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Good on ya Bangladesh!

02 October, 2007

By Ahmer Muzammil


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Thank you Bangladesh for having the moral courage to resolve a humanitarian crisis by granting citizenship to those unfortunate soles who are famously known as “stranded Pakistanis”. But wait a minute; they were stranded from a Pakistani perspective, from a Bangladeshi perspective they were foreigners, traitors, enemy combatants..take your pick. How come Bangladeshis had the fortitude and decency to look beyond political slogans and dealt with this issue purely on human grounds. They are not only about to give them citizenship but voting rights as well. Shame on the establishment and racist politicians of Pakistan for squandering an opportunity for the past 36 years to do the right thing because of political expediency and pettiness.

 

The saddest part of this whole fiasco is that the drunkard and incompetent high-brass of the Army that laid down the weapons and made a laughing stock out of the entire nation, the generals who were solely responsible for loosing the war were given real-estates and pension funds and when they died they were laid to rest with decorum.  However the citizens of Pakistan that were always loyal to Pakistan in now Bangladesh and in some instances fought along side Pakistani Army were left to rot in camps for the past 36 years. There generations grew up in abject poverty and were forced to the life of despair because we weren’t capable of humanity or merely fairness. The thing that surprised me the most that even after being back-stabbed by the Pakistani establishment  - and why stop at establishment lets blame the entire nation of Pakistan because I don’t remember any huge protests by civil society to bring them back in my consciousness – time and again, the stranded Pakistanis always maintained there loyalty with Pakistan, even though we gave them no reason that we give a rats ass about them they kept the hope that one of these days we the Pakistanis would do the right thing, oh how wrong they were – for we are cut from a very cheap cloth.

 

I am asked to be proud of being a Pakistani, its moment like these that I really wonder, are we really at a juncture as a nation where there is any reason to have this hollow-pride? We have successfully created a class system which wasn’t there for the most part when the country was created. We have a society of have’s and have not’s. Have’s are above the law and the entire country is there ancestral estate where they roam about as conquerors. Constitutions can be amended and interpreted according to there whims. They do what there heart desires without bothering about whether it’s right or wrong. Have-not’s are just trying to get access to breathing. Clean water is a luxury that most of them can not afford. There generations have labored on fields and they work tirelessly from dawn till dusk harvesting and still the dogs of chaudhry sahab are treated more humanely and have access to more nutrition than these poor soles who grow everything that we eat in iftar parties at the presidency and PM house. But who cares about there sorry existence….first thing first, lets get Musharaf ‘elected’ for next 5 years…..abb to lagta hay ghareeb kii aahh bhii nahi lagti in dheetton(thick skinned) koo. Please do tell which part of this equation should be the reason for our gloat? Musharaf coined the phrase ‘sab say pehlay pakistan’ (Pakistan First). I tell you we must give credit to these spin doctors for uttering these nuances with a straight face. It would be quite funny if it wasn’t brutal.

 

Every single political party who has participated in an election from the area of Orangi Town in Karachi at one point or another promised the return of stranded citizens of Pakistan, but it has been just that – a promise with nothing to show for it. MQM had it as part of its original manifesto. They have been in govt. 3 times now; this last stint has been 5 years long. How come no one asks them a simple question in hundreds of talk-shows that they appear on numerous channels, “Hazrat what have you guys done about those poor soles that you gladly own as your own because it get you votes?”. But MQM is not the only political party that has cunningly cashed this sentiment. PPP, Jamat, Muslim League etc. all have displayed the same nature of hypocrisy. The height of the irony is that the only politician who truly and sincerely tried and almost got these stranded Pakistanis back was a Punjabi Chief Minister Ghulam Haider Wayeen. He could have gained nothing politically from this stance; in fact I reckon there would have been a backlash from his constituents to some degree because the sad reality is that we are still highly communal people.

 

The thing that I find quite intriguing is that Bengalis were maligned as traitors by a vast majority of Pakistanis when I was a teenager in Pakistan during late 90’s, not so anymore. And that prejudice and hate really cut-across provincial boundaries in those days. Bengalis were blamed for what happened in ’71 and they were traitors as far as we were concerned. Sense however has prevailed in our society since than and even those individuals that you hardly expect any kind of sense from (read sherafgan niazi) would tell you that West Pakistan and its military/civil establishment drove Bengalis on the course which ended in Bangladesh (albeit the same people will support the killing of Bugti..go figure). It was the prejudice and unfair treatment from West Pakistan from the word-go that disenfranchised our brethren in East Pakistan; it was our fault all along, not theirs at all. Bengalis were the majority in 1947, they could have forced there language as the national language, but for the sake of unity they went with Urdu. East Pakistan had 56% population in 1947 and therefore should have been awarded the resources accordingly but Hussein Shaheed Suharwardi - one of the few decent & competent Prime Ministers that our country has seen – helped reach consensus in East Pakistan to divide resources right in the middle, sadly all this was just the tip of the ice-berg. We have to understand that it wasn’t Bhutto or Yahya Khan or Ayub alone in a vacuum that brought about the catastrophe of Bangladesh, although they were the bigger piece of the puzzle. It was the systematic alienation that took place from the very beginning that brought down the house. I mean how stupid do you have to be to insinuate that since Bengalis are shorter therefore they must not rule and it is the right of tall, broad shouldered ‘men’ of frontier and Punjab that should be the generals in the Army. It was a good thing that blue-eyed General Niazi was the commander otherwise Pakistanis would have to suffer a humiliating defeat in east Pakistan…oh wait a minute my bad… WE DID SUFFER A HUMILIATING DEFEAT DESPITE OF NIAZI’S CHARMING PRESENCE. Because you see, whether you look good in uniform or not is quite immaterial, the nugget which is of tantamount importance is that you must not be a complete incompetent idiot.

 

Bengalis by nature were a democratic people, we on the other hand are always in awe of ‘Maula Baksh’. I mean ours would probably be the only country where street thugs, bandits and murderers are admired as icons and we make one movie after another to commemorate them. A part of the society is suffering with this Robin-Hood syndrome and that is why Rule of Law is a foreign concept. Times however are changing. Civil society has finally come to realization that it is there right to govern. People with guns (read Army) might have had an edge in Old West, but this is 2007. And if I am wrong than rest assured that we are still living in dark-ages and no matter how many atom-bombs we have, we will never amount to anything meaningful in this world as a nation. People need to shut-up about how every country’s democracy is different. Could you be any stupider? Its not rocket science. Let the people decide there fate thru a free and fair electoral process.

 

I am a little disappointed that Pakistani media, both electronic and print, missed this story for the most part. These were our citizens who suffered because of our incompetence and now that they are free from the shackles of conscience, the least we could have done is an acknowledgment of our failure! Pakistan has become a test-case where the corruption - whether its financial or moral - serves as an advantage rather than a handicap, and that alone really for lack of a better word is just SAD.

 

Nayrangiyay Sisyastay Dorran to daykhyayy 

Manzil unhay milli jo shareek-e-safar na thay.

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