Confirming the sad demise of Pakistan, the atrocious military junta pounced on the unarmed people of Bangladesh and butchered them mercilessly in the dark night of 25 March, 1971. A nation spirited by nationalistic zeal and emboldened by aspiration of emancipation from the shackles of repression immediately mobilized its strength to resist. Without being terrified by bloodshed caused by the assault of Yahiya's hordes, people of this land put up stiff resistance and heroically fought a war for liberation. The indomitable masses stood against the wanton killings, lootings and destruction of Pakistani armed assailants. The triumph won by the matchless bravery and sacrifices of a nation fetched the long desired freedom after a nine-month war.
With a view to establishing a progressive and modern state, people of East Pakistan were pursuing democratic path from the very inception of Pakistan. On being rightly steered by their leaders people were convinced that institutionalization of democratic system on solid base requires patience and dedication. Nature of political movements reveal that people of East wing have always showed allegiance towards democratic decisions and constitutional mechanism. People of this wing did not go rambunctious to resort to rebellion till the last. There were many serious issues throughout Pakistan regime where the state itself unjustly played highly discriminatory role. Despite grave deprivation and appalling disparity in all sectors, people and the leadership echelon of East Pakistan did not engage in any unruly activities to destabilize the balance of the state. Instead, they surfaced their rightful demands through constitutional means. Political agenda and movements upheld by political leaders of this wing were within the bounds of democratically acceptable behavior.
Holding feudalistic attitudes, the majority of the leaders of West Pakistan, both in civil and military domains used to consider Bangali populace as inferior human beings and a timid race, not adequately sanctified by Islamic values and culture. Dominance and interplay of such defective tendency in their psychology did not encourage them to foster harmony and brotherhood between the peoples of two wings. Rather, the prevalence of negligence and hatred among the leaders for the people and culture of East Pakistan spoiled the possibility of building a united nationhood, a strong basis for sustainable statehood. The leaders of West wing being occupied by superiority complex and egocentric impulses failed to comprehend the temperament of people of East wing. The predominance of autocratic psychology, fundamentally against the democratic spirit strangulated the growth of liberalism in Pakistan. Intermittent military interventions in politics shattered the prospect of germination and maturity of a democratic system. Besides, longevity of military rule severely weakened the elements required for institutionalization of democracy. Coming from landed aristocracy, the leaders were against the establishment of democratic regime and sided with civil- military bureaucratic elite. Consequently, neither the military nor the political leaders cared much about the smooth empowerment of people. The unrestrained expansion of undemocratic forces at all levels led to the emergence of sub-nationalistic tendencies in different parts of Pakistan.
Ideological bankruptcy and psychological complexity of Pakistani politicians severely undermined the elements of unity and progress. Illusion of a progressive Pakistan evaporated and frustration emerged when the people of East wing were culturally alienated, socially relegated, politically neglected and economically exploited to an unbearable extent. The flare of Pakistani nationalism lost its dazzle due to unexpected development of exploitative character of the state. Indeed, the influential social estates of Pakistan were not ready to relinquish the dominating role and status for the smooth transition of political and social culture after the independence in 1947. This hegemonic attitude and egotistic character of powerful elites shattered the aspiration for socio-political liberalization and a huge cleavage started to appear between deep aspiration and crude reality.
Anti-colonial sentiment and religious emotions that embodied the nationalism of Pakistan were not well balanced and strong components for the creation of an enduring nationhood. This character of nationalism only helped thickening emotional fog, not the potential seeds for a compact and durable nationalism knotting the two peoples to a common string. The leaders' failure to strengthen nation building process in the post-independence scenario endangered the existence and viability of Pakistan. Power being monopolized and resources being gobbled up by the privileged group of West wing damaged the confidence and trust of the deprived people of East wing. Utter disappointment began to foment among them due to concentration of power in the hands of a small group. Conversely, they were demoted to an inferior status ignoring the fact that the people of East wing were the largest ethno-cultural group in Pakistan and represented the majority of country's total population.
Efforts for Punjabization of Pakistan civil-military bureaucracy sealed the opportunity for Bangalees to occupy the legal space in both the administrations. Systematic machinations were put into action to eliminate their influence in the central decision making process. Hence, the ever increasing negligence gradually eroded the nationalistic attachment and led to the rise of the elements of alienation among them. The political myopia of Pakistan could neither solve the growing problems nor could it establish any functional system to regain the diminishing confidence of people. People of East wing could not integrate them in the socio-political structure of Pakistan for the indifferent policies of the central authority. No broad based politico-administrative institutions could develop throughout Pakistan regime to reconcile the dissatisfaction and estrangement of Bengali people. Thereby, the pillars of the state began to crumble due to radicalization of political demand; a phenomenon emerged from massive subjugation and excessive domination. Because of unhealthy growth of exploitative politics, intense nationalism, a dominant force behind the creation of Pakistan, started showing the signs of tenuousness in 1950s and the nationalistic emotion began to evaporate rapidly. Feeling the threat of elimination of own cultural heritage and ethnic identity, the politically subsided and economically disadvantaged people of East wing developed psychological estrangement from West Pakistan and looked for new arrangement for independent existence.
Alongside harrowing disparity, the psychology of racial supremacy and cultural domination exacerbated Pakistan's problems of national integration. Because of these contradictory factors, Pakistan was ensnared into own cobweb and waited for demise. Impracticality of policies and incapability of leadership wrote the epitaph of Pakistan finally in 1971. In fact, the embryo of Bengali alienation was created by Jinnah himself when he declared that Urdu would be the only state language of Pakistan in 1948 ignoring the democratic right of people of East Pakistan. That embryo kept developing only to give birth to a new nation in 1971. Lastly, keeping their guns opened and brutality unleashed, the military junta of Pakistan swooped on people of Bangladesh like aggressive predators with a vile motive to eradicate the entire nation through dreadful killing and destruction. Their aim was to exterminate Bangalis as an ethnic entity and the destruction of intellectual leadership and potentials of the people to reduce them to serfdom. Yahya's machination, Bhutto's indiscretion and Niazi's aggression were reasons capable enough to catapult united Pakistan in a cauldron of debacle and death. People of East Pakistan for their self existence and emancipation had to fight the war against the aggressors till they achieve independence.
The writer is a Major in the Bangladesh Army.