Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Villains of the Bangla (Bengali) Language Movement -- 2

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  • Liaquat Ali Khan (1896 - 1951):
After the independence of Pakistan on August 14, 1947, Liaquat Ali Khan (he was given the title 'Quaid-e-Millat' -- Leader of the Nation) becomes the Prime Minister under the Governor-General Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

In Liaquat Ali Khan's cabinet was the Education Minister Fazlur Rahman, a Bangali from Calcutta. In November, 1947, Mr. Rahman convenes the Pakistan Educational Conference in Karachi where the maximum number of participants were from West Pakistan. In this conference, the minister made derogatory remarks on Bangla language and script. In a unilaternal resolution, the conference proposed Urdu to be accepted as the only state language of Pakistan. This conference also designated Urdu as a compulsory subject in Pakistani schools.

On February 23, 1948, the first session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was presided by Governor-General Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Members of the Assembly were told to speak either in Urdu or English. Dhirendranath Datta, an opposition member belonging to the East Pakistan Congress Party, moved an amendment motion to include Bangla along with Urdu and English as the languages of the Assembly. Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, East Pakistan Chief Minister Khwaja Nizamuddin and some others openly opposed the motion.

The "language of a hundred million Muslims is Urdu"

In response to Dhirendranath Datta's amendment motion, Liaquat Ali Khan said: "Pakistan is a Muslim state, and it must have its lingua franca, a language of the Muslim nation. The mover [Dhirendranath Datta] should realize that Pakistan has been created because of the demand of a hundred million Muslims in this sub-continent, and the language of a hundred million Muslims is Urdu. It is necessary for a nation to have one language and that language can only be Urdu and no other language." (Fighting Words: Language Policy and Ethnic Relations in Asia by Michael E. Brown and Sumit Ganguly, Editors; p.58)

If we carefully note Liaquat Ali Khan's words, we see that he was wrong in his statement. Either he deliberately told a lie or totallly avoided the truth. When he mentioned one hundred million Muslims in the Indian subcontinent, he did not include the Bangali Muslims whose mother tongue was Bangla (Bengali). It clearly shows that he did not consider Bangali Muslims as real Muslims!

Under Liaquat Ali Khan's Prime Ministership, the report of the first Basic Principles Committee (that was given charge of drafting recommendations for Pakistan's first constitution) recommended Urdu as the only state language of Pakistan.

Islamization Programs for East Pakistan and Bangla Language

In 1950, Liaquat Ali Khan's Education Minister Fazlur Rahman started Islamization programs for East Pakistan and Bangla language. Mr. Rahman set up 20 "adult education centres" in East Pakistan to teach Bangla using Arabic alphabet. He also established a 'language committee' to Islamize Bangla language by using more Arabic, Farsi and Urdu words and lessening the use of Sanskrit-based words. The intention was to minimize the Hindu influence among the Bangali Muslims! This plan of the government to manipulate the Bangla language brought about such opposition in East Pakistan that the plan was never implemented.

In September, 1950, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan submits an interim report (a kind of draft constitution) to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Bangalis found two points there very objectionable: first, Bangalis being a majority in number would not get a majority representation in the Assembly, and second, Urdu to be the only state language of Pakistan. East Pakistanis were so enraged that after two months he withdrew the interim report.

Life-Sketch of Liaquat Ali Khan

Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan was born on October 1, 1896 at Karnal (in Haryana State of present-day India) in 1895. His father was Rustam Ali Khan, the Nawab (zamindar) of Karnal. In 1918, after his studies at the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College of Aligarh in Allahabad, he went to Exeter College of the Oxford University in England and graduated in 1921.Then he was called in the bar in the Inner Temple in London in 1922.

On his return to India as a barrister in 1923, he joined the All India Muslim League and entered politics. He was involved with Mohammad Ali Jinnah in securing the separate homeland of Pakistan for the Muslims.

On August 14, 1947, he became the first Prime Minister and Defense Minister of the Dominion of Pakistan. He was also the Vice Chairman of the Basic Principles Committee of the Constituent Assembly in March, 1949 and submitted its first report in 1950.

After the death of Governor-General Mohammad Ali Jinnah on September 11, 1948, the problem of religious minorities flared up in 1950. There was apprehension at the time that Pakistan and India would get engaged in the second war (the first war was in Kashmir resulting in a ceasefire on January 1, 1949). At this time Liaquat Ali Khan and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru signed the Liaquat-Nehru Pact in 1950 in an effort to improve relations, reduce tensions between these two countries and to protect their religious minorities.

On October 16, 1951, while addressing a public meeting at Rawalpindi a Pashtun Afghan shot him to death.

(Continued)


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