Revisiting Mujib’s Memoirs
Khalid Khokhar


WHILE reviewing “The unfinished Memoirs of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman”, Hamid Mir, a senior anchorperson in his article titled “Mujib’s Memoirs” (Nov 24), urged the government of Pakistan to officially apologize for alleged acts of genocide committed by the Pakistan’s military during 1971 war. The efforts of Hamid Mir may be lauded in promoting reconciliation between Pakistan and Bangladesh, but at what price? The country is passing through such a critical stage that any misadventure will make the country in a position of strategic peril. The morale of the guardian of national frontiers is frittering away with each bout of anathematic assault on the institution – may it be meddling into political process, past financial corruption cases, inaction of Army against NATO forces, or the US admonition ‘to do more’ in the on-going war against terror. The judiciary coupled with media has been openly criticizing the policies and actions of the military/intelligence agencies. Working on a well deliberated strategy, the detractors are leaving no stone un-turn to defame the sacred institution with an aim to draw a wedge between the people and armed forces. Cornering our own armed forces would be disastrous blunder for the country, especially when it is coping with militants in tribal areas, besides facing a perennial wave of suicide attacks on the security officials across the country. Such like developments have not only undermined public’s confidence in the military, it is also creating rifts amongst the high command with low-tier hierarchy command of the military.

“The unfinished Memoirs: Sheikh Mujibur Rahman”, is an unfinished autobiography based on four notebooks by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founder of Bangladesh, written while he was a state prisoner in 1967-69. The book records Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s opinions about political developments in East Pakistan, beginning with his recollections of his days as a student activist in the run-up to the movement for Pakistan in the early 1940s. The Unfinished Memoirs then goes on to trace the mounting disillusionment of the people of the eastern wing of Pakistan with the Federal authorities in the West Pakistan, the formation of the Awami League by Mujibur Rahman in 1949 as a response to the Pakistan Muslim League’s growing alienation, and the concerted movement against the imposition of Urdu as the state language, which eventually sowed the seeds of powerful liberation movement that culminated in the birth of the new nation of Bangladesh in 1971. The war between East and West Pakistan in 1971 lasted only nine months. Actively supported by Indian Army, the eastern flank of Pakistan was separated from the rest of Pakistan. While Pakistan acknowledged that the unpleasant incidents that took place during the 1971 war, the excesses were done in retaliation against Indian Army’s extremes coupled with Mukti Bahini’s brutalities. What Mukti bahinis did to the Pakistani families is also equally horrified. Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League, the political party that advocated for an independent East Pakistan, is blamed in provocating the West Pakistan army to commit these excesses on their part. Most of the incidents alleged by Bangladesh authorities did not take place at all, while other incidents were distorted in such a manner to appear as atrocities on the local populace, manipulated for the purpose of maligning the Pakistan army and gaining world sympathy. Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed, but the claim that Pakistani soldiers aided by local collaborators killed 3 million people was too much exaggerated.
Nonetheless, harboring a four decade old resentment is not going to solve the rift between the two countries. Apart from demanding apology from Pakistan, Bangladesh wants to settle the issues of division of assets and war reparations. Additionally, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina d/o Mujibur Rahman, has initiated a move to try Bangladeshi collaborators who allegedly helped the Pakistani military. As Jamaat-e-Islami openly campaigned against breaking away from Pakistan during the 1971 war, therefore, its five leaders are currently behind bars. Two other men from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, are in jail on similar charges. However, all of them have denied the allegations. In addition to this, the PM Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina is conferring awards of “Bangladesh Liberation War Honour” and “Friends of Liberation War Honour”, to the nation's foreign friends for their wholehearted support to its liberation in 1971. Besides inviting 568 foreign friends from all over the world, an invitation to 41 Pakistani is not understood. This shows that some internal as well as foreign forces are hell-bound to re-ignite the dead issue to incriminate Pakistan Army and create a wedge between Bangladesh-Pakistan good relations.
Needless to say that Hamid Mir’s critical appraisal of ”The unfinished memoirs by Mujibur Rahman” is mind-blowing endeavour but it leaves many questions unanswered. Should we portray Mujibur Rahman as a ‘hero’ to be taught to the budding youngsters in our schools and colleges? Should we project that Pakistan is a hot-bed of political intrigues and the defenders of frontiers as a demoralized army? In the review, Hamid Mir has deliberately selected those passing references of ex-generals which substantiated his known anti-military rhetoric – leaving aside the constructive role in the formation, progression and defence of Pakistan. Attributing the misdeeds of a few to the large majority of this honourable institution is not a valid generalization. The armed forces all over the world play a key role in guarding the national frontiers and securing its borders with heavy responsibility rests on their shoulders. Every nation looks forward to its defence forces for protection and security in the event of foreign aggression or threat of invasion, therefore, the morale, pride and self-esteem of the soldiers are always kept elevated. Pakistan Army is one of the most professional, responsible and goal-directed segment of the Pakistani society and this nation can never repay the debt of the Martyrs of our Armed Forces. Asking to apologize from Bangladesh for the wrong done by West Pakistan would be adding more vagaries to the guilt, especially in the light of Tripartite Agreement-1974, where Pakistan had already regretted the incidents that took place in 1971. India had never apologized to the people of Pakistan for what they had done during partition in 1947, dismembering Pakistan in 1971, killing of over 300 Pakistani passengers traveling in Samjhota Express, drying million acres of Pakistan’s cultivable land by blocking Pakistani rivers, fanning unrest in Balochistan, etc.
The anchorpersons like Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi along with other anti-military groups, like Asma Jehangir are literally obsessed with Pakistan Army; they fear it more than their enemies do. For good reasons: the greater portion of our history has been wasted under military rule. Under military rule, the country suffered humiliating defeat in 1971 and became a demoralized and dismembered nation. The faltering economy, lack of democracy, political infightings by our leadership, military takeovers, on-going terrorism, sectarianism, target killings, independence movements among the provinces, has plunged the country into darkness, making it to become a subjugated, lethargic and subservient nation. More so, the dependence on foreign financial aid, apologetic behaviour in Mumbai attacks-2008, surrendering before mounting US demands, apprehensions in Kashmir cause coupled with domestic feudalistic and bureaucratic thinking pattern, has induced feelings of inferiority and guilt amongst the common people of Pakistan. That is why Pakistan has been placed to a ranking of 151 out of 179 countries worldwide on the 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index.
At this critical juncture of Pakistan chequered history, it is the duty of every patriotic and peace-loving citizen of Pakistan to stop the anti-Pakistan elements from disparaging the army/ISI/civil administration. Criticism is usual thing but it should have balance as unnecessary criticism may be causing demoralization in military ranks. The COAS Gen. Kayani said that media campaign against Pakistan Army cause demoralization within institutions. Look at the forerunners and ardent followers of the freedom of press. During the course of war on terror, the American must have made many blunders but the US media will never point out military operations or coffins of killed US soldiers on their return to homeland. In the same vein, single track criticisms of Pakistan’s national institutions will do more harm than good to the Statehood. Therefore, the media needs to act more responsibly and the media persons should display their inherent self-regulatory system with a special flair of nationalistic spirit while reporting a story that agitates the young impressionable minds of our society.