"Udhar tum, idhar hum": When Bhutto pushed Bangladesh to the edge of Pakistan
By Shakir Lakhani Published: December 17, 2018
It took many years for the people of East Pakistan to decide that there was no future for them in a united Pakistan. PHOTO: EXPRESS/IBRAHIM YAHYA

The fall of Dhaka is one of those events in our history that we'd rather forget. No one talks about it nowadays, as it was the result of our own follies. But those who are still alive will never be able to forget TV newscaster Shaista Jabeen's tearful announcement that dreadful night in December:

"According to an agreement, Indian soldiers have now taken control of Dhaka"

The people in what remained of Pakistan were shocked beyond belief. For days they had been told that everything was normal in the eastern wing, despite the BBC giving a contrasting picture. As always, the reaction from those who mattered was that BBC was an Indian agent, presenting a false image of the situation. No wonder violent protesters came out on the streets and burned down then President Yahya's house in Peshawer after feeling betrayed due to the surrender.

Most Pakistanis who were born after 1965 probably don't know that our country had a province called East Pakistan, where the Pakistan Movement started with the birth of the Muslim League in 1905. The people in that province were as good Pakistanis as we in West Pakistan were, yet to our eternal shame, they were denied what was rightfully theirs. We made fun of them, of the way they spoke, of their language and attire. Most of the income for Pakistan was contributed from East Pakistan; however, the money was spent to develop West Pakistan. Despite all of this discrimination, we were surprisingly astounded when we found out they didn't want to remain a part of Pakistan. To be honest, the only surprising thing in this should be that Pakistan was able to remain united for 25 years before being dismembered.

There are many versions of why we lost East Pakistan, depending on who you ask. However, one thing is for sure: it didn't happen overnight. It took many years for the people of East Pakistan to decide that there was no future for them in a united Pakistan.

Perhaps it all began when Muhammad Ali Jinnah, despite the hostility of the students of Dhaka University he was addressing, insisted that "Urdu and only Urdu" would be the state language of Pakistan. This was strange, since the Quaid himself could only speak broken Urdu and that too with great difficulty. I strongly suspect that Jinnah wanted Urdu as the national language because he was under pressure from the feudal lords of West Pakistan to do so. The only other reason would be that he didn't know that the vast majority of the people in East Pakistan didn't speak Urdu or even understood it, which seems highly unlikely.

Thus began the process of poisoning relations between the two parts of the country. The Bengali speakers began a movement to have their language recognized as the state language along with Urdu. After many deaths, they succeeded to have their demand accepted in 1956.

But the rot had begun.

It didn't help that the country had no constitution before 1956. By a peculiar twist of logic, despite East Pakistan comprising the majority (56%), they were allowed to have the same number of seats in the assembly as the people of West Pakistan. The first martial law in 1958 (which was imposed by a general belonging to West Pakistan) together with the fact that East Pakistanis were not as many in number in the central government and the services increased their feeling of isolation. When it was time for Ayub Khan to resign, the Constitution required that he should hand over power to the speaker of the National Assembly (Abdul Jabbar Khan, a Bengali). However, Ayub did not do so and instead asked the then Army Chief (Yahya Khan) to take over the reins of the country. This further alienated the people of East Pakistan, adding to their bitterness of being neglected.

Pakistan could have remained united if its rulers had accepted Sheikh Mujeebur Rahman as the prime minister, which was his legal right as his party had won the 1970 elections. Despite this, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whose party had won the elections in Sindh and Punjab, did not agree to recognize Rahman as the prime minister of the country, He also steadfastly refused to attend the National Assembly session which was to be held in Dhaka. In fact, he was so arrogant that he threatened to break the legs of his elected party members if they dared to go to Dhaka. He knew that he could never be the prime minister of a united Pakistan, so he even said,

"Udhar tum, idhar hum"
(You rule in the east, we will rule in the west).

