Isha khan’s Weblog

When East Pakistan Became Bangladesh
July 4, 2008, 1:59 pm
Filed under: SubContinent
When East Pakistan Became Bangladesh
by Sultan Reza

I found this incredible article on DesPardes and I recommend both
Bangladeshis and Pakistanis to carefully read this.

The Fall of Dhaka was sudden and abrupt. As late as December 15th
1971, my pro-Pakistan friends kept saying that the Seventh Fleet of
the US Navy was on its way and as soon as it reaches the Indian
Ocean, India and it’s ally Russia would back down. Their claim about
China’s intervention to provide air support to Pakistani troops,
without which they had become sitting ducks, made more sense. China
had already fought a war with India and was considered a more
reliable friend of Pakistan. But neither the Americans nor the
Chinese showed up. The Indians and the Russians did!

On the morning of December 16th, 1971 around 8 a.m, I heard a rumor
that General Arora of the Indian Armed Forces was coming to Dhaka to
accept the surrender of General Niazi. By 10 a. m this rumor became
the news.

Millat, my bridge partner, who was a co-coordinator of the freedom
fighter’s movement in Bangladesh, confirmed that a General of the
Indian Army was at that very moment having a meeting with his
Pakistani counter-part at Savar, just outside Dhaka, to discuss the
terms and conditions of the ensuing surrender.

An hour later, I came to know that the draft agreement was approved
by Pakistan and the formalities of the surrender would take place at
Ramna Racecourse in late afternoon.

It actually took place at 5 p.m after General Arora arrived from
Calcutta by helicopter. Pro-Bangladesh Bengalis started celebrating
and the Pro-Pakistan Bengalis and non-Bengalis started panicking. By
noon, one could see Pakistani soldiers heading towards the Ramna
Race Course. Then I noticed some flags being hoisted on roof tops..
It was a green flag with a red circle on it. Someone explained to me
that the green background symbolized the greenery and the red disc
represented the rising sun and the sacrifices we made to gain the

I was on my way to Shantinagar from Tipu Sultan Road, when I saw
near the Christian graveyard, three Bengalis with guns chasing four
Bengalis and two non Bengalis. The crowd was running behind them.
Mukti Bahinis, were chasing the Razakars, to kill them. The crowd
was shouting “Joy Bangla, Joy Bangla” and gun shots or blank fire in
the air could be seen and heard. I could not feel any joy or
excitement. I was relieved, yes, because the liberation war was
coming to an end without millions more having to pay the price for
it. But I abhorred this revenge part. Why not arrest and hand the
suspects over to the authorities and let the court decide? Many
Bengalis like me had similar mixed feelings of relief and sorrow.
But for those, whose loved ones could only return to their homeland
after the departure of the Pakistani troops or those whose
daughters, mothers and sisters were raped by the Pakistani Militia
and Army, this was a day of rejoice and revenge. They could not
touch the defeated Pakistani Army, who had surrendered to the
victorious Indian Army and were therefore under their protection. So
they went after the civilians and the paramilitary forces – those
who had openly supported Pakistan and were called Razakars.

For the “Biharis” and “Razakars”, it was doomsday. Bihari was the
term used for all non-Bengalis and Razakars were paramilitary forces
who had volunteered their services to the Pakistan Army, who
utilized them as ” Mujahideens to kill the Kafirs” by giving them
Islamic names like Al-Badr and Al-Shams and misleading them into
believing that East Pakistanis were no longer Muslims. Razakars
could be a Bihari or even a Bengali. Many of them were hunted and
killed by the people who recognized them, supported by the Mukti
Bahinis with guns and pistols . Every Bengali became a Freedom
Fighter and all the non-Bengalis became Razakars. Those Bengali
civilians, even politicians who cooperated with the Pakistan
government, were termed as traitors and treated as such.

There were many Bengalis, from other political parties like Muslim
League and Jamaat-e- Islami, who did not agree with Awami League
mandate of autonomy. Nor did they wish the break up of Pakistan.
Some of them even cooperated with the Martial Law government to buy
time and to convince the military rulers that what they were doing
was not right. Maulvi Fariduddin was one of them. He was a God
fearing Muslim and a genuine Bengali. He had been a Member of the
National Assembly too. Fariduddin was mercilessly beaten to death.
There were many others like him who did what they thought were right
and it turned out to be a wrong decision that cost them their lives.

