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Monday, December 17, 2012

[] Events of 1971


Dr A Q Khan
Monday, December 17, 2012

All nations go through ups and downs - they have glorious periods and tragic ones. People usually ignore and forget the tragic ones while celebrating the good events with great pomp. Celebration of such events impresses a nation's achievements on the minds of its people and generates self-confidence in them. Tragic events are commemorated to remember past mistakes and the reasons for these mishaps. Unfortunately, Islamic history is full of tragic events, usually totally forgotten and ignored by subsequent rulers, to say nothing of learning a lesson from them. These rulers seemed intoxicated by wealth and power and lived luxurious lives.

We have the examples of Umayyad, Abbasid, Khwarizmi, Mongol, Mughal and Turkish dynasties, and the Islamic dynasty in Spain, etc. However, such episodes are not limited to Islamic countries. Christian dynasties have also had their fair share. Hitler ignored the fate that had befallen Napoleon after Napoleon's misadventure of attacking Russia, and he repeated the same mistake. This proved to be the beginning of his disastrous and ignominious end. Had Hitler not attacked Russia, the history of Europe would probably have been quite different and the United Kingdom would have been flattened. Fate has its own way and the Almighty usually seals the hearts and brains of the wrongdoers before destroying them.

It is most unfortunate that we in Pakistan have also not learnt any lessons from our past tragic mistakes. The breaking up of Pakistan on December 16, 1971, was one such recent event. Millions of Pakistanis are fully aware of the reasons behind that tragedy, but it seems that our rulers and the establishment are oblivious to these, despite the fact that it was such a traumatic experience.

The country was broken up, hundreds of thousands of people were killed, women were raped and almost 92,000 army and other personnel were taken prisoner. The way they were treated by the victorious Indian army was heart-breaking and I could not control my tears at seeing these events on TV. The public in Pakistan was not shown those scenes, but the western media exposed everything. As is usual here, nobody was held responsible for such a big and tragic disaster.

Bhutto appointed the Justice Hamoodur Rahman Commission, which was supposed to identify the culprits. The report was prepared, but the contents were never made public. There were a few leaks, a lot of guesswork and nothing more. Bhutto did not dare to have it published for fear of a backlash. This report was finally published in an Indian newspaper decades after the event had occurred. The main actor in the whole episode, Gen Yahya Khan, who was buried with the national flag draped over his coffin and, by what I read in the papers, with a 21-gun salute. Others went on to live comfortable, respected lives. The report also exposed some pseudo-brave, who later held very important posts.

We know that in March 1971 Gen Yahya Khan sent Gen Tikka Khan to East Pakistan to crush "insurgents." We saw our own army killing our own people. It is a well-known fact that, when given absolute power, people become cruel. Extremely horrible scenes were shown on TV abroad (I was in Belgium at the time) and I was ashamed to see that such cruel acts could be perpetrated by Muslims against Muslims – Pakistanis against fellow-Pakistanis. Everybody is aware of the fact that West Pakistani baboos considered East Pakistan a colony and treated its citizens in the same way as the British used to treat us. At the time Tikka Khan was unleashing a reign of terror in East Pakistan, our great and indomitable poet, Habib Jalib, warned the government in these words:

Mohabbat golion sey bo rahey ho

Watan ka chehra khoon sey dho rahey ho

Guman tumko key rasta kat raha hai

Yaqin mujhko keh manzil kho rahey ho

(You are promoting love with bullets and smearing the face of the country with blood. You are under the illusion that you are nearing your goal but I am sure that you are losing your destination.)

Our Islamic history is full of conflicts and intrigues, because of which we were destroyed. This process started with the wars of Jamal and Siffin in which the Companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and close relatives fought each other, killing almost 80,000 people in the process. Ironically, both sides claimed that their dead would go straight to heaven. Later the Umayyad, Abbasid and Khwarizmi dynasties perished due to internal strife. Taimur fought against Bayazid Yildirim. Still later, the Arabs fought against the Turks, thus destroying powerful Islamic dynasties.

The mughal emperor Aurangzeb's campaign against his own brothers destroyed the very fabric of a grand dynasty, and after his death the country was dismembered. Furthermore, how can we forget the intrigues and treachery that led to the martyrdom of Tipu Sultan and the destruction of his kingdom?

The present situation in the country is not very different from that of 1971. Then, as now, the rulers and the establishment were under the illusion that they could and would crush their opponents. Unfortunately, the sovereignty of the country was sold by a dictator president without foresight, for his personal benefit, and who acknowledged a colonial war as being our own. We are behaving no better than mercenaries – killing our own people for a few bucks. We have forgotten how to protect our own borders and sovereignty.

It is unfortunate that both our political and military leaders are under the illusion (as happened in previous eras) that they can crush their opponents. They could not manage to do that to a very docile nation in 1971, how then can they contemplate crushing a martial race? They will be fighting for a thousand years and bleed the country to destruction and disintegration.

The rulers and the establishment are using our poor, brave soldiers as cannon fodder for the sake of a paltry sum in dollars. This money does not contribute to our economy or strength. The families of the poor martyred soldiers get a few consolatory statements and a few hundred thousand rupees, a sum with which they cannot even buy a small house on a five-marla plot, or live off the interest.

The country is at present in a worse situation than it was in 1971. It is plagued with all kinds of social evils. If we don't rectify this soon, the day will not be far off when we disintegrate again. In order to rectify the situation, the first and foremost necessity is to disengage ourselves from the foreign war and put our own house in order. The poem written by Ahmad Faraz after he had visited Dhaka Museum reflected his feelings and is a reminder to us of those tragic events and of the danger looming.



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