At the root of the struggle for a separate homeland of the then East Pakistanis lay in the lingering perception, perhaps larger than reality, of discrimination at the hands of West Pakistanis, which took an ugly turn and later resulted in the emergence of Bangladesh. But that sad and heart-rending event the fall of Dhaka that took place 39 years ago today is now a chapter of our history, a poignant and perpetual reminder of our failings in the removal of the feelings of exploitation to maintain unity. Fortunately, however, the two countries have been able to build friendly, stable relations, though the India factor of a dirty and aggravating role remains constant even today. That Bangladesh was able to get over its initial hiccups and has prospered constitute glad tidings for the people of Pakistan. The creation of Bangladesh because of our own faults must, therefore, make us reflect whether we have learnt our lessons or whether we are still engaged in pursuit of narrow parochial games, blind to the baleful consequences for the overall interests of the nation. Before we find any answers, let us keep in mind that not a few outsiders, and not always nurturing malicious thoughts about Pakistan, have been calling us a failing, or even failed, state having lost all chances of recovery. Even kindlier observers raise their eyebrows at the way our leadership is conducting itself. We should have no reservations about conceding that over the years since 1971, with two long and corrosive interludes of military rule and highly corrupt and inept civilian leadership particularly in the present phase, the polity has grievously suffered. Balochistan, with its grouse of step-motherly treatment and government failure to remedy the situation and effectively put a stop to foreign agents exploitation of the dissidents, is a standing example of dogged adherence to the practice of olden days. The charges of corruption, favouritism and mismanagement are palpably justified; they cannot stand the test of ordinary scrutiny, or a court hearing. Lucrative government contracts are awarded to cronies or front men; projects do not materialise but payments are made. Jobs in the top official hierarchy go to convicted friends who do not even measure up to the requirement of educational qualifications. Orders once issued are withdrawn under pressure. Law and order has been left to gangsters and lawbreakers to handle. Instead of setting things right by dutifully complying with verdicts of the courts an imperative of a democratic order the rulers are in open defiance of them. The greatest shame is that, as the judiciary, the media and even foreign governments and observers cry foul, the rulers relish in the thoughts and deeds of their corrupt ways, refusing to change course or step down.