Mujib's Memoirs

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By Hamid Mir, Pakistan

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a villain for many Pakistanis. One-sided history books tell us that Mujib was a traitor who broke up Pakistan with the help of India.

We read in our history books that All-India Muslim League was formed in Dhaka in 1906 but we don’t know why the Pakistan Army surrendered to the Indian Army on December 16, 1971, in Dhaka.

We tried to cover the black spots of our history with lies but the The Unfinished Memoirs of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have negated all the official history books taught in our schools and colleges.

This autobiography reveals that Mujib was actually an active worker of the Pakistan movement since his school days. He wrote the truth about himself in his memoirs. He never hid his role for the creation of the Muslim League in his hometown Gopalganj in 1939.

He even accepted that at one point Bengali leader Fazlul Haq refused to submit to the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in 1941. At this stage the Muslim League started a campaign against Fazlul Haq and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was part of that campaign.

He was with Jinnah, not with Fazlul Haq. He was among those young workers of the Muslim League who used to sell a pro-Pakistan weekly newspaper Millat on the streets of Dhaka.

It is important to note that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wrote this book when he was imprisoned in Dhaka jail during the dictatorial regime of Gen Ayub Khan. He narrated some important events of the Pakistan movement very honestly.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman exposed the dishonesty of Viceroy Lord Mountbatten and wrote that Mountbatten was helping the Congress Party covertly in all sorts of ways against the Muslim League.

He was incarcerated by a military dictator at that time but he never tried to please the Congress which was ruling India in those days.

This book is a first-hand account of politics in Pakistan from 1947 to 1955, which was full of palace intrigues and conspiracies. This book is a great source of history for the young generation of Pakistan.

This book tells us about the communal violence that broke out after the division of India in 1947. One day Sheikh Mujibur Rahman saw that hundreds of Hindus were attacking a mosque. He cried out “Pakistan Zindabad!” with some other young Muslims and started resisting the Hindu mob by brick-throwing.

Why did this soldier of the Muslim League leave the party of Muhammad Ali Jinnah immediately after the creation of Pakistan?

Young Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was very disappointed when the prime minister of Pakistan declared in the Legislative Assembly that the people of East Pakistan must accept Urdu as their state language. Young Mujib came out on the roads on March 11, 1948, against this declaration.

He was not opposing Pakistan. He was only defending his language, which was his political right, but he was arrested. Mujib was released on January 21, 1949. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was no more and Mujib left the Muslim League.

He joined the newly formed Awami Muslim League under the leadership of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Within five years the Awami League swept the Muslim League from East Pakistan.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won the election from Gopalganj in 1954 and took oath as provincial minister for agriculture. The Muslim League government in the centre never accepted its defeat and dismissed the United Front government in Dhaka. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was again arrested.

His memoirs are unfinished, but we must accept some historical realities as the ultimate truth in our own interest.

When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested in 1954, army chief Gen Ayub Khan was preparing his officers for a military coup. The first chief of the general staff of the Pakistan army, Sher Ali Pataudi, wrote in his autobiography that Ayub wanted to interfere in politics, and once told him: “The bloody politicians and civilians were useless, corrupt and inefficient.”

The Legislative Assembly asked the GHQ to increase the recruitment of Bengalis in the army. Pataudi tried to implement the orders of the assembly, but Ayub was not interested. When Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was writing his memoirs in jail, former chief justice of Pakistan Muhammad Munir was the law minister in Ayub’s regime.

He wrote a book From Jinnah to Zia in 1979. He wrote that Ayub Khan suggested that he should talk about separation with some influential Bengali leaders. One day Law Minister Munir spoke to a Bengali minister, Ramizuddin. “His reply was prompt and straight. He asked me whether I was suggesting secession. I said yes; or something like confederation or more autonomy. Ramizuddin said: “Look here, we are the majority province and it is for the minority province to secede because we are Pakistan.”

Why did Ayub dislike Bengalis? Because Bengalis supported Fatima Jinnah against Ayub in the presidential election of early 1965. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the chief polling agent of Fatima Jinnah in Dhaka.

The fact is that it was not Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who wanted to break up Pakistan. He only demanded provincial autonomy in the 1950s and 1960s, but our military regime tried to silence his voice by throwing him in jail.

He never abandoned the political struggle and participated in the first general elections of Pakistan in 1970. The Awami League emerged as the majority party, but the military regime of Gen Yahya Khan refused to transfer power to the Awami League. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was arrested and a military operation was started.

What happened in this operation? In A Stranger in My Own Country, Major Gen (r) Khadim Hussain Raja, who served in Dhaka between 1969 and 1971, wrote that on March 10, 1971, Lt Gen Niazi spoke to senior officers in the operations room of Dhaka. Niazi became abusive and started talking in Urdu.

He said: “Main iss (...) qaum ki nasal badal doonga. Yeh mujhey kia samajhtey hain?” He threatened that he would let his soldiers loose on their womenfolk. The next morning a Bengali officer, Maj Mushtaq, went into the bathroom at the command headquarter and shot himself in the head. There were reports of Bengalis being massacred and their women being raped.

The Unfinished Memoirs of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is historical evidence that Bengalis never broke up Pakistan, but actually created Pakistan.

In fact, the political intrigues and blunders of military dictators broke up Pakistan. We forced Bengalis to take up arms against us. It’s time now to apologise officially to the people of Bangladesh. Only brave people accept their mistakes.

It’s time to show some bravery. Our apology will not weaken Pakistan. It will strengthen it.

By Hamid Mir
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