Dr Tauseef Aized There are incidents in the history of every nation which have profound future implications. In many cases, such incidents are controversial and are always a matter of debate and discussion among different sections of a society. The Rawalpindi conspiracy case is one such unfortunate event in our post-independence history which has impacted our political and, to some extent, social history. After a lapse of six decades, the event ought now to be analysed objectively in order to learn useful lessons from it as the dust of emotions and sentiments has settled down. The central character of the case was Maj Gen Akbar Khan who was born in a village of Charsadda district in 1912. After completing his early education from Islamia College, Peshawar, he was commissioned in the British Indian Army and was serving as a brigadier at the time of independence. Soon after independence, the war broke out between Pakistan and India on the issue of annexation of Kashmir. Akbar Khan led the regular army and civilian tribes against India in the war, whereas General David Gracy was the C-in-C of the Pakistan Army. In fact, Gracy was not in favour of Pakistan's deep involvement in the war. As a consequence, Pakistan could only succeed in occupying some parts of Kashmir. This situation disheartened Brig Khan who was an extremely brave soldier. He was highly frustrated over Pakistan's acceptance of ceasefire and thus turned against the state policy on the Kashmir dispute. He used to express his wrath against the ceasefire indiscreetly in the presence of all and sundry. His spouse, Begum Nasim was the daughter of a renowned woman leader of the Muslim League, Begum Jehan Ara Shahnawaz. She was also highly critical of the government policies. Khan's boldness combined with frustration incited him to make a plan of overthrowing the incumbent government. At that time, Liaquat Ali Khan was the PM and Khawaja Nazimud Din was the governor general. The regime had put severe sanctions on the communist Party of Pakistan which was not permitted to take part in political activities. Due to her family background, Begum Nasim had vast political connections and Faiz Ahmad Faiz was among her friends. Faiz Sahib was the editor of the then reputed daily and was ideologically committed and a great sympathiser of the communist party. Hence, the frustration of both Akbar Khan and Faiz pushed them closer to ousting the incumbent regime. Consequently, Khan convened a meeting at his place in Rawalpindi on February 23, 1951 which was attended by Faiz, Syed Sajjad Zaheer, the then secretary general of the party, and Muhmmad Hussain Ata, another leader of the party. Besides civilians, Akbar Khan, Lt Col Siddique Raja and Maj M Yousaf Sethi were present in the meeting. According to the proposed coup detat presented by Khan, both GG and PM were to be arrested; the GG was to be forced to dismiss the PM and his government. After dismissal of the government, Khan was to form the new government which was to organise general elections in the country. The new government was to allow the communist party to participate in the political process and as a return, the party was to welcome and provide support to the new government. The daily under the editorship of Faiz, was to provide the editorial support to the new government. One of Khan's confidants, Ali, who was a police officer, reported the whole plan to the IG Police who, through the Governor of NWFP, brought the plan to the knowledge of the PM. As a Consequence, Khan, Begum Nasim, Faiz and Zaheer were arrested. The case began in the court, especially prepared for the trial in the compound of the Hyderabad jail. The prosecution was led by A K Brohi and Hussain Shaheed Suherwardi and others appeared on behalf of the accused. The army officers who were present in the meeting, except Khan, became approvers in order to seek state pardon and became witnesses of the meeting. The case was not false altogether. The accused claimed that the meeting had ended without any accord after a protracted eight hours of heated debate. According to the law of the land, the conspiracy could only be established if there was an agreement on the plan. Since, no agreement was reached, there was no conspiracy. After months of trial, finally, the court declared its judgement. The civilians and the junior army officers were imprisoned for four years and Akbar Khan for 14 years. The most astonishing point of the case was the collaboration between the communist party leaders and the army officers, as both sections of the society possessed different approaches towards the society and its functioning and evolution. The writer is a professor at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore and currently, research fellow at the Monash University, Australia E-mail: tauseef_aized@yahoo.com