1971: The Forgotten Silence

Posted on December 9, 2009
Filed Under >Raza Rumi, History, Society
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Raza Rumi

This post is the third in our series on recapping the fall of East Pakistan in 1971. The previous two posts of this series can be read here and here.

Every year the sixteenth day of that deadly December invited little attention in the mainstream media as the new Pakistan struggles to manage the multiple crises of statehood, governance and cohesion.

Whether we like it or not, history and its bitter truths have to be confronted. When the united Punjab was being ruled by the Unionists and the Congress and the NWFP had a chief minister from the congress-Khudai Khidmatgar alliance, and almost all the custodians of South Asian puritanical Islam were opposed to Pakistan, the peasantry and the intelligentsia of East Bengal were spearheading a movement for Pakistan. There were indeed economic reasons, but there was an unchallengeable mass support for and belief in Pakistan. What happened after 1947 is well known; and within two decades or so, those who wanted Pakistan in the first place were subjected to state excesses and brutal treatment by the groups and elites that had actually little commitment to Pakistan or its idea. Nothing could be more ironical.

It is of little significance to remember the exact chronology of events or to indulge in a blame-game. The truth is that we as a state and society lost our majority province after pushing its people into a situation where independence through a War of Liberation was the only choice. India, of course, played a huge role in transacting this deal, but the West Pakistani elites had prepared the ground, sown the seeds of mistrust to a great degree. Thus the Pakistan created by its founding members was no more in 1971, further subdividing the Muslims of the subcontinent. A bitter lesson of history was in the making. If only, we were capable of paying heed to it.

What followed after 1971 was even stranger. After the ritualistic mourning and let’s say a dozen memoirs of former soldiers and bureaucrats, a meaningful silence echoed in the remainder of Pakistan, save a few, sporadic voices from the beleaguered intelligentsia. It was not until three decades later, and that too under a military dictator, that Pakistan made a feeble effort towards an apology of sorts. The same military ruler, Gen Musharraf, was bold enough to publish sections of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission report. Perhaps, it was too late. Many a younger generation had no clue, given that the Pakistani textbooks had little to say; and whatever was recorded was purely from a narrow, jingoist Indo-Pak rivalry perspective where all evil was to be located in the misdoings of the Hindu teachers in East Pakistan. A footnote, at best.

This is why we have hobbled from one crisis to another. We, simply, are reluctant to learn from the fiasco of 1971. That the principles of federalism are important for diverse societies to flourish, and that civil-military imbalances cannot result in healthy states are lessons ignored, at best sidelined in the unimplemented clauses of the Constitution or red-taped files of national commissions and committees. Above all, admitting that we had wronged our citizens by invading them, howsoever misled they may have been. Or, political questions cannot be resolved without political processes and consultative systems of governance. Alienation of the citizen from the state therefore reigns supreme, especially in the neglected parts of Punjab and in various corners of the smaller provinces.

This distance from the state among the ruled is now coming to haunt us. There is simply a void of services, of obligations outlined in the principles of policy of the Constitution and rights trumpeted as “fundamental.” The issues of import are as to which of the chief justices was right in favoring his progeny or if the appointments made by an acting governor are kosher or not. No introspection, no looking back or searching within the troubled folds of the body-politic?

The greatest legacy of 1971 and our collective, shameless silence is this utter lack of soul searching. The unprecedented existentialist crises of Pakistan are yet again being reduced to “foreign intervention.” If it is not the US, it is India and/or Israel. A country of 170 million cannot be hostage to an array of foreign intelligence agencies only. The rot in the state of Denmark needs to be looked at and accepted before correction. I am not arguing that foreign hands are not there or the geo-strategic imperatives of global and regional power-players are altogether absent. It is only when the fissures and cracks within a society move beyond the normal limits that foreign hands find it easy to exploit them for their self-interest. Nothing proves it better than the tragedy of 1971 – it was a collective, shared tragedy that has been underreported and under-played by the forces that perpetrated it in the first place.

