Shahbag Square — why we Pakistanis don’t know and don’t care

Published: February 15, 2013

The writer retired as professor of physics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

Shahbag Square — where’s that? Abdul Kader Mullah — who’s he?

A bunch of university students in Islamabad, with whom I was informally conversing yesterday, hadn’t heard of either. Of course, they knew of Tahrir Square and Afzal Guru’s recent execution. But they showed little interest upon learning that Shahbag Square was in Dhaka and that, as we spoke, the city was seething with protest. Between 100,000 to 500,000 Bengalis had converged to Shahbag to sing patriotic songs, recite poems and read out episodes from Bangladesh’s history of the Liberation War. At the centre of the protesters’ demands was Abdul Kader Mullah’s fate.

On February 5, the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) found Mullah guilty in five out of the six charges against him. Known as Mirpurer Koshai (Butcher of Mirpur) because of his atrocities against citizens in the Mirpur area of Dhaka, he was charged with beheading a poet, raping an 11-year-old girl and murdering 344 people. The ICT sentenced Mullah, presently assistant secretary general of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, to life in prison. For the protesters in Shahbag Square, this isn’t enough — they want Mullah hanged. On the other side, the Jamaat-e-Islami protested violently and also took out demonstrations. But its efforts to influence global opinion foundered in spite of a well-funded effort.

Curiously enough, Mullah’s case has been taken up by the government of Turkey. President Abdullah Gül sent a letter last month to the president of Bangladesh requesting clemency for all those accused of mass murder. Fortunately, Turkey’s president appears to be an exception and much of the world has shown little regard for genocidal killers.

Pakistan has shown zero interest in Mullah’s fate. The media is silent and the Foreign Office has not issued any statement. This is quite ironical because, like the forgotten Biharis of East Pakistan, Mullah has been abandoned although he subscribed to the Two-Nation Theory and had fought alongside the Pakistan Army for a united Pakistan. In 1971, local political and religious militia groups like Razakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams assisted Pakistani soldiers in the mass killings of Bengalis, often singling out Hindus. Many militia members were also members of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The disinterest in Shahbag Square epitomises the enormous gulf that separates Bangladesh from Pakistan. The period of our national history — where 54 per cent of the country’s population chose to secede from the other 46 per cent — remains supremely inconsequential to Pakistanis. For them, Bangladesh could well be on the other side of the moon. The question is: why?

Searching for an answer, I browsed through textbooks currently used in Pakistani schools. The class-five Social Studies text (English), taught to 12-year olds, begins with citing the differences between Hindus and Muslims (e.g. Hindus burn the wife after her husband dies but Muslims don’t), the need to be aware of the hidden enemies of Pakistan (religious extremists are not mentioned) and the importance of unceasing jihad. It devotes a total of three sentences to a united Pakistan, the last of which reads: “With the help of India, East Pakistan separated.”

The class-eight Pakistan Studies textbook (English) is still briefer and simply states that, “Some leaders of former East Pakistan with the active help of India managed to break away from Pakistan and established Bangladesh.” The class nine-10 (Urdu) book — by far the most detailed — devotes nearly three pages to explaining the disintegration. The listed subtitles include: a) Incompetent government of Yahya Khan; b) Hindu domination of trade; c) Nefarious role of Hindu teachers; d) Language problems; e) Indian interference; f) The elections of 1970.

Having seen only grotesque caricatures of history, it is impossible for Pakistan’s youth to understand 1971. But how can I blame them? Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s knew in our hearts that East and West Pakistan were one country but not one nation. Young people today cannot imagine the rampant anti-Bengali racism among West Pakistanis then. With great shame, I must admit that, as a thoughtless young boy, I, too, felt embarrassed about small and dark people being among my compatriots. Victims of a delusion, we thought that good Muslims and Pakistanis were tall, fair and spoke chaste Urdu. Some schoolmates would laugh at the strange sounding Bengali news broadcasts from Radio Pakistan.

