Scars of Bangladesh independence war 40 years on

Discussion in 'Subcontinent & Central Asia' started by Galaxy, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Scars of Bangladesh independence war 40 years on

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    Indian army soldiers attacking Naya Chor in Sindh in support of Bengali rebels of the liberation army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

    I was born in the middle of a cold winter night in December 1971 in Sindh, Pakistan. There was a blackout and bombs were falling.

    Pakistan was losing a war and it was also losing its eastern half, separated from the rest of the country by more than 1,600km (990 miles) of India.

    After nine months of internal strife and a military crackdown against Bangladeshi separatists, the full-scale war with India was swift and decisive. It lasted just 13 days.

    The defeat of the Pakistani army on 16 December 1971 was a triumph for India and the Bengali insurgents it had assisted.

    For Pakistan, it was perhaps the darkest moment in its history and the ultimate humiliation. The army stood accused of mass murder, torture and rape. Tens of thousands of Pakistani soldiers were taken prisoners of war.

    Forty years on, I decided to examine the legacy of this brief but bitter war.

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    Growing up in Pakistan, we did not talk much about the war at home. In school, we seemed to rush through that period of our history.

    On a recent visit to my old school in Karachi, I picked up an officially approved history book.

    The book recognises that East Pakistanis felt culturally subjugated and economically exploited by their dominant Western half.

    But it suggests the causes for separation include India, Hindu propaganda and international conspiracies.

    At my old school I asked a group of teenage students if they had heard of the Bangladeshi accusations of genocide or widespread rape by the Pakistani army.

    "That's wrong, that's propaganda!" several said.

    "The Pakistani army is a professional army. They are Muslims. They couldn't have done that to their brothers and sisters over there."

    'Foolish operation'

    But if Pakistan has tried to treat the events of 1971 as a closed chapter, in Bangladesh, the wounds of the war are very fresh.

    On my first ever visit to Dhaka, it was immediately clear that the Bangladeshi narrative of 1971 remains firmly focused on the violence unleashed by the Pakistani army.

    Many Bangladeshis still feel very bitter about their treatment by West Pakistan, with discriminatory policies over economics and language.

    In 1971, the West Pakistan leadership appeared to have made up its mind to answer this resentment with military force.

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    Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury remembers colleagues at the Dhaka University memorial

    "It makes me think how foolish the entire operation was, how mad it was and how tragic it was," said Serajul Islam Choudhury, a professor at Dhaka University.

    "There's no possibility of bringing down an entire people by the military coming from abroad. The loss we suffered was enormous."

    As he stared at the list of names on a memorial honouring the teachers, students and staff of Dhaka University who died in 1971, his emotion is palpable.

    "To this day, I feel very sad thinking of my colleagues who were killed during the military operations."

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    Lasting 13 days, the Indo-Pakistan war is considered one of the shortest wars in history. Pakistani forces surrendered on 16 December 1971.

    The Bangladeshi government says that three million people were killed during the nine months of conflict. Some say that figure is too high and unverifiable.

    And the mainstream Bangladeshi narrative is also accused of omitting alleged atrocities perpetrated by Bengali separatists against communities who were deemed loyal to Pakistan.

    Entire villages are reported to have been attacked, homes burnt and families killed.

    Aly Zaker was among thousands of Bengalis who took up arms to fight for independence.

    "Our target was the Pakistan occupation force and their cohorts, who were created within the confines of Bangladesh with quislings," he says.

    He believes that minorities only faced retribution after they had acted as proxies of the Pakistani army and killed Bengalis.

    Existential fear

    As I learned more about 1971, it seemed to me that many of the geopolitical patterns of Pakistan and the region were formed during that conflict.

    If you look at the Indian armed forces deployment along the Pakistani border - their forward bases, their armoured divisions, their strike divisions - they can mobilise and go to war with us in 72 hours”

    Back then, the Pakistani army was accused of forming militia groups to do its bidding in East Pakistan. Since then, it has been seen to use similar tactics in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

    Many warn that the dangerous nexus between the military and jihadi militant groups is now threatening Pakistan from within.

