Pakistan Dismemberment-East Pakistan separation and usurpation of power

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Pakistan Dismemberment-East Pakistan 
separation and usurpation of power
Lt. Gen. (Retd). Prof. Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar

Maj Gen Ashur Khan’s autobiography “Seasons and Cycles of Life “was published in 2019. He had been serving as an Army Medical Officer in the Field Units in East Pakistan. In the formal inauguration ceremony of the book held at Rawalpindi in Dec 2019 which I presided, there were some comments on the subject by the speakers. Mr. Shaukat Ali Jawaid, the Chief Editor of the fortnightly Pulse International in his address commented that “we have not learnt any lessons from the violent dismemberment of the country”. Nations who do not learn lessons from their historical events face further problems even disasters.

The dismemberment of Pakistan was very tragic. It resulted in the separation of East Pakistan from the United Pakistan. East Pakistan had majority of the population of the United Pakistan. It is more tragic that the majority got separated after violent events and a war in which there were losses of life, miseries etc.


Lt. Gen. (R) Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar

I would like to offer my views. I took part in the Pakistan movement lead by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, President of All India Muslim League. I joined the Pakistan Army Medical Corp and my father was also in the Army Medical Corps (later Pakistan Army Medical Corps). Therefore I have intimate knowledge of the events, I suffered lathe charges, and also faced the police firing during the civil disobedience movement launched by the Muslim League in 1946 to dislodge Khizer Hayat’s coalition Government in Punjab, Mr. Khizer was forced to resign.

The movement for the creation of Pakistan originated from the United Indian Province (UP) where the Muslims were in minority and also from the Muslim majority United Bengal. As an example in the 1946 elections, Muslim League won all the seats (100%) in the Province of Madras. Likewise the Muslim League massively won in the other Muslim minority provinces of the United India. In the Muslim majority provinces of India the Muslim League won majority of the seats in the United Bengal, formed the Govt. on its own strength in the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Hussain Shaheed Sehrwardy became the Chief Minister of Bengal.

On the other hand in the provinces of the present West Pakistan, Muslim League lost elections in the former North Western Frontier Province Legislative Assembly, the Congress led the Govt. with comfortable majority, and in the province of Sindh the Muslim League formed the Govt. with a slender majority.


In Punjab there was stiff opposition in the elections, Congress was fighting for the United India. There were many Muslim parties like Ahrars who had top class orators like Atta Ullah Shah Bokhari and others, Shorish Kashmiri, Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar etc. who called Quaid e Azam Kafre Azam openly. During the judicial inquiry on the Ahmadya movement Justice Munir asked Maulana Mazhar “do you still believe that the Quaid was Kafire Azam”, he replied “Yes”. Khaksars led by Allama Mushraqi were violently against the Muslim League. A worker of the Khaksars attacked Quaid- e- Azam at Bombay with a knife. Quaid narrowly escaped with minor injuries. Jamiat-e-Islami opposed Muslim League, also during the elections by opposing the Muslim League candidates. Jamat e Islami’s main weapon was ‘publications’. Muslim League got good majority of the Muslim seats in the Punjab Legislative elections in 1946 but could not form the Ministry. The Unionist Party led by Malik Khizer Hayat Khan got a couple of seats. In the Punjab a coalition Government consisting of Congress, Unionists Akali Dal was formed led by the Unionist Malik Khizer Hayat Khan. One can imagine the tough opposition the Muslim League faced in Punjab. In the Amritsar constituency the Muslim League candidate received about 60,000 votes while Sheikh Hisamud Din of Ahrar party supported by all opposition parties got 30,000 votes. One can note the contrast between the Bengal and the present West Pakistan provinces elections outcome. In Bengal Muslim League swept the polls. Furthermore earlier the Muslim League Govt. led by Khawaja Nazimud Din abolished the Zamindari system i.e. the Feudal system while in Punjab land reforms could not be done even later in Pakistan. This shows there was a much higher political awakening in Bengal.

