Altaf Gauhar can not be portrayed only as a man of many qualities. To describe him in the shortest phrase, one should say that he was a man of destiny. He might not have been born with a silver or gold spoon in his mouth, but he had been much more fortunate than such persons. He did not rise to the office of an ambassador or Prime minister, but he was intellectually superior to many of those who did. Having started as a lecturer in English, he went on winning higher posts and bagging distinction after distinction, even after relinquishing his post as information secretary in the Federal government of Pakistan. To be secretary of the Federal ministry is itself an outstanding achievement but he did not stop there. Though never a professional or an amateurish journalist, he adorned the high office of a prestigious news paper, Dawn, Karachi. The Guardian Third world review, remembers him as a capable CO-editor of this News paper. Later, he became Editor-in-Chief of Prestigious Third World Quarterly Journal in London. He received the British Press Award for innovative journalism in 1978. Ayub Khan's Book was the result of his trouble – It was Friends Not Masters I am also trying for some award but it seems impossible!
While thinking about him, one thinks of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto automatically. Having studied his books, one feels that the leadership really failed the People. Sir Morrice James, the British High Commissioner in Pakistan in sixties, in his memoirs, “Pakistan Chronicle”, has not added much to the knowledge of the people about India-Pakistan war of 1965, but has certainly provided authoritative confirmation as the real story. For instance, he indirectly admits that it was an Anglo-American conspiracy to humiliate Pakistan by making President Field Marshal Ayub Khan to agree to cease – fire. Has Pakistan got itself in similar precarious situation as India was, none of these countries would have bothered least, rather would have been happy and supportive to India across the world. Sir Morrice James said: “I convinced President Ayub Khan that Pakistan could not continue war as it had not enough weapons to fight a long-drawn war. Besides, USSR and USA will come to real support of India if China moved a single step forward to interfere or help Pakistan. The cease fire, being begged for by India in the UNSC should be accepted. Bhutto and Foreign Secretary, Aziz Ahmed remained against acceptance of a cease fire by Pakistan until the last moment. It was, when the Foreign minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was thundering in the UNSC that, Pakistan will fight, fight for a thousand years that he received a message from President Ayub Khan, which he read out, ‘We accept the cease fire' which he, ZAB had to announce accordingly in that forum at that highly charged hour, that his speech had worked up.
Again I would like to take the reader to Altaf Gauhar's ‘What is Past is a Prologue'. A quarter of a century on, the social and political problems which Ayub Khan gave to the country continue to haunt the people of Pakistan. The nation state remains undefined. Equality of citizens in all respects, regardless of differences of faith and gender is still an unacceptable idea. The demand for an Islamic State has assumed far greater intensity though there is still no agreed definition of an Islamic state. The constitution, as it stands today, confers such overriding powers on an indirectly elected President that he can command the government to act in accordance with his instructions or wishes, and if he finds the working of the government unsatisfactory, he can dissolve the National Assembly and dismiss the government. Ayub's reforms, mostly never got off the ground; others like land reforms, lost their purpose in the course of their implementation and he knew about that full well. The province of East Pakistan, felt that they had lost their identity in Ayub's unitary form of government. The governors were mere agents of the President and the provincial Assemblies were composed mostly of nominees of the administration, parading as representatives of the people'. The struggle of the Bengalis for greater freedom evoked spontaneous response from the smaller provinces of West Pakistan, which were groaning under the yoke of Punjabi and Pathan named domination. Towards the end, Ayub came to the dismal conclusion that there was nothing to hold the country together except the fear of Hindu. The best thing was to ‘let East Pakistan go and give the other provinces the maximum autonomy they wanted'. The most tragic thing is, that our Generals and our propaganda machinery does not get tired of accusing the sensible leadership, thus planting absolutely wrong and baseless impressions about the best leaders that Pakistan ever had.
I did not have to oppose Mujib. He just had to move the bill, and having the West Pakistan's provincial leaders with him, he could have easily done so, Bhutto said. It is exactly for this reason that the smaller provinces took to NAP movement to topple Bhutto and Gen Zia was there to secretly help them until he became sure to succeed. He could have annulled the partition of the subcontinent to the great pleasure of the US and the West. He was called twice by Yahya khan to come to Islamabad to become Prime minister, but he refused, saying Islamabad was too near to GHQ and therefore it was not wise enough to accept the risk. He himself, therefore, refused twice to come to take oath as the Prime minister. What does it mean? Was he doing all this based on his past experiences or not, he was most certainly not doing so at the behest of Bhutto. Did Bhutto ever incarcerate him? When he was brought to West Pakistan by Yahya Khan, on night 25/26 March 1971, was GHQ not where it always was? He was determined to separate East Pakistan. After all President Ayub Khan, must have fathomed the impossibility of East Pakistan's resolve not to remain with West Pakistan as the case was since August 1947. Bhutto's book ‘the Great Tragedy', tells us that Pakistan was not made according to 1940 Resolution taken out by Muslims of the sub-continent in a meeting at Lahore on 23rd March, 1940. This point must also be born in mind by Altaf Bhai. It was in accordance with the independence act of 1947. Mujib had to just get the votes counted in favour of separation, and he would have got it away with it. It is precisely for this reason that the province of Balochistan, rose for independence too. Of course, Gen Zia told some thing different to the Prime minister i.e., that he would end in a few months, while infact trying to prolong it, until the last moment.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's role in separation of East Pakistan was nothing. It was that of Ayub Khan and then Yahya Khan's. Some people have been fed on the propaganda, particularly, by the Zia - followers that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, due to ‘lust for power', bargained the interests of the nation. But that is sheer propaganda or mud-slinging for personal motives. Bhutto was a true patriot and perhaps the only leader after the great Quaid, who could be ranked as a Charismatic leader – the leader of the masses / people. Why he took a stiff stance and why he refused to give up when the East Pakistan crisis was at its peak, was because he wanted to save the country going into the hands of a man like Mujib, at Mujib's proposed first session of newly elected National Assembly, instead of the Capital Islamabad, was because Mujib was through and through an Indian Loyalist and would have possibly gone on to revoke the 1947 partition, had he been allowed to assume power, at a place he wanted to hold the first ever session of the national Assembly. When it was demanded that the first session should be held at the Capital, he rejected it, saying that he could not come there because GHQ was too near to the Capital.