How Pakistan became a Satellite State

As far back as Ayub

Pakistan was the first Islamic Republic, followed by Iran. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Father of the Nation, chose Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan to be the first Prime Minister of the new land. In Iran Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected the PM. The Shah of Iran could not stand up to the popularity of Dr Mosaddegh so he went into self-exile. Every elected leader is required to act in the best interests of his own people who elect him. In the larger national interests Dr Mosaddeq nationalized the foreign oil companies operating in Iran.

The takeover sent shock waves in the entire West. In the land of the pure as PM Liaquat Ali visited the USA in May 1950 to explore avenues of mutual cooperation based on reciprocity and friendship. Little did he know that he would be asked to sign on the dotted lines to act as a ‘Satellite State’ of the USA. The PM of Pakistan not only refused but held an important press conference in London on his way back where he discussed in details the reasons for his refusal as head of a sovereign democratic state

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On 17 March 1951, Dr Mosaddeq, after getting approval from the Majlis (Parliament) nationalized the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Despite pressure from the Western powers, the PM of Iran stood his ground.

After failing to sway him the PM of Pakistan was asked to use his influence which he refused to do as Iran was a sovereign state. The defiance of two popularly elected leaders did not sit well with the external masters.

It was decided to get rid of both of them through the Mir Jaffers and Sadiqs of their times. In October 1951 Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in Rawalpindi after a rally, the park was named after him Liaquat Bagh. It is the same venue where Benazir Bhutto was gunned down in 2007. Mosaddegh was toppled in 1953 in a Military Coup sponsored by foreign intelligence agencies and the Shah of Iran was given the control of the country. Iran moved back from a republic to a monarchy. Mosaddeq died in prison, he had to pay a heavy price for his defiance.

While Shah was the ‘Mir’ in Iran, in Pakistan two Sandhurst graduates were given the task to derail the democratic order. First it was Iskander Mirza followed by Ayub Khan. Together they abrogated the 1956 constitution and imposed military rule in the country on behalf of their foreign masters. Till that time Pakistan was sovereign and debt-free.

In October 1958 the times were different. Today the people of Pakistan are aware of the ground realities, there can be no compromise on national sovereignty in 2022. Pakistan was envisioned as a constitutional republic’ where the will of the people must prevail. The resistance to sell out is real and organized. ‘Mirs’ have no chance to succeed this time around.

In 1958, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan of the Muslim League was the most popular leader of the Western Wing while Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy had popular support in the Eastern part. As a Muslim League child, I had the chance of meeting both these outstanding leaders of their times. They were able and honest men who served their nation well. Ayub Khan’s EBDO (Elected Bodies Disqualification Order) knocked out the entire political leadership of the new land. Suhrawardy, being a brilliant lawyer, decided to challenge his disqualification in the military tribunal. Due to his solid defense, he was exonerated but for his personal safety decided to live in self-exile in Beirut leaving his Awami League with Sheikh Mujib-Ur-Rehman. He was later found dead in a Beirut hotel under mysterious circumstances.

Qayyum Khan decided to quit politics to start his law practice in Peshawar. Khan Sahib was considered a bigger threat. He was leading a ‘Long March’ from Rawalpindi to Lahore but before he could enter the city, he was arrested under Martial Law regulations and taken to the dungeons of the Lahore Fort where he was kept for a few days in subhuman conditions.

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The experience seriously dented his will to resist the negative forces that had taken control of the republic. He entered an agreement with the Martial Law authorities under which he was granted clemency. Many people are of the opinion that the political leadership should have fought back which they did not at that time.

With my late father the Muslim Leaguer we went to see Khan Sahib after his release. While my old man tried to convince Khan Sahib to fight on, he remained reluctant. Finally, he broke down, I still remember his words, ” Malik Sahib, we were able to survive the prison of the ‘Gora Sahib’ where Jail Manuals were followed but the insult and torture that we went through under the ‘Brown Sahib’ was intolerable. We are self-respecting people, cannot withstand such inhuman behavior “. The Torture Cells of the Lahore Fort remained operational till the decade of the 1980s, finally to be shut down by Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo. Several comrades, including my friend Pervez Saleh, were tortured here during the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in the decade of the 1980s.

With all resistance to a decent and independent existence removed, Ayub Khan offered his homeland to become a satellite state of the USA in return for fast-track debt-based economic development.  The usurper, after abrogating the constitution, imposed his own version and ruled with an iron hand for a decade. After his extended misrule, he was forced to resign due to street protests in March 1969, thus ending the first episode of the sellout of national pride and freedom. In between Bhutto did try to regain the lost sovereignty but the period was short lived (1971 to 1977). In violation of the 1973 constitution, the nation came under the boots again in July 1977.

Leadership in a democratic state is expected to work in the best national interests but in the case of Pakistan the imposed leaders, starting with Iskander Mirza and Ayub Khan, seriously compromised on our sovereignty. The negative legacy of the first usurper includes the Indus Water Treaty, spiraling debt and failure to liberate Kashmir in 1962 during the Sino-Indian war. The third dictator decided to enter the superpower conflict in Afghanistan which resulted in deadly consequences for the nation. It did not end here, and the fourth khaki ruler then decided to take-on the home grown Taliban again at the behest of the foreign masters. It was never our war but we had to pay a heavy toll.

As an elected popular leader, Imran Khan decided to regain the lost sovereignty of the nation. He picked up from where Bhutto had left in July 1977. He has asked a simple question; “Are we slaves? ” which needs an answer. While the ‘Mirs’ of our times continue to flirt with the West to maintain status-quo IK firmly holds his ground.

In October 1958 the times were different. Today the people of Pakistan are aware of the ground realities, there can be no compromise on national sovereignty in 2022. Pakistan was envisioned as a constitutional republic’ where the will of the people must prevail. The resistance to sell out is real and organized. ‘Mirs’ have no chance to succeed this time around.

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Dr Farid A Malik
Dr Farid A Malik
The writer is ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. He can be contacted at: [email protected].


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