Perhaps when they say this soil smells like the blood of our martyrs, they refer to the innocent lives that died hoping to see Pakistan become a place they can call home.
Yahya Khan was the 3rd President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the stakeholder in the separation of East Pakistan; he was the successor of General Ayub Khan, who was dethroned due to major civil discourse in the country.
Yahya Khan soon after taking over dissolved the Provincial and National assembly and disengaged the constitution. He then withheld the first nationwide elections, 23 years after the independence. But the results backfired as the split of East and West Pakistan became more prominent.
The country was now split between Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto as the leader of the West and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman as the leader of the East. This further inflamed the civil discourse that lead to East Pakistan authorities to violently suppress the rebellion during which thousands of lives were lost and what is today referred as the Bangladesh Genocide of 1971.
Pakistan then conceded a decisive defeat in the East Pakistan liberation war 1971, after which Yahya Khan was forced to step down from the hierarchy and let Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto lead the country. He was also forced to resign from the military forces in disgrace and was sentenced house arrest.
Today, we remember a part of history that we walked out of, injured. We remember the times where the country’s sanctity was at stake and we wish for better days where we stand united. There are many things about a country that cannot be controlled, but can be learnt from.
The past only haunts us if the present is no better. We are segregated in many ways today; we do still oppress minorities and degrade people that belong to marginalised franchises. But there is hope in knowing that people now have a voice. They can speak what they think is appropriate and right.