Bangladesh flourishes today. And Pakistan has one-less to worry about from its disaffected components. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
How Dhaka fell in 1971 Bangladesh’s birth owes to Pakistani policy flaws, not India’s intervention.
Pakistan came into being on August 14 1947 and broke up on December 16, 1971. Pakistan is still wondering what happened and gets riled over what is called the Fall of Dhaka, the day Pakistan army surrendered to the Indian Army. The Fall of Dhaka is put at the doorstep of India “that never accepted Partition” and always conspired against it from “day one”.
But Pakistan’s political-social elite has been guessing at other causes too. The ideological majority thinks East Pakistan never followed the “pure” nationalism of Pakistan. The late Supreme Court of Pakistan judge, Nasim Hassan Shah, once said that he regretted that Arabic was not made Pakistan’s national language in 1947. He referred to the language riots of 1948 in East Pakistan and said that had Arabic been suggested to “our Bengali brothers” they would have accepted it as the national language.
The Arabic “option” is a measure of the Pakistani mindset after 1947. Aga Khan had suggested that Pakistan adopt Arabic as its national language. An early governor of East Pakistan, Malik Feroz Khan Noon, not the brightest of the sons of Punjab, thought of the “next best” thing: He started the grotesque scheme of writing Bengali in the Arabic script. In 1952, there were 21 centres doing this in East Pakistan with Central Education Ministry funding. The Bengali East Pakistan chief minister didn’t know that this was happening outside the primary school stream, a provincial subject.
Unlike West Pakistan, where it was religion-based, in East Pakistan, nationalism was language-based, on Bengali. After Independence, Dhaka took a poem of the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore as its national anthem. In Pakistan, the anthem is in Persian except for one preposition “ka” which renders it Urdu.