Shylock’s clever simulation of his usuary with Jacob’s multiplication of flock at the expense of Laban’s, failed to impress Antonio. In reply, he cautioned his friend, “mark you this, Bassanio, the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose”. The misuse of religion to enhance one’s vested interests is not new, human history is rife with it. Immediately before the partition, the hierarchy of the Muslim League began to recite the scripture to gain political mileage over its opponents. The earthly lords of Punjab adopted honorific titles to look divine to deceive ordinary voters. Mamdot, Munir Report says, became Pir of Mamdot Sharif, Shaukat Hayat Sajjada Nashin of Wah Sharif, Firoz Khan Noon became Sajjada Nashin of Sargodha Sharif, and Ibrahim Chishti finding nothing suitable embraced an amusing title of Fazil-Hind Sajjada Nashin of Pisa Akhbar Sharif. With the changing winds, the feudal of the Unionist Party decided to cast off their veneer of secularism for the cloak of neo-Islamism with nonchalant ease and became the reborn evangelic of the Muslim Leagues. Under the pinkish tide of 1971-77, when the class contradictions became unresolvable, to diversify the public’s attention from the economic woes through class collaboration, ZA Bhutto, the Gramscian Caesar of Pakistan unleashed the dark fundamentalist forces upon religious minorities. The religious gimmickry could neither increase his vote bank nor gratify the right-wing forces, especially the army hounding after his blood. Finally, the man loathed by both Nixon and Kissinger for his “violently anti-Indian, pro-Chinese” stance (Gary Bass 2013) was overthrown by a mercenary. No afterthought, explanation, verbiage, or verbosity can act as a smokescreen to masquerade the disgrace and humiliation and turn it into solace. Zia regime did not “start in the tradition of Suharto or Pinochet” but “in the name of the Islamic way of life”. Anticipating its brutal anti-people character, Aijaz Ahmed predicted it to be the most reactionary of its kind, which was to impose a medieval labour code in factories, weed out all remnants of intellectual life in the universities and reverse all the marginal gains the peasantry made during Bhutto era struggle …and terror under such a regime, he predicted was likely to reach a scale unknown and unimagined in the body politics. His hands, immersed in the Palestinians’ blood and the history of a selective genocide in Bengal fresh in his subconscious, Zia conquered the country again. The scripture was recited, people were brutely suppressed, and nearly a hundred thousand were arrested for protesting against the coercive logic of capitalism and the medieval laws imposed by a tinpot dictator seeking legitimacy. Bengal is the Achilles heel of the Pakistani army. In his latest speech, the outgoing Pakistani army chief corrected the record, not 90,000 soldiers but a mere 34,000 were asked to surrender before the Indian army on the fateful day of 17th December. The slim military strength of the Pakistani army fighting a civil war against an entire nation bewildered an American general. “Can 30,000 troops do anything against 75 million people? The dumbfounded general inquired. “It could be very bloody…Bengal will be another Biafra”. So, it was but enough to highlight the bankruptcy of the military strategy of those sitting in the presidency and the GHQ. Was the adventure in Bengal a political mistake or a military debacle or both? The generals alone can answer for in either case they were dictating their terms to the civilians in either sphere. Every year, the red December of 1971 reminds the horrible days of a meek surrender, dressed up lately as gallantry, in the killing fields of Dhaka. “The bloody massacre in Bangladesh,” Milan Kundera says, “caused Allende to be forgotten…”. “In the dark annals of modern cruelty, it ranks bloodier than Bosnia and by some accounts in the same rough league as Rwanda….the military,” Archer Blood the Council General of the US in Dhaka wrote, “had destroyed the country: guardians of nation’s honour and integrity struck the sharpest blow conceivable against the raison d’etre of Pakistan. General Niazi frankly wrote of the killing of civilians and a scorched earth policy, condemning a display of stark cruelty, more merciless than the massacres…by Genghis Khan…or at Jallianwala Bagh by the British General Dyer” (Blood Telegram 2013)”. No afterthought, explanation, verbiage, or verbosity can act as a smokescreen to masquerade the disgrace and humiliation and turn it into solace. “The story of East Bengal will surely be written as one of the greatest nightmares of modern times,” declared Edward Kennedy who found similarities between Vietnam and Bengal both were the victims of selective genocide, and “in both places the US was standing behind illegitimate governments”. Later, Kennedy forgot to say anything about the slaying of democracy in Pakistan because the US needed a tried and tested general to launch a full-scale war on the Soviet-backed Afghan government. The Jihad wrecked both Afghanistan and Pakistan and messed up Pakistan’s relations with Syria, Libya, and the people of Afghanistan. However, if Bengal was a mistake, why was it repeated a few years later in Baluchistan first and six years later by disposing of a popularly elected premier to the gallows? The Bloch’s suffering continues to be unabated. The unending saga of missing persons, the forceful acquisition of public land in Gwadar and Hingol Park, erecting of an apartheid wall around the seaport, and depriving the people of their resources forcing them to live in the medieval age are the realities of today. Apolitical is political and to claim otherwise is naivety or hypocrisy. Secondly, no one can stop people from criticising those who are the cause of the tragedy they are facing today. The crisis of the Pakistani state has become acute, its very survival is at stake. The IMF is not sanguine about its fate and its reluctance to bail out the country is an ominous sign. The chief knows the health of the country and the gravity of its sickness. In all sincerity, he believes that in this Odyssey, no single political party can solve the Sphinx’s riddle. If everyone has to share the burden, is it possible for Big Brother not to stress on a pound of flesh or will he insist on having it as Shylock stressing on legality did, “there is no power in the tongue of man to alter… the bond” he claimed? The army chief has also mentioned the valour with which the Pakistani army fought in the eastern wing. No one can doubt his claim, but valour is a relative term. “No flag is big enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people” but is it big enough to cover the crimes of rape, Howard Zinn did not mention it. Pakistani ruling class can recite the scripture, and the Taliban can do it even better, but it will not change the apocalyptical realities on the ground for them. The writer is an Australian-based academic and has authored books on socialism and history. He can be reached at email@example.com.