Every year on 17 August, the death anniversary of Shuhda-e-Bahawalpur is observed as an historic day with due solemnity and resolve to continue working towards the lofty goal of national aspirations for which General Ziaul Haq Shaheed and his associates worked so selflessly.
The decade under General Zia was the period of nation building and consolidation in complete accord with the national aspirations. Ever since his departure, the country has been sadly drifting to nothingness. An honest soul searching will prove my point.
The weak and confused policies of the successive regimes have marred the rising nation and emerging entity. Unfortunately all the governments have failed to take full cognizance of the conspiratorial aspect of the national crime to unearth the real powers and executors of this national disaster.
Voluminous books are required to describe the wise and virtuous leadership that General Zia embodied to steer the country clear of all odds and evils it was faced with. Here I will confine myself to one aspect – only of statesmanship that offered a great challenge to our national existence.
Rajiv Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister, was convinced at his heart that Pakistan was fully behind and responsible for Sikhs’ rising in revolt and consequent killing of his mother Indira Gandhi. Blinded by his Hindu myth, he chose to teach Pakistan a lesson. He ordered an all-out mobilisation of his forces and complete deployment of Indian forces with threatening posture.
In this connection, Mr Behra Manan, Advisor to Mr Rajiv Gandhi, wrote that India had deployed whole of its Army on the Borders.
Indian forces were waiting for orders from their Prime Minister. President Ziaul Haq arrived on a trip to India. Rajiv was disinclined to personally welcome him but was left with no choice and had to go to the airport. In an unwelcome gesture he extended his hand for a handshake and asked me to accompany President Zia to witness the cricket match. Zia was so strong-nerved that I noticed that despite such unpleasantries, there was a visible smile on his face.
Bidding departure from Rajiv, he said, “Mr. Rajiv you want to invade Pakistan? Ok fine go ahead! But please remember one thing that after that people will forget Changez Khan and Hilaku Khan and will remember Zia and Rajiv Gandhi only. Because it will not be a Conventional War. Pakistan may possibly suffer annihilation but Muslims will still survive because there are several Muslim countries in the world. But remember there is only one India and I shall wipe out Hinduism and Hindu religion from the face of the earth! And if you don’t order complete de-escalation and demobilisation before my return to Pakistan, the first word of mouth I will utter will be “Fire”!”
Bahra Manan further writes that. Rajiv Gandhi started sweating at the forehead, and I was feeling sensation over my spine.
At this moment, Zia looked to me as the most dangerous person of the world. He appeared stone-faced and his words sounded horror. Looking in his eyes, I was conveyed clearly that he will turn the whole of sub continent into ashes with nuclear strikes. “I was shuddering and shivering,” he wrote.
Instantly the smile returned to Zia’s face and he warmly shook hands with the rest of the people there. Except for me and Rajiv, no one knows as to what the soft looking and smiling Zia had conveyed to the Indian prime minister.
With tails in their legs, the Indian Forces started pulling back. Combining the essentials of leadership, statesmanship, generalship and employing strategy and tactics, Zia thwarted most dangerous moments in Indo-Pak history.