The basic unresolved question of 1971–i.e., fair sharing of power between various centres of political influence–is alive in Jinnah’s Pakistan of 2008. True, that we have started the process of reclaiming civilian control of institutions but the process is fractured and fraught with the endless possibilities of reversal. Impatience with democracy and civilian institutions, now fuelled by an unregulated electronic media and the rendition of the entire country into a proxy war-zone, has put us back into the uncertain times.

Amazing, that despite the lapse of so many decades the right-wing is churning out the same diagnoses and solutions. The groups that were hankering for Bengali blood and crush-Hindu recipes are uttering similar diatribes. The information industry that was silent under censorship is reproducing the familiar tunes of jihad even when ostensibly free. Refusal to learn from history is surely our peculiar forte.

December, above all, reminds us that socio-political injustice cannot continue in perpetuity–it leads to grave consequences. It also faces us to restate that military might cannot be the only guarantor of our sovereignty and definition of nationhood. And, without a functional federal system, we cannot create a sense of belonging and move above ethnicity, tribe, sect, caste and biradari. Redistribution of power and fulfilling the mandates of a responsible state cannot be overlooked, nuclear prowess notwithstanding.

All is not lost. We have, at the end of the year 2008, a growing middle class, urbanised pockets of civic action, and fortunately a democracy of sorts. No foreign power has prevented us from reopening the issue of land reform, taxing the super-rich, investing in education and healing the festering wounds of Balochistan?

We ought to apologise to our Bangladeshi friends, and begin a new era of honesty. After all these years, what stops us from making Pakistan and Bangladesh visa-free countries for students and visitors and trade partners?

Let us begin to tackle history, for a change.

34 responses to “1971: The Forgotten Silence”

  1. mehmood hussain says:

    Alas, we lost one part of our country due to our own mistake,
    you can not deny the facts and history, Muslim league was formed in Dhaka in 1906,if you go to the history of independance, in west bengal and east bengal all the majority of muslims were devoted muslims were in favoured for pakistan,sacrificed their lives, property everything for pakistan,
    then why they go against pakistan, because our bareucrates,
    army generals opposed the basic rights of our brethern muslims of east pakistan, haterd them, never give them the due rights they asked, even when they won the election with fair majority, bhutto, gen rao farman ali, gen raja khadim hussain,
    gen niaizi, gen arbab jhanzeb they posed the wrong pictures
    neglected the proposals of Admiral Ahsan, Gen retd Sahibzada Yaqoob Ali Khan, Air Commoodore Masood, they urged safe
    transfer of powers to majority party, army action taken by Gen Tikka Khan worsed the situation, and our all times enemy
    India, take the advantage by taking sorrows of effected, and librated east pakistan, their ever dream to dismember Pakistan,

    May Allah bless Pakistan, we may unite one again with our
    brethern east pakistani (ameen)
    mehmood hussain,

  2. Ratib says:

    What disgusts me is the Pakistani mainstream explanation of the dissolution of Pakistan – “Bengalis, induced by some Indian Hindus, decided to ruin Pakistan”! What a farce!

    In the United Pakistan, 23% were Hindus, and to call them Indian collaborators was just an indication of what Nazist hierarchical statehood the military junta ran.

    Atrocities on Biharis? I have the balls to say yes, there were, and I remain contrite. However, they are, according to the Bangladesh Citizenship Order 1973 (as amended by the HC in 2008) citizens of Bangladesh, and none of Pakistan’s business.

    Atrocities against Bengalis? They are foreigners in Pakistan’s books, and therefore an international issue.

  3. Nusrat Pasha says:

    Truths have to be reconciled with at any cost. We can not continue to live in a state of denial for ever. We won’t be able to. These are some truths:

    1. To say that in 1971, we lost half the country is incorrect. There were more Pakistanis in East Pakistan than there were in the Western wing. The truth is that the majority was lost. The greater part of the nation of Pakistan simply chose to reidentify themselves. Why? What were they convinced they would not get – and ironically from the minority? It was “equality”.