Even as they agonise about ‘losing’ the East, many Pakistanis still believe that 1971 was a military defeat rather than a political one. Dr AQ Khan, who met with Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawar Hasan this week, writes that nuclear bombs could have kept Pakistan intact: “If we had had nuclear capability before 1971, we would not have lost half of our country — present-day Bangladesh — after disgraceful defeat.”

But would this have really worked? Even with a bomb, the Pakistan Army would be surrounded by a hostile population and peppered by the Mukti Bahini’s guerilla attacks. Though armed with tanks and aircraft, the weakness of West Pakistan’s position was irreversible. With a hostile India in between, the logistics of supplying 90,000 troops from a thousand miles away were simply horrendous. India had, of course, refused permission for over-flights, leaving only the sea route. A long war would have left Pakistan bankrupt. More importantly, all occupying forces — including the Indian Army in Kashmir and the Americans in Afghanistan — typically exact disproportionate retribution when attacked. The atrocities of occupiers heighten local resentment and add hugely to the insurgency.

I am still trying to understand our good doctor’s suggestion. Could the bomb have been used on the raging pro-independence mobs in Dhaka? Or used to incinerate Calcutta and Delhi, and have the favour duly returned to Lahore and Karachi? Threatening India with a nuclear attack may have kept it out of the war, but then East Pakistanis would have been massacred wholesale.

History cannot be undone but it’s time to move on. Bangladesh is right in demanding an apology from Pakistan — one which we have so far refused to give. Let us do so now and start a new chapter in the relationship between our two states. If we have the honesty and courage to take this step, as a bonus, the problem of Balochistan might become a tad easier to understand — and perhaps, solve.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2013.

Reader Comments (188)

  • unbeliever
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:18PM

    it requires a courage to accept our biases, and you had the courage Doctor.
    Also, apologies tendered under pressure are not apologies per se; they are merely statements issued under duress.
    Apology is heartfelt desire to seek forgiveness for an action of ours. till the time one doesn’t feel like apologising, it would be nice not advising them to apologise. let pakistanis first realise that they made a mistake, and then your advise would be, perhaps, not needed.
    Regards

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  • sensible
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:22PM

    I don’t know the reasons of east Pakistan separation but I do know that new Paki generation feel sorry for begalis and I believe the mere apology wouldn’t heel their wounds. People to people contact must be made, cultural events must be organised and new generation should made aware of TRUE history.

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  • Diggvijay Singh
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:25PM

    Bangladesh and Pakistan have to move on after facing the grim truth of war that happened in 1971. The youth of today’s Pakistan however don’t need to feel guilty of crimes that took place when they were not even born. They are not obligated to say sorry to new generation Bangladeshis.
    As an Indian, I feel Bangladeshis still have more of a liking for Pakistan than India; they support them in cricket matches. This even though our PM Indira Gandhi assisted them in the formation of the new country.

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  • Falcon
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:28PM

    Certainly agree. We need to accept our troublesome past to ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes again. Personally, I would like all the war criminals on our side to be executed, but that might be asking for too much. At the least, we can apologize for the brutalities committed by some people of our nation.

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  • ballu
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:31PM

    It high time Pakistan regrets its decision to systematically butchering Bengalis because they were asking for their own govt. 3rd party neutral sources all match with Dr. Hoodbhoy claims about why India intervened when exodus of bengalis starts coming to Indian side of border. All friend China did not even intervene for Pakistan in any wars or conflict against India because China knows who is correct and who is wrong. Pakistan should apologise so that Balochistan does not go they way East Pakistan went..

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  • mahmood
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:33PM

    As a Pakistani who was 8 years old at the time East Pakistan separated, I apologize to my Bengali brothers for the atrocities of the Army in 1971, and for the arrogant, misguided attitude of the West Pakistani establishment ever since 1947. I hope time will heal the wounds.Recommend

  • Hasan Cheema
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:36PM

    those people are giving their opinion in favour of apology can tell me don’t we owe an apology from England the way the English run away from Sub conitnent and not managed the partition properly which led to killing of thousand of muslims and Sikhs.
    did any one dare to to ask England to apologize ???

