Are we in Paltan Maidan yet again?


Prof. Zafar Sultan

Regrettably, history of seventy some years of Pakistan is dominantly marked with tragedies and agonies apart from a handful of rosy occurrences. The 14 August dawned along with the excruciatingly painful omens which continue to haunt us even today; in fact, those shadows have grown darker, scarier now.

After its inception, the nascent state of Pakistan straightaway witnessed wide colossal butchery of tens of thousands of hapless refugees and their subsequent rehabilitation, their number running into millions. In this context, many would be shocked to decipher the rancorous fact that to hinder the rehabilitation of those refugees, the feudal lords in Sindh and Punjab created problems of enormous proportions; thereby compounding the miseries of the sick, injured, starving and shelterless refugees.

Sly as always, taking full advantage of this precarious situation, the Afghan government attacked Bajur. They also provoked and abetted Haji Irzali Khan Wazir, commonly known as Faqir of Ipi to launch Pakhtunistan Movement. To add further woes to staggering Pakistan, G M Syed also initiated Sidhu Daish Movement. The sad saga of the newly emerged state did not end there. Uprising also erupted in various parts of Baluchistan, aggrandizing miseries of Pakistan. To destabilize Pakistan, Bacha Khan and Samad Achakzai were openly backed by India, Afghanistan and the British.

At the eastern front, India occupied Kashmir which further mounted the challenges for Quaid-e-Azam, who was without any astute and farsighted leader who could counsel and inform him on Kashmir issues. Contrarily, in India there were Lord Mountbatten, Nehru, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck and shortsighted Muslim clergymen who collectively damaged Pakistan, following a well-thought-out strategy.

As regards foreign affairs front, Sir Zafarullah Khan pushed Pakistan into teething troubles: which still continue to confront and haunt Pakistan. Even a shrewd politician like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, could not undo those ills. Sadly, Bilawal Zardari, a totally inexpert and greenhorn foreign minister, is adding to woes of Pakistan. Ostensibly, he is advancing the agenda of those who orchestrated and executed regime change in Pakistan.

Those plethora of issues culminated in breakage of Pakistan following war of 1971 that left unamendable and unforgettable scars on our history; and they continue to trouble us, unabated.   The sadder fact is that at present there is no leader, no policy or strategy to undo or at least allay those harms or strategize to avoid any such catastrophe(s) in future. The stake holders (by and large) in military establishment, bureaucracy, and politics are engaged in an unholy tug of war to extract perks and power, gnawing the country day by day. Therefore, our country’s governance, economy and stability stand seriously challenged. Consequently, our country is dangerously vulnerable and perilously exposed to the enemies to execute their nefarious designs: such phenomena baffle and upset all those who are concerned about Pakistan.

It is a misfortune that there is no think tank to investigate past and guide the government to strategize and adopt a viable course to sail through raging waters. Despondently, there is no dearth of intellectuals who further the schemas of the foreign proxies and pave a way for the politicians (with tainted careers) after every three years.

Even today, there are scores of scything questions which were never asked or answered. Why were our state agencies not able to sniff and unearth the settlement inked between India, Awami League and Mukti Bahini? How did the soldiers and officers from Bangladesh act upon that plan so secretively, and executed the final blow so successfully? These questions were never raised, nor would they ring in history in near future. Similarly, history of Pakistan is still curious to learn about the devious affairs between Bhutto and Yahya.

There are even harsher questions which were never raised or answered. Why did Shah of Iran cobble a liaison between Bhutto and Yahya?  Asides form that it has never been demystified (even today) that who gave order to Pak Army to lay down its arms and surrender.

Moreover, history is (mysteriously) silent as regards the fact that who instigated and backed Bhutto to tear apart the resolution tabled by Poland in the UN, seeking cease fire between warring India and Pakistan. Had the war been halted, the cleavage of Pakistan might had been averted and the subsequent demeaning surrender in Paltan Maidan avoided.

Here yet another scything question (perhaps) would never find the answer. Which forces kept General A.A.K Niazi heavily guarded to ensure  an  immensely  humiliating ceremony to sign the surrender in the subsequent days. Many would be surprised to learn that there was a very brave SSG Captain Salman (later known as Salman the magnificent amongst his friends) who planned to stop or remove General Niazi, thereby disrupting the ignominious surrender ceremony. Had the captain succeeded, history of humiliation would not be recorded. And our committed officers and soldiers of Pak Army could have fought till end. They either had saved Pakistan or embraced martyrdom, fighting heroically, adding a new chapter of glory and gallantry. So, December in 2022 would not have been so embarrassing and upsetting for us all.  

This year, December has commenced with particular uncertainties and agonies. It appears as though we have been pushed to Paltan Maidan by our civ-mil leadership.  We have been compelled to surrender before IMF for a few crumbs, forsaking any semblance of national sovereignty, pride or grace. December of 1971 and 2022 seem to offer same somber similarities. In December 1971, there was absence of sincere and farsighted leadership; and there is a dearth of truly sincere leadership in December 2022. One side there are people and on the other side there are self-styled and grossly self-centered leaders, totally unperturbed by the plight of people and future of Pakistan.

Nowadays, our own Nero is playing flute while Rome is burning to ashes. The bear keeper is dancing with his bear and the dwellers of the city are striving for bread and butter. The regal palaces of the kings are shimmering with dazzling lights and colours; whereas, the country is coffined by shadows of uncertainty and homelessness. We successfully fought war of ‘65 with people and army supporting each other; we lost war of ‘71 with people and forces standing poles apart. Can we pull ourselves out from Paltan Maidan?

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