Even Mohammad Idris, who started shooting at the Mukti Bahinis
because they had broken up Pakistan, was not a bad person. He was
more patriotic than many in West Pakistan and simply could not stand
the sight of its army’s surrender. He decided to go down fighting
for the country he loved most. It is a pity that Pakistan does not
appreciate this sense of patriotism and is still making excuses
about bringing the “Biharis” back home. Almost all the non-Bengalis
were treated badly after the fall of Dhaka with the exception of the
members of Aga Khan community, who had behaved very sensibly by not
acting like Maulvi Fariduddin or Mohammad Idris. From the beginning,
they followed the command of their leader Aga Khan, to mingle with
the local people, respect them and learn their language.

December 16, 1971 was a day of ” Saneha”, “Doorghotona” or “Tragedy”
for the Muslims of the Indo-Pak subcontinent including a large
percentage of Bengali Muslims in East Pakistan, who considered that
Yahya Khan’s reluctance to convene the National Assembly was very
unfair and his agreement with Bhutto to keep Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
from becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan was a conspiracy. But
all of them were not Awami Leaguers and most of them believed that
people charged in the Agartala conspiracy case, if found guilty,
should be punished. They did not support the break up of Pakistan.
They remembered well, the bad treatment their fathers and grand
fathers had received from the Hindu Zamindars before the partition
of India in 1947 and felt relieved to find Pakistan as their new
homeland. Therefore at the beginning only Awami League and its
staunch supporters wanted a separation while the majority wanted
that the power should be handed over to the person who had won the

Sheikh Mujib controlled the majority seat in the National Assembly.
Out of 300 National Assembly seats, Awami League had won 167 and
Wali Khan had offered to join him with his 30 seats, yet Zulfiqar
Ali Bhutto wanted to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan with his only
97 seats. Yahya Khan supported him because he was promised to be
made the President. The parties failed to agree on anything or were
failed to decided on a solution and Martial Law was declared.
Failing to beat the Bengalis into submission, they resorted to
committing the greatest genocide in recent history. This atrocious
behavior of Pakistani politicians and army generals alienated all
the Bengalis of East Pakistan and infuriated many, resulting in the
War of Liberation on March 26 itself. At the behest of a Chittagong
industrialist Mr. A. K. Khan and on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,
General Zia declared the independence of Bangladesh from Chittagong
radio station.

Slowly but steadily, more and more East Pakistanis realized that
independence from the clutches of the rulers of West Pakistan was
the only way left for them. Their children started going away to
India to join the liberation war and they continued to suffer in the
hands of what was now the “Occupation Army”. They sought India’s
help, who was anxiously waiting to provide them. This was their
chance to retaliate against Pakistan that was calling their part of
the Kashmir as ” Occupied Territory” and fought two wars with them
over this issue.

India declared that “Pakistan was occupying its Eastern Wing against
the will of its people and forcing them to seek shelter across the
border”. They intervened with the backing of Russia and the result
was the creation of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh – even
better than the autonomous East Pakistan that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
had initially demanded. A look at Dhaka alone will testify that it
turned out to be a great boon in disguise and the reward fully
justified the demand for it.

A new generation of Bengali industrialists, entrepreneurs,
bureaucrats and diplomats cropped up overnight and started building
the city skyward. A look at the Dhaka high-rises puts Calcutta
(Kolkata now) to shame.

In the villages too, thanks to NGOs like BRAC and Grameen, people
are in sync with the progress that the country has made in the past
35 years. More educated, better skilled and less poor, they
certainly look happier than they ever were in the colonial days of
British and then with Pakistan. Yet I sometimes feel that we should
have retained the name of Pakistan and Mr. Bhutto, if he so desired,
could have walked away with his Sindh province and found a name for
his new country. Just kidding!

But it is a fact that in 1970, there were more Bengalis in united
Pakistan than there were Punjabis or Sindhis or Pathans combined. It
was the Muslims of East Bengal who had wholeheartedly supported the
Lahore Resolution of 1906 that the Sher-e-Bangla A. K. Fazlul Huq
moved and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah mooted – making the
demand for the division of India on the basis of religion. Even
though Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, as a Muslim leader and the President
of the Indian Congress Party had appealed to the 120 million Indian
Muslims to stay back, over 60 millions of them left their home and
hearth to migrate to Pakistan. Mostly to West Pakistan and some to
East Pakistan – from the neighboring states of Bihar, West Bengal,
Orissa and even Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. For them, it would
have been Love’s Labor Lost.

