President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said that “Bangladesh” was a basic issue which had to be decided by the people and he would put this issue before them after the month of Ramzan when he would undertake a countrywide tour.
He was replying to the address of welcome presented to him at an Iftar party by Mr. Shamim Ahmed, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab assembly, on behalf of the people of Lyallpur city and district.
The President said the people would have to give serious thought to this issue and during his proposed tour he would explain to them the merits and demerits of the case. He said he would satisfy them in every way and only then extend recognition to “Bangladesh,” provided the people permitted.
He said that the people of Pakistan had to accept the reality of separation of East Pakistan sooner or later which was the only way to win back the people of that wing.
The President said that withholding of recognition of “Bangladesh” would cause further bitterness between the people of two wings and if the people of West Pakistan wanted to bring the people of Muslim Bengal in their fold again, they should try to comprehend the reality.
Explaining the merits and demerits of the whole issue, the president said that Pakistan would gain nothing by refusing to accept the reality of “Bangladesh.” He said if the people of East Pakistan had not wanted separation, India could never have dared to launch aggression against Pakistan. He said that Mukti Bahini and other forces fought against the Pakistan Army in whose support India also came which in normal circumstances it could not do.
The President said that he would not go into the logic of this issue at present but he was certain when the people understood the truth, they would realize that ultimately recognition of ”Bangladesh” was in our interest. He said he w2as not saying this out of political expediency, but as a matter of fact. He said it was his belief and faith that when the people came to know of the real implication of the situation they would accept what was right.
He did not agree with those people who cited non-recognition of Israel by Arabs as an example. He said Arabs and Israelis had long enmity and could never come together. Things had changed considerably and countries like America and China had been even forced by the circumstances to come closer.
The President said that people of Pakistan could not afford perpetual animosity of the people of Muslim Bengal. They have to forge a relationship by which it was possible to establish contacts through exchange of delegations of students, teachers, politicians, journalists and businessmen to win back their sympathy and make them realize their mistakes of separating from us. If we paid our undivided attention to development of West Pakistan and were able to strengthen the economy, there was no reason why the people of East Pakistan should not have second thoughts about their present state and again turn to us. That was the only way to win them back.
So, he said, the people of occupied Kashmir would be motivated to launch a fierce struggle for their union with Pakistan.
He said that he did not understand the stand on the matter of those who only two months back pleaded for recognition of “Bangladesh” but later reversed their stand. This was not an honest approach. Anyway, he said, he would lay before the people the matter during his tour of all the provinces after Eid before taking a decision because the final decision rested with the people.
Touching the constitutional matters, the President said that the issue had been resolved amicably to the satisfaction of all the federating Provinces and the Centre. He said by mutual agreement brought about through the joint efforts of representatives of all the parties in the National Assembly, Centre-Province relationship, their powers, quantum of autonomy and the Centre’s powers and fundamental rights of the people had been settle.
He said some people who talked of Punjab’s supremacy had to accept the fact that Punjab was a big province and in the lower house its representation on population basis was an undeniable fact. The upper house, he said, would comprise equal number of members from all the four provinces where matters of common interest like railways, water and other subjects could be tackled and there would be no ground of grudge to any Province against the other.
The President said that his distaste of the British type of parliamentary system was obvious because that did not suit our genius. Our system could work successfully only if the Governments were not changed so often at least in the beginning for some years. Some safeguards provided in the constitutional framework were taken in this spirit with the concurrence of all the parties present at the meeting, he said.
The President said that he failed to understand the hue and cry by some people over minor issues like so-called denial of rights of one province or the other.
Such bickerings should end because Pakistan could not afford to squabble over these petty matters forever. Doubts about each other would not help the country. No injustice would be done to any province nor any party would suffer on account of lack of attention to its development, he said.
The constitutional accord reached by the parties, he said, would ensure an effective Centre, desirable autonomy for provinces and happy and balanced development of all regions and safeguard the basic rights of the people.
The Constitution, the President said, must provide checks on frequent change of loyalties by the members to ensure smooth functioning of the Government. In the past the governments had so often changed which led to serve crisis and consequently to promulgation of Martial Law in the country.
The President called upon the people to forget petty differences and give up debates on small issues if they wanted to see the country march forward towards progress and stability. After about 25 years a people’s Constitution was being finalized. He said that he had asked the Constitution Committee to prepare a draft of the Constitution for placing before the National Assembly.
Everybody, he said, should devote himself to the task of nation-building and make Pakistan a happy and strong country.