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By Sharif Shahabuddin
Talks between Bhutto-Yahya and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had reached an agreement that Bhutto would be the foreign minister in the new cabinet headed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Soon after the conclusion of the talks, the news, in a very secret way, came to Sheikh Moni, one of the four youth leaders.
Sheikh Moni rushed to Iqbal Hall and sat in a crucial meeting with his colleagues, Sirajul Alam Khan, founder of JSD, Abdur Razzak, Awami League general secretary and Tofail Ahmed, hero of the 1969 Mass Uprising and the organizing secretary of Awami League. Of them, Razzak was more affectionate towards Bangabandhu because of his utmost sincerity and faithfulness. It was decided that this arrangement would not be acceptable and they would convince Bangabandhu not to fall into the trap set by Bhutto.
They knew that if Sheikh Mujib takes a decision, it would be very difficult to change it. And accordingly it was decided that Razzak would raise the issue before Bangabandhu and in an appealing tone he would try his best to convince Bangabandhu of the fact that the nation was ready to go for an all-out war of liberation. Hence the formation of cabinet with Bhutto might become the main reason for country’s independence to delay.
Almost every evening these four former student leaders used to have dinner with Bangabandhu after his release from jail in 1969. As usual, they arrived at 32 Dhanmondi residence of Sheikh Mujib. First they had raised the issue to Begum Mujib. Bangabandhu returned home a bit late in the evening. He looked a bit tensed and sort of moody. He went straight upstairs and came back to the dining table as he used to do every night. But he could sense that his boys were not unaware of the political development and the proceedings of the negotiation in Bangabhaban, the president’s house of then East Pakistan.
Begum Mujib was seriously involved in all the affairs of her husband and at crucial moments she would be decisive. The atmosphere was filled with silence. Nobody was talking. Begum Mujib first broke the ice and started talking while serving food on the plate of Bangabandhu. At one stage she expressed her views about Bhutto. She clearly said that Bhutto had ulterior motives and she was not in favour of Bangabandhu forming a government with Bhutto.
Before Bangabandhu could speak, Sheikh Moni took the opportunity and alleged that Bhutto’s past record was not good. Annihilating his opponents was his main characteristics. Thereupon, followed a long debate on the issue, and they requested Bangabandhu not to go for forming the government keeping Bhutto as the foreign minister. Bangabandhu was finally convinced and abandoned the idea of compromising with the cabinet project.
Actually, the proposal was initiated by President Yahya Khan himself on condition that he would remain as the president. Before coming to Dhaka, Yahya told the journalists that he was going to talk to Sheikh Mujib, the future prime minister of Pakistan. But the real problems had been with Bhutto, and the common people and the members of the Pakistan army understood later that due to Bhutto Pakistan broke apart.
Bhutto’s hands were stained with the blood of 3 million Bangalee martyrs. And, as divine justice, he had to pay for himself. He was hanged in the most brutal manner.
For obvious reasons the talks in Dhaka failed, as the military rulers of Pakistan and their unscrupulous ally Mr Bhutto had something different in their mind. He gambled with Pakistan itself for achieving his selfish political end at the cost of Pakistan. The stupid Pakistani soldiers initially could not understand the meaning of “Idhar Ham, Udhar Tum.” The intonation was that, “you rule East Pakistan, I rule West Pakistan,”
If so then who broke Pakistan? The Pakistani soldiers and the people could understand who broke Pakistan apart. And only because of that General Yahya Khan could have been easily executed.