In conversation with Dr Rafique Ahmed - 

Like the people in my locality in Lahore and elsewhere in the country, I was shell shocked on hearing the tragic news of Dhaka Fall. My dear and near ones, friends and people in the locality were in state of mourning. Grief stricken people in streets and bazaars of Lahore were condoling each other over the tragedy. They were in state of disbelief that India had defeated our army. Majority believed that it was a fight between two brothers and sooner or later they would reconcile. It took a lot of time to people to come out of the agony. Still people like me feel the agony of the tragedy on the days of the happening every year.

Professor Dr Rafique Ahmad was a worker of Pakistan Movement who developed friendship with students from East Pakistan while studying on a scholarship at Oxford University, London. He previously served as Vice Chancellor of the Universities of Punjab and Bahawlapur. He is a celebrated economist and carries over 35 years experience of postgraduate teaching and research in Pakistan and abroad. He received his DPhil Degree from University of Oxford, England. Dr Ahmad has authored or co-authored seven books on economy of Pakistan and Islamic economics. He has also contributed more than fifty research articles in various national and international journals. He is Chief Editor of Economic Insight and Vice Chairman of Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust.

He is member of Boards of Governors of several universities and research institutions and member of professional bodies including American Economic Association and Royal Economic Society London.

I am a Lahorite from the core of my heart. I rejected the offer of working in the US and preferred to serve my own people after completion of my studies. I developed good liaison with students from East Pakistan during my stay at Oxford. Students from East and West Pakistan-100 each from both the wings-were given scholarship to study at Oxford in early 60s. They (East Pakistan) were generally not happy with the attitude of students from the Western part of the country. They believed west was benefitting from all the resources generated by the eastern wing. They liked Army but were critical on the issue of top slots occupied by West Pakistan. The same was the case with representation in top bureaucracy. Equal distribution of resources between East and West Pakistan was also taken as injustice with the wing having greater population. They believed that share should be given in accordance with the population. It was their impression that Islamabad belonged to people from East Pakistan. Its my impression that the people from our part were also keeping them at arm’s length. Bengali Hindus and India were not wasting any opportunity to malign West Pakistan and they used the issue of Jute to good effect. We continued to live together like brothers due to Islam and strong affiliation with the motherland. But Indian propaganda and influential Bengali Hindus managed to separate two brothers and now Pakistan and Bangladesh are two independent states on world map.

For a time period, people continued to believe that Pakistan and Bangladesh would unite soon. Happenings at meeting of leadership of Islamic countries in Lahore strengthened the impression among public. Both Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Mujeebur Rehman expressed love and warmness during the summit. But with the passage of time people started accepting the reality. We should understand that East Pakistan has separated but not merged with India. We should develop cordial relations with Bangladesh. It is time to learn lesson from the past mistakes, avoid repeating the same and unite the nation for solidarity and prosperity of the country. We should keep an eye on internal and external challenges as enemies are again active to damage Pakistan. We should not ignore threats of Narindra Modi, old enemy of Pakistan. We should realize the geographic importance of Pakistan. We have rare tourist sites not available anywhere on the globe. We have all seasons, hottest and coldest places in the world. Pakistan possesses meeting point of three mountain ranges and 83 out of 114 highest peaks in the world. We only need realisation, learning lesson from past mistakes, developing unity and working as nation for the solidarity and development of our beloved motherland. As he told Iqtidar Gilani