The month of December has contributed several darkest pages in the history of Pakistan.
Losing a wing: The Fall of Dhaka (16 December 1971)
At the end of the Second World War, the British had decided to leave India but divided. A new country had appeared on the world’s map, Pakistan, an independent land for the Muslims of the subcontinent, comprising of its two wings: the eastern wing (East Pakistan) and the western wing (West Pakistan), in between them lied the new India.
In East Pakistan, there lived Bengali people with their majority following Islam. The East Pakistan (former East Bengal) was bordered with Hindu-majority West Bengal, a state under Indian federation. It was the land where the foundation of Muslim nationalism was laid in the once-united India when All India Muslim League held its first session in Dhaka on 30 December 1906.
It was a day in December 1906 that marked the start of a struggle which ended up in its success when Pakistan was declared an independent country in August 1947. But on another day, 65 years after AIML’s first session at Dhakka, in December 1971, Pakistan lost its eastern wing when an instrument of surrender was signed by General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi who was commanding the Pakistani troops during 1971 Indo-Pak War. That moment in the history let East Pakistan emerge as a new independent country — Bangladesh, as the world knows it today.
The events of December 1971 shocked Pakistani nation deeply. Since then academics, politicians and journalists have been searching for answers and trying to develop their own narrative regarding the horrible event. The Fall of Dhaka is not just an event but a continuous story of state repression and brutal massacres, which is yet to be heard by majority of the nation. So far, the only dialogue in which one can take part is who is to be blamed for the liberation of Bangladesh: the era of two dictators(General Ayub Khan and General Yahya Khan) or the politicians especially those who were then newly-elected(Sheikh Mujib-ur-Rehmman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto)?
Anyhow, what one should remember is the Urdu ghazal written by Naseer Turabi to honor and mourn(at the same time) the lost wing of Pakistan.
One of the verse of that ghazal says:
عداوتیں تھیں، تغافل تھا، رنجشیں تھیں بہت
بچھڑنے والے میں سب کچھ تھا، بے وفائی نہ تھی
There were a lot of feelings of animosity, indifference and anguish,
My departed lover had everything (but) hadn’t disloyalty
The Carnage at Qasba Aligarh: The event that gave Karachi’s ethnic wars a new turn (14 December 1986)
The misery of the month had not ended with the separation of East Pakistan. After that event, Pakistan witnessed mass migration of Pro-Pakistani ethnic Biharis who were once living in East Pakistan. The new emigrants had too settled in Karachi like those emigrants(Muhajirs) from UP and its neighbouring states in India, who had migrated during and after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
Muhajirs had now constituted the largest proportion in the population of the country’s former capital Karachi. During 1980’s when Afghanistan became a war ground between two contesting superpowers: Soviet Russia and the United States, Pakistan led by a military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq supported US-backed Mujahideen in Afghanistan against Soviet troops. consequently many Afghan refugees were welcomed in Pakistan who brought with them heroin and Kalashnikov. These new arrivals were going to haunt Karachi for decades, the city which had previously been drug-free and largely deweaponised.
On 14 December 1986, a group of armed Afghan refugees stormed three Muhajir-dominated localities: Qasba Colony, Aligarh Colony and Sector 1-D of Orangi Town. The assailants torched houses while taking hundreds of innocents lives indiscriminately(although the government had reported 49 casualties only). The carnage which started in the morning, continued until around 4 pm, when the army was finally called in.
With no justice being served till now, the incident has been described as a Pashtun or Afghan revenge on Muhajirs as a result of raids against the refugees for their involvement in drugs and weapons which was, however, conducted by the authorities a day before the incident.
APS Peshawar Attack: The Smallest Coffins Are the Heaviest (16 December 2014)
In 2014, Pakistan was facing a political crisis in the shape of ‘Azadi March‘ a call of protest against the government of Nawaz Sharif in which a large number of people was mobilized by then opposition parties: PTI led by Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Threek led by Allama Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadir. The resisting leaders were demanding resignation from the government by taking over the streets of Islamabad.
The turmoil had already been there for months(August till November) as the country was also suffering from terrorism but December had yet to come.
On 16 December 2014 a school run by Pakistan Army in Peshawar, was attacked by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The six gunmen entered the school and opened fire on school staff and children killing 149 people including 132 students, ranging between eight and eighteen years of age. While the nation mourned, the APS attack was declared as the world’s fourth most deadliest incident targeting schools.
Every year tributes are paid to the victims of APS Peshawar Massacre nationwide. Pakistani Authorities have made numerous claims of taking successful actions under the umbrella of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and National Action Plan (NAP) in order to defeat terrorism in the country. Besides all such claims, there are still many questions put forwarded by the Pakistani nation especially the relatives of the victims or survivors of these deadly incidents, which have not been properly answered yet.