By Fan Ibraheem Zain
Earlier this year, April the 13th, marked 100 years of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, a day where on a fateful Baisakhi, a number close to a thousand people were shot viciously by the British soldiers. What lead to this massacre was the legislative act passed by the imperial legislative council of Delhi on 10th of March 1919 named the “Rowlatt Act“, the act allowed the government to detain any Indian citizen without any jury and permitted internment of suspects without any trial whatsoever. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the member of the council resigned after the law passed in the Assembly. A lot has been written on the massacre and a lot of people wrote in its 100th anniversary.
As a Pakistani who is born at the end of the 20th century, I can relate to most of the other people when we are never told about the Jallianwala massacre and the role of its impact in the independence of India and Pakistan against the colonial regime. As a nation who is very keen on distorting history, changing narratives, creating divisions we have never really remembered the tragedies that we ought to never forget at the first place.
As our textbooks do not have any highlights mentioning about this massacre, same is the case about the Babrra massacre, probably the biggest tragedy of Pakistan, which reveals the worst of human nature. Now, I would not be surprised if you are reading about it for the first ever time because we do not have real historians, we have irrational clowns of circus writing our textbooks.
Apart from the blatant lies in our textbooks and our state-driven narrative building which has been constructing this royal palace of myths; what I am more fascinated by is the creation of Pakistan itself which is based on huge contradictions and unapologetic lies, starting from secularist like Jinnah promising separate homeland for Muslims, then Muslim league leaders taking up supports from Islamic parties with promising them that “Pakistan” will have shariah law. The presentation of Mohammad bin Qasim as the first Pakistani; not only it is hysterical and funny but making people believe this by reiterating it is kind of criminal. But let’s cut some slack to Muslim league leaders because here in the sub-continent people take religions and beliefs more seriously than the development, jobs and pluralism; even the most powerful of them are the victims of it. Who remembers The time when Mr General Qamar Bajwa was being appointed as the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan? He was accused by the people of being an Ahmadi and being an Ahmadi in Pakistan is more of a crime than ordering the disappearances of dissidents or to torture their families to save the “honour“ of the nation. So, a Milaad was organised at COAS’ home with usual Brelavi clerics to prove his “Muslimness”. In my country, fact and fiction are being discerned by the very fact that who is uttering it with more loud voice and who can scream it better and bolder.
So, on 22nd August 1947 after creation of Pakistan Mr. Jinnah as the Governor General dismissed the on-going government in the then North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Dr Khan Abdul Jabbar Khan (Dr. Khan sahib) and appointed Mr. Abdul Qayyum Khan Kashmiri as chief minister the next day. The next step of the new NWFP government was to imprison Khudai Khidmatgar (non-violent movement) founder Bacha Khan and his brother, ousted chief minister Abdul Jabbar Khan and some other renowned figures of the region. Then, in July 1948, the British governor of NWFP enforced an ordinance to detain anyone indefinitely and confiscate their properties without disclosing the reason. In occurrence of the ordinance, the Khudai Khidmatgar movement and their participants decided to protest peacefully against the ordinance and the arrest of their leaders from Charsadda to Babrra grounds. But when they reached there, the soldiers received an order from Chief Minister Kashmiri to open fire at them. They all were being shot by the police and the military and 600 of the unarmed men, women, kids died in this horrific tyranny by the state of Pakistan.
There was no condemnation by the chief minister and no regret at the misery. However, in September of the same year, Mr Kashmiri said in the Assembly, “I had imposed Section 144 at Babrra. When the people did not disperse, the shots were fired at them. They were lucky that the police’s ammunition ran out; otherwise, not a single soul would have survived.” Then referring to four members of the opposition in the provincial assembly who were members of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement, he continued: “If they were killed, the government would not have cared.” This was the chief minister appointed by Mr Jinnah himself did to Pakistan and this is not the only tragedy which occurred but there are a few of them which have been sidelined by our state-driven narrative.
Another integral part of our history is being in the hot waters these days in form of the debate on the 18th amendment of the constitution that grants autonomy to the provinces. Be it 1948 or 1954 Pakistan has a history of central governments dismissing provincial governments for “ensuring the unity of Pakistan“ and to “maintain the public sovereignty”. In 1954 election when East Pakistan elections took place, they went down in history as the first ever elections in the country after the independence where the state ruling party Muslim League was nowhere to be seen as they got only 9 seats and all their ministers lost their constituencies to united front led by Awami League and Krishak Sramik party. The government was shortly dismissed after two months by Governor General Malik Ghulam Mohammad for attempting an alleged secession by A K Fazlul Haq (chief minister) who got put under house arrest. These precedents suffocated our land and are still in the air, it’s high time we chose our politics before the politics chooses us.
What I want to conclude with is that let’s not read history and make our ideals according to biased, prejudiced paradigms. Instead, let’s scrutinise our ideals, our beliefs, our culture, our preconceived notions. In a nutshell let’s re-examine our heroes and question everything that comes our way and convert this eventual 5 year democracy to a day to day struggle for a democratic country we were shown dreams of at the earliest of times.