Loss of East Pakistan, lessons learnt recalled.


KARACHI -- 'The loss of East Pakistan was a catastrophe beyond bearing,' said Dr Masuma Hasan, chairperson of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), at her talk titled 'The loss of East Pakistan: a national tragedy and international milestone' at the PIIA library on Tuesday.

'My ancestors lived in Panipat and Delhi for some 700 years. Even though they travelled far and wide they always maintained their links with the two cities. Then, when Pakistan was born, my parents gave up everything to come here by train on August 12. They sunk their roots in this new land and East Pakistan was part of this land. Losing it was a great tragedy for my parents' generation,' she said.

Continuing with her own experience, Dr Hasan said that despite the break-up they still had many friends in Bangladesh. But she saw the change happening there during her subsequent visits. 'I wanted to get some postage stamps from the post office once but no one in the clerical staff there would speak in Urdu or English as a result of which I couldn't get what I needed,' she said, adding that she was able to learn a lot from the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report, being part of the committee that recommended declassifying it 19 years ago. Dr Hasan also shared some relevant excerpts from the report.

'Pakistan, East and West, was a dream state'

Earlier, writer, former senator and federal minister Javed Jabbar, in his talk, wondered that 48 years have passed which is equal to two generations now but should we forget what happened leading to the loss of East Pakistan? 'If you start remembering, you will remember everything including the painful parts,' he said. 'Still, we shall revisit the past to review or resolve and maybe even learn from history,' he added.

'Pakistan, East and West, was a dream state, which became a nightmare,' he said. 'Pakistan is a religion-based nation state and yet it is unlike any other religion-based country. There is no country separated by hostile territory so it was also a uniquely created territory,' he pointed out.

Reasons for break-up

About the failures of this country leading to its break-up in 1971, he said that the subsequent governments here disregarded the majority principle. There was also a delay of seven years in making Bengali a state language with Urdu. Another issue felt by East Pakistan was neglect from the West during the 1965 Pakistan-India war. President Ayub Khan's violation of the Constitution in transferring power...

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