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  • Patriot
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:40PM

    Persecution of pro Pakistan elements in Bangladesh only reaffirms my belief that traitors fully deserved what our army did to them in 1971.

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  • sabi
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:45PM

    Bangladesh should forget history and use its maximum capabilities to up-root JI from its rank.It is time for BD to show maximum courage and not bow to any pressure from goons.If BD can tackle effectively with JI then it has a bright future.Policy of no compromise on secular values is the only guarantee for peacefull BD.
    Great write up-kudos.

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  • rationalist
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:49PM

    100% agree with the professor. ur voice is the most sane one in Pakistan. thnx for the brilliant piece.

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  • RAW is WAR
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:49PM

    agree with your argument. But will your countrymen?

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  • Paki
    Feb 15, 2013 - 11:51PM

    This is for the information of Dr Hoodbhoy. There were 3 Infantry Divisions of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan. The troop strength was about 48,000.

    The 90,000 figure was used for propaganda purposes, this was based on the total number of prisoners, which included irregular forces and civilians.

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  • Parvez
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:04AM

    For many pakistanis, strangley. the reason for why Bengalis seceded is that Bhutto said ‘Idhar hum and uder tum’. That is the history awareness and appreciation in this part of the world..

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  • Raza Khan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:06AM

    Yes, we need to formally apologize to Bangladeshis for attrocities committed on them by our armed forces & its supporters. We must tell our students and future generations that what compelled East Pakistanis to demand a seperate country for them. We frankly treated them very badly! I was a young kid in 1970 & while travelling in train from Pindi to Lahore, there was train bogey attached carrying Bengal regiment soldiers. During a stop the soldiers came out to get stuff from railway station since during those days there was full propaganda going on against East Pakistanis that they are not loyal to West Pakistan, I innocently asked one of the soldiers & I cannot forget his response which was nothing except a very meaningfull smile! I want to tell him that I am sorry for asking such stupid & hurtful question. I ask for forgiveness not only from that soldier but from God for hurting his feelings.

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  • Logic Europe
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:08AM

    the founders of Pakistan bear responsibility for all these massacres

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  • Jim
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:39AM

    What courage it takes for such introspection and admission of wrong-doing. Salute to Pervez Hoodbuoy; but it is no surprise. The world recognizes him as one of Pakistan’s most honest intellectuals, wise and wonderful. Alas, the same can’t be said of most Pakistanis, including its “intellectual” class, many of who spin spurious defense of a bigoted, hateful, racist nation that is still coming apart at the seams. Witness the response of @Patriot and @Hasan Cheema, who are clearly part of a brainwashed population that has no capacity to go beyond what is taught in the doctored textbooks of Pakistani schools. Sadly, much of your government, bureaucracy, and army is of the same mindset. And as the Pakistani establishments’ blockage of youtube (and google and eventually all internet like in North Korea) under the guise of protecting religious sentiment will result in the truth being suppressed even more. So onward to the dark ages Pakistan! Khuda Hafiz!

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  • afzaalkhan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:51AM

    Its high time author migrates out of pak since everythying in pak offends his sensibilities and we are bunch of morons his genius would be much appreciated somewhere else. The so called Intl criminal court of Bangladesh is recognized by no one except awami league and thier followers, the judge of the court leaked tapes are already in interntional media. But authour won’t mention that nor the crimes of mukti bahini, because this doesn’t serve his purpose, just like this paper he has a narrative to push which is only appreciated by indians and an elite liberal circle. So my suggestion Author should leave us jahil and corrupt ppl and migrate am sure he will feel more at home anywhere except pakistan.

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  • Sam
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:05AM

    @Paki
    Do you mean there were 48,000 state actors and the remaining 42,000 were non-state actors? Why did Pakistan issue a stamp pleading the case of 90,000 POWs?

