Gerard wrote:Bhutto Picks Up The Pieces of Pakistan
By James P. Sterba
June 25, 1972
And on top of all the dismal statistics, Pakistan had suffered the deepest humiliation possible—it had lost a war to India. The bubble of military invincibility that Pakistanis had been taught to hold onto as dearly as they held their sacred Korans had burst. On Dec. 16 in the twilight at the Dacca race course, when Pakistan Lieut. Gen. Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi unstrapped his pistol and in near tears handed it, his army and the 55,126 square miles of East Pakistan over to Indian Lieut. Gen. Jagjit Singh Au rora, Pakistan faded from the ranks of the world's second‐ rate military powers. Maybe they were the finest fighting men in the world, as they truly believed, but that hadn't mattered. All those Chinese rifles and American treaty commitments hadn't mattered either. Pakistan, with a flash of brutality in East Pakistan on the night of March 25, 1971, that shocked the world, had shown itself to be a distasteful little bully among civilized nations. And a little guy armed with comforting words from Mao Tse‐tung, Allah and a war‐weary Uncle Sam had proved no match for an Indian Goliath armed with songs from George Harrison and missiles from Moscow.
In a short book called “The Great Tragedy,” Bhutto wrote that he had listened to the gunfire and watched the burning that night in Dacca. “Here in front of my eyes, I saw the death and destruction of our own people,” he wrote. Yet when he returned to Karachi the next morning, he told a crowd at the airport: “By the grace of God, Pakistan has at last been saved.” He had been advised against publishing that little book, but it came out in September. Three months later, by the grace of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the distinct lack of grace on the part of Yahya Khan, Pakistan was shattered. It had been the fifth most populous nation on earth, right behind China, India, the Soviet Union and the United States. Now it was ninth, right behind Bangladesh.
Thank you for posting this!
I wasn't expecting much, especially since this was the NYT writing in the Nixon era, but this is absolute gold and a must-read from start to finish. I would suggest that this be part of the 'essential reading' section on the first page of this thread. The author totally nailed the nature of Pakistan, the nature of Bhutto, and predicted (sadly with damming accuracy) the shape of the negotiations to follow and India getting suckered in exactly the way that it eventually was.
Change a few parts of this excerpt to modern analogues, and you could virtually be describing the Pakistan of today:
APRIL 21 was a shambles as a ceremony but it was a day for the people and it was a tribute—not to the martial discipline, the stead fastness of purpose, the in herent strength, virtue and might that every national leader including Bhutto had said Pakistan had stood for since its birth in 1947. But rather it was a tribute to what Pakistan really was: A sick, poor, backward, ignorant, undisciplined and defeated half of a country—a country victimized by both its capacity for self‐delusion and its pas sion, inflamed by ample reason and rhetoric, to hate India.
There on the race‐course grounds were half a million or so men (women are rarely seen or heard publicly in Pak istan) who knew everything of guns and nothing of books, who poked each other, giggled and stared open‐mouthed like children at the sight of a re porter's pen scribbling notes: men enthralled not by their President's words, but by the luminous hands on a stranger's watch. There, in a sad, eerie glimpse, was what Pakistan amounted to after 25 years of nationhood, despite its sophisticated public‐relations men, its showcase intellectu als and artists, and its gen erals who said they could have kept order that after noon had they had a few more men.
If the new nation of Ban gladesh that Sheik Mujibur Rahman inherited and Paki stan lost was “an international basket case,” as some had said, then the Pakistan that was left over for Bhutto had not exactly won its release from the intensive care ward. It was so deep in debt to oth er countries and banks—$3.7‐ billion by January — that it couldn't even pay the yearly interest. It had 65 million people, and 55 million of them couldn't read or write. The average Pakistani made 700 rupees a year, which, at a rea istic exchange rate amounted to $63.64—one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world. Some underdeveloped countries, like Indonesia, stake their future on mineral riches, but after years of searching, experts continued to describe Pakistan as a country “no tably void” of natural re sources.
It was not an exaggeration to say that Pakistan was a sick nation, even if Bangla desh was sicker and even if without it Pakistan was prob ably better off. On any one day, 80 per cent of the chil dren and nearly half the adults in Pakistan suffered from diarrhea from eating contaminated foods. Its infant mortality rate was one of the world's highest, and even if a child survived until his first birthday, the chances were one in four that he would die before his fifth. Of those who did survive until school age, only three out of 10 ever went, and the majority of those dropped out early. There were a million new cases of tuber culosis each year in what was left of Pakistan, and one out of five persons who contrac ted it eventually died from it.