BOOK REVIEW - Elegy for Pakistan

Written by Brigadier A.R. Siddiqi  •  December 2012 PDF Print E-mail
1_1‘I used to believe with my heart and soul that Muslims would be wiped out in an undivided India.’ ‘Why were the Hindu leaders, so upset about the idea of Pakistan…?

These are the words of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the early 40s - an ardent and committed supporter of Pakistan – a state yet to be born.

Except for Jinnah himself, Jinnah’s right hand man Liaquat Ali Khan and a handful of cheerleaders, there might have been hardly anyone in the north-western zone to have had such passionate dedication to Pakistan, which until then remained little more than a dream.

Under no circumstances would Mujib ever think of ‘betraying’ the idea of Pakistan. Mujib and his associates strived to convince maverick Fazalul Haque to rejoin the Muslim League, which he left because of a difficult relationship with Mohammad Ali Jinnah. ‘Mr. Jinnah cannot stand and is upset by my popularity.’ Mr. Haque lamented.

Title:   Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Unfinished Memoir

Translated by:           Fakrul Alam

Publisher :      Oxford University Press, Pakistan (June, 2012)

Pages:             364, Hardback

Price: PKR 995

ISBN:   9780199063581

When Fazalul Haque invited Mujib and his friends to share a meal with him, the group agreed to accept the invitation ‘only if [Fazalul Haque] acceded to their request to return to the Muslim League.’

‘If so weak that merely going to him would be (like) betraying the idea of Pakistan then we should not be in the Pakistan movement at all.’ Such had been their commitment and dedication to the Pakistan Movement as to disallow the slightest deviation from it. Pakistani statesman and leader of the Muslim League in the Bengal Presidency, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy remained a staunch opponent of issues that endangered ‘the movement for creating Pakistan…’ Their one and the only mission and goal in life was to see Pakistan materialize as soon as possible. Back in the northwestern zone, although the Pakistan movement had gained momentum, each of the four provinces viewed Pakistan from its own parochial angle; each was apprehensive of Punjab – the most populous and developed in the group ----- for emerging as the group leader.

While the Pakistan movement in Muslim Bengal was the most unified and resolute, it lacked an organic cohesion and harmony in the western wing. The Bengalis, did, however, hope and believe that after partition Calcutta would be accorded to East Pakistan. ‘If Calcutta had become part of Pakistan, East Pakistan Bengalis could claim that they constituted the majority...after all it had been the capital of the whole of India during the early part of the British rule...’

However, an independent Bengal outside the Indian Union would, in no way, be acceptable to the Indian National Congress. The formula was thus a non-starter from the beginning. What was fundamentally significant was Jinnah’s acceptance of a Pakistan even without East Pakistan.

Mujibur Rahman’s unfinished memoirs are virtually a requiem for one united Pakistan. The Union for all its physical, cultural and linguistic divergences did endure peace and war for nearly quarter of a century. Bengali soldiers and aviators fought valiantly as Pakistan’s frontline warriors. Their gallantry in the field was recognized and rewarded by the nation and the government.

As Bangladesh emerged as an independent state in 1971, Bengali men, women and children poured their heart out as they sang the national anthem. Says Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ‘We Bengali Muslims have two sides. One is our belief that we are Muslims and the other we are Bengalis’.  

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