    2. Nations can not and do not survive without equality existing at every single plane.

    3. There has to be perfect equality, of all kinds, at all levels, among all federating units.

    4. There has to be perfect equality, of all kinds, at all levels, among all ethnic denominations.

    5. There has to be perfect equality, of all kinds, at all levels, among all religious denominations.

    6. There has to be perfect equality, of all kinds, at all levels, between urban and rural.

    Equality and absolute equality on all these planes will have to be established. 1971 to 2010 makes 39 years of denial. There are no shortcuts to survival and there are no concessions for those who deem themselves “more equal”.

  4. Anwer says:

    Some events of early 1971 that lead to the disintegration of Pakistan, as reported in the press at that time. This should help in dealing with revision of the historical narrative that seems to be quite common these days.


    (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 14, 1971)



    Delegation to see President Yahya and Sheik Mujib

    The minority groups in the National Assembly at a meeting held here today accepted in principle, the four-point demand of Awami League Chief, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and demanded that interim governments should be set up at the Centre and in the Provinces before the commencement of the Assembly Session on March 25.
    The meeting which was convened and presided over by Maulana Mufti Mahmud, leader of the Jamiatul Ulema-i-Islam Parliamentary Party, was attended among others by Council League leaders, Mian Mumtaz Daultana and Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani of Jamiatul Ulema-i-Pakistan, Prof. Abdul Ghafoor of Jamaat-i-Islami, Mr. Jamal Mohammad Koreja of the Convention League, and Independent MNAs, Maulana Zafar Ahmad Ansari and Sardar Maula Bux Soomro.

    The Wali Khan NAP was not represented at the meeting but the Convener, Maulana Mufti Mahmud claimed that the decisions of the conference enjoyed their backing. Qayyum Muslim League was the only minority party, which was conspicuous by its absence.

    Delegation to see Yahya

    The meeting decided that a delegation, headed by Mufti Mahmud, should at the earliest possible time call on President Yahya to discuss the mechanics of transfer of power.

    The delegation would also meet Sheikh Mujib in the same connection.

    The meeting felt that the two demands of Sheikh Mujib, namely withdrawal of military to their barracks and judicial enquiry into the firings in East Pakistan should be accepted without any delay. As regards the demands for the immediate lifting of Martial Law and transfer of power to the elected representatives, “it is a unanimous demand of the entire nation and has been the consistent effort, as it should be crowning achievement of the President of Pakistan”.

    But in the altered circumstances and in view of the gravity of the develop ments, a speedier process of bringing this about, as suggested by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, must be effectively considered, the meeting felt.

    May see Bhutto also

    Asked if the meeting itself discussed some mechanics for the withdrawal of Martial Law and transfer of power. Mufti Mahmud said a number of proposals were considered at the meeting but he would announce only that which would be agreed upon by the President and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

    Replying to a question, Mufti Mahmud said the delegation would also meet the People’s Party Chairman, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto if needed. In fact, he added, the question of the withdrawal of Martial Law and transfer of power was to be decided by the Government and the majority party.

    Written statement

    Mufti Mahmud also gave a written statement to the Press which said: “In the present crisis which threatens the very being of Pakistan, the single and sole concern of every partriot must be to preserve and guarantee the existence and solidarity of Pakistan.

    “There can be no Pakistan, nor can the concept of Pakistan have an ideologi cal validity or practical credibility without the unity of the people of East and West Pakistan. The only basis, source and assurance of this unity is the free will to live together based on a sense of identity, comradeship, mutual justice and brotherhood. While the aspirations and interests of each part, as in fact, of every section of the people of Pakistan, are to be preserved through adjustments, arguments, agreements and compromises there can be no question of threats, coercion, force or violence and anyone who thinks in these terms can be no friend to our solidarity or our freedom.

    “No constitutional crisis, as such, exists in Pakistan at the present moment. The elected representatives of the people have not yet, almost a hundred days after their election, even had an inaugural opportunity to meet much less to identify, discuss and thrash out the issues of their common and agreed destiny. In the meantime, the leader of the majority party of the people of Pakistan in the National Assembly has given the clearest assurance of an atmosphere of free unprejudiced discussion, and a conviction wholly open to argument.

