Yahya Khan’s contribution to Crisis in Pakistan

Professionally Yahya’s services in Royal Army were far superior to Ayub Khan’s. Ayub Khan never performed in battlefield or battlefronts in World War 2 whereas Yahya Khan had with distinction served as soldier so much so that in the Second World War he was taken as prisoner of war by Italy. However he was shrewd enough to escape from prison. When he took over from Ayub Khan and became the master of destiny of Pakistan his performance was worse than commander an enemy force. In fact in Pakistan promotion to the office of Chief of Army Staff which was titled as Commander in Chief was never on merits. Junior generals were promoted to the dismay of the seniors. There is a singular instance of General Akbar who joined army as a recruit in First World War and rose to the rank of a full general, along with this in the history of Pakistan he was the person who refused to take charge of Commander in Chief in spite of having been chosen for that, saying he was not fit for the job. The nominations to this sensitive office on considerations other than professional emboldened the promotes to this office to do whatever they would like. This is one of the reasons that Army in Pakistan as frequently interfered in politics and overthrew civilian governments. All the mal-performance in Ayub Khan’s days particularly the discriminatory treatment with Bengalis resulted in Mujib-ur-Rehman’s agitation whereby he wanted his six-point agenda to be adopted as basic document of social contract. The sic points are reproduced as under:- 1. The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense based on the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a Legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise. 2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: Defense and Foreign Affairs, and all other residual subjects should be vested in the federating states. 3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate Banking Reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan. 4. The power of taxation and revenue collection should be vested in the federating units and the federal center would have no such power. The federation would be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures. 5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries. 6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary force. Because of lack of confidence in themselves the West Pakistani leaders, but for the left wing politicians like National Awami Party and some Baloch leaders, furiously resented these points always apprehending that if a Government is formed on basis of universal franchise it will be always a Bengali dominated government. To avoid this domination of Bengalis the four provinces of West Pakistan namely NWFP, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan along with princely states within these territories were merged into one unit. And the rule of parity was enshrined in the constitution instead of universal suffrage. The rest of the points in this agenda might have been negotiable but universal suffrage was the most difficult for the West Pakistanis to swallow. In West Pakistan tide of Bhutto popularity had bewildered the rightest leadership and they became sure that Bhutto will have sway in this part of the the country and they will have no chance to ever be in power. Under the pressure of right wingers the demand of smaller units of West Pakistan to dissolve One Unit could not succeed. These were the conditions when Yahya Khan usurped power. Since he was clever enough to escape from Axis Prison he thought that he could better maneuver to remain in his position. The later performance of Yahya Khan was in this psychologic makeup. Since the short tenure of martial law under Yahya Khan yielded much more drastic results than Ayub Khan’s Eleven Years in power therefore a longer treatment of his regime is required. To continue.

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