My parents migrated from West Bengal to East Bengal, which became
East Pakistan. But my grandmother did not. She remained in Calcutta
(now Kolkata) and even advised her only son to stay behind. He did
not listen to his mother and eventually had to pay a price. My
parents admired Mr. Jinnah so much that when he declared that “Urdu
and Urdu alone will be the state language of Pakistan”, they
admitted us to an Urdu medium school. But we continued learning and
speaking Bengali because that was our mother tongue and she did not
know any Urdu. Nor did any of our maternal aunts and uncle know
Urdu. After the independence of Bangladesh, we quickly reverted back
to Bangla Bhasha. Who wants to be a second class citizen? That is
what the non-Bengalis had suddenly become.

After Bangladesh was created and after the 90,000 troops of the
Pakistan Army and some civilians who surrendered to the Indian Army
were taken to India and after President Yahya Khan resigned and
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto became the Prime Minister of “what was left of
Pakistan”, Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rahman was released from the Pakistani
jail and sent to London. There he gave the statement (in English)
that he was against the creation of Pakistan. Bhutto was vindicated.
It restored his credibility having said that Mujib wanted
independence. It seemed to me Bongo Bondhu (Sheikh Mujib) was out
smarted or was it a condition of his release?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to Dhaka on January 10, 1972. A
proclamation of Independence, adopted and formally announced by the
Bangladesh Government in Exile on April 17, 1971 had declared that
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the President of The People’s Republic of
Bangladesh, Tajuddin Ahmed the Prime Minister and Nazrul Islam, the
Vice President. Nazrul Islam had signed it as the Acting President
in the absence of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who was locked up
in a Pakistani jail. Some say that it was only after he reached
London that he was told that Pakistan had lost the war and
Bangladesh had won the war of liberation. I do not buy this simply
because I cannot believe that Mr Bhutto would unconditionally
release the ” Big Fish” without laying any fresh bait. It sounds

I was there at the Tejgaon airport when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
returned to a hero’s welcome. M illions of his countrymen came from
far flung areas and villages to catch a glimpse of their Bongo
Bondhu. Advocate Kamal Hossain was with him. It was rumored that
because of his affinity to Urdu, he had betrayed the champion of the
Bengali Language Movement, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. First thing that
Sheikh Shaheb did was to introduce Kamal Hossain as his friend in
need who , he said “was a loyal friend indeed. He called him a proud
citizen of Bangladesh just like him. I personally was impressed and
liked the gesture and felt encouraged that with his arrival the riot
among Bengalis and `Biharis” would stop and this racial problem of
Bengalis seeking revenge against the “Biharis” would come to an end.

I also hoped that like Kamraj of the Indian Congress, he would
resign from the office of the President and continue as the Party
Chief of the Awami League allowing Mr Tajuddin to run the government
under his guardianship, supervision if necessary. Something that
Sonia Gandhi is doing now. I was disappointed on both counts. He did
resign from the post of the President but only to become the Prime
Minister of Bangladesh. Mr. Tajuddin was sent a prepared resignation
letter to sign on, which he did, and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became
the Prime Minister of Bangladesh that very day. Justice Sayeed
Chowdhury was sworn in as the figure head President which Mujib
refused to be. He then introduced the one party system BAKSAL, which
he called the 2nd. Revolution.

Mujib now made new enemies. He changed the constitution and once
again became the President of Bangladesh on January 24, 1975. Sheikh
Mujibur was the Father of the Nation and the most beloved and
respected person in Bangladesh at the time of its independence. He
could have been the King Maker for the rest of his life, but he
decided to become the king himself and ended up losing his life.

With the deportation of the Pakistani Army and Militia and the
disappearance of Razakars – the paramilitary voluntary force of the
Pakistan Army, people in the streets once again started rejoicing.
Army remained the main topic and all kinds of jokes and slogans
surfaced about them. Some real and some made up. Some were even
taken from Moin Akhtar shows. For instance, there was this story
about an Army Major and his wife being stopped at the gates of Dhaka
Inter-Continental Hotel by a Pathan Sentry. The guard asked the
Major to show his Denty ( identity) card. He said that he was Major
so and so and this was his wife and they were going inside the hotel
to watch a cultural show. “Denty cards?” the sentry insisted. ” I
have left it at home” the Major replied. He was getting annoyed and
felt insulted by being questioned like this in front of his wife.
Without blinking an eyelid and looking at the wife, the Pathan
pondered aloud ” What is this? The thing that he should have left at
home, he brought along and the thing that he should have brought
with him, he left that at home ?”

