History Martial Law

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Mar 15, 2007
Following a tumultuous decade of civilian rule, the military dictatorship of Ayub Khan took over in 1958. Army rule, with all its oppressive trappings, had significant impact on the situation in East Pakistan. Firstly, the Punjabi elite of the army displaced the mohajir from their lofty positions in the civil bureaucracy and the business community. This meant that, the already negligible Bengali share of the pie shrunk even further. In addition, the Punjabi military rulers took a very hostile approach to the Bengali middle class. To Ayub Khan and others like him, the Bengali middle class, with its pride in education and gentle manners, was the antithesis of the practical warrior code of life that the army was now bringing to Pakistan. Conflict was frequent in the ten years of Ayub's rule. Aminul Kawser Dipu tells this striking anecdote, which illuminates the air of distrust that prevailed on both sides; "I was in the train station, waiting for something. Now, at that time, I am a thin boy, very slight in build. There was a convoy getting on the train, and they were very smartly marching onto reserved carriages. Anyway, I soon lost interest in them and went over to the platform. I was doing something, don't remember, perhaps looking inside the carriages, when suddenly I feel something on my back. Next thing I know, I am lying on my back on the other side of the platform, staring as one convoy marches away. Apparently what happened was, I was in the way of one group marching along. So the company leader just picked me up and threw me to the side. I am so young, and yet I remember, right then and there, I developed pure hatred for these bloody Urduwallahs. Is this any way to treat a human being? I knew then, it was impossible to live with them."