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Prime Minister’s letter from Jail to the President



Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
On the evening of August 29, 2023, during a dinner-time talk show, I had the privilege of hearing an intriguing discussion about a prominent historical figure, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. He was not only a former Prime Minister but also a key figure in the Muslim League, second only to Jinnah himself. He laid the foundation of PML in Bengal and played a pivotal role in its success. However, his legacy was marred by multiple arrests and the painful charge of being a traitor.

Fueled by curiosity, I delved into the depths of the internet to uncover more about the matter. My search led me to a book titled Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy: A Biography, written by Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah, a cousin of Mr. Suhrawardy. As I began reading the book, it became apparent that its contents would grip me until the very end. This was a treasure trove of facts that conventional history books might never reveal – a history that had been manipulated by intellectuals, writers, and rulers, all of whom sought to rewrite the past according to their own narratives.

For the esteemed readers, I’ll share a few excerpts from a letter that was included as an appendix in the book. The letter opens with a resolute declaration: ‘Pakistan is my life, my passion.’

In the opening para he said, “I was arrested on 30 January 1962, and have since been detained under the Security of Pakistan Act 1962, in the Central Jail at Karachi. On 5 February 1962, I received the ‘Reasons’ for my detention. They are so vague and indefinite that it is impossible to make any representation regarding them other than a denial, and a reference to my past services as proof of their untruth.
I do not refer to the ‘Reasons’ of my detention, for these are so obviously and patently false that they could not have been the real reasons for the order of detention. You gave reasons and made charges not one of which is to be found among the ‘Reasons’ of my detention. Hence, it is quite clear that I have been arrested for reasons other than those supplied to me”. I claim that my patriotism is above suspicion and cannot be tarnished by any such contact.
I have noted, with great pain, that you are alleging that I accepted monetary assistance from those who are hostile to Pakistan.’ Pardon me, Mr. President, what possible justification have you for making such a serious charge; My only consolation is that such a statement will not be believed by any one in Pakistan or outside, except by those who wish to believe it. What you said to the Press clearly shows that my detention is based on raised ‘Reasons.’
I have been charged with misusing my personal influence and friendship in attempting to alienate the sympathies of some countries friendly to Pakistan. Let me tell you, Mr. President, what you do not know, that Pakistan is my life. I have, I believe, played a great part in bringing it into existence. Bengal was the only province— among the Muslim majority provinces—that gave a Muslim League Ministry to the Quaid-i-Azam—Bengal was the pawn in his hand due to which the Congress accepted the partition of India. And to make Bengal accept the Muslim League, and align itself in the struggle for Pakistan, I had to work night and day, at the cost of my own living, health and safety.
To charge me that I would say anything that may alienate the sympathies of the friendly countries is, pardon me, Mr. President, a damnable lie. I wish all those friendly countries would align themselves more openly with us, and come to our help whenever the occasion required.
I am alleged in the course of the last three years to have openly aligned myself with elements outside the country who are opposed to the various reforms carried out by the present regime. This charge is frankly so meaningless that I am beginning to wonder if it does not refer to the Revolution itself—not to the reforms of the present regime; but to the present regime as a reform.
I am charged with having insidiously set up cells in various cities of both East and West Pakistan where I am alleged to carry on propaganda against the achievements of the present regime. I have neither the capacity nor the ability nor the machinery nor the knowledge or experience of how to set up cells. When you banned political parties, that was the end of my party and of all organizations. It is true that people cannot cease to be politically minded by merely banning parties, and it can be taken for granted that as a rule people have some nostalgia for the parties to which they belonged. But as political parties go, your fiat was enough for me; and my party stood abolished and all the leaders ceased to exist as such. It is absolutely ridiculous that I should have set up cells in various cities, etc.
I am charged with having consistently preached hatred and contempt against the regime to my followers and colleagues of the now banned Awami League. On the face of it, the charge is ridiculous. Why should I preach hatred and contempt to them? Where was the occasion and what was the purpose?—Need I deny this fantastic charge? Have I become insane that I should indulge in such futility? Those who see me in Court do not think so.
The charge is that even up to this date I have remained irreconcilable to the concept of Pakistan. Mr. President, you, who have worked with me particularly when I was ‘Prime Minister’ do you believe it? What I have done for the concept of Pakistan and what I have suffered, I alone know; and when little men make such a charge against me what can I say? I referred very briefly to what I did for Pakistan and its concept. I even might like to take you back to the speech I made at the last Muslim League Convention at Delhi, Pakistan is my very life, and to make this filthy charge against me speaks of some cesspools in your administrative machinery, which have not been brought to your notice.
By unjustified criticism of the Foreign Policy of this country in the formulation of which policy you (I) played a leading role, you are (I am) causing serious embarrassment to the present Government’. I am grateful to the authorities that they have been gracious enough to admit that I played a leading role in the formulation of the Foreign Policy of Pakistan. Foreign Policy is for the Government of the day to formulate, to amend and to apply according to the circumstances.
And now, Mr. President, permit me, having dealt with the ‘Reasons’ to refer to your own statement which you made to the Press, which give reasons for my detention which are different from the charges and the reasons supplied to me.
These reasons given by you must be the real reasons for my detention, for you have uttered them. Presumably, the reasons supplied to me have been manufactured in the Office….FOR ME, PAKISTAN IS ONE AND INDIVISIBLE. It is for this I have risked and grown old. Both must remain together. East Pakistan stands in the greatest danger of being overwhelmed and destroyed and annexed by police action if it secedes. This is my reaction to any suggestion of secession. Again I say we must stay together and our safety is in cooperation with West Pakistan. I was called a traitor to East Pakistan, and I was told I was selling East Pakistan, but I held my ground and won for the sake of an integrated Pakistan. And do you think I could have been a party to secession?
Alas! Mr. President, by keeping me under detention with such terrible charges against me, you have destroyed my utility. I did not and never wanted and do not want any office or representation. I could have helped, if ever the occasion arose and my words would have proved useful to point out how necessary it was that the two wings must remain together, and that we must get rid of Provincial feelings.
The charges leveled against me show only too clearly, Mr. President, what little information you have about me and the services I have rendered in the creation of Pakistan. It is impossible for those who have not struggled on this behalf to have any conception of the fire of the love of Pakistan which burns in us, and how anxious we are to see Pakistan fulfill itself as a great nation. I wonder if you, Mr. President, can realize how humiliating it is to have to proclaim and justify my patriotism to those who are not aware of our past history.
I see no advantage in being released if you do not believe what I have said and you are against me, for then I shall always be in danger. Even a smile, a joke, a word, my presence at a party will be misunderstood, and if the aim is to find reasons, reasons will also be forthcoming.
Shaheed Suhrawardy died on 5 December 1963. East Pakistan seceded from Pakistan on 26 March 1971, just eight years after Shaheed Suhrawardy’s death.

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