I remember!
November 17th, 2007 by Shakir Lakhani
I remember the political crisis in the 50’s in Pakistan. Every other month a new government would be formed. One prime minister (I. I. Chundrigar) was prime minister for only thirty days. Politicians used to quarrel like children fighting over candy. I remember President Iskander Mirza proclaiming martial law and being replaced a few days later by General (later Field Marshal) Ayub Khan. For sometime, the country became normal, and Karachi was declared the “cleanest city in the world” by a German writer (apparently he didn’t go to Lyari or Lea Market to see the filthy conditions there).
I remember taking part in student demonstrations against dictatorship in 1961. I was surprised when the police threw tear gas shells at us and I was rescued from the police by the people living on the ground floor of a building in Burns Road. I remember the massively rigged presidential elections in which Mohatrama Fatima Jinnah was defeated by Ayub Khan. How we hated him after his son took out a victory procession, firing in the air, as a result of which many Nazimabad residents were killed!
I remember the war of 1965. It was very frightening to see Indian planes over Karachi early in the morning. Perhaps that was Pakistan’s finest hour. The nation was united because we had been attacked by an enemy which was five times stronger than us. And how proud we felt when the Indian Defence Minister announced in the Lok Sabha that their army had been forced to retreat from Lahore! In that war, at least, we were undefeated.
I remember the day sugar disappeared from the country. There were rumours that it had all been smuggled to India by influential people (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). And so it began, the movement to oust Ayub Khan. Finally, the old man decided to go, violating his own constitution in the process by handing power to his army chief. I remember the 1970 elections which resulted in the break-up of the country. We, who saw everything first hand, knew that the situation could have been saved if the politicians and the generals had agreed to Mujib (the winner of the elections) being prime minister. But alas, as usual, we didn’t know what hit us. Oh, the shame of it all! The Pakistan of Jinnah was no more. All because we had leaders who were selfish and didn’t care what happened to the country.