    “Compromises insisted upon and arrived at outside the floor of the house and concealed from the scrutiny and vigilance of the people, can have no rele vance to constitutional settlement, although they may have to arrangements for sharing power. ‘

    Tragic Developments

    “The disturbing developments of the past fortnight have been tragic. They may have given rise to apprehensions and suspicions that undemocratic manipula tions may be on foot to negate the verdict of the people, to obstruct the process of transfer of power to the people, and to deprive the majority party its weight and effectiveness. We, the representatives of the political parties and MNAs of West Pakistan assembled in this meeting wish to announce without reserve, that if there is ever such a manipulation, we will stand resolutely by the side of our brothers from East Pakistan to resist and defeat it.

    “We, however, feel that a great part of the present crisis is due to misunderstandings. We feel that the immediate step that must be taken is for the President of Pakistan to pro ceed to Dacca, and to remove all these misunderstandings, apprehensions and suspicions in frank and cordial talks with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

    “In spite of the disastrous gravity of the situation in East Pakistan, of the tremendous heat and pressure generated there and the scope thus given to disrup tive forces, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has shown his stature and his firm commit ment to the solidarity of Pakistan, by putting in the present crisis four demands that are not in the least parochial or regional, but exclusively based on a national approach.

    “We are of the convinced opinion that the Awami League’s demand about judicial enquiry into the firings in East Pakistan, and the withdrawal of the military to their quarters should be accepted at once. The demand for the immediate lifting of Martial Law and the transfer of authority to the elected repre sentatives of the people is a unanimous demand of the entire nation, and has been the consistent effort as it should be crowning achievement of the President of Pakistan. The National Assembly of Pakistan has been elected and was poised to speedily bring about this very result. But in the altered circumstances and in view of the gravity of possible developments, a speedier process of bringing this about, if and as suggested by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman must be effectively considered. Whatever the solution arrived at in this respect, we feel that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the leader of the majority in the National Assembly should be called upon to form a Government interim to the framing and promulgation of a new Constitution. All these steps must be expeditiously taken, so that the National Assembly Session duly takes place on the 25th March, 1971 as scheduled.

    Request to President

    “So that we can effectively convey the solidarity of the people of West Pakistan with their brothers and fellow-citizens in East Pakistan, as well as express our deepest concern about the urgency of immediately resolving the present crisis and discuss our views with respect to the ways and means of doing so, we request the President of Pakistan to grant an immediate interview to a dele gation of the parties and MNAs represented in this meeting. For the same purpose we propose that a similar delegation should, proceed to Dacca and meet Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

    “We call upon the people of West Pakistan to express, by all democratic means, their commitment to the integral solidarity of Pakistan and their conse crated sense of comradeship and identity with their blood brothers in faith and destiny, namely the people of East Pakistan.

    “At the same time, we know that the leaders of East Pakistan will continue to inculcate, as they have done already, a spirit of restraint and moderation and show as Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has done in his statements, their attachment to the indivisible unity and solidarity of Pakistan.”

    (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 14, 1971)


    Chief of the Council Muslim League on March 13, 1971 at Lahore

    Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, Chief of the Council Muslim League, observed here today that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s demands were quite reasonable and should be accepted to end the present political crisis in Pakistan.

    Speaking in support of the resolution adopted at the meeting of the leaders of minority parties in the National Assembly, he said the crisis that existed before March 3 was political and constitutional, but the present situation had thrown the very existence of Pakistan into jeopardy.

    He maintained that if Mr. Z. A. Bhutto had adopted his present attitude earlier, the country would not have faced the present crisis.

    (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 14, 1971)

    Press statement by SYED SIDDIQUL HASAN GILANI, Chief of the Parliamentary Affairs of the Jamaat-i-Islami on March 13, 1971 at Lahore

    Syed Siddiqul Hasan Gilani, Chief of the Parliamentary Affairs of the Jamaati Islami, said here today that the responsibility for the present crisis lay with Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, the People’s Party Chief, who had aggravated the situation by threatening to boycott the National Assembly session on March 3.

