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There is no parallel in contemporary history to the cataclysm which engulfed Pakistan in 1971. A tragic civil war, which rent asunder the people of the two parts of Pakistan, was seized by India as an opportunity for armed intervention. The country was dismembered, its economy shattered and the nation's self-confidence totally undermined. Ninety-three thousand prisoners of war were taken, including 15,000 civilian men, women and children. Considerable territory on the western front was overrun and occupied by India.
It was in this situation that, as the leader of the Pakistan People's Party, West Pakistan's largest political party in the National Assembly, I was called upon to assume the office of President. My foremost aim was to begin the task of reconstruction, economic, political and psychological, and to initiate processes which would produce the environment of peace in which alone such reconstruction could be successful. It was a formidable task.