Bhutto claimed that Rahman's demand for maximum autonomy, called the Six Points, would weaken the country. When President Yahya called Rahman the future Prime Minister of the country, Bhutto was incensed. He questioned how a man who was considered a traitor recently was touted as  the prime minister.

Despite his claims there are indications that Rahman did not want the breakup of the country. After his release from jail in 1969, he said, "We are in the majority, why should we secede?"

According to Dr, Moonis Ahmer, Rahman asked the military authorities twice in 1971 ro protect him from the diehard members of his party as they wanted him to declare independence.

As for the 1971 war, our soldiers could have defended Dhaka for more than three months, if the government had stationed more troops in that city. But the army was spread out throughout the province, and despite having enough ammunition and weapons to last them many months, there was no option but to surrender. 

Again, we lost the opportunity to save the country when Bhutto reportedly went to the United Nations but deliberately confined himself to his hotel room for two days (it is widely believed that he did this to allow the Indian army to have more time to reach the gates of Dhaka). If he had really wanted to save Pakistan, he would not have dilly-dallied, but would have accepted the Polish Resolution calling for a cease fire (instead, he tore it up and walked away).

From the looks of it, Bhutto was mainly responsible for the great tragedy. In fact, if you think of it, all the problems we face today are a direct result of what he said and did after the 1970 elections and after he assumed charge of the country in 1971. He said he would build a new Pakistan from the ruins of the old one but instead caused immense damage to the country. But that is a story for another time.

Shakir Lakhani
Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)



What happens to a people among whom inbreeding (cousin marriage) is common? After four or five generations, defects begin to appear. Sometimes, it results in total deafness, as in a family who is distantly related to me. At other times, children are born cross-eyed and have to be operated upon to correct the defect, but poor rural Pakistanis are not able to afford such operations, so they have no choice but to bear it. Then there are those who are mentally retarded, like Imran Khan and his vocal information minister Fawad Choudhry. These two make you grateful that your parents and grandparents were not cousins.

Of the two, the info minister is the most stupid. He has said many things to prove that he is a certified moron. Once he said, with a straight face, that helicopters are the cheapest mode of transport, consuming fuel worth Rs. 55 per kilometer (less than a half a dollar). One day he said that it was Porus who defeated Alexander the great, although everyone knows it was the latter who inflicted the greatest defeat in India's history on the hapless Porus. Perhaps the idiot actually believes Porus was the winner, because the battle was fought on the banks of the Jhelum River, where the info minister was born.

Imran Khan himself is mentally retarded. Once he said China has developed trains that run at the speed of light. I strongly suspect that it was only after his recent marriage did he become aware that there was a state of Madina in ancient times. What he doesn't seem to know is that the rulers of Madina were not liars like him, they never made U-turns like he does. 

The stupid idiot now says that the late Dr. Israr Ahmed knew what Jinnah's vision of Pakistan was. He apparently doesn't know that this man was a senior member of the Jamat-e-Islami, which bitterly opposed the creation of Pakistan and called its founder "Kafir-e-Azam". If only Imran Kahn had taken a keen interest in history, he would have known this. So I suppose we have no choice but to watch helplessly while this moron does his best to break up the country.

Not many people thought my marriage would last more than two or three years. Even I wondered if I wasn't making a mistake. I thought I was being unfair to my wife-to-be, as I was convinced I would die before attaining the age of fifty.

This day (December 16) forty five years back, I took the plunge at the age of 29. Most Memon men in those days used to marry at the age of 24 or 25 (today they tie the knot at the age of 20 or 22, marrying girls younger than 18). 

Now, after forty five years of married life, I often wonder how I've managed to survive. My story is not unique, as I believe most men belonging to middle-class families have to struggle to make ends meet. Many times I had to borrow from relatives and friends to feed my little family. There were some decisions (like going into the salt business) that I have deeply regretted, while some steps I took (like investing in property and shares and then getting out before the 2008 recession). 

