The One Unit was an assault on the rights and resources of the smaller provinces and their people. Only Sindh had surrendered three hundred million rupees, the surplus it had, to the One Unit Government. Karachi was also snatched from Sindh. The provinces were restored after 15-year long struggle on July 01, 1970.
By Prof. Aijaz A Qureshi
Today is 1st July 2020 – the day One Unit was done away with and all the provinces were restored on this date 50 years back in 1970. The infamous One Unit was created on 14th October 1955, amalgamating all the smaller provinces into one – the West Pakistan, to create parity in the country having only two provinces – West and East Pakistan.
It was General Ayub Khan who has taken the responsibility in his book ‘Friends, not Masters’ that it was he who prepared the plan in London in 1954. The others, who connived with him, was (mainly) the leadership of Punjab including Malik Ghulam Mohammad Khan, the then Governor General of Pakistan, Mian Mumtaz Mohammad Khan Doltana, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Mushtaq Gurmani, Malik Feroz Khan Noon, Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, the then Minister of Finance Govt. of Pakistan (who then became prime minister) and others.
In fact it was on the forceful behest of Punjab leadership that the One Unit was imposed. This is proved by the secret document prepared by Mr. Mumtaz Mohammad Khan Doltana which was floated and read out in all the assemblies. This leadership sought the support from all the provinces of the country. From Sindh Mohammad Ayub Khuhro, Pir Ali Mohammad Rashdi , Kazi Mohammad Akbar, from the then NWFP (now KPK) Khan Abdul Rashid, Dr. Khan Sahab, from Baluchistan Kazi Mohammad Issa, from East Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Bogra and Hussain Shaheed Suhrwardi were on the forefront for the One Unit scheme. All the provincial assemblies and smaller states such as Khairpur, Bahawalpur, Kalat also passed such resolutions.
GM Syed and Sheikh Mujib at a public meeting
However, the popular leadership – political leaders, students, scholars, social activists and civil society from whole of Pakistan opposed the creation of One Unit as they thought that this is aimed at domination of Punjab on other provinces. The people of three smaller provinces had strongly opposed the the scheme. The leaders who opposed the One Unit included, GM Syed, Shaikh Abdul Majeed Sindhi, Haider Bux Jatoi, Kazi Faiz Mohammad and others from Sindh, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Ajmal Khatak from KPK, Abdul Samad Achakzai, Attaullah Mangal, Ghos Bux Bazenjo and Akbar Bugti from Baluchistan. The students were on the streets very openly.
There is lot of material available on One Unit at National Documentation Center (NDC) Islamabad and archives of all the Provinces. Punjab and Sindh have enough material on One Unit. I myself travelled through the whole country and found very important documents.
The One Unit was an assault on the rights and resources of the smaller provinces and their people. Only Sindh had surrendered three hundred million rupees, the surplus it had, to the One Unit Government. Lahore was made the capital of West Pakistan making difficult for the people of other areas to travel and get their problems resolved.
It will be important to mention here that Karachi was taken away from Sindh in 1948 as the capital of Pakistan. After shifting the capital to Islamabad by General Ayub Khan, he returned Karachi to West Pakistan and not to Sindh. It was returned to Sindh only after the One Unit was undone by General Yahya Khan and the provinces were restored on 1st July 1970.
It was a fifteen-year long struggle of the people of three smaller provinces with support of Sheikh Mujeeb Rehman and progressive elements of Punjab that One Unit came down.
Professor Aijaz A Qureshi is a senior educationist. He had taken active part in anti-One Unit Movement during his student life.