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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pakistan's High Commissioner for Bangladesh

Mr. Alqama Khairuddin, the nominated High Commissioner is son of Khwaja Khairuddin who hailed from Dhaka's nawab family.
The Nation
The Bangladesh Today

A section of Pakistani Press has slated Bangladesh's rejection of Pakistan's proposed High Commissioner. It is astonishing that even after thirty eight years, what is now left as Pakistan has not done any soul-searching in the context of losing the major chunk of its population as well as territory. One can only take pity on the intelligentsia of the country who, even now, are harping that the decision to declare Urdu as the only national language was correct. The conditions which led to breakup of Quaid-e-Azam's Pakistan are still prevailing and are holding the same potential. In this background it is not at all surprising that Pakistan is incapable of appreciating Bangladesh's inability to accept the recent nomination of High Commissioner.
Mr.Alqama Khairuddin, the nominated High Commissioner is son of Khwaja Khairuddin who hailed from Dhaka's nawab family. Khwaja Shahabuddin, a member of this family served Ayub Khan, the military dictator of Pre-Bangladesh Pakistan, as a Federal Minister. It goes without saying that a dictator accepts only sycophants around him. Mr. Shahbuddin, being information Minister, thumped a ban on Radio Pakistan to do anything with Tagore songs. Being non Bengali speaking, the Nawab family kept themselves aloof from the decisive Language Movement in the then East Pakistan. Every student of Pakistan's chequered history knows that the Language Movement was a watershed in context of relations between two parts of the then Pakistan. During the turmoil of 1971, Khwaja Khairuddin sided with Pakistan Army, thus further alienating the protagonists of Bangladesh Movement. During the ensuing transfer of population, he bade farewell to Bangladesh, came to Karachi and never went back. His name, even today, is listed among the criminals of war in the dossiers of Bangladesh's Government. It was thus quite natural on the part of Bangladesh Government to reject nomination of son of a war criminal as an ambassador. An identical situation will arise if tomorrow Pakistan nominates son of Hafiz Saeed or Molana Masood Azhar, the chiefs of Jihadi outfits wanted by Indian Government, as Pakistan High Commissioner for Delhi!
The question arises: why did not Pakistan's Foreign office bring this background to the knowledge of decision makers? The answer to this question leads to a painful aspect of what is known as "governance" in Pakistan. Although the so called "lateral entry", a distorted form of USA's "spoils system", brought political appointees in Pakistan's bureaucracy first time during the Government of Zulfaqar Ali Bhutto, yet it was eleven years long despotic rule of Gen.Zia ul Haq which took nepotism to unprecedented proportion and every nook and corner of Civil service stood manned by his favorites. Foreign Service was targeted particularly as ambassadorships in different countries promised jet set living for the dictator's cronies whereas professional work was performed by Foreign Service career officers who worked under these "ambassadors". This usurpation, unfortunately, could not be rolled back during the brief democratic period sandwiched between dictatorships of Gen. Zia and Gen. Musharraf. Infiltration of serving and retired Military officers in Civil Service, during Musharraf's eight years, touched new heights when thousands of the posts fell prey to the covetousness of garrison. Although Musharraf's Military era has come to an end, yet the sordid tradition of throwing attractive positions in the lap of favorites continues. Mr. Alqama Khairuddin, the nominee for Bangladesh, is teaching in the University of Multan, the city which is playing very prominent role in the present set-up. Only Pakistan's Foreign Office can tell whether it was consulted before this nomination was put forward and whether it rendered necessary briefing thereon.
The fact of the matter is that nothing has changed in Pakistan since it was halved into two. No study has been made as to what were the factors which led to 1971 crisis and what were the lessons to be learnt by leftover Pakistan. After all Bengalis did not lose confidence in Islamabad over night. It was a process which started at a certain stage of history and then continued till the point of breakdown. Pakistan should have diagnostically analyzed this catastrophic part of its existence and should have inferred what it needed the most. But it never happened. The so called Hamoodurrehman Commission Report never saw light of the day. On the other hand, social, political and sectarian disintegration of Pakistani society is galloping at horrendous speed. Feudalism is not only thriving, it is transforming itself into serfdom. Education system, if at all it can be called a system, is based, entirely, on class system. Rulers have a different set of educational institutions and "natives" are being prepared to become clerks or laborers in schools where either buildings are roofless or there are no teachers. Madrasas, which, by and large, are turning out to be nurseries for jihadis, represent another world, more of underworld, where poverty stricken masses send their children to get free lodging and food. The most inauspicious irony is that Urdu which was attempted to be imposed on Bengalis as the only national language is yet to find its lawful place in Pakistan. Not a single file, not to speak of an office, is being attended, nor has ever been attended, in Urdu in Federal and Provincial Governments. In this backdrop, no wonder if a High Commissioner has been nominated for an important country without doing the required essential spadework!

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