Monday, December 19, 2011

Getting rid of 'the nuisance' : Pakistan's viewpoint

“Why was Pakistan Created?” The issue remains controversial to date. Pakistan appears as a weird entity having none of its organs in proper form. Whoever looks at it defines it in the light of its own perspective. We also have the distinction of being the only nation in the world which is always obsessed with the fear of fragmentation and a horrible end.

Our security establishment presents itself as an indomitable force while all rights of the state are reserved for Pakistan army. Politics, the affairs of the state, the ideology and relations with neighboring countries and all other international players is a task religiously undertaken by the army. What is to be taught to school children and what has to be the media policy are areas determined by the army. Issuance of certificates of patriotism and treachery is also included in the job description of the army. So much so that all residents of a particular province can be declared traitors, while with the exception of Punjab, people from all other provinces have been declared traitors and Indian agents in the past. Presently the disloyalty of the Baluch people has reached the same proportions as that of the Bengalis and an identical military operation is underway in Baluchistan.

Pakistan, when created was configured in two geographical regions with a distance of 1000 miles in between. The hegemony of the security establishment could only have been established if India could be declared an eternal enemy. To further strengthen hostility towards India and establish a centralized rule, the concept of Islamic ideology was invented.

The basic tenet of a federation is the understanding that the provinces would join hands to create the federation and not the other way round. The federal system is based on the voluntary accession of all the federating units into a federation whereas in Pakistan the security apparatus retained the federal structure through coercion wherein Islam and animosity against India were used as weapons. East Pakistan was the majority province in terms of population. To usurp the rights of the Bengalis, who comprised the majority, one unit based on parity principle was instituted while Urdu was imposed on them replacing native Bengali.

Since the creation of Pakistan, provinces have been crying hoarse for their rights. For 64 years the “ridiculous” NWFP was not allowed to change its name while to counter demands for provincial autonomy the federating units were taught the lessons of Islam and the threat from India.

One thousand miles away, surrounded by the “arch enemy” the Bengalis were a nation who would take pride in their land, culture and nationality. The security establishment and its ally the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) kept working on the Bengalis to make them “better” Muslims and “better” Pakistanis; however the Bengalis refused to accept a certificate to qualify as the “true believers” and “true patriots”.

In 1971 the military ruled Pakistan and Yahya Khan was the all powerful President of the country. The JI was his ally and a part of his cabinet. Yahya was fond of wine and women while the whole nation was being taught the “message” of Islam. The JI in collusion with Yahya Khan was all set to come up with an “Islamic” 

constitution when elections were held in 1970 wherein Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rahman sweeped the elections from East Pakistan while Z.A Bhutto’s PPP emerged as the party with majority seats in West Pakistan. As per the election results, it was Sheikh Mujeeb-ur –Rahman who should have been invited to form the new government in the centre yet the military junta and Bhutto refused to accept the electoral results which were declared null and void. This caused the Bengalis to revolt against the establishment. The army retaliated by taking Mujeeb into custody and Awami League was banned. Later, “phony” elections were conducted in East Pakistan which resulted in the “victory” of JI and PPP.

While army crackdown was underway in East Pakistan, an armed conflict and guerilla warfare ensued between Mujeeb loyalists and Pakistan army belonging to West Pakistan. As a result of full scale insurgency, around 10 million Bengalis, in order to save their lives, crossed the border into India. All independent sources corroborate that Pak army was involved in the massacre of Bengalis. Since a direct war had erupted between the Bengali nationalists and Pak army and while 10 million Bengalis were occupying refugee camps in India, it was not possible for India to remain a silent spectator when the international public opinion was also in India’s favor.

While the situation was critical in the East, the Pakistani generals committed another blunder by launching an air assault on Indian air fields from the West. This led to the formal declaration of war between India and Pakistan on the 3rd of December 1971.

The East Pakistani populace which had turned against the establishment was being butchered by the Pak army as the whole world watched in shock. At the same time Bhutto was indulging in theatrics in the United Nations to “save” Pakistan. He tore down the Polish Resolution calling for ceasefire and left the Security Council.
While in West Pakistan, the military junta, JI and Bhutto were constantly befooling the entire nation, BBC was the only source of reliable information.

During the last days of the conflict in East Pakistan when preparations were underway for the surrender ceremony, the President, General Agha Mohammad Yahya khan was addressing the nation; fully drunk: “We will fight in the streets in the lands and in our houses and devastate the enemy which dared to attack us.”At the same time the nation was being comforted with the news of the arrival of the sixth US fleet.

And then BBC informed that 90,000 Pak army regulars, Para-military and others surrendered before General Jagjit Singh Arora of the Indian army.90000 was a huge number in terms of POW’s which surrendered ever to an enemy while Pakistan stood dismembered. The people of West Pakistan were in a state of shock and stricken with grief, yet Yahya Khan, despite defeat and dismemberment was shamelessly reluctant to quit the corridors of power. Most likely some middle order officers of Pak army forced Yahya to quit his seat.

A commission was constituted to investigate the East Pakistan debacle whose report was never made public. No army officer was ever court martialed thus strengthening the notion that blunders by the uniformed are not to be brought on record. Whatever they do to the country and its people was beyond accountability.

East Pakistan was a nuisance to our generals who got rid of it so that the remaining state could be made more manageable and fully controlled. Ironically, Baluchistan is treading the path once followed by East Pakistan. However, nothing has changed in the mindset of the generals who still think that they can save Pakistan by destroying it.