By Muhammad Zahid Rifat
There is no greater fall than that of the Fall of Dacca for Pakistan. There is not a greater surrender before the enemy in the history of the Muslim Ummah than the one that took place at the Paltan Maidan in Dhaka, on 16 December 1971 when 90,000 officers and jawans of the Pakistan Army and civilians surrendered before India, and the Pakistan flag was pulled down never to rise there again.
Indeed, it was the darkest day in the chequered history of Pakistan which was then only 24 years old after emerging on the world map out of nowhere on 14 August 1947.
Another anniversary of the Fall of Dacca is being observed today and even after passage of 48 years, many questions still remain, most unfortunately, unanswered.
The factors that caused the separation of East Pakistan and the characters responsible for the great tragedy are somehow yet to be identified.
The most pertinent question which still remains unanswered is that how many of the Army officers were punished who were named on the basis of bitter facts established by the Hamoodur Rahman Commission in its report.
The answer to this, most unfortunately and regrettably, still remains a BIG NO even now. This no action on the report of the Inquiry Commission into the Fall of Dacca, and history has somehow passed the blame onto Zulfikar Ali Bhutto from the then military ruler, Gen Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, on whose orders army action was launched in East Pakistan in March 1971.
The Indian rulers had fully exploited the situation and supported the Mukti Bahini and Shaikh Mujibur Rahman in what was called “the struggle for independence”. As a matter of fact, India had gained the most from the Fall of Dacca. During a recent visit of the scribe to the newly-established Army Museum in Lahore, a big map showing training centres for Mukti Bahini in different areas of India established the fact that the Mukti Bahini comprised Indian Army officers and jawans, and not the people of East Pakistan.
General Yahya and other army generals and officers named in the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report should have been arrested, tried and punished for the major crime of dismemberment of the country according to the recommendations of the Inquiry Commission. But somehow this was not done for reasons better known to the rulers of the time.
Could not the succeeding civil and military governments all these years declare December 16 as the National Mourning Day then, now and for all times to come for reminding our future generations about the great tragedy of Fall of Dacca? Why is the national flag is not lowered on this day to remember and mourn the Fall of Dacca while it flies at half-mast on the demise of one or the other world leaders every now and then
The other day, this writer was involved in a heated discussion arising out of frequent army interventions and abrogation and suspension of the Constitution by the military dictators and nobody being punished for the high treason so committed under Article 6 of the Constitution. Someone during the discussion quite rightly pointed out that if nobody had been held responsible and punished for causing the dismemberment of Pakistan, then who is bothered to ensure sanctity of the Constitution and punish one or the other for committing high treason?
Many may be still alive, though retired from the Army and the civil services several years back. At least they should be made accountable for their alleged crimes and irregularities. Those who have expired during all these years also should at least be held responsible for their actions and misdeeds as per the findings of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report even now.
Army Chief/ President Gen Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was at the helm of the whole dirty episode. Shaikh Mujibur Rahman was on the record having stated after Bangladesh had come into being that he had working for gaining independence for more the previous 20 years.
The words “Idhar Hum Udhar Tum” were never uttered by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The phrase was coined by journalist Athar Abbas (who expired some years back), who was working as the News Editor in an Urdu daily, Azad, published from Lahore, and this had clicked instantly under the then prevailing circumstances.
If the National Assembly session was called off before being held by the then President of Pakistan, with or without the consent and connivance of PPP Chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then someone should have been held responsible for contributing further to the cause of separation of East Pakistan.
While none has so far been punished for the dismemberment of Pakistan as none those listed in the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report were apparently just sacred cows who could not be touched. We also have not learnt any lesson from the great tragedy of Fall of Dacca so far somehow.
As usual, there will be no official word on and about the Fall of Dacca, political parties will hold meetings blaming one or the other for the separation of East Pakistan and the day December 16 will just pass like any other day.
Could not the succeeding civil and military governments all these years declare December 16 as the National Mourning Day then, now and for all times to come for reminding our future generations about the great tragedy of Fall of Dacca? Why is the national flag is not lowered on this day to remember and mourn the Fall of Dacca while it flies at half-mast on the demise of one or the other world leaders every now and then? Please act now and stay alive for now and centuries together with the continued blessings of Almighty Allah.
The writer can be reached at [email protected] gmail.com