Stories about East Pakistan

What happened to PIA’s glory days?

A rapid drop in altitude, deafening noise, sheer chaos, emergency alarms going off, doors and walls shuddering violently and people crying out loud! This is not an account of a plane crash. Rather, it’s about a whole airline company coming crashing down; an organisation which has completely lost direction. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), once soaring high in the skies of the aviation industry, has fallen into an abyss of financial and image crisis. So this is an account of our national flag carrier that used to be the nation’s pride; it is about Pakistan International Airlines. I still remember the time when PIA ...

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How golden was Ayub Khan’s era?

The numbers do not lie: in terms of economic growth, former President Ayub Khan was not the best ruler Pakistan ever had. Admittedly, he is in second place and beaten only very narrowly by former President Ziaul Haq: Ayub averaged 5.82% growth during his eleven years in office compared to Zia’s 5.88%. Still, the myth of Ayub’s “Decade of Development” persists and so it is worth examining (on what would have been his 105th birthday), what his record was and how he compared to the rest of Pakistan’s rulers. Perhaps the single biggest reason people remember Ayub’s era fondly is because ...

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Losing East Pakistan: Lessons we didn’t learn

Forty years ago, Pakistan and Bangladesh became separate countries. They may enjoy good relations with each other today, but it seems that Pakistan has not learnt any lessons from the East Pakistan debacle. After the separation, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto formed the Hamoodur Rehman commission, headed by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan. It was given the mandate to investigate all circumstances and events which led to the disintegration of the eastern wing. The commission submitted its report to Bhutto in October 1974, but the report was not made public. In august 2000, parts of this report were leaked out and ...

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Love and tears for Dhaka

My stepfather, Afzal Ahmed Syed, is a generally quiet and inward man who occasionally breaks from his reticence with humorous insights about the world. He does this not through fanciful and elaborate explanations, but in pithy quotes or by reciting a shaer. As many thoughtful commentators on his life and poetry have suggested, much of my father’s poetic vision has been shaped by his experience as a witness to immense political tragedies like East Pakistan’s violent rebirth as Bangladesh in 1971, the Lebanese Civil War, and the ethnic and sectarian violence that overwhelmed Karachi in the 1990s. Musharraf Farooqi, my father’s ...

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A short biography of Mr West Pakistan

Mr West Pakistan turns 64 on Sunday. The retiree has come a long way since his birth. Unfortunately, now deathly ill, Mr Pakistan is desperately seeking a cure for the diseases that ravage his body after years of negligence. Born on a hot August day in 1947, little Pakistan came into the world with his twin brother East, and a completely dysfunctional family. Born prematurely amid severe complications, Mr Pakistan grew up an orphan. Abandoned by his mother, what little he knew of his father, was quickly erased by the abysmal faculty at school. His other brother, Mr India, did remember ...

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What I witnessed in Bangladesh

I would like to use this platform to address some of the comments received on my opinion editorial about my experience in Dhaka at the cricket World Cup quarter-final that Pakistan played against West Indies. Firstly, I would like to admit that what I saw of Bangladesh was only a microcosm of the country – I spent less than three days and only went around Dhaka. If someone told me they went to Pakistan and only saw a bit of Islamabad, I would say, “Well you haven’t really seen the country now, have you? There is so much more the ...

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