By Usman Khalid : –
Bangladesh celebrates its Independence Day on December 16 – the day in 1971 when the Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Amy. This year the grim anniversary had unusual poignancy. West Pakistan is replicating the experience of the Muslims of Bengal in 1971 and the Pro-India Awami League has won a landslide victory in Bangladesh . In a sense the situation is very similar to that of 1972. Pakistan ’s leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Bangladesh ’s leader Sheikh Mujib enjoyed overwhelming majority in the parliament but had become highly controversial. And both ended up being overthrown and assassinated by the Army of the country. The political class in neither country has since understood or acknowledged that winning election is no guarantee for legitimacy; the people want good governance and ‘rule of law’ more than regular elections that bring tired old faces to the fore again and again.
If we are to learn any lessons, we can start by setting the record straight. Pakistan came into being as a federation with the consent of the people of East Pakistan . Owing to being separated by the huge and hostile landmass of India , it was always deemed more practical for them to be separate countries. The leader of the Muslim League – Mr Jinnah – authorised in 1946 Mr H.S. Suharwardy, the Chief Minister of united Bengal, to discuss with his Congress counter-parts their proposal for Bengal to be a separate country outside India or Pakistan. In his discussion, he found that their plan was to invade and annex independent Bengal – if it did not have a de jure link with Pakistan – immediately upon the exit of the British from India. Horrified by his discovery, he moved the famous 1946 Resolution that visualised Pakistan to be one country, not several as in the 1940 Resolution. Mr H.S.Suharwardy was the founder leader of the Awami League in which Sheikh Mujib was seen as his natural successor.
The truth and he also knew that the ISI had the record of his meetings with his agent handlers at Agartalla in India where he was smuggled across the border by RAW agents.
We are revisiting the horrors of that chapter of history with no compass or guide. We have another war and another set of leaders – Asif Zardari (AZ) and Hamid Karzai (HK) – but the same enemies.
Sheikh Mujib surely knew of the Indian desire to annex East Pakistan Yet, he conspired with the enemy in the scheme to split Pakistan in the first phase and for the annexation of Bangladesh to India in the second phase. There is absolutely no doubt that unless the overwhelming victory of the Awami League on 29 December Elections is followed by another August 15, Bangladesh is soon to be history.
Sheikh Mujib had been working with the Indian Intelligence (codename RAW) for some time and had been indicted for it under a case called ‘Agartalla Conspiracy’. The entire political class of Pakistan rallied around him in East as well as West Pakistan . The military ruler General Yahya Khan was so awestruck that he released him on bail and Sheikh Mujib was able to fight 1971 Election despite having been indicted for conspiracy against his country. Mesmerised by his success in evading such flagrant violation of the law he became a hero. No wonder he won all but one seat in East Pakistan. The President – General Yahya Khan – met Sheikh Mujib in Dhaka , congratulated him on his victory, and invited him to form the Government. Sheikh Mujib accepted the invitation on the day but declined it after three days saying that his party colleagues did not approve. A few weeks later it became obvious why? He made a UDI – Unilateral Declaration of Independence a few weeks later, on 23 March 1971 at Dhaka and offered himself for arrest.
He preferred to be a prisoner rather than be the Prime Minister. Why? Because he knew the truth and he also knew that the ISI had the record of his meetings with his agent handlers at Agartalla in India where he was smuggled across the border by RAW agents. The entire political class of Pakistan knew that too but found it politically expedient to revile Yahya Khan and the Army alleging that the charges against him were ‘trumped up’. Rule of Law became the casualty of that precedent and getting away with heinous crimes became the hallmark of a great politician. Neither Bangladesh nor Pakistan has recovered from that travesty.
