THE FALL OF DHAKA – WHAT IF IT HAD NOT HAPPENED?
Writter :Nusrat Nasurulluh
Given the obvious, anxious challenges that the country faces this December, a political climate of grim questions and gnawing growing concern, it could be a matter of opinion on how many citizens will realise that it was on this day, the 16th of December that Pakistan was dismembered. That was in the year 1971 -38 years ago. That this is the subject that surfaces inevitably.
It is a time for contemplation end reflection of what has happened In Pakistan in these 38 years. And it is a time for contemplation on whether any lessons have been learnt since the Fall of Dacca (now Dhaka). I suppose those Pakistanis who were old enough in August 1947 would recollect the times and the overall environment that prevailed, and how they lived through that experience.
Pakistan was born, at that time, (1947) and the Idealism, the euphoria. the sense of fulfilment and responsibility, the sense of purpose and destiny must have been integral to the citizens who saw the birth of Pakistan And there are those Pakistanis for whom the first major national experience (in a way) was the Fall of Dacca that took place on the 16th of December 1971, East Pakistan. became Bangladesh as we all know
Of course, the 38 years since then have been so eventful, and chaotic. turbulent and traumatic to say the least. and where the country stands today. is too obvious to be repeated here. The state of Pakistan and Its hapless citizens. is staring at us in the face, and another December of agonising uncertainty is unfolding. In these Thirty-eight years, there have been two more military dictators (Zeal Hag and Pervez Musharraf) raising the total to four.
Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan were the first two, before the fall of East Pakistan. In these 38 years, the country hanged one elected Prime Minister (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) and twice, elected prime ministers were disgraced and ousted. One of them, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated on 27th December 2007 during Musharraf’s rule and the other, Nawaz Sharif was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia.
The overall story of our political governments and military rule creates a national profile that is truly disturbing and unpromising. It also mirrors the
Establishment’s impatience with democratic rule What the Establishment implies is also too well-known to be explained. It should however, be mulled over.
The future of Pakistan the Islamic Republic is a question mark that is forever being discussed publicly, privately; sadly no more is it a matter to be talked about in low tones, whispers, and behind the curtains. Ironically the very civil and military men who have ruled over this country, and held power offices and taken the wide spectrum of decisions that mattered, are the very ones who are deeply disappointed with the way the country has fared.
Who then, is responsible? It cannot be the man in the street, surely. Even though the Fall of Dacca is a theme that the citizens know little about, as indeed is the knowledge of Pakistan’s leaders and the independence movement, one does wonder this: What if there was no December 16, 1971 in our lives? That is, what if Pakistan had not lost East Pakistan, and the country had a leadership which could have kept , the two wings together? What kind of a Pakistan would we have today, had that been the scenario?
It is, at times, ferociously argued and repeatedly explained that many of the socio-political, economic factors that led to the break-up of the country go far back into time, into the early days of Pakistan. That, in fact, by the end of Ayub’s rule, in 1968-69
it had become a hopeless case to try and hold the East and the West Pakistan together. I do not know.
The manner in which West Pakistan had treated, managed and exploited East Pakistan, and given to Bengalis a poor reputation was something that one could perceive living in Karachi. In my days, as a student in Karachi, until I finished my education at the Karachi University in 1968, the impression was that the people of East Pakistan were “not as good and efficient as those belonging to West Pakistan.” This, however is a painful subject that one needs to look at sometime later.
It was, as a young Pakistani that I found that I always had a soft corner for the people of East Pakistan, and the fact that one of my best teachers was professor Dr Syed Ali Ashraf, Chairman of the English department, only helped to reinforce many times, this impression that has remained steadfast over a lifetime. That I have never been to former East Pakistan, or Bangladesh is strange, and willed so by Allah. So I neither regret nor consider it as a misfortune.
As I write on a Monday night that is chilly by Karachi’s winter profile, it does make me wonder of what my own life could have been like had I lived in East Pakistan, and had it been a part of this country. There are numerous related thoughts that come with this. Having become a journalist (with The Leader) in August 1968, I was able to experience somewhat deeper the end of Ayub’s rule, and what followed. Also, the December 1970 general elections are regarded as the fairest in the history of the country.
Ironically, a year later, in December 1971, the country disintegrated. One wonders, given the nature of the public reaction that was visible in West Pakistan at the fall of Dacca, whether the long drawn people’s uprising in East Pakistan
had created, to some extent, an attitude that Bangladesh was imminent. This is the thought that Climes to mind.
. And the villainous role that
neighbouring India played (and still does) in the December 1971 war was also ‘ef !Holed in the Hamood ur Rehman Commission report in which it was quoted that the Director of the Indian Institute of Defence Studies Subramanion in a reference to The India-backed armed rebellion in East Pakistan said that what India must realize is: the fact that the break-up of Pakistan is in our national interest and we have an opportunity the like of which will never come again”.
I am reminded here of the subject of thousands and Thousands stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh who remained loyal to Pakistan for a very long time, and I wonder whether it is one of the many forgotten sad themes in our lives. 38 years now, have their wounds healed? The report of the Justice Hamood ur Rehman
Commission is a 540-page document, which is a revealing inquiry into the 1971 war, as declassified by the Government of Pakistan.
The composition of the Commission was as follows: Justice Hamood ur. Rehman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Justice Anwar ul Haq, Chief Justice Lahore High Court. Member Justice Tufail ali, Abdul Rehman, Chief Justice of the High Court of Sindh and Belochistan member.
Subsequently, on the Commission’s recommendations, Lieutenant General Altaf Qadir (Retd) was appointed as military advisor and M.A. Latif assistant registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan, as a secretary to the Commission. One wonders why we do not discuss this report. Or the deeper significance of the 18th of December 1971 in our national life, or history. On what we can learn from it so that such a day is never ever repeated.
we request to every Pakistni must discuss last bold sentence in above Essay in Comments.
Note : Hamood Ur Rehman Commission report in original format also available on this website. If you want than also read.