Categories





East Pakistan

Home » East Pakistan

Erasing memory to deal with loss – Pakistan, Bangladesh and India

An op-ed that was published in The Hindu on December 16, 2011.

For Pakistan, the worst fallout of the 1971 debacle was excessive militarism resulting from the deep insecurity of the state.

Forty years ago, South Asia underwent another traumatic experience with the Bengali separatist movement in East Pakistan, the India-Pakistan war and the eventual creation of Bangladesh. South Asians are a strange lot. In 1947, the political elites refused to accommodate each other and a hurried, bloody Partition was imposed on millions. Instead of working to undo the harmful effects of 1947, India and Pakistan found themselves entangled in yet another battle. Again this time it was the intransigence of West Pakistani elites to accede to the Bengali demand for autonomy, and India’s short-sighted decision to momentarily ‘benefit’ from its neighbour-enemy’s woes. The jury is still out on whether 1947, and 1971, were avoidable or at least could have been handled in a manner that involved less suffering, and bloodshed.

Lessons for three countries: (Left) Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
with her Pakistani counterpart Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and (right) Indira
Gandhi meeting a group of refugees from East Bengal at the Kaliganji
camp, Assam, in June 1971. Photos: AP, The Hindu Photo Library
Lessons for three countries: (Left) Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with her Pakistani counterpart Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and (right) Indira Gandhi meeting a group of refugees from East Bengal at the Kaliganji camp, Assam, in June 1971. Photos: AP, The Hindu Photo Library
Tailor-made histories

What has however happened is that three nation states (some say state-nations) now exist with three standing armies, nationalist discourses, honour and of course tailor-made histories.

In Pakistan, a child grows up learning that it was an Indian conspiracy, woven through the Hindu teachers of “East Pakistan” that led to the separatism of the Bangladeshis. For instance, here is a passage from a secondary school textbook: “There were a large number of Hindus in East Pakistan. They had never really accepted Pakistan. A large number of them were teachers in schools and colleges. They continued creating a negative impression among the students. No importance was attached to explaining the ideology of Pakistan to the younger generation. The Hindus sent a substantial part of their earnings to Bharat, thus adversely affecting the economy of the province.” […]

February 1st, 2012|Bangladesh, History, India, Pakistan, SouthAsia|6 Comments

Pakistan’s foreign policy: Escaping India?

By Raza Rumi:

As Pakistan negotiates with a critical moment of its 64-year-old existence, there is nothing more urgent than to review its foreign policy goals and the assumptions that define them. It is an open secret that the unelected institutions of Pakistan for decades have designed controlled and implemented its foreign policy, often at variance with Pakistan’s own pragmatic self-interest. Such have been the contours of Pakistan’s foreign policy perspective, that the institutional interests of its all-powerful military and the allied intelligence complex dominate the definition and outcome of an imagined “national-interest”. Considering how Pakistan finds itself locked in a battle of nerves with the United States since the strike on Osama bin Laden’s compound in the garrison town of Abottabad, on May 2, 2011, there is perhaps no better time for its elites to review and redefine what passes for foreign policy. […]

October 17th, 2011|Culture, India, Pakistan, Published in The Friday Times|4 Comments