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  • Junaid
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:13AM

    I completely agree with you. If we start asking for apologies and compensations in South Asia, this will go all the way to London. We need to move on now. @Diggvijay Singh:

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  • usmanyy
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:19AM

    Professor, Read ‘Dead Reckoning’ by Sharmila Bose a to truly understand 1971 before engaging in yet another pak-bashing article.

    Neither, Pakistan was so ‘evil’ nor Indians so ‘well-meaning’ nor Bengalis ‘exclusively victimized’ by this unfortunate war.

    The 3 million number is complete fabrication.
    There were not 90,000 soldiers.
    Much of the persecution against erstwhile east pakistan hindus was by Bengalis.
    Biharis paid a heavy price for ‘collaboration’.
    The Dhaka university incident was not simply students but armed bengali freedom-fighters.
    The most famous picture of purported pakistani soldier checking the lungi to identify hindus is actually a picture of an Indian solider checking for muslims.
    India engaged in activities that were later labelled as ‘cross-border terrorism’ in kashmir.

    I am appalled by the actions of my government against my bengali brothers and sisters but the truth is not as black and white as suggested by the good professor.

    the unfortunate thing is that this war is used by all parties whether liberal, rebels, unionists, indians, secessionists, pakistanis, bangladeshis to their advantage. nobody is interested in seeking the truth.

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  • Junaid
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:21AM

    they don’t need our apology. Musharraf already apologized unofficially. An official apology would mean that we’ll have to give them any compensation they’d ask us for. We’ll be bound by international law. They haven’t even resolved the issue of Stranded Pakistanis yet, they think we’ll do whatever they want. That’s NOT gonna happen. None of us elected Gen. Yahya Khan, why should we be sorry for something he did (which by the way is yet to be proven by international community). @unbeliever:

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  • Junaid
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:24AM

    For God’s sake, Pakistanis stop feeling sorry for Bangladeshis. It’s been 41 years. We should start taking care of Balochistan. Apologizing to Bangladesh will only worsen our position. It will not do any good.

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  • Atif
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:38AM

    Any word for atrocities committed by Makti Bahini? Most of the writers discussing historical events forget to keep it in the balance.

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  • Time to Ponder
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:39AM

    Ironically, we do not accept responsibilities of our follies and indict others for results of misdeeds in our behavoiurs. More depressingly, we are also bluffing our youth in many significant historical events and fall of Dhaka is no more exception in this.Bangladesh plummet from our hand because of ourself and we know well that the case was mishandled altogether by many quarters.Somewhat similar is happening now in Baluchistan and Karachi where things are leading to same path. May Allah give us wisdom to handle these issues.

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  • Israt
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:42AM

    @Patriot:
    u r sick. get well soon

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  • Anwar
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:52AM

    Prof Hoodbhoy you are a scientist and a seeker of the truth in every way. If we had only 25% of your intellectual honesty we would be a great nation. Having lived in the Netherlands for many years I am in admiration of the Netherlanders honesty of admitting mistakes in their own personal lives. We Pakistanis are so full of ghairat and honor we reject the truth when shown to our face.

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  • gp65
    Feb 16, 2013 - 2:09AM

    @Hasan Cheema: English army was not the one doing the kiling. HEe it was the Pakistani army that was killing its own citizens. There is no comparison in the 2 events.

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  • Alamgir
    Feb 16, 2013 - 2:28AM

    The professor is at it again, playing India’s game to defame Pakistan. AQ Khan saab is right and Hoodbhoy is wrong. A nuclear-armed Islamic Apakistan would have kept India in its place. It would have inspired the true Muslims of the East to wage a victorious Jihad.

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  • Imran Ahmed (@IAgnikul)
    Feb 16, 2013 - 2:30AM

    @Hasan Cheema: Answering a question with an unrelated but superficially similar question is childishly illogical.

