Path to Victory

Posted by sepoy on December 16, 2005 · 6 mins read

Say what we will about the adventures of The Chosen One in Iraq, yesterday was a memorable day for the future state of Iraq. Memorable because there will now be a parliament and, for better or worse, the last illusions of control over Iraq will slip away from the hands of the W.H. I congratulate the Iraqi people for making it so far. And I hope that they continue to go the polls in the future. The danger of a civil war remains; the danger of an Iran-fed theocracy clashing with the US and other designs remains; and the mere fact that elections happened and that the Sunni participation was high does not mean any end to the hostilities...

The first general elections in the history of Pakistan were held on December of 1970. The resulting National Assembly was mandated to write a new constitution for the country in 120 days. The country, at the time, was divided geographically into East and West Pakistan. Even though the population tilted towards East Pakistan, the ruling elite, to that point, had all come from West Pakistan - whether military or civilian. The policies of General Ayub had created intense resentment in East Pakistan for their long standing marginalization and economic exploitation by West Pakistan-led military and civilian elite. The anemic response of the army to the massive cyclone of November 1970 gave further strength to the argument that the Bangla-speaking Pakistanis of East Pakistan were on their own. It was in this context that the election of 1970 gave an overwhelming victory to the local political party, Awami League, and its leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in East Pakistan. And with this victory, so they thought, a public mandate to implement their six-point plan [second point was that the federal government will be responsible only for defense and foreign affairs; the others argued for equal economic distribution and independent actions for the provinces]. In West Pakistan, Pakistan People's Party and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto trumped Mawdudi and his Jama'at to claim premiership duties [did you know that Bhutto contested a seat against Javed Iqbal s/o of Allama?]. Neither party got anything in the other half of that fractured country. And so it stood, that General Yahya [yes, there is always a general in charge in homistan], Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bhutto started a fateful dance that would cast the country into civil war.

Awami League may or may not have been willing to negotiate on the Six Points, Bhutto certainly tried to argue that they weren't listening, and Yahya acted in the only way he knew - militarily. In the beginning of March, he declared curfew in Dhaka and installed General Tikka Khan, already known for his exploits in Baluchistan as the 'Butcher of Baluchistan', as the Martial Law Administrator. He was to live up to his moniker. All compromises between Bhutto, Mujib and Yahya ended on March 25th, 1970, when Yahya decided to gamble that military might will subdue East Pakistan, and the Pakistan army rolled into Dhaka. Awami League leaders who did not manage to escape were arrested or killed. Mujibur Rahman was charged with treason and send to jail in West Pakistan. As the army laid seige to cities of their own country, the Bengali regiments disappeared and re-emerged as the guerilla troops of Mukhti Bahni. Through November 1971, at least a million civilians had been killed at the hands of the West Pakistani army and the number of refugees into India was reaching the 10 million mark. Also, by November, Indian army had started military operations in East Pakistan and on December 3rd, 1971, full scale conflict erupted between the two nations. On December 15th, West Pakistan's army surrendered in Dhaka and Bangladesh was born.

Whatever the dream of Pakistan had been in 1947, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 was its death knell. One can even argue that both Pakistan & Bangladesh came into existence, simulaneously, in 1971. It will have to suffice for the day to state, rather broadly, that Islam and the neutron became the twin engines for the broken nation of Pakistan which had no economy, a token state and a mere dialectic as its sole raison d'être. For Bangladesh, on the other hand, the struggle to overcome the twin wounds of nationalism and nature was tremendous. Its tumultous past since is once again rocking. It has been just as unlucky as Pakistan in being enslaved to families of civilian despots elected in recurring cycles of violence and voting.

The lesson of 1971 is important for Iraq of 2006: There can be no good outcome when the tyranny of power seeks to rewrite the will of people. Kurdish nationalists, claimants of a Shi'a theocracy, 'secular' voices and the recalcitrant Sunnis will all win a seat at the Parlimantary table. Let's keep them ALL there.


qawukzi | December 16, 2005

Well said.

Masalah Guy | December 17, 2005

I just pray that things may turn out good for Iraqi people and we don,t end up generalizing Pakistan's result to other countries.

Sofia | December 18, 2005

After 1971 war, Bhutto's govt. should have given death sentence to the responsible Army Generals. As history told us people got out hand when there are no consequences. Pak Army is one of the corrupted in the world. They didn’t even spared the great leader like Liaqat Ali Khan. Army’s job is to take care of one’s border and help the nation during crisis. We all saw after the earthquake that our Army is useless. I was very young at the time of creation of Bangladesh. As most of the Karachiets my family moved from India (Delhi) to Pakistan during 1947. Some of my family members had to move from Dacca to Karachi in 70’s. In 80's MQM was created in Sindh by General Zia to counter Bhutto effect. Altaf, the leader of MQM demanded separate land due to discrimination from majority classes. We already have others Sindh, Baluchistan and NWFP demanding separate land for them. My concern is when this going to end? When as a nation we started to support national parties so we can all resolve our concerns in the assemblies. P.S. Do love your impartiality. Please do write something about the division of India, as all of our lives were so much affected by it.

RIP, Shahbaz Bhatti | Greased Cartridge | March 02, 2011

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