Those unfamiliar with the role of Muslim traitors in the service of Indian Empire builders need to be reminded that the conquest of the Eastern part of the Mughal Empire, which was ruled by Nawab Siraj ud Daula, was also the result of treachery. In the Battle of Plassey (1757) that he fought against Lord Clive of the British East India Company, Mir Jaffer, his senior military commander, kept about 50,000 troops out of the battle which was won by 800 British soldiers with about 2000 Indian sepoys. Mir Jaffer had been introduced to Lord Clive by a wealthy Hindu banker, Jagat Seth, who knew of Jaffer’s ambition to power. A week after the Battle of Plassey, Clive led Mir Jaffer to the throne; a few days later Siraj-ud-Daula’s body was found floating in a river. Mir Jaffer’s treachery laid the foundation of 200 years of British Raj in India . Heroes of one people are the villains of the other but no one ever celebrates a traitor. Mir Jaffer (of Bengal ) and Mir Sadiq (who betrayed Tipu Sultan) will always be remembered by the Muslims of the sub-continent as traitors.
Since 1971 is recent history and the politicians who made that history are still the writers and authors of that chapter; the verdict of history is still open. Unfortunately for the Muslims of the sub-continent, the absence of a clear verdict on 1971 treachery in East Pakistan means that the shadow of that treachery still lingers not just in East Pakistan but also in the Western Wing of the country. We are revisiting the horrors of that chapter of history with no compass or guide. We have another war and another set of leaders – Asif Zardari (AZ) and Hamid Karzai (HK) – but the same enemies. Will traitors dominate history again or will the newfound power that the people have acquired in this day and age overcome their treachery?
The War in Afghanistan and Pakistan are now inextricably linked. That is not what either country wants; that is the decision of today’s imperial powers. President Elect Barack Obama has decided that the war in Iraq was unjust but the war in Afghanistan is a ‘just war’. HK has put in his bid; he would like the additional US troops (20,000) to be used against Pakistan . It now appears that AZ is just as eager for India and America to shift focus to his country. His reason is not too dissimilar to that of Sheikh Mujib in 1971: he wants the Pakistan Army
To establish ‘full spectrum domination’ of his party over all the institutions of the state of Pakistan, he leans on with the help of India and America under the cover of ‘war on terror’.
to be beaten. AZ is proving to be the reincarnation of the Sheikh Mujib whose treachery precipitated the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war and Pakistan ’s defeat.
Like in 1971, propaganda is more credible than the truth in the hands of the disciples of Kautaliya. Pakistan had elections on 18 February 2008 in the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. No one was surprised that her party won the most seats; sympathy vote was very substantial. But there is disquiet over AZ – her unscrupulous and corrupt husband known as ‘Mr Ten Percent’ – assuming the leadership of her party on the basis of a ‘will’, which remains shrouded in secrecy.
However, the bold forthrightness shown by him to control riots, arson and plunder in Sindh that followed on Benazir’s assassination, he built a broad constituency of trust in himself. Everybody in Pakistan was pleasantly surprised when he set up a broad based coalition government with his archrival – Nawaz Sharif. He outmanoeuvred Pervez Musharraf and displayed political skill in getting him to resign. But his support disappeared fast as he went back on written undertaking to reinstate the Chief Justice. Is he a victim of the Sheikh Mujib syndrome? Mujib could be prime minister of Pakistan but he chose to be a prisoner. He did become the President of Bangladesh only to be assassinated by his own soldiers who saw the truth – he was an Indian agent.
Debate will continue for some more time whether AZ is an Indian or America agent. But the penny has dropped with the vote in the UN Sanctions Committee that declared some of the Pakistani NGOs to be the supporters of the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. It has now come out that he did ask Pakistan ’s representatives at the UN to get the ‘terrorist’ label put on some very respected names among Islamic NGOs. It has also come out that he did not consult Pakistan ’s Foreign Office or use the diplomatic channels. He acted through co-conspirators – Hussain Haqqani and Hussain Haroon – Pakistan ’s Ambassador to the US and the UN respectively. He has thus given a handle to India and America to interfere in the internal affairs of Pakistan . The USA and India are mobilising international support to condemn and isolate Pakistan as a ‘terrorist’ state and to make it a ‘failed state’ and an international pariah.
