Ayub Khan, a quintessence of evil, chastised Bangalees in his second book erroneously

 A.H. Jaffor Ullah

Published on June 25, 2007


How shameful is it that a great philanderer like Ayub Khan had the audacity to chastise the entire Bengali nation in his second book for not preserving the Muslim culture? The late military general was a walking contradiction in many ways. As he exuded the zeal for Islam, quietly he connived to deprive the Bangalees and that was not all � he also went on to woo the British call girl, Ms. Christine Keeler. Wasn�t he a playboy of the Eastern world?

General Ayub Khan, the first military despot who squashed democracy in October 1958, is known for making outrageous comments. His loath for Bengali people was widely known when he was the president of Pakistan. He looked at the masses of erstwhile East Pakistan with nothing but contempt. A handful of East Pakistani Muslim League leaders such as F.K. Chowdhury, Sabur Khan, Monem Khan, Moulvi Tamizuddin, and academicians such as Dr. M.O. Ghani, Dr. M.N. Huda, Dr. Golam W. Chowdhury, Dr. Sajjad Hussain, Dr. S.D. Chowdhury etc. were too obsequious and fawning in their attitude to their master and as such they remained reticent throughout the 1960s when the great Khan made his outlandish comments laced with diatribes against the Bengali people and their great heritage.

Ayub Khan being groomed at military academy in his youth had not studied the great culture of Eastern India (Maghad�s Gupta dynasty) that was based in Pataliputra nearly two thousand years ago. Similarly, his shallow understanding of linguistics of India including Bengali led him to pass remarks that are completely wrong but were often riddled with fanaticism. Ayub was a Hindu-hater � pure and simple and an unabashed one. Thus, in his eye Bengalis were trying to revert back to Hinduism. The only folks who protested to Ayub during 1960s were Awami League leaders including Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, a handful of professors from Dhaka University and literary personalities of East Pakistan such as Begum Sufia Kamal.

Why all of a sudden the ghost of Ayub Khan is resurfacing the news media after thirty-three years of his death in 1974? Incidentally, Ayub died at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA after being ill for few years.

Recently, Ayub Khan�s second book entitled �Dairies of Field Marshall Mohammad Ayub Khan: 1966-72� was posthumously published. I have not read the book from cover to cover but read some of the excerpts, which were published in the media. Ayub�s disdain and execration for Bangalees came out openly through his pen. His myopic mind could never fathom out the rich culture and history of Bengal; therefore, all he saw was the domination by Brahmins over huddled masses of eastern Bengal. He wrongly thought that his countrymen from eastern wing should have embraced the Urdu culture of Uttar Pradesh and Karachi (thanks to Muhajirs from UP and Punjab!) to become a pucca Pakistanis, which we Bengalis never did and the idea was fraught with abhorrence allover eastern Bengal. Ayub Khan was living in the past for in 1930s and early 1940s the idea that Bengali Muslims should forgo their mother tongue, Bangla, and learn Urdu to steep in Muslim culture was gaining strength in certain quarters. It was a few brave souls such as Bengali linguist Dr. Shahidullah who pooh-poohed the idea in late 1940s; his best advice was � leave Bengalis mother tongue alone. Ayub Khan�s comments that he made during 1960s vis-�-vis Bangalee people of East Pakistan regarding their love for their mother tongue and the sacrifice that they made in 1952 will paint a bleak picture of this military man who went to Sandhurst, U.K. in his youth to become a man in uniform. Granted that he learned the art of warfare but sadly he remained uneducated as far as culture and history of Indian subcontinent.

On June 24, 2007 Dhaka�s New Age published an article entitled �Ayub Khan hated �crooked� Bengalis.� Reading the article I first learned that Ayub�s second book being published. Ayub�s unsubstantiated claim had drawn criticism from many quarters. His one-sided view on Bangladesh�s liberation war, which crushed Jinnah�s Two-Nations Theory, tells us that he was vexed greatly because of the defeat of Pakistani army in the hands of Indian soldiers and Mukti Bahini fighters. He very conveniently found fault with everyone excepting Pakistani military establishment for this ignominy. He thought three parties, the �crooked� Bengalis, the �devious� Indians, and the �unreliable� Americans have done the Pakistani military in. He wrongly thought that Bengalis should not have seceded from Pakistan, the Indians should not have aided the Bengalis, and Americans should not have their hands-off policy.

Ayub Khan took control of Pakistan through a cantonment intrigue in October 1958 through which he ousted Maj. Gen. Iskander Mirza, a Bengali army officer turned politician who was the president of Pakistan at the time. He later instituted a homegrown version of democracy through which he ruled Pakistan until March 1969 when General Yahya Khan grabbed the power through a coup d'�tat. Ayub�s policy was outright hostile to East Pakistanis who saw the western wing of Pakistan flourish agriculturally, industrially, and industrially at their expense. For example, the entire output of Chittagong paper mill used to be sent to West Pakistan and a portion of which would return to East and by that time the price of the paper would be jacked up. Such was the step motherly attitude of the Pakistanis. During Ayub�s time many of the canals in Punjab were dug to make the province a granary while no dredging activity was put in place in East Pakistan to lessen the damaging effect of recurring flood which would come every year during monsoon time. It was Ayub�s myopic and vindictive policy that exacerbated the declining agricultural output of the eastern wing of Pakistan. The economic disparity between the two Pakistans was growing so much so that many intellectuals of East Pakistan had convinced the politicians especially Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Awami League to fight for the fair share of the national wealth of Pakistan. Needless to say, this is the fight that did Pakistan in few years later in 1971. By then, Ayub was long gone from catbird seat of power in Rawalpindi and like ordinary citizens of Pakistan he too witnessed the breakup of his motherland.

In his second book Ayub Khan blamed everyone excepting him for the breakup of Pakistan. He thought Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a conniving politician but he failed to apportion the blame to Pakistani military. He also thought that Gen. Yahya Khan was a weak military leader.

Gen. Ayub Khan took pride in being a pucca Muslim and he blamed the Bengalis for not choosing Urdu as the only national language of Pakistan. He erroneously thought that the Bengalis refusal to accept to adopt an alien culture from UP and Karachi, which was solely Urdu-based, had made them a tad closer to Urdu because Bengali language was derived from Sanskrit.

Let us investigate a little to see how much of a Muslim he was. It is true that we never saw even once the photo of his wife in the newspaper but was that a proof that he was a good Muslim?

In early 1960s (probably in 1961 or 1962) while attending the commonwealth conference in London Ayub Khan met the English call girl, Ms. Christine Keeler, who also had a dangerous liaison with British Minister of War, John Profumo. The picture of Ms. Keeler embracing Ayub Khan from while swimming in a pool was widely publicized in London�s newspapers. Gen. Ayub was a famous philanderer and lady�s man and the fact was known to his closely knit group of friends. And here is this man had no qualms chastising the entire Bengalis of East Pakistan for not being a good Muslim! General Ayub Khan was a quintessence of evil as far as Bengalis of East Pakistan was concerned. Through his second book he wanted to wallow in self-righteousness when the facts are other way around. His interminable diatribe against Bengali nation and its political leadership goes to show that he was a flippant human being. Ayub is long gone but it seems as if his ghost is here to stay in South Asia forever.


Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA