The dawn of March 26, 2971 rose slowly. Perhaps, this was destined to mark a turning point in the nation's history. Operation Searchlight had sealed the fate of any likelihood of compromise or reconciliation between the leaders of the two provincial entities of the country.
As the apocalyptic, dark and gruesome night had progressed amidst the loudest of mortar fires, it also blessed the Bengali nation with a message of hope. This new dawn would also usher them into their cherished land of freedom. The opening rays of sunlight had welcomed their fond independence, as the skies above God's wonderful world, rejoiced at the birth of a new nation on our planet.
Morning rose quickly that day. It was bright and sunny, perhaps very humid. People rushed out of their homes to have their first glimpse of the remains of the evil that had played in their lives, some hours ago, under cover of darkness. The signs of the massacre lay at every corner.
Lifeless bodies. Burning homes. Smoking timber. Carnage. Pungent and offensive Smell of burning human flesh. The carnage had been carried out at will, and with precision. Those who had lost their loved ones hastily prepared for the final rites and swift burial of their loved ones.
There was anger in the suffering eyes, resentment, heartbreak, yet there was a display of self restraint. The worst may have just passed away, or perhaps yet to come to overwhelm us another time. Liberty demands and claims human sacrifices. Brave nations pay heavy prices, in their tempestuous trials they go through, for the sake of freedom. Independence is never gifted. It is achieved through serious struggles, claiming the highest prices.
That is why we value it over and above our lives. The tremors of the military action of this turbulent night, was felt very deep. It had impacted us very gravely. It had touched the lives of each one of us, who had shared this misfortune of the night evil, to witness a damning charisma of light and shadows. The shock was too fresh, therefore, impossible to be analyzed. Only the historians of future would be able to assess its true impact in terms of human costs.
I traveled onwards to Kathmandu, Rangoon and Bangkok before arriving in Karachi on June 23, 1972. A break in my journey here lasted for 23 years enabling me to complete my education. When I came of age, Karachi lost its warmth and its charm, as it gravitated to adopt a culture of conflict and hostility.
The dynamics of the new political forces in Karachi set in motion its detriment and disorientation, as the city lost its sense of order and harmony. As though following in the footsteps of the famed medieval traveler Ibn Batuta, I renewed my journey to 30 countries before I finally moved to the United States, in the year 2001.
In the process, my struggles had to be initiated and reinitiated, to set my new goals, find new space, define and redefine myself and further, convince my children that there is hope and light at the end of all tunnels.
Those stories of great journeys were glorified in the Holy Books. One must migrate to lands that promise to safeguard our security, conviction and self respect. Confused, yet hopeful, my children continued in the family's struggles to achieve for themselves what seemed improbable. Each one acquired a decent and meaningful education and rose to the occasion.
I have visited Dhaka, the city that nourished me, several times. My greatest regret in life is that my home of childhood and innocence has faded away into oblivion. I am a stranger among the faces that existed in my early years of Dhaka. The sad moral of my story is that once you leave your home, you cannot return.
Our roots will not forgive you, if you betray them. In the seven decades of parallel existence, Pakistan developed its own narratives. Its people remained at the mercy of their military leadership too long, and therefore, could not build their national institutions.
The void was filled by the leadership in khaki uniform that chose to infuse life in all spheres of their national life. The void generated enough absences of check and balance for the corrupt politicians who have plundered and continue to do so, to embarrass even the forgotten officers of great East India Company.
The army has indoctrinated Pakistan's lacking, rustic and disorganized civilian leadership and institutions, new ideas that employed in mainstream national policies of defense, foreign affairs as well as their relationships with the Hindu and Zionist enemies. This has been the instrument of guidance, in a collective effort to guard sovereignty, protect nuclear assets, the two nation theory, the ideology of Pakistan, and also something to defend the pillars of the State of Pakistan.
A new Pakistan was born from ashes of their humiliating military defeat, on December 16, 1971. On this fateful day, Jinnah's Pakistan had succumbed, after a sustained Liberation War, fought by the brave people of East Pakistan. Victory had come their way, as they fought with determination and purpose to unite together and rally to the call of Bangabandhu, in their armed struggle to free themselves from the yoke of Pakistan's military rulers.
Perhaps the army leadership has, for reasons of its own survival, managed to save Pakistan from complete chaos and anarchy, and collapse, occasionally in the last 45 years as the country suffered from the shocks generated by forces of internal implosion. (Concluded)
The writer is a former educator
based in Chicago
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