Similarly there was this joke about two soldiers walking inside the
Thetari Bazaar with an intention to bully the hawkers who were
selling chickens. They asked the first one:

” What do you feed your chicken? ” He said that I feed them “gaum”
Which means wheat. With a kick at his butt, he was admonished with
these words: “We send wheat from West Pakistan to feed the men and
women and you feed it to hens and cocks ?”

When the next hawker was asked the same question, he said that he
was feeding them Chawool” (Rice ) He too received a kick and was
sternly told “There is no rice to feed the people and you are
feeding it to the birds? ”

The 3rd.hawker was a Dhakayeah Kutti, a native of Dhaka, well known
for their wit and humor. When asked, what he fed his chickens, he
said : ” I do nothing of the sort. ” Early in the morning, every
day, I give a “Shikki” ( a Quarter or 25 paisa ) to each of my birds
and they buy and eat whatever they fancy” “You do the right thing.”
The soldiers remarked and went away. These jokes may or may not have
been made up by the people who had suffered from the indignity and
humiliation of rude behavior of its own army that they once loved
and respected.

But this is what I know to be a fact. One day I met a staff of my
friend Somji who was my competitor in jute business but always
helped me out when I got stuck with the pricing of hessien and
sacking. He was a gem of a person. I noticed an expensive Omega
watch in Aslam’s wrist and asked when did he get it. He
said “yesterday while I was riding my bike in front of Gulistan
cinema, one Swati Militia stopped me and asked for my citizen watch.
I had to give it to him. He tied it on his wrist, next to three
other watches that he was already wearing. I complained “Khan Saheb,
you already have three other watches and you decided to take away my
one and only watch? The man said “You do not have any other watch” I
said ” No” So he took out the first watch that he had on his wrist
and gave it to me. “This is it. Not a bad exchange” Aslam smiled.

I laughed, thinking about one day when a Militia was frantically
looking for a building. He went around asking :”Sona Ka Bangla Kahan
Hai ?” Perhaps someone had half understood the Rabindra Nath Tagore
song ” Amar Shonar Bangla, Ami Tomai Bhalo Bashi” (This is our
National Anthem now.) and told him that in Dhaka, they have
Bungalows that are made of gold. Mercifully, those army Jawans and
Militia kids, who were made to believe the infidelity story of the
Bengalis and fairy tales of the Bangla Desh, were now sitting in
Indian prison camps near Agra and the slogan in the streets of Dhaka
was: “Merein tou Shaheed, Marain tou Ghazi aur Surrender Karey to
Niazi”. Meaning that if you get killed, you are Shaheed, if you
kill, you are Ghazi but if you surrender, you are Niazi”

This was a way of making fun of the Pakistan Army who had declared
Bengalis as Kafirs and used Islamic terms like Al-Badr and Al-Shams
to subdue them and yet had surrendered in such a large number to
Indian army, whose Commander-in-Chief Field Marshall Manikshaw had
simply outfoxed them. His larger army by-passed the entrenched
forces of the Pakistan army at the various cantonments of East
Pakistan and reached Dhaka without facing much resistance. Perhaps
never before, in the history of Islam, more than 90, 000 Muslims had
surrendered to a Hindu force, no matter how big. But again, never
before a Muslim army had committed an act of genocide against its
own Muslim countrymen.

Cheers and jeers apart, after downfall of Dhaka on December 16th
1971, I personally got very worried about my school friends, who
were Urdu speaking and living in district towns of Khulna and
Mymensingh. Most of them had already left for Karachi or London but
one of my childhood friend Matiullah Khan was from Bihar and he was
caught up in Khulna. He was working as an Assistant to my brother-in-
law, who was the Chief Engineer at the Crescent Jute Mills, in
Khalispur, Khulna. When army cracked down on the night of March 25,
1971, my brother-in-law had to run away to his home town in Noakhali
and he resigned from his job. Matiullah was given the charge by the
army to run the workshop and now the army had gone. I knew that he
would be in trouble. So I started calling and could not trace him.
The Security Officer of the Mill said that he was not there but he
was last seen at the Sports Club of the Residential Quarters by the
side of the river. I decided to go to Khalishpur with another friend
Majeed who was more fluent in Bengali. Majeed was nearly killed by a
Bengali Razakar but managed to save his life by speaking in Urdu to
a Punjabi soldier. He was also a very good singer and often sang
Rabindra Sangeet for us. So we flew to Jessore and went by bus to
Khalishpur. There someone told us that all the Biharis were either
killed or arrested. Those living were placed in a camp under the
protection of the Indian Army from Bihar. We went and found
Matiullah. He was still dazed by the killings he had witnessed,
while sitting at the Officer’s Club. Killing of Bihari men, women
and children took place with swords and knives across the river at
the ghat of Star Jute Mill. Majid and I were ashamed to hear his sad
story but at the same time we felt proud that we had risked our own
lives to save Matiullah’s. We brought him back to Dhaka.. He is now
living in Karachi. I was also lucky to be able to safely see off
another Bihari friend and his family and my wife’s Punjabi friend
and her family at the Dhaka airport after the 30th of December. But
I could not save the life of another good friend Riaz, who played
cricket with us. An amiable and harmless person, who copied Khan
Mohammad while bowling, was a manager of the United Bank in
Mymensingh. I heard later that he was put in jail for ten days, then

