Every year December comes and goes with the usual hella bellu of Quaid-e-Azam’s birth anniversary, Christmas, followed by the New Year celebrations. This fateful December month has come again to haunt us. Last December, I was in Dacca, the capital of Bangladesh (Jaswant’s second partition) in an International Conference arranged by the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) as a guest speaker. That was my first trip to Dacca after the 1971 war and what a visit it was? That and Mr. Jaswant Singh’s recent book inspired me to write this article and share my views with the ardent readers. After the conference was over, I was looking forward to visit Khulna on a nostalgic visit where my cousin and best childhood friend who was a bright officer in the Pak Army from Baloch Regt. kept on fighting even after the 16 Dec 71 surrender at the Paltan Maidaan Dacca and embraced shahadat after finishing all his ammo. He and all his loyal soldiers preferred death to laying down their arms to the enemy. All of them were duly decorated for gallantry by the Pakistan government. I just couldn’t collect myself to visit the place due to the media hype of all of them being declared traitors and enemy infiltrators against their liberation cause.
The Dacca television was churning out venomous propaganda against the Pak Army from 10th Dec till the crescendo on the 16th. I made up my mind to never ever visit Bangladesh in the month of December. Political-Intellectuals of the caliber of Mr. Jaswant Singh have opened up the old wounds of the new Indo-Pak generation leading towards a chance of a serious dialogue for the first time from across our border thru his book: Jinnah India-Pakistan –Independence. He has thrown the gauntlet at us, the first born free intellectually oriented Pakistani generation to assimilate both the Partitions (1947 & 1971) and come up with its appropriate response.
We may have lost, for the time being, Dacca and Kabul due to our own follies and one dimensional policy pursuits. The short term battles for these two regions may be over militarily for us, but the regional political re-structuring has yet to be re-drawn. Mr. Jaswant Singh rightly calls the liberation of Bangladesh as the second partition. The first vivi-section of India in 1947 may have caused as much pain to Mr. Singh’s generation in India as the second partition (1971 war) has caused to our generation in Pakistan. Time has, therefore, come to prepare introspectively a new political/diplomatic strategy for the entire Muslim population of indo-Pak sub-continent on a permanent basis keeping in mind that more than half the global Muslim population lives in our region. Between 1947 and 1971 partitions of the Indian sub continent there is a wide political and diplomatic gulf between the two. The 1947 partition and the creation of Pakistan was ably fought thru political means by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, without firing a single bullet, whereas, the 1971 partition of Pakistan was achieved militarily thru the machinations of the Indian Army. The Indian Army was backed by their die-hard politicians who openly talked about their avenging the 1000 years of Muslim rule in India. Their venom came out thru the speeches of the Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indra Gandhi and Mr. Jagjivan Ram their defense minister in the Indian parliament soon after the instrument of surrender was signed in Dacca. Another Hindu intellectual of the time, Mr. Pran Chopra, came out with his book to add more salt to our wounds titled: 1971: India’s Second Liberation. In this hour of triumph and euphoria in Hindustan, it was only one sober Indian politician who happens to be the mentor of Mr. Jaswant Singh ________ Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who put caution and restrain to Indra Gandhi’s fili-buster thru his speeches in the Indian Parliament that from a one weak Pakistan (East & West Wings) we may have created two strong Pakistans on the Eastern and Western peripheries of India. What a visionary politician amongst our midst.
Throughout the modern political history of India covering almost 1000 years, it was never vertically integrated by the rulers from Delhi, its seat of power. There has always been an East- West, North- South divide and horizontal linkages established thru sticks and carrots by various provinces and princely states of India with the Delhi Sultans. Mughal emperors Akhbar and Aurangzeb came up with their own innovative models to achieve this horizontal and vertical political integration in India but both failed miserably towards the end of their respective rules. The British, clever as they are, had started conquering India incrementally from the East and moving horizontally from there to spread their tentacles in the length and breadth of India till they were strong enough to invite the old fat woman (Queen Victoria) to send her rep to rule India from the seat of Delhi after the 1857 Debacle.