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  • Feb 16, 2013 - 3:01AM

    honoring the past by seizing the future…that’s what integrity is all about.. accepting the mistakes and moving on with a will for not committing such mistakes again in the past

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  • Niyaz shah
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:07AM

    well said Sir.@Hasan Cheema:

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  • Tas
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:12AM

    An apology from Pakistan is long due. The fact is that the West Pakistanis in 1971 butchered hundreds of thousands of East Pakistanis, raped women,killed children and committed all sorts of crimes. Distorting history would not work. The Algerians rightly demanded apology from France for the attrocities they committed in 1962, the Bangladeshis have the same right. It was indeed a political defeat for the then West Pakistan. The minimum would be to acknowledge the facts and our mistakes.

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  • Yasin
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:14AM

    No one talks about the actual culprit, who created misunderstanding between brothers.
    Bangalis are nice people, very innocent who can be easily influenced and india took advantage of them. Indian soldiers attacked them wearing Pakistani uniforms and when the bangalis revolted the same indians changed uniform and became their saviours. We should invite their leaders and explain everything to them. We can unite again, after all we share the same religion.

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  • Niyaz shah
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:19AM

    Sir Parvez Hoodbhoy ll write an article to force David Cameron for apology, what the British did to us during indipendence. will you do it sir? never ever he ll do this mistake…no need to discuss more every 1 knows this Sir Hoodbhoy for his western mentality.

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  • SM
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:27AM

    Right!
    And what would you suggest about the terrorism of Mukti-Bahni and the crimes which it committed before the Army operation?
    Was the operation launched out of the blue?

    Or, you think, on a fine morning, after having a nice breakfast, the President of Pakistan said, ”Well Guys! lets wage a war on our civilian ”East Pakistani” brothers.
    There is no doubt that there has been some irregularities reported in the 1971 operation and I do endorse this idea that the history should not be falsified. But the fact remains that Mukti-Bahni fought against the state of Pakistan with the help of an ill-willed neighbouring country and the Pak forces fought against these terrorist groups.
    If and where our personnel are found guilty of any wrong-doing they should be made answerable according to our laws. As far as the question of an apology is concerned, I think I have already answered that, didn’t I?
    No, re-read my comment!

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  • a_writer
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:46AM

    @afzaalkhan:

    Dr.Hoodbhoy this is your cue! Please pack up your bags and move to India. You will be welcomed with open arms – not for your opinions on social right and wrong, but for your credentials. A Ph.D in Physics from MIT ! wow ! who wouldn’t want to tap into that brilliant brain!

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  • Shameema
    Feb 16, 2013 - 4:02AM

    The latest slogan from the protestors in Shahbaagh Square in Dacca is :
    ‘ Jamaat e islaami, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistani, Pakistani.
    The people who are sittimg in judgement of ‘collaborators” are collaborators themselves who
    betrayed their country, Pakistan to the enemy.
    Please Mr.Hoodboy. There is a limit. People like you have no idea what atrocities went on in the name of Bengali nationalism… Even becore the Army action.
    We owe no aplogies for protecting our country.

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  • haroon
    Feb 16, 2013 - 4:03AM

    i think even after all what happens back there! bangalis still hve more affection of pakistan than india..

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  • mahakaalchakra
    Feb 16, 2013 - 5:21AM

    This must perhaps be the only case where a majority (55% population of East Pakistan) had to fight to get out of the clutches of the minority (45% West Pakistan).

    I do not know what right these 45% had to continue using the name “PAKISTAN” after the actual Pakistan was disbanded in 1971.

    India should not honor any treaty which was between India and pre-1972 Pakistan as these are totally different countries. In fact Bangladesh being 55% of the population, should have been the legal owner of the name Pakistan.

