Remembering East Pakistan - December 16, 1971 - A setback!
BY: Wasim Zaidi Unit incharge Los Angeles

December 16 comes every year to haunt the nation, particularly those few remaining who were witness to the debacle. I had the misfortune to be one. On this day the Quaid's Pakistan, which was considered an epitome of 'Divided we Stand', got actually divided by breaking lose all bonds on unity between the two wings. That day the largest Muslim army suffered the humiliation of the greatest defeat. This was the darkest day of our national history that stunned everyone.

The separation of East Pakistan was a great setback to Pakistan. By 1970, sentiments for national unity had weakened in East Pakistan to the extent that constant conflict between the two Wings dramatically erupted into mass civil disorder. This tragically resulted in the brutal and violent amputation of Pakistan's Eastern Wing.
 
The physical separation of a thousand miles between the two wings without a common border, and being surrounded by Indian territory and influences, led to constant political, economic and social conflicts between the two wings; embittering relations bringing the country on the verge of collapse. As a result of the separation of its Eastern Wing, Pakistan's international credit was depleted and the military, being its most powerful institution, suffered a lot. To some, the very concept of Pakistan as the homeland for the Muslims in Southeast Asia no longer appeared valid.

Trouble started right at the inception of Pakistan in 1947. Almost immediately, East Pakistan claimed that as their population (55 percent as compared to 45 percent in the West) was greater, they were in a majority. Democratically, the Federal Capital, therefore, should have been in Dhaka and not in Karachi.

Since Karachi was the seat of the National Government; ministers, government officials and industrialists exerted immense influence on national and regional affairs, which brought them many benefits. But the East Pakistanis were unable to extract the same kind of advantages, as they were a thousand miles away from the Capital. Moreover, the Capital initially attracted wealthy industrialists, businessmen, administrators, doctors and other professionals who had fled from India.

The East Pakistan story would have been different. We still wouldn't have been able to avert the creation of BanglaDesh but it would have come into being by the intervention of the world powers and probably the UNO itself. Pakistan would not have had to suffer the ignominy of a defeat. In 1990, a small number of Biharis were allowed to immigrate to Pakistan due to the efforts of MQM, which by far is the only party still campaigning for their return.

Those who are involve in MQM bashing from Punjab, Sindh and NWFP (especially Imran Khan) are perhaps suffering from selective amnesia. They seem to have forgotten how the East wing of our country was lost? The utter disregard for the feelings and aspirations of Bengalis brought about this tragic disaster, not to mention Z.A.Bhutto and Yahya Khan's paranoia, about Mujib-ur-Rahman. They demonized Mujibur Rehman and had no respect for the mandate given to him by the Bengalis. Sadly, much of the same treatment is being given out to the urdu-speaking community and their leadership. STOP indulging in the same paranoia and don't let history repeat itself ! Our strength as a nation belongs in standing UNITED.