In the Pak Army there were very few Bengalis particularly in the officer’s rank, practically nothing in the senior cadre. In the Army Medical Corps Bengali doctors (East Pakistan) joined the AMC Bengali doctors were good professionally, had very good bed side manners, and looked after patients with a lot of empathy. They were not after money. Maj. Nawab Ali, a brilliant graduate from the Calcutta Medical College, went to UK for higher studies on study leave (not on Govt. deputation). He did extremely well, achieved higher qualifications with flying colours. On account of his high merit, he was selected for training in Cardiology at the Royal Institute of Cardiology London by the pioneer in Cardiology Prof Paul Wood. Maj Nawab Ali came back, was posted to Military Hospital Rawalpindi. He was our teacher (instructor), taught us very well.

President Ayub’s request
for personal Physician

President Ayub Khan asked GHQ Rawalpindi for a personal physician. Medical Directorate GHQ sent a list of doctors (a panel) for the President to choose. Maj Nawab Ali was the senior most. President Ayub Khan took a junior medical officer from the West Pakistan. President Ayub Khan had no East Pakistani Officer in his Presidency staff. Pakistan had a presidential system, therefore there was a large staff at the presidency. The President promoted the personal physician a junior Maj to the rank of Lt Col. Maj Nawab Ali made a representation appealing against his super cession. Maj Nawab Ali received the reply that the President’s physician was promoted at the Presidency. Of course it was a super-cession. In the Army rank counts even after retirement. In those days Lt. Col. was quite a high rank. This caused a lot of lowering of the East Pakistani doctors’ morale. It is one of the example of feeling of deprivation by the East Pakistanis. President Ayub moved the Federal Capital from Karachi to Islamabad without consulting the East Pakistanis. East Pakistanis were comfortable with the Karachi weather. They felt very uneasy in the winter weather of Islamabad.


Politically G. G. Ghulam Mohd, Maj Gen Sikander Mirza the defense secretary (later GG/President) with the support of Gen. Ayub Khan took over the powerful office of the Governor General after the mysterious assassination of the Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan widely believed to be the result of International Conspiracy. At that time Dr Mossadaq in Iran and many other world leaders had been removed from power. P.M. Khawaja Nazimudin, Quaid e Azam’s Lieut, had played a prominent role in the movement of Pakistan’s creation, and was dismissed summarily by the G.G. who had no political standing and role in the creation of Pakistan. PM Khawaja Nazim ud Din had recently got his National budget passed by the parliament by absolute majority. Furthermore the Ex PM was not allowed to hold the National Assembly meeting by display of force.

Mohammad Ali Bogra, Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA was appointed the P.M. of Pakistan by the Governor General. Pakistan joined the Western pacts against the Communist block led by the Soviet Union, called by many ‘the offence pact’. Air Base at Peshawar was handed over to the USA from where American Reconnaissance planes flew over Afghanistan to the Soviet Air Space, for spying. An American U2 plane was shot down by the Soviet Union Defense Forces and the pilot was captured. Resultantly Pakistan created an animosity with the Soviet Union, a World Super Power and a neighbor. The Soviet Union had sponsored and supported the plebiscite resolution of Kashmir. The Soviet Union vetoed the resolutions later - Pakistan suffered. PM Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan and later PM Nazimud Din refused to join the Defense Pacts led by the Super powers saying that it was not in the National interest of Pakistan.

In 1964 elections were rigged against Ms. Fatima Jinnah- the system was dictatorial- anti people. In the 1965 war, Americans applied sanctions against Pakistan of much needed supplies while the Soviet Union fully supported India and kept on supplying weapons to India. That was a major setback for Pakistan rather a betrayal.

In 1970 General elections the Awami League of East Pakistan got majority of the legislative seats but were denied the ‘Power’. This ignited wide spread disturbances. A strong action was taken against the East Pakistanis. Their leaders were arrested. In retaliation many West Pakistani’s serving in the East Pakistan and largely Muslim migrants from India settled in East Pakistan called ‘Biharis’ suffered a lot. There was a massive bloodshed- a blood bath of Pakistanis.