    In a Press statement here today, he maintained that the present constitutional deadlock had been created by the PPP Chief after his failure to get any share in Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Government at the Centre.

    The dispute, which was basically between Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Mr. Bhutto, he said, had now brought the two Wings of the country in confrontation.

    The country’s unity and integrity was now being threatened seriously while the PPP leaders were trying to “hoodwink the people on one pretext or the other and hiding their intrigues against the country”.

    (THE PAKISTAN TIMES, Lahore-March 16, 1971)

    Minority parties leaders in West Pakistan criticise Bhutto’s speech.

    Press Report on March 16, 1971

    Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan, when contacted by PPI to comment on Chairman Bhurto’s Karachi speech, said he had not read it in detail so he could not make a comprehensive comment.

    Nevertheless, he said he was not ready to accept that any sensible and patriotic Muslim could present a proposal envisaging the break-up of Pakistan into two countries as was evidently implied by this move to transfer power to the majority parties in the two Wings.

    He said if the proposal had been correctly reported, he could say that its consequences would be far more catastrophic for the Muslims of the Sub-Continent than the tragedies that befell them at the battles of Plassey and Seringapatum. Such a proposal could only fulfil the hopes of those who were opposed to the establishment and continued existence of Pakistan. “It would please our enemies who forced a war on us in 1965”, he said.
    “I hope and pray he has been incorrectly reported,” Nawabzada Sher Ali Khan said. He was confident that the Muslims of East as well as West Pakistan would never allow to succeed a conspiracy to tear the country to pieces.

    Mian Tufail
    Mian Tufail Mohammad, Acting “Amir” of the Jama’at-i-Islami said in Lahore on Sunday that the setting up of two separate governments in the two Wings of the country would be a negation of the Legal Framework Order.

    Commenting on the proposal of Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party that power in West Pakistan must be transferred to the People’s Party, if it was to be transferred to the Awami League in East Pakistan, Mian Tufail Mohammad said that a division of this sort contradicted the Legal Frame work Order which was promulgated only to safe guard the integrity of the country.

    He said Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, by making this suggestion had clearly stated his purpose of becoming the sole ruler in West Pakistan. He said it was strange that Mr. Bhutto had now started talking about West Pakistan as a single unit. He said that the conditions prevalent in East Pakistan today were a result of the attitude adopted by Mr. Bhutto. ‘

    Hamid Sarfraz
    Malik Hamid Sarfraz, General Secretary, Punjab Awami League said in Lahore on Sunday that it was shocking to learn that Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, in the course of his speech at the Karachi public meeting, had demanded that power in East and West Pakistan should be transferred to the respective majority parties-the Awami League and the People’s Party.

    He said: “I am dumfounded to hear that Mr. Bhutto, the erstwhile sole protagonist of the solidarity of Pakistan in his craze for power has thus virtually demanded secession of the two Wings of the country”.

    “I hope now the people of Pakistan shall be better equipped to comprehend the conspiracy of secession and its real author, Mr. Bhutto,” he said. “I certainly believe that his move shall be forthwith rejected by the patriotic people of Pakistan” he added.

    Ali Asghar Shah
    In Rawalpindi, Syed Ali Asghar Shah a former MNA, and President, Muslim League (Convention), Rawalpindi, said last night that the demand made by Mr. Z. A. Bhutto that power should be transferred to his party in West Pakistan and to the Awami League in East Pakistan, clearly proved that the PPP Chairman was only interested in capturing power. He said today the basic issue was how to save Pakistan. All other matters were of secondary importance. But it seems, he added, that Mr. Bhutto “could not live without being in power”. He sugges ted that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Mr. Bhutto should settle their differences through negotiations.

