By Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi
Pakistan had a unique geographical feature. It consisted of two distinct blocks of territory. East Pakistan was not only separated geographically from West Pakistan by one thousand miles, but the departing land was India - a hostile neighbour, who from the day one did not recognise Pakistan’s existence. Hindu leaders gave statements at the time of Pakistan’s creation that it was a temporary division and very soon Pakistan will come into Indian fold again. For them, to execute their nefarious designs, keeping both sides divided and hostile, was the cornerstone of their hostile policy. Jinnah smelled the conspiracy even in 1940s and he had demanded ‘a corridor across India to connect the separated limbs of the new state’. But Mountbatten did not agree. This danger could be countered only with superior weapons and super human spirits of national integration. Thus Pakistan had no other option but to join West sponsored military alliances Cento and Seato. But the spirits of national integration could not be strengthened and political blunders provided somewhat easy opportunities to anti-Pakistani forces to dismember the Holy Land. Uniformity of people in many respects also contributes to the successful integration of a country. But in United Pakistan, national life was different, besides colour and habits. Leadership of West Pakistan was landlord while the Bengalis were led by middle-class-lawyers, professors, and retired officials. In the second constituent assembly (1956-58), out of 40 members from West Pakistan 28 were landlords and Dukes, whereas East Pakistan was represented by 20 lawyers and 9 retired officials. None of Bengali MCA was landlord. With such socio-economic differences in background, it had become very difficult for the leaders of both regions to come to an understanding of problems. The common factors, which could keep both wings, united were Islam and the fear of India. These two elements were sufficient to keep the country strong internally and externally. But it needed farsighted leadership and brotherhood for superb state of nationalism. The rulers of the ill-fated country paid lip service to Islam and no concrete steps were taken to enforce Shariah. It was overshadowed by economic and cultural realities. As far as the fear of India was concerned, it could have mustered the nationalism for united Pakistan. Kashmir became the issue of cold war between India and Pakistan, but as it was geographically attached to West Pakistan, it could not assume the emotional value for East Pakistanis. ‘They thought that problem had relevance with West Pakistan.’ Even during the 65 war, Sheikh Mujeeb refused to utter a single word against India. Awami League also developed close relations with India and hence fear of India as a cementing force lost its credibility. It is relevant to quote Lord Birdwood here who predicted in 1953, ‘Solve the problem of Indo-Pak relationship and I doubt if East and West Pakistan would continue for many years to present a united front’. And ‘It would not be unnatural if one day the eastern limb of Pakistan decided to cut itself adrift from control from Karachi.’ The education and economy of a country are the backbone of a country’s development and social status. Muslims of Bengal expected an improvement in their general conditions after independence. But the situation was otherwise. Education and economy was completely controlled by the Hindus. In East Bengal most of the government officers, lawyers, almost all the doctors, and school masters, nearly all the considerable landowners and most of the heads of business firms were Hindus. At the time of partition, they owned nearly 80% of the national wealth of East Bengal. The majority of urban buildings and properties, in some cases more than 85% were owned by the Hindus. 95% of 1,290 High schools and 47 colleges in East Bengal were privately organised and financed by them. The Hindus comprised not...
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