On the whole, it's been a very satisfying life, and even though most Memons would never believe me, it's the amount of writing I've done that's given me the greatest pleasure (even though I was paid a pittance for it). That's what makes me different from other Memon males. Instead of wasting my time gossiping, I love to spend my time reading and writing. I've often been asked why I read so much. In all those wedding dinners I'm invited to, Memons are shocked when they see me reading newspapers on my cell phone (they think these devices are for viewing video clips sent to them by nitwits like them). They don't realize that even when I'm alone and in the dark (due to power outages) I'm not bored. I can read to my heart's content. 

I've known him for twenty seven years and he's the source for me of what the illiterate masses of the country believe. In the early years of our acquaintance, he used to say that Shias are responsible for the mess the country is in. Although he's got two degrees from Karachi University (which was once notorious for providing fake degrees), he talks like an illiterate man. In those days, he would refuse to have tea or eat at a table if he knew one of those present was a Shia. He still says Shias are not Muslims. But he's cooled down somewhat, and does have tea with Shias. 

He also used to say that a nation which allows its women to earn is on the way to destruction. Even when I would point out that Japan and Western countries have made phenomenal progress because their women work in offices and factories, he would shake his head. In his opinion, the minute a woman went out alone, she would easily be seduced and become a prostitute. He still believes this, even though he's going to be 60 soon. One would have thought that after so many years working for me, and coming into contact with so many women (none of whom have turned out to be loose), he'd revise his opinion. But he continues to live in self-denial.

For years he's been telling me that Pakistan would again be dismembered in a couple of years, and every year I have to remind him that it is still intact. And when I tell him that if does break up, it'll be because of the religious lobby's persecution of minorities, he smiles. He thinks like all members of the political party he belongs to (Jamat-e-Islami). This party's student activists still beat up couples for walking together (even if they're married). In fact,when he was a student, he and his fellows would measure the distance between a boy and girl talking to each other, and if the distance was less than five feet, they would soundly thrash the couple. 

I shudder to think that most Pakistanis (both literate and illiterate) are just like him. Which is why I see no future for the country.

As everyone knows, the real rulers of the country are those who "advise" the prime minister and others what they should do. In fact, the present prime minister has been foisted on the people by blatantly rigging the elections. And now the de facto rulers of the country have asked the media to display the government in a positive light. This is not going to be easy, but I'll try my best to portray the first four months of the government in such a way that it is seen to be highly efficient.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the value of the rupee has decreased considerably. Not everyone knows this, but almost everyone in Pakistan always has at least ten thousand dollars waiting to be sold whenever the dollar becomes dearer. So the poor people of the country have benefited immensely by the devaluation of the rupee. Those who had bought ten thousand dollars four months ago should be happy that they have earned three hundred thousand rupees by simply doing nothing. That's one plus point.

Again, every Pakistani, even the poorest of the poor, owns a considerable number of shares. With the stock market plummeting daily, shares are getting cheaper. So, with those three hundred thousand rupees which my driver earned by selling his dollars, he can now buy almost twice the number of shares he would have been able to purchase before the stock market collapsed. That's another plus point.

Imran Khan promised ten million jobs if he was made prime minister. And he looks like he will soon do it. First, thousands were employed to break down all unauthorized buildings and shops. And now millions of jobs will be created to build new shops and houses for the people who are now homeless and without shops and offices. So it looks like the government is on track and I can't think of any negative stuff to write about it, unless Fawad Choudhry and Shaikh Rasheed indulge in loose talk again.

I remember a time when almost everyone in the private sector was very courteous and efficient. Bankers used to visit people, begging them to open accounts in their banks. Doctors were humane, listening carefully to whatever their patients said without getting irritated. Lawyers too were more interested in helping their clients than getting the maximum amount of money out of them.

