During the past nine days that I have spent in your province, I have been studying your local conditions and some of the problems that confront east Bengal. Tonight, on the eve of my departure, I want to place before you some of my impressions. Before I do this, however, let me first cordially thank you for the great warmth and affection with which you have received me everywhere in your midst during my stay here.
From the administrative point of view, East Bengal perhaps more than any other province of Pakistan, has had to face the most difficult problems as a result of Partition. Before August 14, it existed merely as a hinterland to Calcutta, to whose prosperity it greatly contributed but which it did not share. On August 14, Dhaka was merely a mofussil town, having none of the complex facilities and amenities, which are essential for the capital of a modern Government. Further, owing to partition, the province’s transport system had been thrown completely out of gear and the administrative machinery seriously disorganised at a time when the country was threatened with a serious food shortage. The new province of East Bengal thus came into being in the most unfavourable circumstances, which might easily have proved fatal to a less determined and less tenacious people. That the administration not only survived but even emerged stronger from such setbacks as the Chittagong cyclone, is a striking tribute both to the sterling character of the people as well as to the unremitting zeal of the Government of the province. The position now is that the initial difficulties have to a great extent been overcome and, though there is no ground for complacency, there are at least reasons for quiet confidence in the future. Though now undeveloped, East Bengal possesses vast potentialities of raw materials and hydroelectric power. In Chittagong you have the making of a first-class port which in time should rank among the finest ports in the world. Given peaceful conditions and the fullest co-operation from all sections of the people, we shall make this province the most prosperous in Pakistan.
It is a matter for congratulation that despite the massacre and persecution of Muslims in the Indian Domination in the months immediately following Partition, peaceful conditions have throughout prevailed in this province, and I have seen the minority community going about its normal day-to-day vocations in perfect security. Some migration of Hindus to the Indian Dominion, there unfortunately has been, though the estimates mentioned in the Indian press are ridiculous. I am satisfied, at any rate, that whatever movement there has been, has not in any way been due to their treatment here, which under the circumstances has been exemplary, but rather to psychological reasons and external pressure. Indian leaders and a section of the Indian press have indulged freely in war-mongering talks against Pakistan. There has been persistently insidious propaganda by parties like the Hindu Mahasabha in favour of an exchange of population: and disturbances in the Indian Dominion, in which Muslims have been persecuted; have not unnaturally given rise to fears in the mind of the minority community lest unpleasant repercussions should occur in East Bengal, even though such apprehensions have no foundation for they have been belied by actual facts. Over and above all these factors, the recent declaration by the Indian Dominion on Pakistan as a foreign country for customs and other purposes has involved the Hindu business community in serious economic difficulties and brought pressure to bear on many Hindu businessmen to remove their business to the Indian Dominion. I find that the Provincial Government have repeatedly given assurances and have at all times taken whatever steps were possible for the protection and well being of the minority community and have done their best to dissuade them from leaving their ancestral homes in East Bengal for an unknown fate in the Indian Union.
I would like now to offer a word of advice to the people of this-province. I notice a regrettable tendency on the part of a certain section of the people to regard their newly won freedom, not as liberty with the great opportunities it opens up and the heavy responsibilities it imposes, but as licence. It is true that, with the removal of foreign domination, the people are now the final arbiters of their destiny. They have perfect liberty to have by constitutional means any Government that they may chose. This cannot, however, mean that any group may now attempt by any unlawful methods to impose its will on the popularly elected Government of the day. The Government and its policy may be changed by the votes of the elected representatives of the Provincial Legislative Assembly. Not only that, but no Government worthy of the name can for a moment tolerate such gangsterism and mob rule from reckless and irresponsible people, but must deal with it firmly by all the means at its disposal. I am thinking particularly of the language controversy, which has caused quite unnecessary excitement and trouble in certain quarters in this province; and if not checked, it might lead to serious consequences. What should be the official language of this province is for your representatives to decide.
But this language controversy is really only one aspect of a bigger problem–that of provincialism. I am sure you must realize that in a newly-formed State like Pakistan, consisting moreover as it does of two widely separated parts, cohesion and solidarity amongst all its citizens, from whatever part they may come, is essential for its progress, nay for its very survival. Pakistan is the embodiment of the unity of the Muslim nation and so it must remain. That unity we, as true Muslims, must jealously guard and preserve. If we begin to think of ourselves as Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis etc. first and Muslims and Pakistanis only incidentally, then Pakistan is bound to disintegrate. Do not think that this is some abstruse proposition: our enemies are fully alive to its possibilities, which I must warn you they are already busy exploiting. I would ask you plainly, when political agencies and organs of the Indian press, which fought tooth and nail to prevent the creation of Pakistan, are suddenly found with a tender conscience for what they call the ‘just claims’ of the Muslims of East Bengal, do you not consider this a most sinister phenomenon? Is it not perfectly obvious that, having failed to prevent the Muslims from achieving Pakistan, these agencies are now trying to disrupt Pakistan from within by insidious propaganda aimed at setting brother Muslim against brother Muslim? That is why I want you to be on your guard against this poison of provincialism that our enemies wish to inject into our State. There are great tasks to be accomplished and great dangers to be overcome: overcome them we certainly shall but we shall do so much quicker if our solidarity remains unimpaired and if our determination to march forward as a single, united nation remains unshaken. This is the only way in which we can raise Pakistan rapidly and surely to its proper, worthy place in the comity of nations.
Here I would like to address a word to the women of East Pakistan. In the great task of building the nation and maintaining its solidarity women have a most valuable part to play, as the prime architects of the character of the youth that constitute its backbone, not merely in their own homes but by helping their less fortunate sisters outside in that great task. I know that in the long struggle for the achievement of Pakistan, Muslim women have stood solidly behind their men. In the bigger struggle for the building up of Pakistan that now lies ahead, let it not be said that the women of Pakistan had lagged behind or failed in their duty.
Finally, I would address a special word to Government servants, both Central and Provincial –that great body of pioneers, many of whom have been working under very difficult conditions in this province. Yours is a great responsibility. You must ensure that this province is given, not merely the ordinary routine services that you are bound to perform, but rather the very last ounce of selfless endeavour that you are capable of producing for your State. In the great task of building up this State, you have a magnificent opportunity. You must continue to face the future, handle your jobs with the same courage, confidence and determination as you have so far displayed. Above all do not allow yourselves to be made the pawns of mischievious propagandists and self-seeking agitators who are out to exploit both you and the difficulties with which a new State is inevitably faced the Government of Pakistan and the Provincial Government have been anxiously devising ways and means whereby your housing and other difficulties, inescapable in a period of such rapid transition, may be relieved and I trust that these difficulties will soon disappear. You owe it to the great State to which you belong, to the people whom you serve and, indeed, to yourself not to be daunted by any difficulties, but to press on and go forward and maintain sustained efforts with single-minded devotion. Pakistan has a great future ahead of it. It is now for us to take the fullest advantage of what nature has so abundantly provided us with and builds up a glorious and mighty State.