I have described this disturbance as I saw it happen, an unedifying affair, confused and inconclusive, as a symptom rather than a causative episode of the growing friction between East and West Pakistan. The causes of friction were there. This was the spark they kindled in 1949 and this was how it flared and went out. It might have been more adroitly quenched, but the will to dominate and the will to resist would not have been quenched and would have struck fire in some other way. We needed no special political acumen to see that it was meaningless, apart from a deeper conflict to which there was no end in sight. Submission was psychologically impossible, victory not rationally foreseeable, and there was no sign of that creative vision that calls into being a future not deducible from the past. Re-reading my own thoughts, which must have been in the main a reflection of thoughts around me, I find myself guessing gloomily at the future, and the guesses, so far as they are correct, are retrospectively shocking in the light of their fulfillment. One foresees consequences without apprehending their meaning in terms of living experience. But this is how it looked at the time.
Nobody likes the government, as far as I can see. Students regard themselves as the spearhead of public opinion. But they haven't, and are not likely to have, the shadow of suggestion of a constructive alternative.
Considering the general discontent, rather than the somewhat foolish issue in which it is expressed, what is the position? What do people want?
To rejoin West Bengal? No, I can't find any such serious thought.
To be an independent state? No, they couldn't defend themselves, probably couldn't feed themselves.
To be annexed by Burma? No. Some communists may have that as an ultimate aim, but it's not practical politics even to talk of it unless and until Burma finally goes their way.
Meanwhile, East Bengal can be kept in subjection by Punjabi troops and police. If they had a practical plan to offer, it might be worthwhile making themselves troublesome till it was listened to, but there seems to be none. To me, it looks as if we may expect this kind of trouble to keep on recurring until either— which looks unlikely— the government does something constructive enough to win the people to its side, or the local problems are swallowed up in a revolution or 'World War III.'
Within the university, the best thing we can do is to attempt to carry on teaching, and withhold the students' energy from the struggle till they are till they are old enough and know enough to make a constructive contribution. But as far as the university is concerned the likeliest outcome of this storm is a far tighter control by the government— a bad thing absolutely.
A.G. Stock was a visiting professor of Dacca University, East Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of the Partition. Her memoir is a classic portrait of a new nation in search of its identity.