Dhaka Insight 1 of Many: Sixteen Points to Ponder

It was a win-win for both: PPP in West Pakistan and Awami League in East Pakistan. The two needed a fall guy and a bogey man to make it (power grab) happen.

A clear and imminent military defeat was unavoidable; any military mind knew it then and would know this now. Still, the military was projected as bogey man and then the fall guy.

Ethnically, the “Punjabis” were blamed by the Bangladeshis, and politically Bhutto was initially blamed and later the Army was blamed for the national happening.

The military and some parties continued to blame PPP and later some parties blamed the military and continue to do so.

The narratives for decades became the currency of the two victors -this anointed their “unassailable” positions in their respective bodypolitik.

Blaming on Bhutto or Mujib would be an oversimplification though, and a fiction in my view. Bhutto was the exampler, Mujib was the angry man. Neither Bhutto was alone (refer to his electables) nor Mujib (refer to his electables) was alone. Bhutto’s electables versus Mujib’s electables and their vested interests were different –their compelling reasons were short-sighted and long-sighted respectively.

The initial and the later narratives need revisits and re-calibration, with penchant for moral reconciliations for the sake of future generations and for the sake of the two-nation theory which has no boundaries. The two-State theory has boundaries.

The two-state theory is also pegged on framework, etc. Jinnah’s two-nation doctrine doesn’t have boundaries. More such States (like Pakistan) could emerge in India over the years, in my view.

Pakistan is a doctrine. Key driver is the super value wrapped in the best the Muslims in the sub-continent carry forward (mostly) from their forefathers and from history.

Differences between Bangladeshis and Pakistanis can simply be said as (to start with): 1. Bangladesh is a melting pot of one ethnicity, one language, no waderas, no jagirdars or no rent-seekers, no banyas, etc. 2. Pakistan is a mosaic of all of these.

Bangladeshis don’t know Garhi Khuda Baksh/Naudero/Larkana or Jati Umra, etc. They also don’t ask which caste one belongs to or to which “gaon” one comes from. Here I am asked these in the first encounter.

Due to #11, the equalizer and the center of gravity is same/similar in Bangladesh. In Pakistan, this is not so, therefore a weakness, and is used by #11. Thus the highly disciplined community (water finds its level) which is the military remains vigilant.

For the last few decades, the war on terror added more salt and pepper to #10, #11 and #12.

Due to #13, we also have now ended up with a huge community of “rent-seekers” as the absence of rule of law and mutation of its administration were used to advance interests. Obviously then, the military as the equalizer will do what it got to do every time there are aberrations. External and internal forces’ nexus consider the situation “cool” to paint the military and the “patriots” same way as it happened in 1970s.

I expect therefore #14 to continue in the form and substance of a titanic battle of wits between the status quo and agents of change. Ironically, it is the State which is the agent of change and the status quo is #10, #11 and the fringes of collaborators, abettors, facilitators, etc. Them will try to assuage their positions and narratives in order to (again) make their status unassailable.

Bangladeshis use Buddhist thought process to seek “where is he coming from” before responding. Pakistanis ask “Where are you from, which city, which gaon, which caste you belong to, etc.” before deciding how to and what to answer. The former is “critical thinking”, the latter is “profiling” on daily basis.

The above insight is by Irshad Salim based on his 5-decades of study backed by available documents in the public domain, observations, interviews, analyses, etc. during his 15 yrs of stay in East Pakistan (1956 – 1971) and 35 yrs in Pakistan, USA, KSA. Dec 23, 2020 (Updated on June 4, 2021)