army proselytizers had to memorize whole paragraphs suited for specific situations and then deliver the speech correctly and with no hesitation: projecting the impression of total conviction and mastery of the new philosophy was the crux of the endeavor.

A difficult process for the ratification of the constitution

 

Artax political acumen had improved with experience and hardship.  The draft for a Constitution went too far in reform and the number of articles was far too many to digest but that was a calculated risk to blunt reflection on matters too new and very complicated to ponder at on short notice. The main objective was to weaken the overwhelming power and authority of the religious hierarchy on the mind of the population which robbed this intelligent and hard working people from serious individual reflections that would use the rational mind into resolving fundamental problems of centuries old.  “Khosro the Magnificent” was selected and appointed by the religious structure to circumvent any reforms no matter how insignificant it might be.

Most of the articles in the proposed Constitution were subject to alterations and modifications to suit the majority of the power base but Artax insisted on the first two articles that would educate the population on their legitimate rights as citizens.  Anyway, democratic elections for municipalities were agreed upon and carried through undemocratically.  The fat wholesale merchants and mafias have rigged the voting process.  One good thing resulted from this election process: the fat merchants realized that they needed from now on to drop their blunt cockiness and resort to under the table deals, to invest time listening to the people demands and to invest some of their surplus profit for maintaining a few infrastructures and a lot for propaganda.  Some kind of muted dialogue and communication were taking the shape of undercurrent popular energy. 

Reforms in Azarabad

 

A significant climate of law and order took hold in the City-State of Azarabad.  Many neighboring City-States got jealous and they requested city-twining programs to transfer the know-how of restoring calm and tranquility among their populations.

 After lengthy consultations with the notable of Azarabad and meetings with the different active syndicates Artax ventured to propose a draft for social and political reforms.  The Son-God Incarnate transcended his century old beliefs into revising the books on government rules and idioms.  He decided on a small set of simple and rudimentary articles. They might sound familiar now but the original articles are centuries old and the scrolls have been dug out, almost intact, from a cave in Afghanistan. The articles are stated in a haphazard order. Artax instigated Seleucus to publish the artcles for a Constitution, as emanating from the mafia syndicate, which Seleucus used to be familiar with back in Greece but never adhered to their spirit. For example:

Article one: All citizens are born equal in the eyes of the Law, regardless of sex, color of the skin, ethnic origins or hierarchical levels in the society.

Article two: All tax paying citizens are entitled to representation in their community and toward the State Government.  All adult citizens above the age of 18 are eligible to vote, including the female citizens whether married or still single.

Article three: All children, boys and girls, between the ages of 6 to 13 are entitled to learn to read and write in the Persian language. Learning their own dialect is also encouraged but at their parents and community expense.

Article Four: All able bodies, boys and girls, between the ages of 15 to 17 have to serve in the armed forces for 2 years. In the first six months of training, recruits will be trained 4 days as soldiers and work 2 days for their living expenses. The next 6 months, recruits will be trained 3 days and work 3 days. Their last year in the service will see that they get trained only 2 days in the techniques of killing enemies and the remaining 4 days of the week to learn the survival skills in a cruel world and acquire a practical  profession.

Article five: There is separation between religion and State administrations. Every citizen has the right to choose between a religious wedding and a public one.  Regardless of the choice, State Laws are to be applied for matters of marriage rights, heritage, and responsibilities.

Article six: Females are entitled to the same proportion in the division of heritage as males. If the elder son is still entitled to the land, he has the duty to distribute the profits from the land to all the legitimate heirs for the next five years.

Article seven: Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution. Citizens can form political parties and gather in syndications after they register in due forms with the Ministry of the Interior, and their ideologies and by-law publicly declared in prints and disseminated in at least three public gatherings with 3 days notice for each assembly.

Article eight: All religious sects are entitled to be represented in the Parliament. The number of these religious members should not exceed the fifth of the total membership in the Parliament.

Article nine: Elections to the Parliament are calculated on a proportion basis, but on a majority basis for municipalities.

First baby step back home

 

The war techniques of the Maharajas’ armies and their war machines were somehow different from the Persian ones; not in purpose or outcome but in efficiency such as minimizing casualties and playing politics and posturing.  When the Maharajas’ troops engaged they were ruthless and indomitable to the last man.  What mattered was safeguarding the honor of the House since the soul was not perishable; the soul of the courageous would transfer to another generation of fiercer combatants.

Artax would have taken more time for negotiation and dialogue with the Iskandarans mafia if he knew about the ferocious onslaught of the Maharajas’ army spirit.  He sincerely needed the cooperation of these mafias when crossing back the borders to his Empire.  He needed every help he could get in manpower and in intelligence gathering.  Fortunately, the mafias stood their grounds for three months.  Artax was very reasonable with the fat merchants’ positions of discontinuing the financial aid.  The maharajas had no purpose any more to resume fighting without financial support.

The mafias have been weakened, the fat merchants got better deals, the reduction in commodity prices satisfied the little people, and Artax got along with the mafias for serious intelligence gathering tasks and propaganda dissemination in the Old World of Persia.  The Persian army in Pakistan could now travel into Afghanistan for reconnoitering missions.