AZ may be naive but he is no fool. He has help from India and the US to focus the ire of the international community on the ISI and the armed forces of Pakistan . America wants ‘full spectrum dominance’ over the world and AZ (and his co-conspirators) are telling them that the only institutions that stand in their way in South Asia are Pakistan ’s intelligence and the armed forces. India and America are already working with him to make the armed power of the state of Pakistan to be directed against the Afghan and Kashmiri resistance. If they find the military leadership un-cooperative, AZ would turn on them. AZ tells his party that he seeks to end the military defying him on the pretext of ‘professional advice’. He has no sympathy for the Kashmiri liberation struggle; he wants to establish the primacy of politicians for all times to come.
To establish ‘full spectrum domination’ of his party over all the institutions of the state of Pakistan, he leans on with the help of India and America under the cover of ‘war on terror’. He has already got his way over the political parties, the judiciary, and the civil service; the only resistance comes indirectly from those fighting the occupation in Kashmir and Afghanistan . India , America , and AZ have a meeting of minds. They all see the resistance (in Afghanistan and Kashmir ) as the enemy. If they could get the armed forces of Pakistan to fight the resistance in Kashmir and Afghanistan , both the challengers to ‘full spectrum domination’ (of America over the world and of AZ over Pakistan ) would be mortally wounded in fighting each other.
The narrative for AZ war against the ISI and the armed forces of Pakistan is being written by Hussain Haqqani with the help of his former colleagues in US think tanks. Haqqani is the author of ‘Military and the Mosque’. In that book he identifies both as the scourge that destabilise the region and the world, meaning that they pose a challenge to Indo-US hegemony. He earned a professorship in the USA for that thesis and ambassadorship to the USA from AZ for the same. He is not hopeful that the military would take on the mosque; in his narrative of Asif Zardari’s war, Haqqani depends on India and America against the military and the mosque. Not since the Communist engineered the defeat of the Czarist Army to bring about the Bolshevik Revolution, has a national political party sought to engineer the defeat of its national army. But the Communist Party was not in power at that time. The AZ led PPP would be the first ever ruling political party that enlisted the support of the enemy to weaken the foundation of its armed power – its nuclear deterrent as well as the armed forces.
Indo-US plan is to start a civil war like that in Algeria . That, the Americans hope, would create conditions for them to ‘lift’ the nuclear weapons of Pakistan . After discredited dictatorship of General Musharraf return of military rule is impossible. But with public support the military can defy anti-state orders with the use of ‘professional advice’. The Americans are pulling out of Iraq because no one supports American presence in that country. Those who do get killed for being collaborators. The American stay in Afghanistan would not be long because no Afghan would ever support Americans presence in Afghanistan . But in Pakistan , the ruling party is inviting not just America but also India to come and punish the country for supporting the Kashmiri and Afghan resistance. Neither India nor America justifies occupation of Palestine , Iraq or Afghanistan . Yet, both of them regularly succeed in getting Kashmiri resistance to be declared illegitimate. That is because collaborators and traitors do not killed; they get crowned in Pakistan .
Pakistanis/Bangladeshis were deceived into electing a traitor as their leader in 1971. It was a few young Bangladeshi officers who killed him and brought his presidency to an end in August 1975. Once again an Indian/American agent sitting in the highest office in the land. The anger in Pakistan is palpable. What happens next is anybody’s guess. As a nation we must persevere is asserting that resistance is legitimate occupation is not. We are proud of our stand against occupation. The USA has already recognised the bankruptcy of its position and is withdrawing from Iraq and would soon do so in Afghanistan . The Indian position in Kashmir is even weaker but it is sustained in it obduracy by collaborators in our ranks who we put in position of leadership. ++
( The writer is Director of London Institute of South Asia . )