(Picture Above depicts a scene where post Liberation, Bengali nationalists are publicly executing non Bengali's, while an insensitive crowd in the back ground watches, is this the compassionate non violent Bengali way, present day Bangladeshi's speak off?)
Today the 26th of March is a Tuesday, only just the second day of the working week. For many of us living in the major urban centers of Pakistan, it is probably just about getting through another week of work before we can all unwind on the weekend. Thanks to the countless efforts done by our state institutions and our historians, many Pakistani's are probably not aware of the historical significance that this day has in Pakistan's history. Along with December 16th, this day too should be marked as a day of national shame and mourning, we should also be mourning that this day proved the lack of ability to unite as Muslims even in the same geographic region. Maybe the 60's and early 70's were different as that was also the age of Pan Arabism when the entire Muslim Majority Arab world was involved in a political war with Israel and had just suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the enemy in six days in 1967. In Pakistan's case, March 26, marks the day in the calender when back in 1971 when we were betrayed. It is true that the civil war did not come to an end till December 16 which is when the small contingency of Pakistani armed forces surrendered, but March 26th was the day we were officially betrayed and all the hard work of our forefathers in the 30's and 40's was forcibly drowned in the Bay of Bengal, so Youm-e-Ghadari-Mashriq Mubarak (being sarcastic here).
It was on March the 26th 1971, when the separatist traitors of East Pakistan under the guise of ethnocentric nationalism declared independence from their Western half and announced themselves as the new state of Bangladesh. Bangladesh in Bengali means nation of the Bengali people, if that does not imply emphasis of an ethnocentric identity what does? Majority of academics, intellectuals, writers, historians, regardless of whether they are Bangladeshi, Indian, Western or even Pakistani writers make an attempt to assign the entire blame of what happened in 1971 to our ruling elite in Islamabad and to our military, very few have dared to even make a borderline suggestion that Pakistan was not entirely at fault. Those that dare to suggest, that others were at fault and forces other than Pakistan was at fault are often ridiculed, mocked and humiliated by others in the educated and intellectual community even within the educated circles of Pakistan. It seems it is just too easy to assign all the blame to Pakistan and any alternative suggestions is inviting insults to your intellect.
This blog is not about going deep into the historical causes, which lead to resentments and feelings of severe inequality among majority of former East Pakistani's. We are not going to look at the Language Movement of the early 50's or the failure of our Government to act in response to the 1970 cyclone. Even with events like these, civil disagreement and sentiments of inequality are one thing, it is another thing to commit treason and follow the path of secession from your own country. There are political and diplomatic channels through which such feelings could be managed, diplomacy was never given a chance. I will say this again and again, we Pakistani's as well as our founding fathers which comprised of thousands of Bengali Muslim leaders were betrayed by the educated urban class gentry of East Pakistan who wanted to have their cake and eat it to, they wanted the whole pie all to themselves. It is not unusual in any part of the world, even in the West, secessionist movements are usually lead by educated intellectual gentry from those regions that know how they can benefit personally if they come into power. Such secessionist movements in the West, good examples include Scotland in the United Kingdom, and the Basque and Catalan provinces of Spain. Even now the current Baloch insurgency in Pakistan is being lead by the elite and powerful of Baloch society which has managed to brain wash the urban middle classes of the province. They do not even deny foreign involvement.
From a very long time, even years before 1971, they stopped calling themselves Pakistani, so this blog is about exploring and entertaining the thought that maybe we should also consider the events of 71 from the angle that maybe we were betrayed by our own fellow country men courtesy of an elaborate plan to break the country up which began many years ago and in which some decision makers sitting in New Delhi at the time were involved. While most of Pakistan in the mid to late 1960's was in the process of recovering from the after math of the costly 1965 Indo Pak war (which by the way we did not win contrary to popular belief, we only successfully defended ourselves) some politicians and intelligence agents sipping coffee somewhere in Connought Place in New Delhi were making strategies on how to break Pakistan apart and punish the Muslims of the sub continent for their original sin of 1947, the original sin of partition, which itself was based on the two nation theory. There are elements in Bangladeshi society who do not even deny that nationalist parties were too greedy to rule to be able to come up with a diplomatic solution. How is it possible, that overnight after Yahya Khan delayed the formation of the national assembly that all hell broke loose in East Pakistan, totally out of control civil unrest gripped the whole province. The amount of chaos that eye witnesses from the era testify to leaves one to believe, it was pre-planned to weaken the control and influence of Islamabad in the province. Some off you reading this might be thinking that I seem to have conveniently forgotten about the 1970 general elections where Mujib Ur Rehman won fair and square. No doubt Mujib won the elections fair and square and it was ZA Bhutto's childish stubborness that prevented a government from taking shape in Islamabad.