I had always wanted to drive to Calcutta and then drive up to Delhi
through the Grand Trunk road that was originally built by Sher Shah
Suri. I got the necessary permission from the Government of
Bangladesh and convinced my wife to come along. I also invited my
brother Naim and my nephew Yusuf to join us. Depending on who you
are, you can call it an adventure or a stupid act. The treacherous
road to Calcutta from Dhaka via Aricha, Kushtia and Jessore had land
mines laid out by the Mukhti Bahini for the Pakistan Army and by the
Pakistani Forces for the Indian invaders. We had to get off from the
road at some places and drive through the Dhan-Khet or paddy field.
It took us 18 hours to reach Calcutta. Here I found one of my “stay
back” aunts sadly sitting in the dark without even lighting a
candle. I asked her if the power was out. She said, “No, I just did
not feel like switching on the light, thinking that Pakistan has
moved away from us. We felt so comfortable and strong when Dhaka was
a part of Pakistan”.

Next day, we were treated like film stars wherever we parked our
car. Returning to our car after watching a Bengali movie, very often
we would find garlands at the windshield of the car which had an
East Pakistani number plate EBD 3. When told that we were planning
to drive up to Delhi, we were advised even by strangers not to
travel through Bihar at day time, as they were very mad at the
Bengalis for killing the Bihari immigrants. We left in the evening.
Before reaching Banaras, the clutch plate of our car got burnt and
we had to leave the car in a garage until we could purchase and
bring back a new clutch plate from Delhi.

Continuing our journey by train, I had to face one of the most
embarrassing moments of my life. We were traveling Janata class and
the compartment was full. A punditji with a big mustache, made place
for all of us and then asked me if we were Muslims.. After I said
yes, very politely he narrated the story of how, once when he was
traveling from Karachi to Lahore in First Class with a First Class
ticket, a few Pathan passengers entered the compartment and asked
him to sit on the floor because he was a Hindu. Then he said, again
very politely “You meat eater Muslims have very little patience as
compared to us vegetarian Hindus. See, how nicely we made place for
all of you” Feeling embarrassed, all I could say was “We are
Bengalis, not Pathans”. Other than that, we received a favorable
treatment by the Indian Railway officials, who thought that we were
Freedom Fighters from Bangladesh.

Our one page passport was mistaken to be a travel pass and more than
one booking clerk told us that we did not require tickets because we
were Mukti Bahinis. For fear of being apprehended as Bihari refugees
from Bangladesh, we were careful not to speak in Urdu, even after
reaching New Delhi. The clutch parts we were looking for were not
available there and on the return trip, the boys had to get down in
Banaras while we continued to Calcutta. They arranged to bring the
car back to Calcutta on a truck and narrated this interesting story
about the Banarsi mechanic who opened the hood of the Volkswagen and
yelled, “This car has no engine” This is how unfamiliar the Indians
were of foreign cars in 1971.

Under pressure from Maulana Bhashani and following his own election
mandate, within three months of assuming power, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman nationalized major industries, trades and banks. The British
Delegation that had come to convince him to not nationalize the jute
trade at this critical juncture, was turned back without the Prime
Minister taking the time to even see them and explain his point of
view. When I was driving them back to the airport, we saw Mujib
addressing a group of beggars with their list of demand. Bill
Duncan, the leader of the Jute Delegation remarked that ” Perhaps he
is not wasting his time. He must learn to beg because business, he
does not understand.” Obviously, he felt insulted by Mujib’s refusal
to meet the delegation that he was leading. But during those same
days, I was surprised and rather annoyed to see a similar statement
made by US Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger. He had described
Bangladesh, as “a basket case.” Looking back, I now realize that by
saying that, Kissinger had in fact done a favor to Bangladesh. Since
its inception in 1971, Bangladesh has been receiving aids and grants
to the tune of nearly one billion dollars annually. It still remains
one of the poorest countries and many of its loans are routinely
written off.