Settling accounts

 

The fat wholesale merchants had a win-win situation financially and politically.  The small retailers were hanging on since their job was to pass on the increase in prices to the consumers.  Inflation kept climbing and the banks had to buy more gold at higher prices to keep liquidity circulating normally.  The little people were feeling the crunch.  One new factor emboldened the common people: a centralized authority was emerging due to natural processes.  Frequent clashes with the Iskandaranian mafia flashed on a daily basis.  The notions of order and security were heard and demanded. 

Artax contracted State to State deals with the neighboring Maharajas.  Once Artax regains his legitimate throne then the Maharajas would enjoy preferred trade status with Persia.  Reluctantly, the fat merchant realized that they would have to take side and cover the expenses of military campaigns against their steady connections in the Iskandaranian mafias. The ever optimist fat merchants figured that once the mafias are weakened then the merchants will have higher leverage for setting prices.

Since Artax is a new comer to the region then the honor was bestowed to the maharajas to lead the military campaigns.  It was as good an offer since the fat merchants are paying the bill even if it was for the duration of only three months. Two maharajah men of war dusted off their heavy arsenal of siege and destruction that were rotting and dilapidated and new forests were cut down to make ready for the war machine.

            The Macedonian trained divisions and the Greek recruits have lost many of their effective in men due to business competition and were getting older; not so much in age as in fitness for sustained frontal assaults.  They were still a magnificent war machine if combined under a central command and it would not be by any long shot a quick and dirty enterprise to dislodge them from these inaccessible rocky regions; not by the army of Artax anyway who had not engaged any enemy for long time but still it was a disciplined army that was kept on the march and is environmentally “battle tried”.

Seleucus understood that he was to negotiate a reasonable deal with Artax since he would have to take the brunt of the war in the Pakistani side.  The other more important factor was that Seleucus got secret intelligence that Ptolemy was negotiating with “Khosro the Magnificent”.  The piece of intelligence was wrong but persistent rumors are potent weapons because you end up believing them.

Artax was determined to control the Khyber Pass at any cost: didn’t he promise his troops up north “I shall return” when he received the infamous news of the take over?

Reaching Eden

 

As Artax pursued his advances through Northern Pakistan and Kashmir, he discovered a variety of cultures, civilizations and religions that could take him a lifetime to comprehend and transfer their best aspects to his people. His new plan was to settle in these countries and investigate the extent of its spread and wealth. At long last the troops of Artax found their ideal urban center.  Azarabad was a prosperous City-State with wide connections to the Iskandaranian mafias and the neighboring maharajas. It looked good and smelt good to Artax and he settled down.

During that whirlwind of a campaign, Artax had created two regiments of women soldiers. One regiment was engaged in real combats as mounted archers, on horses and chariots. They were also equipped with short light swords for emergency engagements such as to prevent any outflanking maneuvers by the enemy cavalry until reinforcement arrives. The other women regiment was on reserve and generally employed to supply the army. They furnished clothes, footwear, tents, equipments, food and unavoidably, for nursing the wounded.

 

This commercial City-State had already the rudiment of a new business unknown to Artax of what we call now banks.  After learning the purpose and procedures for running banks Artax invested in just one bank to get a hand on training.  Merchants were encouraged to leave their money at a safe institution when joining a caravan. They recuperated the same amount at the place of their destination.  This facility discouraged organized thugs that harassed caravans. It also made the Monarch and his associates richer by three per cent on the total amount deposited in the safe castles.  It goes without saying that Artax army was in charge of securing the forts and castles for salary.

Competition was encouraged and some financial institutions started educating the less fortunate travelers to the benefits of this commerce; a few even invented a credit system. Soon, people dared travel more frequently and the economy boomed. 

Lingering traits in Son-God Incarnate psychic

 

            The medium-term strategy of Artax was clear in his mind but he failed to share it with his highest ranking officers.  The Monarch intended to lead his troops north for a few weeks and then lead the main body of his army south to future Azarabad country.  The rational was first, to send a strong message to the “Magnificent Khosro” that he is not a match and his take over does not constitute any major worry to Artax.  Secondly, Artax wanted to test the loyalty of his army: He sensed that the ranks and files were dubious of his mental stability though he needed confirmation of the extent religious tradition can sustain temporary insanity of their Son-God Incarnate.  Surely, this sort of test at this junction was highly flammable though excellent if the strategy goes well without major damage.  Monarchs had always agendas that common people were left out to reflect on:  a sure cause for disasters most of the times.

The first week north went passably well but grumblings were crescendo.  Artax sensed the danger of pushing his loyal troops to their edge.  He thus gathered his troops and spoke frankly and openly of his medium-term strategy and his latest testing tactics.  His speeches were delivered around bonfires for each company at a time.  The next day, the soldiers expressed their attachment to Artax by calling him “Lance Corporal”, one among them and one of them.   Artax sent a company further north that cherished self-autonomy at the risk of extra hardship; he ordered Boleyar Khosro, the scholar who figured the North Pole to be at reaching distance, to join the company and plant the Imperial Standard in honor for all the generations to come.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

March 2021
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