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Memoir from December

There’s absolutely no room for politics over dead bodies.  Written by Hamdah Tahir Together till death takes us apart.  A vow sworn to empha...

There’s absolutely no room for politics over dead bodies.

 Written by Hamdah Tahir

Together till death takes us apart.  A vow sworn to emphasize the devotion and extent one can go to stay together. To be one. This might not be the case all the time. Imagine being torn apart but still surviving. It is never the same again but it is inevitable. Imagine being bled to death but still breathing. The scar stays. The pain never heals. The damage can’t be undone. The memories do not fade. The fall of Dhaka never ages. The tragedy never ceases. The 21st century might not be able to feel this agony but ask those who sailed through rivers of blood to live in harmony. Ask those who witnessed the unparalleled movement of freedom in East Pakistan. Ask those who stood shoulder to shoulder surrounded by war just to be victorious together. Ask those who witnessed the exemplary brethren surpassing ethnic identities, how it hurts being torn apart? Ask them what the magnitude of their pain is. You will see their hearts sinking. You will see in their eyes the tragedy they witnessed. You will see on their face the unfortunate history they had to report. 

It’s the same December, cruel one, bringing all those memories back to life. Does the world has always been like this? Suffering from tragedy and never learning from it. Repeating the irrevocable mistakes and never retracting? Is Fall of Dhaka, a brutal consequence of politics, not enough to teach people and rulers how the use of ethnic sentiments for mere gains of politics ends? Isn’t it enough to teach the nation how exploitation and deprivation of a certain group ends? Isn’t it enough to learn how grave the threat of ethnicity gets if not addressed properly? 

One may call it the fall of Dhaka but how can one overlook the fact that it was Pakistan that fell that day. The slogan “lay ke rahein ge Pakistan” felt betrayed. The idea “ik hun muslim haram ki pasbani ke liye” felt defeated. The motto “Faith, Unity and Discipline” felt lost. That’s what we lost in December 1971. It was not a piece of land that we cherished, it was that soul and brethren we cherished. You may all have heard of India as a seed of discord between East and West Pakistan. But it is no more a secret who gave prerequisite to India for entering East Pakistan. No nation can rise to the height of its glory unless it acknowledges its mistakes and pledges to learn from them. The fall of Dhaka was a consequence of the pathetic game of politics. It was a result of desperate pursuit of power. It was the result of a preference of ethnicity over merit. It was the result of injustice done to the people of East Pakistan- now Bangladesh. It was the result of the choice of violence and use of force over negotiations. That’s how we ended up there. Using force against our own people was a destructive choice, to begin with. And who made that choice? An egoistic politician who could not accept his defeat in elections? Another short-sighted politician who opted for using ethnicity as a tool to demonstrate his power? Another incapable and unelected president who lacked vision and foresight. That’s how Pakistan ended up there, being played in the hands of self-centered personalities. Thus, the question arises; has Pakistan freed itself from the shackles of such hands? That’s what makes me believe we have not learned from the past. When a political party wants to win elections focusing its campaign entirely on Sindhi, Balochi, Pakhtoon, or Punjabi nationalism, it must be a moment of contemplation for us! When a political party does not accept its defeat in elections and blame institutions of state for it, it should be a moment of contemplation for us! When a certain group of society complains of the violation of their rights, it should be a moment to remind ourselves from where the movement of the fall of Dhaka begins. The question still remains how long will it take for politicians and institutions to realize how they have been drowning the state in marshland. Whenever uncertainty and distrust arise in Baluchistan, I can’t help but think; this is where the fall of Dhaka began. Whenever I see civilians getting shot by their own police during protests, I can’t help but foresee the catastrophe it might bring. Whenever I witness the blood of policemen flowing on land, I can’t help but think what trees would grow from this blood. Every time we fight against our own people, we are a step closer to the disintegration of Pakistan. 

There’s something so tragic about December that it leaves us with many scars. How could one forget the terrorist attack on Army Public School? Those innocent children had to die just because they were Pakistanis. When I talk about the price of establishing Pakistan and being Pakistani, this is the price I mean.  The irony: the blood of sword and blood on the floor shared the same roots, same DNA. Pakistan has lost more when fighting against its own people. One thing common between the fall of Dhaka and the APS attack; our state had to fight against its kin. The other common aspect is that we haven’t learned anything, we are not ready to contemplate, and we have not taken enough steps to prevent this from happening again. If the state has to fight against its own people even if it wins by force, it has already lost pretty much everything. Arising of TLP every year and loss of lives on both sides should be sufficient for the state to prevent the falling of Pakistan back to where it recovered from. If there are pieces of evidence of them being puppets of foreign forces, wipe them out completely from the face of Pakistan before it threatens our integrity. And if it’s only a political force aiming to demonstrate their protest, why do people have to die every year before both parties sit at the table of negotiations? 

When it comes to Baluchistan, TLP, and other forces, the state has to take a decision leading to a course of action before it becomes malignant and no longer has treatment. Pakistan can no longer bear any such tragedy. The state must take a stance. If they are deprived, give them rights. If they are there with mala fide intentions, wipe them out. The interest of the state must not contradict the interest of the ruling elite. There’s absolutely no space for double games. There’s absolutely no room for politics over dead bodies. It’s now or never!