El­egy for Pak­istan

Southasia - - Book review - Re­viewed By Brig A.R. Sid­diqi Brig A. R. Sid­diqi is an em­i­nent re­gional se­cu­rity ex­pert, a de­fense an­a­lyst and former ISPR spokesman. He writes for var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions and of­ten speaks on na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues on TV.

Ti­tle: Sheikh Mu­jibur Rah­man: The Un­fin­ished Mem­oir

Trans­lated by: Fakrul Alam

Pub­lisher : Ox­ford Univer­sity Press, Pak­istan (June, 2012)

Pages: 364, Hard­back

Price: PKR 995

ISBN: 9780199063581

‘I used to be­lieve with my heart and soul that Mus­lims would be wiped out in an un­di­vided In­dia.’ ‘Why were the Hindu lead­ers, so up­set about the idea of Pak­istan…?

Th­ese are the words of Sheikh Mu­jibur Rah­man in the early 40s - an ar­dent and com­mit­ted sup­porter of Pak­istan – a state yet to be born.

Ex­cept for Jin­nah him­self, Jin­nah’s right hand man Li­aquat Ali Khan and a hand­ful of cheer­lead­ers, there might have been hardly any­one in the north-west­ern zone to have had such passionate ded­i­ca­tion to Pak­istan, which un­til then re­mained lit­tle more than a dream.

Un­der no cir­cum­stances would Mu­jib ever think of ‘be­tray­ing’ the idea of Pak­istan. Mu­jib and his as­so­ci­ates strived to con­vince mav­er­ick Faza­lul Haque to re­join the Mus­lim League, which he left be­cause of a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with Mo­ham­mad Ali Jin­nah. ‘Mr. Jin­nah can­not stand and is up­set by my pop­u­lar­ity.’ Mr. Haque lamented.

When Faza­lul Haque in­vited Mu­jib and his friends to share a meal with him, the group agreed to ac­cept the in­vi­ta­tion ‘only if [Faza­lul Haque] ac­ceded to their re­quest to re­turn to the Mus­lim League.’

‘If so weak that merely go­ing to him would be (like) be­tray­ing the idea of Pak­istan then we should not be in the Pak­istan move­ment at all.’ Such had been their com­mit­ment and ded­i­ca­tion to the Pak­istan Move­ment as to dis­al­low the slight­est de­vi­a­tion from it. Pak­istani states­man and leader of the Mus­lim League in the Ben­gal Pres­i­dency, Huseyn Sha­heed Suhrawardy re­mained a staunch op­po­nent of is­sues that en­dan­gered ‘the move­ment for cre­at­ing Pak­istan…’ Their one and the only mis­sion and goal in life was to see Pak­istan ma­te­ri­al­ize as soon as pos­si­ble. Back in the north­west­ern zone, although the Pak­istan move­ment had gained mo­men­tum, each of the four prov­inces viewed Pak­istan from its own parochial an­gle; each was ap­pre­hen­sive of Pun­jab – the most pop­u­lous and devel­oped in the group ----- for emerg­ing as the group leader.

While the Pak­istan move­ment in Mus­lim Ben­gal was the most uni­fied and res­o­lute, it lacked an or­ganic co­he­sion and har­mony in the west­ern wing. The Ben­galis, did, how­ever, hope and be-

lieve that af­ter par­ti­tion Cal­cutta would be ac­corded to East Pak­istan. ‘If Cal­cutta had be­come part of Pak­istan, East Pak­istan Ben­galis could claim that they con­sti­tuted the ma­jor­ity...af­ter all it had been the cap­i­tal of the whole of In­dia dur­ing the early part of the Bri­tish rule...’

How­ever, an in­de­pen­dent Ben­gal out­side the In­dian Union would, in no way, be ac­cept­able to the In­dian Na­tional Congress. The for­mula was thus a non-start- er from the be­gin­ning. What was fun­da­men­tally sig­nif­i­cant was Jin­nah’s ac­cep­tance of a Pak­istan even with­out East Pak­istan.

Mu­jibur Rah­man’s un­fin­ished mem­oirs are vir­tu­ally a re­quiem for one united Pak­istan. The Union for all its phys­i­cal, cul­tural and lin­guis­tic di­ver­gences did en­dure peace and war for nearly quar­ter of a cen­tury. Ben­gali sol­diers and avi­a­tors fought valiantly as Pak­istan’s front­line warriors. Their gal­lantry in the field was rec­og­nized and re­warded by the na­tion and the government.

As Bangladesh emerged as an in­de­pen­dent state in 1971, Ben­gali men, women and chil­dren poured their heart out as they sang the na­tional an­them. Says Sheikh Mu­jibur Rah­man ‘We Ben­gali Mus­lims have two sides. One is our be­lief that we are Mus­lims and the other we are Ben­galis’.

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