In 1970-71, the Republican Government of Richard Nixon had to take a
pro-Pakistan stand against India and Russia as far as the separation
of the Eastern Wing of Pakistan was concerned. But Nixon never
considered sending the Seventh Fleet to Indian Ocean in aid of
Pakistan. Something that the Pakistanis were so desperately hoping
for during its 1971 war with India. In spite of all the NATO and
SEATO pacts that the USA had signed with Pakistan, it did not feel
obliged to defend Pakistan against India and Russia.

The genocide in East Pakistan was no secret to the American public
or its government. Even though at times the Republican tried to look
the other way and called this issue an internal affair of Pakistan,
there were people like George Harrison of UK, who lent their ears
and opened the eyes of the Americans by holding concerts for

The refugees had spilled over to India and India was smart enough to
solicit the support of Russia and the United Nations to send back
the Muslim Bengalis to Muslim Bangladesh. Nixon was no Bush. He
fully understood the consequences of going to war with India and
Russia away from home. He did not want to be responsible for losing
American lives for the sake of Pakistan retaining its Eastern Wing.
Yet, after the fall of East Pakistan, when it appeared that India
would continue with the annihilation of Pakistan in the West, it was
Nixon who warned India and forced Indira Gandhi to declare a cease-
fire. Otherwise India was planning to overrun Lahore and perhaps
even Islamabad. I therefore think that Pakistanis should be thankful
to America for at least keeping a part of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali
Jinnah’s dream alive. Just as well. Today Pakistan is America’s
biggest ally against Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Could Nixon be so

I left Bangladesh after the nationalization of its jute trade and
migrated to the United States at the end of 1972. I had come to USA
for a visit with my wife and child in July 1972 and leaving them
here, I went back to Dhaka a month later with the hope that jute
trade would not be nationalized and I would call them back. After
they nationalized banks, most trades and industries, I tried to find
a suitable job for myself in Bangladesh. But I was told by a
director of the jute board that I had my turn and now it was their
turn. So, instead of getting my family back to Dhaka from USA, I
decided to join them in Chicago and then moved to Metropolitan
Washington DC area.

After spending some time here, I realized that Sheikh Mujib’s demand
for autonomous East Pakistan was not as outrageous as Pakistan made
it out to be. Over here, each state has that sort of autonomy, with
their own flag and even flower. As a matter of fact, Maulana Abul
Kalam Azad’s idea of United States of India was even better. With no
big budget for defense, United States of India would be such a
viable country today.

Of course it needed more planning and a mutual understanding to
treat the various provinces justly and fairly like the agreement
that the original thirteen states of USA signed with each other. The
Constitution that the Founding Fathers of USA drafted, could have
served as a sample. But our Founding Fathers started fighting with
each other even before the British left and we were not European
immigrants like the Americans here are.

Bangladesh Minister for Jute, Mr. M. R. Siddiqui, became the
Bangladesh Ambassador to USA. I knew him very well and often visited
the Embassy near Connecticut Avenue. Because of my fluency of the
Urdu language, a First Secretary at the Embassy once remarked that
since I speak such good Urdu, I could not possibly be a Bengali.
Narrow mindedness is a big handicap that we Bengalis suffer from.
Mainly because we do not want to learn other languages. Urdu,
Persian and English were the court languages of the British
Government in India that broadened the minds of its intelligentsia.

In 1974, I read a story in the front page of the Washington Post
that went like this; “Two young boys in their twenties were arrested
and brought to a police station in Dhaka, Bangladesh on suspicion of
a robbery and rape case. The Officer-in-Charge telephoned the Police
Commissioner, described the boys and asked ” What should I do with
them?” The Commissioner told him to hold the line and called the
Home Minister, describing the situation and asking the same
question. The Minister in turn called the Prime Minister and
informed him that two boys of his sons’ age and description were
arrested. What should be done with them?

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave a shout and asked Hasina’s mother: “Are
Kamal and Jamal home?” After being told that they were resting in
their rooms, PM told the Minister and the Minister told the
Commissioner and the commissioner told the OC to lock the boys in
the cell and file a charge against them.

