Although the Proclamation of Independence of the Republic of Indonesia was proclaimed on August 17, 1945, at that time Indonesia was still not fully independent.
The heroes and freedom fighters were still facing pressure from the Dutch Colonial Party who wanted to reclaim Indonesia when the Japanese surrendered and left Indonesia at the end of World War II on August 15, 1945.
The war continued until 1949. The Dutch asked for British help as an ally to make Indonesia part of its colony again. Supporting this, the British sent 600 soldiers from the British Indian Army (BIA) to fight the Indonesian army.
Meanwhile in British India or Hindustan (before it became Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh), in the Lahore Declaration of March 23, 1940, Muhammed Ali Jinnah who at that time was the leader of the All India Muslim League protested to the British government against colonial atrocities and asked for guarantees. that the Hindustan army will not fight all Muslim countries in the world.
In 1947, before Pakistan’s independence, Ali Jinnah sent a letter to President Sukarno expressing support and sympathy from Indian Muslims for the full independence of Indonesia, after the Dutch Colonial violated the promise contained in the Linggarjati Agreement in November 1946.
As a result, Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s invitation made 600 Muslim soldiers from the British Indian Army (BIA) sent by the Dutch & British to decide to leave their troops and join Indonesia.
Especially when they landed on the island of Java and heard the call of takbir when they were going to fight against the Indonesian fighters, they (BIA) turned around and supported Indonesia instead.
Of these 600 soldiers, 500 died in the war during 1947-1949; while the rest have returned to Pakistan, or settled in Indonesia (in Bandung and Jakarta). These soldiers later received an award from the Government of Indonesia in 1958.
President Sukarno’s visit to Pakistan
It is known, President Sukarno visited Pakistan 4 times, first in 1950 as a form of support and recognition of Indonesia for Pakistan’s independence, then in 1958, 1963, and 1964.
In 2021, the Indonesian Consul General in Karachi, Dr. June Kuncoro Hadiningrat had the opportunity to meet some of the families of BIA Muslim soldiers who came from Indonesia and came back to Pakistan and live in Karachi until now.
Among them, Mr. Muhammad Yunus, son of the late Mr. Mohamad Sadik, a former BIA Muslim soldier, whose mother is Aisyah Bibi, is an Indonesian citizen from Sukabumi, West Java. Interestingly, he and his brother have Sundanese nicknames such as Ujang, Dadang, Euis and can still speak Indonesian.
In addition, the Indonesian Consul General in Karachi also met with “Mak Ros” a typical nickname for Mrs. Rusminah, who was the wife of the late Mr. Kalam Divine, a former BIA Muslim soldier, and “Angku”, a special nickname for Mr. Muhammad Sahid who is the son of the late Mr. Shardar Khan.
The two of them came to Pakistan in 1953, in conjunction with the Indonesian Government’s ex-military BIA repatriation program to reunite with their families in Pakistan. Both are currently Pakistani citizens.
According to Mr. Angku, there are many Indonesian citizens who are family members of ex-BIA soldiers who later settled in Karachi, but when they arrived they immediately dispersed and now many have died.
In 1964, President Sukarno also had the opportunity to gather all former ex-BIA fighters and their families at Wisma Indonesia. Every year before the COVID-19 pandemic, all ex-BIA soldiers and their surviving families are invited to attend the Indonesian Independence Day ceremony and receive an award from the Indonesian Consulate General in Karachi.
This year, the Indonesian Consulate General in Karachi plans to publish a book on the history of Indonesia in Karachi, including the history and stories of the Muslim British Indian Army and their families in Karachi.
It is hoped that the publication of this book will later become part of a history lesson for the younger generation, both Indonesia and Pakistan, about the close relationship between the two countries.
In addition, during his visit to the city of Larkana on July 12, 2021, the Indonesian Consul General Dr. June Kuncoro Hadiningrat found an interesting building in the middle of the city, with the name Sukarno Tower.
The monument with a height of about eight meters turned out to be a form of appreciation for Pakistan and a symbol of the friendship of the two leaders of the nation, namely Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and President Sukarno, which was built in the heart of Larkana City, as the hometown of PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Now, the building is under the management of Larkana City Commissioner, Mr. Shafiq Ahmed Mahesar.
In his meeting with the Indonesian Consul General in Karachi, Mr. Shafiq said that Sukarno Tower was built and inaugurated by Prime Minister Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972 as a symbol of Pakistan’s admiration for President Sukarno at that time who led the Asian-African nation in the 1955 Asian-African Conference to fight all forms of colonialism and colonialism in the world.
Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who at that time was still serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended the conference. There are 4 (four) Bung Karno messages engraved on the monument, namely:
1. The phenomenon of the existence of modern life is an increase in the role of the masses. My Five Precious Pearls: Democracy, Belief in One God, Social Justice, Nationalism, and Internationalism3. My aim is not the State for one individual or one group, but all for all, one for all, all for one.4. Don’t let the world say that our independence is just a gift from diplomacy, but they should know we bought it with our blood, sweat, and sincerity.
Furthermore, the meeting between the Indonesian Consulate General and the Commissioner of the City of Larkana agreed on a cooperation plan to carry out restoration and revitalization, as well as to promote Sukarno Tower as a landmark icon of the city of Larkana, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the construction of the monument in 2022.
In addition, Mr. Shafiq expressed his very high appreciation to the Government of Indonesia, and fully supports efforts to increase cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, and tourism as well as people-to-people contact, especially through educational cooperation.