Mr. Jaswant Singh and Maulana Azad, for that matter may have put Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru in the dock for the partition of India but both of them are political orphans as compared to the first prime minister of Hindustan. Mr. Nehru clearly gambled to establish a centrally strong Hindu state in India with the help of his British friends to checkmate the birth of a weak and splintered Muslim Pakistan and to annihilate it soon after gaining independence. If the likes of Nehru and Patel did not succeed in their endeavors, credit must rest with our Founding Fathers. Exactly 24 years after the first partition of India brought about by the father, his daughter Mrs. Indra Gandhi further splintered Pakistan into two halves (Eastern & Western) thru the might and deceit of the Indian army. The stark difference in both the approaches of the father and daughter for these two partitions of India couldn’t be more glaring. The father wore a red rose on his white achkan and negotiated politically with all the major political players of the time in the 1930s/1940s for the political re-structuring of India, whereas, his daughter achieved the second partition thru the barrel of the gun on the ground and heli-borne troops in Russian monstrous helicopters from the air.
What political objectives did the Indian leaders achieve by creating Bangladesh? They were not able to re-integrate this newly born country in the India Diaspora and not even with West Bengal/Assam their cultural half brothers. New restrictions were soon placed at the India borders of West Bengal and Assam to stop movement of Bangladeshis even on extreme compassionate grounds of meeting divided families. The sacrifices which the Indian Army gave in men and material during the liberation of Bangladesh all went in vain due to lack of well defined political objectives and only a knee-jerk military action was taken to dismember Pakistan and avenge their 1000 years of Muslim rule in India.
Pakistan, under Mr. Bhutto’s government in the 1970’s had a pro-active Foreign Policy led by the most able, respected and brilliant diplomat – Mr. Agha Shahi. Both of them to-gather did maximum Damage Control after the disastrous events of Dec 1971. The things started changing after Gen Zia-ul-Hague’s military take over in 1977. The first axe to fall was on the Foreign Office and ultimately the frustrated Foreign Minister Mr. Agha Shahi had to resign in protest after serving the country as an astute diplomat for more than 40 years and handed over Diplomacy to the half-educated army generals sitting in their own dungeons away from the public scrutiny. The last maverick in our foreign office retired and all major foreign policy initiatives in our region were transferred to the military establishment. This caused an up-heaval in our Afghan/Kashmir and Indian foreign policy frame-work with Operation Gibralter like fiascos again entering the minds of our khakis. The military is not trained in the art of diplomacy and politics, and therefore, Pakistan suffered in the past and is still suffering due to our one-dimensional military policies in our region. The glaring example of this is the Kargil War which politically damaged our just Kashmir cause. Time has come to vertically integrate our regional military strategies with that of our diplomatic and political institutions to make it more holistic and defeat the Indian propaganda machine by showing them the mirror. India is already bursting at its seams in the Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern hemisphere. Let us exploit their political weaknesses on the political plat-form just like they do without any qualms and keep our military dormant on the Eastern Front for the time being to give them respite for the new battles that may lie ahead.
The Agartala Conspiracy was prepared in this town in Assam by the Indians four years before launching their 1971 Liberation Campaign for East Pakistan. Within five years, from planning to execution the Indians achieved their mission. We should learn a lesson or two from this Agartala case and apply it to achieve our just Kashmir cause for which we have been struggling for the last more than 60 years. We should win the hearts and minds of the entire Muslim population of the Indo-Pak sub-continent by fully projecting ourselves. Regardless of the apologetics and critics amongst us, the best living standards of more than 600 million Muslims in our region are enjoyed in Pakistan. If anyone has any doubts about it, the GOP should send the skeptics on tax payer’s expense to India for a short visit and see for themselves the squalid conditions of Muslims across the border. Let us come out of our defeatist and cribbing attitude and thank our Beloved God for giving us our own beautiful country. But then, Pakistan is not only a geographic entity to be broken here or there, God forbid, but a concept deeply rooted in the heart and soul of the Muslims of South Asia. The score of Jaswant Singh’s Partitions is one-all (1947 India, 1971 Pakistan). Throw the ball in Hindustan’s court as the third partition of India should now come at their cost. We have already paid the price thru the second one. Long live Pakistans all over the Indian sub-continent and wishing happiness and prosperity for our Muslim brethren spread over the length and breadth of South Asia.
The author is Ex-Director General NUST, Islamabad Campus