The Washington Post reporter remarked that while this story may have
been fabricated to illustrate a point, it is true that the situation
in Bangladesh is very much like this. The sons of the Prime Minister
are doing whatever they want and they are protected by their parents.

Within a year of reading this story, one morning in August, 1975
when I opened my front door and grabbed the Washington Post lying on
my door mat, I was shocked to read the headline. It said something

I took the newspaper to my mother-in-law who was visiting us at that
time. She started crying thinking of her husband who was a friend of
Mujib. How could a man so popular, well loved and respected only
three and a half years ago, be now hated so much that his entire
family would be ruthlessly killed. It was the shortest span of time
during which love turned into hatred.

My Phoopi used to mention about an old lady she once saw many years
ago. Some time after Bangladesh came into existence, she went to
Makkah for Umrah. There she saw this old lady, touching the cover of
Kabbah and praying to Allah: ” O’ Allah, whoever has been
responsible for the death of my family members, make them pay a
price with their own death and the death of their family members.”

As I sat back and reflected upon the old lady’s prayer, I recalled
that both of Indira Gandhi’s sons, Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi died
violently. She herself met a violent death. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto got
hanged – his eldest son Murtaza got murdered and his youngest son
Shahnawaz died of poisoning. Sheikh Mujibur and all his family
members except for Shaikh Hasina were eliminated by his own army.

Were these people or any one of them responsible for the death of
the old lady’s family? Had Allah punished them in response to her
call? Or is it just co-incidence?

May Allah guide us and our political leaders to the right path and
forgive us and our families for all of our sins. He is Most
Gracious, Most Merciful and oft-forgiving.

But I have not seen anywhere in the Holy Quran saying that He is
Always Forgiving!

Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at

3 Comments so far
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I have gone through the article of Sultan Raza.I fully agrree with him,all who were responsible for the fall of East Pakisan and killing of innocent muslims (Biharis/Bengalis and WestPakistanis)for gaining power have reached their destiny (Zulfiqar AliBhutto, Shaikh Mujib,Ziaur Rehman,Indira Ghandhi and many others)The politicians of East & West Pakistan were responsible for the fall of East Pakistan.Pakistan is the gift from God for the Muslims of subcontinent.The Muslims who lived in India or in the Part of United Pakistan before Partition can realise it.At that time the Muslims of subcontinent had no opportunity to excell in life. They were subjugated by the Hindus everywere.In Bengal majority of Zamindars,engineers,doctors,civil sevants and teachers were Hindus.Punjab was dominated by Sikhs and Sindh was dominated by Hindus.After partition Muslims of Pakistan got opportunities to excell in life but soon they wre divided in ethenic groups such as Bengalis, Punjabis,Sindhis,Belochis,Muhajirs,Pathans and many other groups.This has caused great dammage to Pakistan.
I belong to a Bihari family. My father was a from U.P India. He migrated from India to East Pakistan as Govt employee in 1947.In 1971 my family members were killed our houses were burnt and looted because our language was urdu.I would like to mention here that my uncle was a primary student while he migrated to Pakistan in 1947.He got his education in Bangla In panchabibi in the district of Bogra, 10 miles away from the Hilly border where Major Akram was martyred in 1971 fighting the enemy.In 1971 he was serving as a school teacher in a Bangla medium school in Panchabibi.After 25th March 1971 Panchabi came under the control of of Mukti Bahini and Bengal Regiment.The leades of that area called a meeting of Biharis of the locality in the Police station of Panchabibi to discuss the matter of the safety of the Biharis. The day was Friday perhaps 13th or 14th april of 1971.All the Biharis of the locality gathered in the Police station to attend the meeting.But no one from the Awami league leaders came to the meeting.Time of namaz-e-Juma came and the Biharis who came to attend the meetin alongwith my uncle Bashir Ahmed and my brother-in-law Mehboob requested the officer-in-charge of the Panchabibi police station to permit them to go to the nearby mosque and say their Juma prayer but they were not permited.They were asked to go to the nearby High School and say their prayer. They all went to the nearby school and started their prayer.While they ere offering Namaz the door of the classroon was locked by the Mukti Bahini youths And Bengal Regimet Jawans.After 3 days on Monday morning all of them total 110 people along with my uncle and brother-in-law were killed by Mukti Bahini and Bengal regiment firing with L.M.G.The people who were killed were innocent their only fault was that they were Urdu speaking people. They were in support of united Pakistan .This type of killings occured in every part of East Pakistan(Santahar,Chorkai,Phoolbari,Dinajpur,Paksi Khalishpur,Mymensingh,Chittagong and every part of East Pakistan. The innocent people were killed brutaly.Of course people who were responsible for the killings of innocent people during the war of 1971 has reached their destiny and of course on the day of judgement when all of us will gather infront of Allah the judgement will be done by God.On that day the evil doers will be punished by God.The miscreants will not be able to balme one another for the fall of East Pakistan.I shall be ever gratefull to my those Bengali btothers who gave provided shelter to Urdu Speaking people who were in danger during the war of 1971.I would like mention here one of the frienfs of my father who gave shelter to my father after the fall of East Pakistan while the Mukti Bahini youths were in search of my father to kill him.He kept him 4 months in his house and after 4 months in April,1972 he brought my father in disguise safe and sound in Saidpur where Biharis were in protection of Indian army.I shall be ever grateful to him and many others who helped us when we were in danger.

