Pakistan’s atrocities and ‘realisation’: Bangladesh Liberation War

Anoy Mukherjee

14th February, 2023

On the historic occasion of the 51st anniversary of the victory of liberation, Bangladesh, which toiled through the war of independence and defeated the barbaric forces of Pakistan, has already marked its significant presence on the world map. Bangladesh has proved its excellence in every field in the past 51 years. This juncture of Bangladesh showcasing its excellence continually in the past 51 years has forced Pakistan to admit that the establishment of Bangladesh in 1971 was inevitable.

For a long time, Pakistan’s politicians and military establishment were off the record on the issue of the liberation war of Bangladesh. It was not until recently that they slowly started admitting the injustice and heinous war crimes committed by their predecessors.

Once, talking about the liberation war in Bangladesh was a kind of taboo in Pakistan. Even though some journalists and intellectuals tried to stir the issue, they were silenced by the Pakistani government. Interestingly, the liberation war of Bangladesh has become a tool of politics in the hands of Pakistani politicians.

On November 3, an attempt to murder Imran Khan during a protest march in Wazirabad, Pakistan, shook the entire nation. A day after this shocking incident, he compared the present tumultuous situation in Pakistan with Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971.

Imran Khan said, “Even though the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won the highest percentage of votes in 1971, they were not allowed to form the government. Awami League, led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won democratically in the general election in 1970. However, a West Pakistani agency did not hand over power to them. Instead, in retaliation, Pakistani soldiers hatched dastardly plans and conspiracies to crush Bengali unity and destroy their hopes and dreams of freedom forever.”

Imran further added, “A heinous military attack called Operation Searchlight was carried out on March 25, 1971, by the Pakistani Army and its allies. Millions of innocent civilians, men, women, and even children were brutally killed, and devastation was wrought throughout East Pakistan. About one crore refugees were forced to cross the border into India to save themselves from the Pakistani reign of terror in East Pakistan from March 26 to December 16, 1971.”

With this, the Pakistan army’s inhuman torture of innocent Bengalis in 1971 was accepted.

However, it did not end there. A day before his retirement as the chief of the Pakistani Army on November 29, Former Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa made a somewhat ‘unnecessary’ comment about Bangladesh’s liberation. It termed East Pakistan’s defeat a “political failure”.

In this context, General Bajwa added, “I want to correct the record. First, the fall of East Pakistan was a political failure, not a military one, and the fighting force was not 92,000; it was only 34,000. The rest were from various government offices.”

Just two days after this statement, Pakistan’s incumbent foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, called the defeat of East Pakistan in 1971 a “colossal military failure”.

Bilawal said, “My grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto rebuilt the nation, restored public confidence, and finally brought back 90,000 of our soldiers – those who were prisoners of war due to ‘military failure’ – reunited with their families.  And all this is possible because of politics, unity, and inclusion.”

Furthermore, from the statements and counter statements of these political leaders and military officers of Pakistan, many truths came out about the liberation war of Bangladesh, making the new generation of Pakistan slowly learn about the heinous crimes their political and military ancestors committed.

Hopefully, the trial of the brutal genocide by the Pakistanis against the Bengalis will be completed by the United Nations.

Nevertheless, beyond all these, on the eve of the 51st year of liberation, Bangladesh proudly holds a unique position on the world map while moving ahead of many big countries and growing economically as a strong nation. Right now, Pakistan is lagging far behind because of misgovernance, corruption, cultural void, terrorism, and above all, a fragile and volatile political position. Pakistanis are now in a deep depression with uncontrollable inflation, unemployment, and poverty.

Recently IPSOS conducted a survey in Pakistan which showed 49 per cent of Pakistanis are worried about inflation, 18 per cent are worried about unemployment and 9 per cent of Pakistanis claim poverty as their primary concern. Even in terms of average per capita income, Pakistan is far behind Bangladesh. Pakistan’s average per capita income is 1430 USD, whereas Bangladesh’s stands at 2720 USD.

The data clearly shows that Pakistan is a failed state today. Bad economic conditions only triggered depression among the general populace. In this situation, bloggers and YouTubers of Pakistan have started talking more about the libertarian war of Bangladesh, which has taken place in the minds of the people, including the new generation beyond social media, and a new movement has started.

The people of Pakistan have started raising their voices against their country’s political and military officials for the injustices done in the liberation war of Bangladesh. Tayyab Siddiqui’s article shows how Pakistan received a ‘pariah status’ as more news of the genocide of Bengalis came to light. However, there was no feeling of shame among the Pakistani intelligentsia and the elites.

That is why Pakistan’s political leaders and military officers criticise the atrocities committed during Bangladesh’s liberation war despite their unwillingness.

*** Anoy Mukherjee is an young writer, journalist and freelance columnist based out of Bangladesh ***

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). The author is solely responsible for the content and facts presented in the article.