This is high time we admitted that the separation of East Pakistan in 1971 was due to our fault.
Pakistani historian Dr Mubarak Ali said this on Thursday as he spoke at an online talk on Brig (retd) AR Siddiqui's recent book on former president Yahya Khan, titled 'General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan: The Rise and Fall of a Soldier'.
He said Bangladesh got independence on December 16, 1971, and we should call that day independence of Bangladesh rather than Fall of Dhaka, reports The News.
Ali said that Yahya was a major character in the events that led to the division of East Pakistan. Discussing the war of 1971, he said it was avoidable.
The international relations expert Dr Huma Baqai, who wrote the preface to the book, said that the book not only provided information of Yahya and the 1971 tragedy, but also provided insight into the conflict that Pakistan had with itself since its creation. She remarked that the book reminded us that Pakistan had repeatedly experienced a crisis of leadership. Yahya was not a monarch, and certainly not someone who could lead in a time of crisis, she said.
Former bureaucrat Tasneem Siddiqui, who served in East Pakistan, pointed out how Bengalis struggled a number of times. He said that Bengalis were at the forefront of Pakistan's development as they had been oppressed by the British, and that their welfare was related to the creation of Pakistan.
In particular, he criticised the Ayub Khan period that is often called the decade of development. No development took place in East Pakistan during the Ayub period, he said. He remembered that he was in Dhaka when Yahya postponed the first session of the newly elected parliament scheduled for 3 March 1971, and how disappointed the people of East Pakistan were at that.
Tasneem said that Ayub used a derogatory word for Bengalis in his novel, which showed how much he hated them. He lamented that our mentality forced Bengal to break away despite the fact that they celebrated August 14 with more enthusiasm than the people of West Pakistan.