Few people know that there were some back door negotiations taking place between Bhutto, Sheikh and Yahya while all hell started breaking loose in East Pakistan. It was only after the situation became uncontrollable by the police in cities like Dhaka and Chittagong, where the ethnic Bengali's police and other forces were committing mutiny that the army was requested to come in and help with managing law and order. Even fewer people have entertained the idea and thought that sure there were serious concerns that the West Pakistani gentry had about a Bengali man ruling them, and there is no denying there was borderline racism involved, but why does no one think for a minute that Sheikh Mujib made no effort to manage the fears and concerns of the people of West Pakistan or address their concerns, he was after all their leader also, their future Prime Minister also. It wasn't until many months after the election results that he was finally arrested in West Pakistan, he had ample time to address the concerns and garner public support. He even started referring to East Pakistan as Bangladesh as early as 1969 in his speeches. Concerns about those in West Pakistan could have included reasons such as the ruling party being a Bengali nationalist party, which might changed the cultural map of the Pakistani state and forced imposition of Bengali culture on the Western wing. Some modern day Bangladeshi parliamentarians have also admitted to the Agartala Conspiracy that it was infact a reality, this is also something Indian generals veterans of the 71 war have admitted to and they proudly brag on live television especially on NDTV that how the Indian government under the leadership of Indra Gandhi executed a master plan of breaking Pakistan up. Plans to break up Pakistan go back to as early as 1967, which is when direct contact between Bengali nationalists in East Pakistan began with Indian Government representatives in the Indian City of Agartala which is located 2 KM's from Bangladesh, one can even see the State Administrative building from Bangladesh. There was an even element of propaganda in the 71 civil war, on the global front lead by none other than your Indian performing artists. In the August of 1971, while the civil war was reaching crucial stages a 'Concert for Bangladesh' was staged in New York City lead by the legendary music maestro from India Ravi Shanker and his friends in the international music community. This along with Indra Gandhi's regular visits to Washington are reflective of the fact that a lot of media and public relations propaganda was also involved in the break up of Pakistan and of demonizing the Pakistani army as well as the ruling elite in Islamabad.
It was in 1967 only that West Pakistanis living in East Pakistan started experiencing discrimination and mistreatment from the ethnic Bengali majority. Survivors of the East have many a tales to tell, the civilians became soft targets overnight. The fortunate were those lucky enough to survive for in 1971, a mass genocide of ethnic Urdu Speakers and other Non Bengali's also happened in East Pakistan and also for many years in the years afte Bangladesh as an Independent state emerged. For those Pakistani's the ground beneath their feet was shaken, their whole world fell apart, during partition they migrated to East Pakistan because they were from the Eastern States and geographical proximity meant East versus West was a better choice, back then it was all about getting to Pakistan, didn't matter where you went to. None of them saw what was coming, none of us in West Pakistan saw what was coming. Let's also not forget that war with India erupted in West Pakistan which was effectively cut off from it's Eastern Wing, and the Eastern Wing after a mass insurgency in the form of the Mukhti Bahini got occupied from all directions by the Indian armed forces to the point where our armed forces of 55,000 soldiers were brutally out numbered. The only choice left was surrender at that point, the outcome would have been the same if every soldier fought till the last drop of blood. Why is it that even the most educated and rational of Bangladeshi's even refuse to listen to the idea that atrocities and war crimes were committed against Non Bengali's, they talk about it as if it is something totally fabricated fiction, the way we have buried 71's failure under the rug, they have buried crimes against Non Bengali's under the rug as if they never happened.
Now this is where a lot of people are going to argue that the Western Wing forced its culture and language on the Eastern Wing, we were a young nation, we were an inorganic nation carved out of British India, cultural development was in process, it takes many decades for young nations to establish their culture and society, such things happen when one sub culture is given more priority over the year. The Cultural model that was designed for Pakistan was one conceived by leaders of the All India Muslim League that founded Pakistan and it was a model designed by mostly your Urdu Speaking Gentry that went onto dominate Pakistani Society. For clarification purposes, the Urdu language was not even indigenous to Pakistan, it was adopted as the national language because the Urdu language at the time was representing Muslim India's linguistic culture. It was a language spoken mostly in UP and Bihar, and later went onto become a commonly spoken language by the educated Indian Muslim lot. Let's not forget India's national language Hindi falls under the same category, it is the language of North Indians which make up a third of the population but it is forced upon almost a billion other people including those in West Bengal. North Indian culture is also very dominant in Indian society, one can see odd mockery being made in popular culture in India about the differences between North Indian and Bengali Culture. If any one has seen the low budget comedy 'Vicky Donor' they can see some accurate stereotyping a lot can relate to.
This is especially for all the modern Pakistani liberals out there who very conveniently love to bash their country especially the foreign educated one's who do not have any sense of patriotism left because they have seen Pakistan too much from an Imperialistic Orientalist Western perspective, show some respect, all nations make mistakes, even the America that educated you was founded on the basis of treason because their elite gentry, the cotton plantation owning gentry did not want to pay their taxes and wanted total control. And if any one from Bangladesh is reading this, if your going to punish the war criminals of 71, and you want to hold Pakistan accountable, also hold your parent's generation accountable, also hold your people responsible and accountable for war crimes even they committed and why treason was the only option left.
Youm-e-Ghadari-e-Mashriq would remain a dark day in Pakistan's history, but Pakistan is a survivor and will survive if we start showing patriotism and compassion on a collective scale, were a young nation, we still have a long way to go.