    Mian Nizamuddin Hyder
    In Karachi, Mian Nizamuddin Hyder MNA-elect and the leader of the Bahawalpur United Front has strongly condemned Sunday’s statement by Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, and said the PPP Chief was now advocating “a two nation theory” for Pakistan.

    Mian Hyder said the existing national crisis had taken a “serious” turn “because of the irresponsible statements of the PPP Chairman”.

    In a statement issued on Monday, the Bahawalpur leader pointed out that Mr. Bhutto had been endeavouring from the very beginning to share power. He observed that the latest demand of the PPP amounted to the division of the country and no Pakistani would tolerate such irresponsible statements from any quarter whatever.

    In fact he pointed out the demand of Mr. Bhutto for “division of power between the two Wings amounts to the division of the country.” The PPP Chief wanted “two constitutions, two governments and two countries”, he remarked.

    Mahmood Manto
    Khawaja Mahmood Ahmad Manto, President, Council Muslim League, Rawal pindi, has bitterly criticised Mr. Bhutto’s suggestion for the transfer of power to two majority parties in the country and accused the PPP Chairman of spreading chaos and confusion in the country.
    In a Press statement issued in Rawalpindi yesterday, he said Mr. Bhutto wanted to grab the power even at the cost of national integrity.
    Mr. Manto pointed out that the elections to the National Assembly were held for the whole country, and the Awami League had emerged as the single largest party in the whole country. Therefore, the Awami League majority could not be reduced only for East Pakistan, he added.
    He said that with the suggestion made by Mr. Bhutto on Sunday in Karachi, the People’s Party stood fully exposed. The people should now fully realise the dangerous designs of the PPP which was out to disintegrate the country. He said that the people had voted for the PPP not for the dismemberment of Pakis tan. “The patriotic people will not allow the People’s Party to endanger the solidarity of the country,” he said.

    Mohammad Mahmood
    Mr. Mohammad Mahmood, former General Secretary of the All-Pakistan Awami League, commenting on the speech of Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, said that it was for the people of the Punjab to decide whether they want one Pakistan or two Pakistans as had been advocated by the Chairman of the People’s Party. The people of the Punjab had given him support and it was for them to withdraw that support if they wanted one Pakistan.
    In a statement, he said Mr. Bhutto stood fully exposed and so Mr. Abdul Qaiyum Khan, both were a great obstacle in the way of transfer of power to the people. both of them wanted commitments about their share in the Govern ment before they lent support for the Constitution-making.

    Mahmudul Haque Usmani
    Mr. Mahmudul Haque Usmani, Secretary-General, National Awami Party Wali group) on Monday evening said it was most `imperative’ that `a care-taker’ government should be formed at the centre.

    Addressing the party workers, he said it should be the discretion of the majority party leader to select any member of the National Assembly for inclusion in the care-taker ministry for running the administration and immediate solution of various problems confronting the nation.

    Kazi Faiz Mohammad
    Kazi Faiz Mohammad, senior Vice-President of the Pakistan Awami League said in Karachi on Monday that the speech delivered by PPP Chief, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto in Karachi yesterday was replete with contradictions based on a combi nation of `truths and untruths’.
    Prof. Ghafoor Ahmad, MNA-elect and leader of the Jama’at-i-Islami Parlia mentary Party on Monday evening said that Pakistan People’s Party Chief Mr. Z. A. Bhutto wanted to divide the country into two parts to capture power in the Western Wing.

    East Wing
    Mr. Bhutto’s suggestion of transferring power to both the majority parties simultaneously, evoked a sharp reaction in East Pakistan and political circles in East Pakistan said such a suggestion proved that Mr. Bhutto believed in two Pakistans.

    These circles maintained that in a democracy majority party alone had the right to form the government.

    There could not be two majority parties at a time in a house, they said and commented that the demand for lifting of the Martial Law and transfer of power to the majority party was perfectly democratic and also the best solution to the present crisis.
    Khwaja Mohammad Safdar, General Secretary of the Punjab Zonal Council Muslim League, on Monday criticised the proposal made by Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party that the power be transferred to the two major parties in two Wings of the country.