In 1971 India had the full active support of the Soviet Union led by its Supremo Mr. Breznex. It emboldened India to invade the East Pakistan. Pakistan had arranged the USA secretary of State’s Henry Kissinger’s secret meeting with Chinese leaders in Peking (now Beijing). The Soviet Union felt antagonized- supported India fully while the USA support to Pakistan was only rhetoric. The Western powers supported India politically. India took advantage of the situation. It is pertinent to point out that during the 1950’s after the registration of P.M. I.I Chundrigar of the post of P.M. of Pakistan, G.G.Sikander Mirza called Mr Hussain Shaheed Sehrawardy asking him to form a coalition Govt, and Mr. Sehrawardy even received congratulations. Maulvi A.K. Fazle Haq a prominent leader of East Pakistan flew to Karachi, met the G.G.Iskander Mirza and formed the coalition Govt headed by Chaudhry Mohammad Ali former bureaucrat and the Central Finance Minister Mr. Fazle Haq became the Interior Minister. Thus a prominent East Pakistani leader formed a coalition Govt. headed by the West Pakistani. Thus political leaders managed East and West Pakistan partnerships. During 1971, there was no political leader due to Gen Yahya’s crack down. Mujeeb-ur-Rehman was in Jail and the other leaders absconded to India. There was no East Pakistani leader to talk to as the political system had been totally destroyed? On 15th August 1947, the Governor General of Pakistan had an Independence Day celebration reception, Armed Forces Officers were also invited. Maj Akbar who later became the Chief of General Staff of the Pakistan Army was also an invitee. Gen Ayub Khan was the C-in-C Army. Quaid-e-Azam was meeting the guests. He came to meet the Armed Forces Officers. Maj Akbar said to Quaid-e-Azam ,”Why the British Armed Forces officers have been retained in the Pak Armed Forces” Quaid-e-Azam was upset; told Maj Akbar; “look the policies are made by the Civilian Governments, the officers had to obey the orders and moved to other guests. The same Maj Akbar on becoming CGS, Maj Gen was the ring leader of the group of the conspiracy planning to over throw the Govt. by arresting Khawaja Nazim ud Din and the P.M. Liaquat Ali Khan to take the govt. Gen. Akbar Khan was tried by the Civilian tribunal, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. Later during Bhutto’s Civilian Govt. he became a State Minister of Defense. He visited CMH Rawalpindi Emergency Medical Room for a medical ailment. The duty medical officer prescribed medicines. Akbar Khan demanded antibiotics. The doctor told him that it wasn’t necessary, Akbar slapped the medical officer. The Army HQ reported the matter to the PM.

In my opinion the people of East Pakistan were patriots, had played major role in the creation of Pakistan. They felt deprivation and later got alienation. Mr. Ghulam Mohd, Maj Gen Iskander Mirza along with General Ayub Khan with the active support Mr. Munir the Chief Justice of Pakistan(who had maneuvered this post rightfully belonging to Justice Akram an East Pakistani) and Mr. Bhutto were the main architects of causing the catastrophe. India an arch enemy of Pakistan was provided with the chance of Century to dismember the Country our Quaid created. Lessons are, not to usurp power as Quaid had advised in his Address at Staff College Quetta. It should be kept in mind that Quaid in spite of the serious illness in the month of January in severe cold weather travelled to Quetta addressed the Staff College lamenting that he was shocked to know that many senior Armed Forces Officers did not know the oath in letter and spirit. He read the Oath. Alas the power hungry people went for usurping power- in fact a Dacoity. It is pertinent to point out that the East Pakistan had three leading leaders- in fact pillars of Pakistan. The three were treated badly- Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Kh. Nazim-mud-Din, Fazle Haq and Maulvi Tamiz ud Din and many others by the dictators. The main lesson is that we should follow the ‘Quaid’s’ teachings.

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