Echo

ROAD FROM EAST PAKISTAN TO BANGLADESH  

Posted by Rezwan in ,

December is a special month for the Bangladeshis as in this month in 1971 they have fought the West Pakistanis and were freed and relieved from their atrocities and dominance. The liberation war of Bangladesh is a valiant scar in Bangladeshis as almost every family was affected. The official number of casualties in the genocide (I think the second largest after WWII) by the Pakistan Army in the name of controlling the rebels is 3 million (too hard to validate this though) and numerous rapes and destruction of assets (even burning entire villages).

Recently an article of Hamid Hussain was published in the Pakistan defense journal magazine, which gives an unusual view by a Pakistani (They usually try to avoid the topic as if these are exaggerated facts). This was later published in the Bangladesh Observer in four parts:

* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 1)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 2)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis (Part 3)
* Road to Bangladesh- An unusual Pakistani analysis -Reward for the demons(Part 4)

Some excerpts from the article are highlighted here:

* Historical Background- East Pakistanis were treated as second class citizens:

The prejudice against Bengali Muslims has a long history and was quite prevalent long before Pakistan emerged as an independent state. Muslim intellectuals, elites and politicians, which belonged to northern India, had the picture of a Muslim as tall, handsome and martial in character. As Bengali Muslims did not fit into this prejudiced and racist picture, therefore they were ignored at best and when even allowed to come closer, were considered inferior. Bengalis were shunned despite their political advancement and strong resentment against oppression and tyranny. A large portion of Bengali Muslims was converts from Hindu low castes. The "noble borns" of Bengal claimed foreign ancestry (Syed, Afghan, Mughal). The majority of Bengali Muslim population which had customs common with Hindu peasantry and had a proud sense of their language was not considered as "proper Muslims" by some Bengali "nobles" and almost all of West Pakistan.

This perception later influenced the official decision to "Islamize" and "purify" East Bengali culture in Pakistan after 1947. The British theory of "Martial Races" was generally well received by the natives in this background.


* Bangla language movement in 1952 paved the road:

Pakistan government was forced to acknowledge Bengali as one of the state language in 1954 due to overwhelming Bengali demands but in the process, the gulf between two wings further widened.

* Conspiracy theory propagated to the common people:

Every genuine demand by Bengalis was denounced as "a conspiracy to destroy Pakistan". The ruling elite dubbed the Bengali advocates of their rights as "anti-state" and "anti-Islam" and used epithets like "dogs let loose on the soil of Pakistan".

* Why the 1971 Liberation war:

1971 did not occur in a vacuum. It was the logical outcome of the trends, which were operational for at least few decades, and no attempt was made to address the fundamental issues. The initial Bengali attempts were to get their due share in the country's decision-making process. It later evolved into Bengali nationalism and moved from greater autonomy to finally into struggle for complete independence. Every ill-thought step taken by the central government from banning the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore on national media to administrative and economic measures radicalized the Bengali population one step further.

* Even three decades later, with all the hindsight, Pakistan is unable to comprehend the root causes of Bengali alienation:

In 1998, a retired Lt. General is of the view that, "Bengali nationalism was only incidental, fostered by India to serve her purpose and larger interests in the region".
Another commentator views the poor relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh due to the "stubbornness of Indian lobby in the bureaucracy of BD (Bangladesh)" and this according to him is due to the "self-assigned objectives of keeping both the brothers apart". Complete lack of understanding about the basic facts about their own society and paucity of information is quite evident from such assumptions.


* Some changing views but not convincing enough in admitting those crimes committed in 1971:

"The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable." General Pervez Musharraf writing in the visitors' book at Savar Memorial for the Martyrs of 1971 in Dacca, July 2002 31. He also said "It was a tragic part of our history but the nation should move forward rather than living in the past. We should leave the matter to history. As a Pakistani, I would like to forget 1971".


* The proof of the crimes and the rationales:

In March 1971, when the military action started, most officers and rank and file justified their actions on the basis of whatever seems plausible to them. At 16th Division HQ, Anthony Mascarenhas(journalist) was told, "we are determined to cleanse East Pakistan once and for all of the threat of secession, even if it means killing off two million people and ruling the province as a colony for 30 years". At 9th Division HQ at Comilla, Major Bashir justified the military action by stating that Bengali Muslims were "Hindu at heart" and this was a war between pure and impure. His superior Colonel Naim justified the killing of Hindu civilian population to prevent a Hindu take over of Bengali commerce and culture.

A senior officer in Khulna told Maurice Quintance of Reuters, "It took me five days to get control of this area. We killed everyone who came in our way. We never bothered to count bodies". Captain Chaudhry commented after the March operation that, "Bengalis have been sorted out well and proper - at least for a generation"


* Reward for the Demons:

The tragic part is that no one was held accountable let alone punished for the tragedy. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the powerful chief executive of the country in the aftermath, therefore who was going to question him about his role? Many civilian bureaucrats close to regime enjoyed the same immunity. None of them felt any remorse or acknowledged even a grain of responsibility for their actions.

* Conclusion - Admit mistake and tender apology:

The reason of opening of old wounds (over) thirty years later is the tragic fact that the nation and its leaders refuse to face the facts. As a nation, the first step for Pakistan is to admit its mistakes and tender apology to Bengalis for the conduct in 1971. For a fresh start, it is essential that all skeletons in the closets should be taken out. Unless, all old demons are taken out from darkness and exorcised, they will keep haunting the nation forever.

Quite remarkable. Isn't it?

Those of you want to know more about the history of Bangladesh's independence can click here: TheliberationwarmuseumofBangladesh.

This entry was posted on December 09, 2003 at Tuesday, December 09, 2003 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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