    He charged Mr. Bhutto for creating the prevalent political crisis and bringing the country on the brink of disaster.

    Political Parties Leaders
    A joint meeting of Karachi leaders of various political parties and members elect of the National and Provincial Assemblies on Monday asked President Yahya Khan to take immediate steps to transfer power to the elected represen tatives of the people.

    A resolution passed at the meeting described as “mischievous” the proposal made by the Pakistan People’s Party Chairman, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto at his public meeting in Karachi on Sunday.

    Syed Khalil Ahmad Tirmizi, Organising Secretary, Pakistan Awami League and Shaikh Manzurul Haq, President, City Awami League `warned the nation’ in Karachi on Monday of the ‘plans of Mr. Z. A Bhutto’ which, they claimed, aimed at splitting the country into two.

    Nawabzada Nasrullah, President of the Pakistan Democratic Party, West Wing said in Lahore on Monday, that Mr. Bhutto’s proposal for the transfer of power to the respective majority parties of the East and West Wing was absolutely contrary to democratic norms.
    In a Press statement he said it was quite natural for the patriotic circles to get disturbed at Mr. Bhutto’s recent suggestion.

    Shamsud Doha
    Mr. A. R. Shamsud Doha, General Secretary, Rawalpindi Division Awami League has said Awami League will resist all attempts endangering the integrity of the country.
    Commenting on the statement of Mr. Z. A. Bhutto, Chairman, PPP at Karachi in which he has said that power should be transferred to the majority party in East Pakistan and to the majority party in West Pakistan. Mr. A. R. Shamsud Doha said that Pakistan Awami League stands for the integrity and solidarity of the country at all costs.

    Fateh Mohammad
    Maulana Fateh Mohammad Ameer Jama’at-i-Islami Rawalpindi division has said that Mr. Z. A Bhutto, Chairman of Peoples Party is a bundle of contradic tions. He was commenting on Mr. Bhutto’s yesterday speech delivered in Karachi.

    (THE DAWN, Karachi-March 16, 1971)


    Statement by AIR MARSHAL ASGHAR KHAN on March 15, 1971 at Peshawar

    Air Marshal (Retd.) Asghar Khan, Chief of the Tehrik-i-Istiqlal, here today described the People’s Party Chairman, Mr. Z. A. Bhutto’s suggestion for transfer of power to the “majority parties” in East and West Pakistan as “most un fortunate”.

    Addressing members of the Peshawar District Bar Association here, he said that the suggestion was not consistent with the concept of Pakistan.

    He said that Mr. Bhutto’s statement was self contradictory. On the one hand, Mr. Bhutto had opposed the “grouping” of provinces in West Wing and on the other was suggesting transfer of power to the “majority party in West Pakistan”. “Politically there is no West Pakistan. There are four provinces in this Wing of the country”, he said.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Air Marshal Asghar Khan described the political situation in the country as “serious”, and urged the “right thinking” people to rise to the occasion, to lead the country on the “right path”. He reiterated that power should be handed over to the majority party, “where it rightly belongs”.

    He said that, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was at present “holding the Country together.” because, if East Pakistan goes. West Pakistan will also disintegrate.

    He felt that any attempt to “crush” the present situation in East Pakistan, only mean postponement of the crisis. It would not be the “solution” of the problem he said.

    Air Marshal (Retd.) Asghar Khan said that the people of East Pakistan ..anted maximum protection of their rights and took the Six Points as a measure of their “salvation” so that they could live as free citizens of Pakistan and lead happy and contented life.

    (THE PAKISTAN TIMES, Lahore-March 23, 19711)

    Statement by three parliamentary group leader on March 22, 1971

    Leaders of three parliamentary groups in the National Assembly today disapproved of the postponement of the inaugural session and said they still believed that the NA was the only forum where national issues could be discussed and their solution found.

    The three group leaders are Khan Abdul Wali Khan of the NAP, Mian Mumtaz Mohammad Khan Daultana of the Council Muslim League and Maulana Mufti Mahmood of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam.

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