The writer retains a PhD from the College of Birmingham, Uk and functions in Islamabad.
The 50th beginning anniversary of Bangladesh in Dec 2021 passed usually unobserved in Pakistan. There have been a few of makes an attempt to recall the gatherings primary to the break up of Pakistan, but most of them were a regurgitation of the formal narrative in the state widespread given that 1971.
Instructional institutions in Pakistan are not birthplaces of new ideas, nor machines that churn out new and vital analysis in social sciences, together with record. All those who query the formally imposed narrative, in particular about the job West Pakistan played in the tragic gatherings of 1971 in East Pakistan, do it at their have peril. Any attempts to recount the unfortunate times of that fateful calendar year are met with derision. Officially, there is a renewed work to blame every little thing both on politicians – this sort of as Bhutto and Mujib – or on the ‘eternal enemy of Pakistan’ that is India.
In this column, there is neither editorial liberty nor house to give the specifics and phone a spade a spade. Most likely it is greater to focus on some of the lessons that may be useful for students of history. So, the very first lesson starts off with the formation of ‘One Unit’ in 1955. All provinces and administrative models of West Pakistan had been dissolved, and the central federal government introduced the A person Device scheme by forming just a person province of West Pakistan. Even additional devastating was the Parity Basic principle – according to which East and West Pakistan grew to become equal in representation, but not in resource allocation.
East Pakistan experienced 55 percent of the overall populace of Pakistan, but it was offered equivalent illustration in the 1956 constitution. The A person Device and its Parity Basic principle lasted for 15 yrs till 1970 and during those years, the West Pakistan civil and armed forces paperwork prevailed in all economic, political, and social final decision-building. In the absence of any agent authorities, the military dictatorship of Normal Ayub Khan had the ultimate say in virtually all matters similar to the two East and West Pakistan. For 15 yrs, in the identify of uniformity, all cultural, democratic, ethnic, and social aspirations of the folks of Pakistan were being crushed with an iron hand.
Eventually, Just one Device which was a image of unjustified uniformity and undemocratic parity unsuccessful – and did so miserably. It sparked alienation in the folks of Pakistan especially belonging to the jap wing wherever Bengalis resented the domination of the West Pakistani civil-armed forces elite. So, the to start with lesson is: if you want to help save your place, never ever test to impose uniformity on a diversity of men and women. If you concentrate much too much power at the centre, things start falling apart as they did in 1971 in (previous) East Pakistan which fought to go its have way.
Punjab, because of its controlling position in the bureaucracy and its representation in the army, wielded fantastic impact in nationwide affairs. Soon after 1947, migrants from India to East Pakistan ended up largely Urdu-speaking. This flared up an ethnic dimension in the drama becoming unfolded in East Pakistan in 1971. When the persons of East Pakistan tried out to assert their democratic appropriate, they experienced to face resistance from the West Pakistani civil-armed service elite. This in the long run turned out to be Bengali vs . Punjabi-Urdu tussle which resulted in violence professing hundreds, if not millions of life. So, the next lesson is about ethnic domination.
If a single or two ethnic groups or nationalities have a disproportionate representation in the civil and military paperwork, it will produce an lively resistance from other teams. In all federal authorities, departments, establishments, and ministries, there has to be an equitable distribution of positions. That was not the situation with the previous East Pakistan and this is not so even in today’s Pakistan. This is a serious subject and has to be settled quicker or later.
The subsequent lesson may perhaps be drawn from some productive federations all-around the entire world. In a excellent and functioning federation there has to be a stability – which is an crucial requirement for its achievement. The administrative, financial, and political powers have to be equitable. An absence of this kind of stability results in a tug of war for resources, if they are managed by the central federal government without the need of consensus from the federating models. In 1971, this became very pronounced in East Pakistan whose folks were being becoming shortchanged in the name of countrywide protection and unity.
A disrespect for some fundamental rules of a federation experienced pushed Sheikh Mujibur Rehman to articulate the demands of East Pakistan in the Six Points of the Awami League. The central authorities experienced failed to introduce Bangla as a national language and there was unjust allocation of purely natural assets. There was minimal illustration of Bengalis in the central solutions, notably in better positions. And all this furnished the backbone to the Six-Position Formula. The lesson is not to repeat the same blunders, and to stay clear of very similar resentments in today’s Pakistan. Pay attention, when people today discuss, rather than giving them a patriotic potion.
All languages of Pakistan are worthy of respect, preservation, and promotion. All key languages have a correct to be declared countrywide languages. At minimum 10 languages in today’s Pakistan: Balochi, Brahui, Balti, Hindko, Pashto, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi, Shina, and Urdu have a appropriate to be spoken in parliament, of training course with satisfactory translation amenities – which are not difficult to set up in the 21st century. If we want to learn lessons from 1971, regard for all languages really should be a considerable lesson. No condescending attitudes remember to toward speakers of languages other than English and Urdu.
The subsequent lesson is not to undervalue the gravity of the scenario when the facade is crumbling. In 1971, our rulers confirmed a deplorable deficiency in being familiar with the building situation. And the rulers were being not Bhutto and Mujib – as the state-sanctioned narrative now wants us to acknowledge and consider. Generals Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan and their coteries’ strategy towards this challenge was inadequate. It is legitimate that the politicians did play their role, but there was a lot more myopia at best positions not held by the politicians, as they have been not the final decision-makers in the condition machinery.
The events of 1971 also teach us to remember the legislation of holes. The very first law states: “if you uncover your self in a gap, halt digging”. Digging a gap can make it further, and thus harder to get out of. Which usually means that when you are in an untenable posture, it is better to prevent generating the predicament even worse. That is precisely what the rulers of Pakistan did in 1971. They retained digging and designed the problem worse not only for themselves but for all included. Standard people and frequent troopers suffered the most.
The second regulation of holes is: “when you prevent digging, you are still in a hole”. It usually means you cannot just sit there, as Standard Yahya Khan did during the past days of the war which resulted in an ignominious defeat. No total of whitewash can adjust this point of historical past. There were nonetheless reasonable voices that were suggesting a political answer by negotiation and tranquil transfer of electrical power to the vast majority social gathering, which was the Awami League led by Mujibur Rehman. Depriving a political occasion of its vast majority to favour yet another is like digging the gap deeper. The lesson is to not hasten the course of action of disintegration.
Finally, the very last lesson is to understand how to study and choose the scenario not from a higher pedestal, but from between the individuals – from activists and journalists from intellectuals and writers the ones who are not paid and nurtured, but these who dare talk the truth.
The author can be reached at: mnazir [email protected]