    Ikram Seghal, a defence analyst who lectures in Pakistani military colleges, believes the biggest internal challenge to Pakistan today is terrorism.

    But like many in the military, he sees India as the principal external threat.

    "If you look at the Indian armed forces deployment along the Pakistani border - their forward bases, their armoured divisions, their strike divisions - they can mobilise and go to war with us in 72 hours. - Ikram Seghal, Pakistani defence analyst

    "While for us, short of a nuclear strike, we cannot hold them."

    This existential fear of a bigger, hostile India is central to Pakistan's security paradigm. In 1971 this fear was reinforced by the crucial role India played in the break up of Pakistan.

    For India, the situation became serious when nearly 10 million Bengali refugees crossed the border into its territory. There was a humanitarian crisis, but also an opportunity to cut Pakistan down to size.

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    An elderly refugee walks alongside Indian troops advancing into East Pakistan (Bangladesh) during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971

    Pakistan's army today

    AK Khandker is a senior minister in the Bangladeshi government and served as a separatist commander in 1971.

    He says India started providing weapons and training to the rebels in May of that year, and stepped up the programme after signing a pact with the Soviet Union in August.

    According to Mr Khandker, the attacks by Indian-trained separatist fighters were so effective, that by November "the Pakistani army was physically and morally exhausted."

    Today he says that without India, the independence of Bangladesh "would have been extremely, extremely difficult".

    "The help that India gave to us, we are so grateful to them," he says.

    I'm a soldier and proud of being a soldier. But all the ills of Pakistan are because of the armed forces intervention in the civilian affairs”

    One might expect that the Pakistani army's failure in 1971 would have diminished its power in the country. But in my lifetime, its influence in shaping and running the country has grown exponentially.

    It seems the conclusion the Pakistani army drew from its defeat in 1971 was to grow stronger; to exercise more control over civilian affairs.

    Many in Pakistan still regard the army as a saviour, the glue that holds the country together, saving it from corrupt politicians and enemies like India - and increasingly America.

    But others feel it was the army's tight grip on power that contributed to the break up of Pakistan in the first place.

    I'm a soldier and proud of being a soldier. But all the ills of Pakistan are because of the armed forces intervention in the civilian affairs”lt Gen Abdul Qadir baloch, Retired Pakistan Army


    They believe that the military has stifled the country's democratic development, undermining its very fabric.

    "I'm a soldier and proud of being a soldier. But all the ills of Pakistan are because of the armed forces intervention in the civilian affairs," says Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch.

    He retired from the army just a few years ago and is now a member of parliament.

    "If the army had not imposed as many martial laws in this country - four so far - we would have had 15 to 20 elections by now and a much better lot of politicians than the sort of pygmies we have got today."

    BBC News - Scars of Bangladesh independence war 40 years on
     
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  3. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    “…… we were told to kill the hindus and Kafirs (non-believer in God). One day in June, we cordoned a village and were ordered to kill the Kafirs in that area. We found all the village women reciting from the Holy Quran, and the men holding special congregational prayers seeking God’s mercy. But they were unlucky. Our commanding officer ordered us not to waste any time.”Confession of a Pakistani Soldier

    The Guinness Book of Records lists the Bangladesh Genocide as one of the top 5 genocides in the 20th century.

    The genocide and gendercidal atrocities were also perpetrated by lower-ranking officers and ordinary soldiers. These “willing executioners” were fuelled by an abiding anti-Bengali racism, especially against the Hindu minority. “Bengalis were often compared with monkeys and chickens. Said Pakistan General Niazi, ‘It was a low lying land of low lying people.’ The Hindus among the Bengalis were as Jews to the Nazis: scum and vermin that [should] best be exterminated. As to the Moslem Bengalis, they were to live only on the sufferance of the soldiers: any infraction, any suspicion cast on them, any need for reprisal, could mean their death. And the soldiers were free to kill at will. The journalist Dan Coggin quoted one Punjabi captain as telling him, ‘We can kill anyone for anything. We are accountable to no one.’ This is the arrogance of Power.” (Rummel, Death By Government, p. 335.)


