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December 18, 2016

Aftermath of 1971 chronicle


December 18, 2016

December 16 is marked as dismemberment of East Pakistan. In December, 1971 the then Indian government declared an open war against Pakistan which resulted in creation of Bangladesh.

The Indian leadership had not accepted Pakistan since its creation and time and again, this traditional rival keeps on propagating against Pakistan just to water the seeds of conflict.

History reveals that the conflict in East Pakistan in 1971 was a political battle which was given an ethno-linguistic articulation by the political party of Sheikh Mujeeb Ur Rehman and other Bengali nationalists.

Unfortunately Bengali’s at that juncture were over dominantly simple population who could have been easily led to any path by any smart politician and so was the case that Awami League played well to manage perceptions of Bengalis.

Efforts to resolve issue politically by Pakistan’s government of that time was ineffective, as Awami League had stalwart approach on behest of Indians. Therefore, turf war after 1971 general elections between various political parties was aimed at political boasting which led to dismemberment of East Pakistan. Though Sheikh Mujeeb later did not show any hostility towards Pakistan and gave inspiring welcome to Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1974. 

Later, he himself also visited Pakistan to attend Islamic summit and stated "Bengalis know how to forget and forgive". So, epoch articulated that Indra Gandhi who had claimed to have drowned the ‘Two Nation Theory' in Bay of Bengal later proved to be wrong as two states concept was replaced by reality of three states and that too Bangladesh as Muslim sovereign state. Consequently Indra Gandhi who claimed to have taken revenge of 700 years of Muslim rule was confirmed by Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June, 2015 in which he openly confessed about Indian role in creation of Bangladesh. Likewise what India is doing in Pakistan particularly Balochistan shows that India wants to achieve its nefarious objectives of sabotaging CPEC. At the time of fall of Dhaka, Mujeeb was blue eyed person for India and now they are trying to get the same job done by Brahamdagh Bugti in Balochistan.

In present day Bangladesh, political turmoil is still witnessed. Pakistan has approximately two million illegal Bengalis on its soil but has never made them scapegoat for unrest in Karachi while Bangladesh is busy profiling Pakistani visitors and workers. Similarly, Bangladesh remains a highly religious country despite much touted facade of secularism and also has fair share of extremist elements. Killings of atheist bloggers are mainly due to their insulting of Islam so, Sheikh Hasina had to forbid people from anti-religion statements.

Earlier, she herself had to sack one of her ministers with expulsion from the parliament after his derogatory remarks about the Haj. In 1971 scenario, use of Pakistan Army in operation Search Light was the last option to restore law and order in East Pakistan. If Pakistan military had to take over the Bengalis then it would not had kept less than two divisions’ army in East Pakistan. So is the case today that Pakistan Army has always kept its national interest at prime, whether be it operation search light in past or Operation Zarb-e-Azb today. India during that phase organised and fully controlled the Bengali movement Mukti Bahini, which was a clear example to create politico unrest. Similarly, Indian initiation of war in 1971 on the pretext of refugees proved false as this principle could not be established correct today on the basis of Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan or Syrians who moved to Europe. 

Claim of genocide of three millions in 1971 debacle is also an absurd fabrication. On 11 Jan 1972, Sheikh Mujeeb baselessly claimed this figure upon his arrival to Bangladesh from Pakistan whereas this claim is not covered in any of the official report. If the genocide claim is to be taken as correct then from 25 March, 1971 - 16 Dec, 1971 (257 days), the causality rate on the average comes to 11,000 per day, which is highly questionable as no neutral source ever reported confirmed atrocities at this mass scale. Atrocities did not just go one way, so no distinction between liberation fighters, innocent Bengalis, Mukti Bahinis, and Pakistanis or how many killed by Indians is available in any statistics. Atrocities have been overplayed by Indian side by the use of words as ethnic cleansing and genocide by Pakistan Army, whereas reign of terror by Mukti Bahini and Indian Army has been deliberately overlooked. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have openly questioned the transparency and fairness of so-called war criminal trials. In present day discriminatory policies of Awami League are aimed at pleasing Indian masters in violation to international covenants, which has been condemned by human rights organisations and international community. Such war crime trials on the behest of India are making the Bangladeshi society polarised as society is already facing problems by being India-locked. 

One must think that the Indian mindset which doesn't tolerate a Muslim, how can it tolerate Bangladesh as Muslim country. India is still engaged in fomenting trouble through her proxies like using BLA, TTP in Pakistan and LTTE in Sri Lanka etc. Its objective of becoming South Asian hegemon is also exposed. India is denying basic human rights to its own population in lOK, Punjab, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and so many other troubled areas in its own country, which is smartly overlooked by media because of propaganda. 

Bangladesh has all the reasons to blame Pakistan so as to justify its creation however, events have been excessively fabricated and exaggerated either at Indian directive or for political gains. Somehow, India does not want Bangladesh to forget about 1971 hence, continues to remind it every now and then. It’s actually sad situation that Bangladesh government recently issued a gazette notification, defining the term “freedom fighter” finalised on the recommendation of ‘Jatiya Muktijoddha Council’ persons who engaged in the war of 1971 in response to the call of Sheikh Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman between 26th March to 16th Dec 1971 or those who were 13 years old on 26th March 1971 are eligible to apply for the status. Similarly those who crossed border and received training in different Indian camps should enlist their names too. Professionals including journalists playing active role to build people’s supports abroad, those engaged in running the Mujibnagar government and Shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendra and its football team members and women who were tortured by the Pakistani Army fall under the category of freedom fighters. Such kind of steps will actually add fuel to fire and will bring nothing instead of creating more doubts in minds of people vis-à-vis 1971 saga.

Pakistan and Bangladesh can either be friends or stay indifferent to each other owing to distance as well as no mutual enmity; hence, propaganda of interference holds no grounds. Water issues, border violations and smugglings between India and Bangladesh are matter of concern for both. Pakistan tends to gain nothing from instability of Bangladesh, whereas a strong and prosperous single homogenous state in such close proximity is detrimental to the interests of Indian Union, so Bangladesh must graft on these streaks.

The writer works for the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad based think tank.

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