Muhammad Abul Kalam

Comment by Muhammad Abul Kalam

mohamed u are such an un grateful person

u curse hindus and india, and at the same time u say ur father was brought under the protection of indian troops ans os he was safe

u paki muslim will always be ungrateful to the core, even the paki army of 90000 were safe bec we protected them if we ghad handed them over to mukti bahani, they would have been slaughtered for raping million of bengali women and small girls, murdering million of men

biharis were the worse they ate bengali food, earned money there and sided with pakistni to kill the same bengali\\

u suffered in bangale, now u suffer in islamic pakistn where u are consider mohajir and hindustani

pathans, punjabi and sindhis are after urdu speaking people in pakistn
so much for an islamic nation build on britherhood of islam

Comment by rich05

Dear Sir,

1-Of course India is responsible for the fall of East Pakistan. India fought 2 wars with Pakistan one in 1948 and another in 1965. Indian Generals wished to take the morning tea in Lahore on 6th September,1965 but our Pak army resisted them bravely. The Indians had to retreat from Lahore border because Pak army fought so bravely and brilliantly against the Indians. India realized that it is not possible to defeat Pakistan in the battle field so they engaged their intelligence agencies in East Pakistan to provoke our Bengali Brothers against Pakistan. I admit here that the wrong policies of Pakistani rulers of that time made it easier for India to bring our Bengali Brothers against Pakistan. Although the Indian Intelligence agencies were involve in killings of Biharis in East Pakistan before 16th December, 1971. After the fall of East Pakistan Indian soldiers were bound to protect the Urdu speaking people in their own interest because the whole world would blame them for the killings of Urdu speaking people. I would like to repeat here again that after 16th December,1971 most of the Urdu speaking people in Bangladesh were saved because of the presence of the Indian Army. This is the fact. But I would further mention here that the Indian Army was not the friend of Urdu speaking people (Biharis).

2- Indian army know very well how bravely the Pak army fought against the Indians. On the battle Hilli Indian army could not take the dead bodies of their soldiers. If the Indians would have not attacked East Pakistan and mis guided our Bengali brothers, East Pakistan would have not been separated from Pakistan. When the Pak army surrendered it was agreed that they would be repatriated to Pakistan safely. If this was not agreed by the Indians each and every Jawan was ready to fight against the Indians till his death.

3- Sharmila Bose, an Indian has brought the facts in light that who raped and killed the innocent people in East Pakistan in 1971.

4- Biharis who migrated from India in 1947 for an independent Muslim state were well aware about the conspiracy of Indians and sacrificed every thing what they had for protection of United Pakistan. They had done their duty very well.

5- You Indians misguided and supported our Bengali Brothers to separate East Pakistan from United Pakistan to make Pakistan weak.

6- Now we are much more better condition in Pakistan comparing to the Mualims of India and Kashmir. Insha- Allah very soon the differences among our Pathan/Punjabi/Sindhi/Belochi brothers will come to an end. Our differences will come to an end under the umbrella of Islam and we will be brothers again as we were in 1947.

7- Finally I would like to say that let the Kashmiri people determine their fate whether they are with Pakistan or India. If the vote for Pakistan let them become Pakistani and if the vote for India let them become Indian. Please respect the wishes determination of Kasmiri Brothers.

8- I would like to mention here that our Bengali brothers will never accept the domination of India in Bangladesh. Now they are an independent nation.

Comment by Muhammad Abul Kalam

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