Fall of Dhaka and our past, present and the future

On December 16, 1971, Pakistan disintegrated. East Pakistan emerged as an autonomous and independent State. Bengali Muslims had played a significant role in the Pakistan Movement and even the Muslim League was founded in Dhaka, Bengal.

The Pakistan Movement commenced from Dhaka, the majority of the leaders of the Muslim League were Bengalis and the presenter of the Pakistan Resolution was also a Bengali. Great leaders from Bengal 0ncluded Nawab Sir Saleemullah Bahdur (first   interim president of all India Muslim league), Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy (prime minister of Pakistan 1956-1957) A. K Fazlul Haq Sher- e Bengal, presenter of Lahore resolution, played crucial roles in the creation of Pakistan.

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During the Pakistan movement in 1937 ‘Quaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah appealed to the Muslims of Bengal to organize and establish solidarity and unity amongst the Muslims of India as they represented more than one-third of the Muslims all over the country and it was up to them to give an earnest lead to the rest of the Muslims. Muslims of Bengal proved the expectations of the Quaid and played the lead role for the Muslims.

After introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Registration of Citizen’s Act by Modi regime in 2019, relations between Bangladesh and India are not good because the CAA has affected many Indian resident Bengalis and the Bangladeshi government has shown its grievances over it, while large scale protests have also occurred in Bangladesh against the Modi regime. Pakistan should take advantage and fill the space by conducting cordial relations with Bangladesh. Simultaneously, Pakistan should recognize and manifest the sacrifices of Bengali Muslims in the creation of Pakistan. The current government is endeavoring to develop these friendly relations, but in a very slow and insignificant manner. This needs to be expedited, while the internal policies should be made with clear lessons from history. 

BengAL had a major role in creating Pakistan

Ironically, after the partition of India circumstances rapidly changed due to various harsh and irrational policies which eventually led to the fall of Dhaka. Interestingly, it was the first time in the history of the world that a majority got separated from a minority. There were several reasons behind the disintegration of Pakistan and no single institution or person can be held responsible for this irremediably tragic event. Every year military and civilian Institutions remember this tragic event and shed some crocodile tears. Intellectuals write and speak about it, and lamentable and woeful songs are sung over it.

Civilized and visionary leaders and nations do not just keep such tragic events in songs for specific days, but learn from such incidents and mark weaknesses by revisiting both sides of their history, in order to make better future strategies and to never repeat the mistakes again. Unfortunately, our stance on the 1971 national disaster is very vague and ambiguous, and till today, we have failed to explain the facts of this incident before the nation. Our policy-makers do not identify and address the reasons of the East Pakistan Crisis, and our youth can only wonder in mind or settle for guesses on this issue. Why have our policy makers not been able to unveil the facts before the nation till today? Are we not going to repeat the same mistakes?

Today one can look around and find that all the causes which East Pakistan was facing prior to 1971 are still existing today as well with varying intensities: identity, language and racial crises, deprivation of basic citizen and other rights, abductions, mistreatments, extra-judicial killings, influence-peddling, frauds, neglection and sidelining, embezzlement and nepotism, the consequent separatist movements, Indian interventions, political repression and unethical and insane politics. Mismanagement, exploitation of resources and sidelining of local people are the elements which had produced the separation movement of Bengalis. Masses are not satisfied with civil-military policies, and almost all policies are elite-centric. People are deprived of basic human needs, corruption and nepotism has been penetrated in our political system, and the extrajudicial killings and missing persons’ issues are on peak, and there is no voice for marginalized communities. Keeping this dismal continuation of the state of affairs in view, the ultimate message of the Fall of Dhaka is to ultimately eradicate these issues, promote national unity and harmony, and to save Pakistan from any further damage or disintegration.

Along with this, our policy makers must also recognize the emerging status of Bangladesh particularly in the context of the economy. Economically, Bangladesh is not the same country as it was 20 or 30 years back. It is the second largest economy in South Asia, ranks as the world’s 33rd largest economy in nominal terms and 31st largest by purchasing power.

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It is the  need of the hour that Pakistan should decrease her relational anxiety with Bangladesh, improve and normalize diplomatic relations, promote bilateral trade and sign trade and strategic agreements. As Pakistan is facing serious economic crises which are getting worse day by day, if not resolved Pakistan would be in a complete disaster in upcoming years. The only way to improve and strengthen the economy is trade. In the context of our neighbours, Pakistan has trade relations with China,but despite multiple calls by Pakistan, India has not been convinced to conduct trade relations with Pakistan. The only state in the region competing with India is Bangladesh. Our policy-makers must keep in consideration formulating long-term trade policies with Bangladesh, which would help Pakistan to uplift its economy.

After introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Registration of Citizen’s Act by Modi regime in 2019, relations between Bangladesh and India are not good because the CAA has affected many Indian resident Bengalis and the Bangladeshi government has shown its grievances over it, while large scale protests have also occurred in Bangladesh against the Modi regime. Pakistan should take advantage and fill the space by conducting cordial relations with Bangladesh. Simultaneously, Pakistan should recognize and manifest the sacrifices of Bengali Muslims in the creation of Pakistan. The current government is endeavoring to develop these friendly relations, but in a very slow and insignificant manner. This needs to be expedited, while the internal policies should be made with clear lessons from history.

Hidayat Ullah
The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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