    “In what became province-wide acts of genocide, Hindus were sought out and killed on the spot. As a matter of course, soldiers would check males for the obligated circumcision among Moslems. If circumcised, they might live; if not, sure death.”

    “..It is Mujib’s home district. Kill as many bastards as you can and make sure there is no Hindu left alive,” I was ordered. – Colonel Nadir Ali, retired Pakistan Army Officer , Punjabi poet and short story writer

    Bangladesh Genocide Archive
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2011
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  4. Galaxy

    Galaxy Elite Member Elite Member

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    Pak army killed 3 million people, raped 200,000 women and ​Collaborators still roam around.

    1971 genocide by Pakistani Army was a crime against humanity. That crime shall forever haunt Pakistan. Karma has a way of catching up. Death of Pakistan will be the final verdict of God !!


     
  5. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    There is only 1 solution to this.

    Pakistan as a country needs to be erased from world map.
     
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  6. ice berg

    ice berg Senior Member Senior Member

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    And the people living there? They also need to be erased from world map?
     
  7. utubekhiladi

    utubekhiladi The Preacher Elite Member

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    nah, they needed to be shifted to china who is "all weather friend" of pakistani people
     
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  8. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    When we say Pak should be erased from the map, it means the borders, geography. Break it up into 4 countries.
     
  9. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Pak army, isi and extremists should be shot in the head and normal people will stay where they are.

    But pakistan needs to be erased.
     
  10. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    You confuse people with state. Common mistake of people living under the rule of communists.
     
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  11. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    BTW,
    that map shows much of Kashmir in different colour. Tibet is accepted as part of China, further even Bhutan is gifted China. Maybe in few years, these map makers will include Delhi also in China...
     
  12. ice berg

    ice berg Senior Member Senior Member

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    I am not the one saying this:
    "Pakistan as a country needs to be erased from world map."

    By the way, there is no communists today. A common mistake if you still live in the 80s, or at least if your mind are still stuck in the 80s.


     
  13. utubekhiladi

    utubekhiladi The Preacher Elite Member

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    are you trying to crack a joke here?
     
  14. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    Please note the highlighted words. Thats exactly why I said you confuse a state(country/nation) with people. Breaking or erasing a state(country/nation) is not equivalent to killing the people and vice versa.

    The distinction can be hard for a chinese to understand given that China has been subjected to Communist propaganda from 1949.

    List of current communist states

     
  15. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    Your point would be valid if i said all pakistani people need to be erased.

    India is not in the business of killing people by the millions like the chinis.
     
  16. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Born in pakistan is a SIN. Born in pakistan or being pakistani is like living with disease. see below

    born in pakistan is like, live like this man.

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  17. ice berg

    ice berg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Back to topic once you are finished trolling.
     
  18. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    You were and are the one trolling. You try to put a juvenile or malicious spin on the original statement about Pakistan. Then, you make silly claims(like no communist country...etc).

    Anyway, a country can be dissolved or partitioned. Killing people is not necessarily a part of it. People within a country can be killed without harming the state/country.

    Dissolution_of_Czechoslovakia
    Dissolution_of_the_Netherlands_Antilles
    Dissolution_of_the_Soviet_Union
    Partition_of_Belgium

    You should grow a brain and stop equating state/country with people.

    BTW, have I accused you of living in China? I carefully avoided that charge. I simply said that a common chinese who is subjected to communist propaganda may not be able to differentiate between the state and people. If you dont live in China, then that statement does not apply to you. Why are you getting your panties in a twist then?
     
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  19. civfanatic

    civfanatic Retired Moderator

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    There is no such thing as a communist state. That itself is an oxymoron.
     
  20. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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    Wiki Link about Communist States
     
  21. ice berg

    ice berg Senior Member Senior Member

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    You are the one brought up the mambo jumbo about common chinese subjected to communist propaganda. How is that relevant to any of this? So who is the one getting panties in a twist then?

    Anyway I have said what need to be said. Have fun!
     

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