I’ve been doing a bit of research about the domestic political fallout from the 1965 war and the Tashkent declaration and I came across this speech [pdf] delivered by Ayub Khan on October 2 1965, 10 days after the ceasefire.
Here are a few excerpts, but it’s definitely worthwhile reading the entire document:
My dear countrymen. Assalamoalaikum. The people of Pakistan were put to a great test during the month that has gone by. A treacherous enemy applied his entire armed might in a bid to conquer Pakistan. He respected no principles, recognized no rules. His sole purpose was to demonstrate to the world that his forces could subjugate a smaller neighbor. But he reckoned without the will of the people of Pakistan which proved mightier than all that the army possessed. Pitched against faith and determination of our people his vast forces dispersed and retreated. Whenever they made an attempt to advance they were thrown back in one powerful sweep. While the enemy continues to hold bits of territories along our borders, he has surrendered substantial territory in the Chamb, Khem, Karan, Fazilka and Rajhastan sectors.
These facts are still unknown to the people of India because they have been drugged on the false stories of imaginary successes achieved by their rulers.
The Indian air force has been crippled, their vital air bases demolished and the Indian Army’s armored might badly mauled.
In return the Indian forces can show few strips of land here and there well away from our forward defence lines and a number of civilian areas which they indiscriminately bombed.
How did this miracle happen? It happened because our cause was just and moral.
This speech is just an example of the official government propaganda during the 1965 war that must be read in order for a present-day reader to understand the violent domestic reaction to the January 10 1966 Tashkent Declaration signed by Ayub Khan and Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. The basic clauses of the Tashkent declaration were as follows:
* Indian and Pakistani forces would pull back to their pre-conflict positions
* The nations would not interfere in each other’s internal affairs
* Economic and diplomatic relations would be restored
* The two leaders would work towards building good relations between the two countries.
Given the actual military results of the war, this should not have been particularly surprising to the Pakistani public but the Pakistani public had been fed on reports of military success like the speech above and as a result there were riots in Punjab and Karachi; windows were smashed and buildings set on fire and Ayub Khan suffered a massive loss of popularity. The Tashkent Declaration was criticized by almost all major political parties and rival politicians such as Fatima Jinnah who said:
What the blood of our brave soldiers achieved was thrown away at the conference table
Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s (who was later to resign from the administration and join politics) reaction to the Declaration was:
Asghar Khan narrated his impression of the Declaration in the following words: “The Indians were jubilant and smiling. Tashkent Declaration was for Pakistan a statement of surrender. The Indians were all over the room shaking any hand that they could grasp. It was as if India had defeated Pakistan in hockey at the Olympic” (Khan, 1978:120-121)
(by the way, I love this quote — only in Pakistan would a comparison to an Indian victory over Pakistan in a sporting event be made to illustrate the significance of a political event)
Ayub Khan’s own foreign minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto distanced himself from the Ayub regime following the Declaration and was even said to have started spreading rumors that there were hidden (and even more humiliating) clauses in the Declaration that would be revealed at a later date. Ultimately the domestic reaction to the Declaration was a major contribution to the downfall of the Ayub regime.
I’m always reminded of this particular sequence of events when confronted with some of the more egregious displays of political rhetoric like what we are seeing with the media and opposition reactions to the Kerry Lugar Bill. An example is Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s ‘fiery’ speech against the Kerry Lugar Bill in the National Assembly on Wednesday – similar to the fiery speech he delivered in favour of the ill-fated Nizam-e-Adal Regulation in Swat in April. The nature of our political space is such that it allows rhetoric to be practiced by all participants pretty much without constraint in order to maximise their short-term political gain. In the long-run, there is invariably disaster and the distance between rhetoric and reality is so extreme that the public cannot react any other way but by burying its collective head even further into the sand.