Now, it's all so different. After the nationalization of banks, bank employees no longer showed up every day to work. Bhutto got his party activists employed in banks, where they simply sat the whole day long (if they ever came to work). He also did the same thing with schools and colleges. Teaching standards deteriorated so much that you come across graduates who can't compose a simple sentence, leave alone write a letter. Benazir appointed a man who couldn't sign his own name as principal of a college. Doctors don't have time for their patients, lawyers demand payment from their clients before agreeing to do any work for them. As for government servants, they became even worse than they were after Bhutto became the prime minister. Bankers are rude, and I believe that they spend most of their time devising ways to increase bank charges and harass their clients.

No one is polite anymore, everyone is interested only in earning as much as they can as early as possible, The situation is hopeless, and I won't be surprised if the people come out on the streets and hundreds are killed.

Pay for your water

This refers to the article ‘The quest for water security’ (December 3) by Dr Murad Ali. Waste of water can be controlled to a large extent by making people pay for the water they consume. Presently, households have to pay the same amount of water charges regardless of the number of people living in the house. A family of 10 people and a family of two people pay the same amount of charges.
All apartment and bungalow owners should be made to install water meters and charged according to usage. Similarly factory owners, petrol station operators and agriculturists should also be charged according to actual water consumption. This is the only way through which the public will understand the need to save water.
Shakir Lakhani
The News, December 4, 2018

Which side are you on?
When he was in the opposition, Imran Khan used to call Nawaz Sharif a traitor for trying to improve relations with India. The phrase ‘Modi ka jo yaar hai, ghaddar hai’ (Whoever is Modi’s friend is a traitor) is still fresh in our minds. Now, Imran Khan has made the mother of all U-turns and is now talking about the Franco-German union.
So what should we conclude from all this? Should we trust Imran Khan now, knowing that tomorrow he may do the opposite of what he has promised today?
Shakir Lakhani
The News, December 1, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, Imran Khan defended his habit of prevaricating every now and then. He said that a politician or leader who does not make U-turns whenever he faces an obstacle can never succeed in attaining his objectives. Someone should have told him that the rulers of the State of Madina (which he wants Pakistan to become) never backtracked from what they had pledged, and they were certainly not like Hitler (whom he compared to an unsuccessful leader who did not take a U-turn). But then, I doubt if such little things have any effect on Imran Khan, who will go on making promises which he knows he cannot keep.
The mother of all U-turns came yesterday, when he startled everyone by suggesting that India and Pakistan should forget their differences and form a union like France and Germany have done. This is in stark contrast to what he used to say whenever Nawaz Sharif tried to reach out to India, calling the former prime minister a traitor. The phrase "Modi ka yaar, quom ka ghaddar" (a friend of Modi is a traitor) was coined by his party members. So now what should we say about Imran Khan, that he too is a "ghaddar"?
More important, how can he ever be trusted for making U-turns every now and then? I'd like to see his party members themselves call him a liar (which they soon will, if the Chief Justice continues his investigations in his party's corruption).

Recently I took my wife to a female skin specialist. She hardly listened to what we said, writing furiously the medication required. When we asked her more questions, like what food to avoid, she lost her temper. "If I spend so much time talking to you, how will I make a living? I have many patients to see, so I cannot talk to you more than I have done". Mind you, she is probably one of the most expensive specialists in the country, charging Rs. 2,000 for the five minutes she gave us. And there were six people waiting to see her. I estimated that her net income is at least ten to fifteen thousand a day (after deducting expenses like rent and her assistant's salary). Perhaps that's why she's so rude. If I'd been in the tax department, I'd have made life hell for her.

There was a time when doctors were very friendly. There was no need to buy medicines from pharmacies or medical stores (which were practically non-existent). Doctors had assistants called compounders who made the medication (called mixture) and patients had to take the liquid thrice a day. Usually one recovered in a day or two. There were no antibiotics. The doctors asked about family and friends and didn't get offended if you asked them why and how you got sick. 

Now of course, doctors are more concerned with how to see as many patients a day before they go to dine in expensive restaurants. When they're not in their clinics, they are usually planning their next vacations. Since they don't give receipts for what they charge, they pay very little income tax. But then, everyone cheats the government, so why blame them?