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  • Rajeev Nidumolu
    Feb 16, 2013 - 6:15AM

    True reconciliation can never happen until the time both the perpetuators and victims face truth. This also cleansing for the perpetuators to look deeply into their conscience .
    Despite fringe elements Japan , Germany, South Africa and US had to confront their dark past and try to become better societies.
    The teachings n Pakistani school textbooks quoted in the above essay show that Pakistan has not come to terms with the atrocities committed on Bangladeshis . Racist thinking is still present when they attribute one of the causes as Hindu domination of trade subtly attributing it to Hindu Baniya.
    This racist mentality towards dark skinned people involved the whole West Pakistani society from the President downwards.
    Excerpt from
    We come to the climax: “[Enter] Commander East Pakistan General Niazi, wearing a pistol holster on his web belt. Niazi became abusive and started raving. Breaking into Urdu, he said: Main iss haramzadi qaum ki nasal badal doon ga. Yeh mujhe kiya samajhtey hain. He threatened that he would let his soldiers loose on their womenfolk. There was pin drop silence at these remarks. The next morning, we were given the sad news. A Bengali officer Major Mushtaq went into a bathroom at the Command Headquarters and shot himself in the head” (p.98).Major-General (retd) Khadim Hussain Raja in his recently published book A Stranger in My Own Country: East Pakistan, 1969-1971 (OUP, 2012). quoted from Express tribune article
    ‘Genetic engineering’ in East Pakistan By Khaled AhmedPublished: July 7, 2012

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  • vasan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 6:21AM

    And above all pakistanis are worried about Rohingya’s plight and tirelessly talk about the so called “UMMAH”

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  • Kazi
    Feb 16, 2013 - 6:40AM

    Thank you. An official apology will make a huge difference in the way Bangladeshi people feel about Pakistan today. Thank you for writing this article.

    -Just another dark and short guy from Bangldesh.

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  • pakistani
    Feb 16, 2013 - 8:11AM

    why should i apologies, why not the Bhutto ,mujeeb family and India to come ahead to apologise, they used the the difference within two parts of one country to their advantage, so tell them to apologise to West and East pakistan…… we (paki and bengali) had done nothing but followed the suit and we regrets.

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  • Wellwisher
    Feb 16, 2013 - 8:18AM

    A balanced analysis. The following link of a news item in a Pakistan Daily is enough to show how they present the news.
    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20132\16\story16-2-2013pg7_17
    If the newspapers do not give the correct perspective of a news in a foreign country how can we expect genuine news from Pakistan? Very very sad.
    Readers should also visit
    http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=269336

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  • Alexander
    Feb 16, 2013 - 8:22AM

    @mahakaalchakra: Yupp! no respect for a nation that uses religion to form a nation!!!

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  • J. Ahmed
    Feb 16, 2013 - 8:41AM

    Once you release the dogs of war, all humanitarian bets are off. Pakistan cut loose its army on the civilian population of Bangladesh and believed that the terror inflicted upon us would force us into submission. That didn’t work too well for them. So post-71, the issue of Bangladesh for Pakistan, in the global arena, is nothing more than a slight embarrassment. Some sort of an apology from them would not only be pointless, but grossly meaningless. I rather they never apologize and more importantly we never ask for it and stop expecting it.

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  • Saeed
    Feb 16, 2013 - 9:30AM

    There is truth in what the eminent professor has written. Thee is equally some truth in some of the comments. Atrocities were committed by all sides, but we lost out on moral grounds, because not only did we fail to stop the alienation of Bengalis, but it was our duty as protectors of the nation to stop the atrocities, and we failed. That India had a hand in it, is without doubt a major factor in the separation. That subterfuge and deception was employed by indians, to bring about this humiliation of the army, is without doubt. That selfish politicians played their part along with incompetent generals is a foregone conclusion. Everyone did their part, including rascist west pakistani bureacrats, no one in isolation was responsible for this debacle. However it is part of history and must be seen in that context, without exaggeration or convenient editing. The truth must be out however ugly and unpalatable it might be. That is the only way forward, Bengalis are still our brethren, bound by history and religion, let us move forward together in that spirit.

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  • Nalwa
    Feb 16, 2013 - 9:33AM

    Hasan Cheema

    Only the Indians have the right to complaint against Britsh. There is hardly any Pakistani Punjabi or Sindi who fought for freedom, Badshah Khan was the only genuine man who had the guts and the wisdom to do so. No doubt he did not want the dishonor to die as Pakistani .

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  • Polpot
    Feb 16, 2013 - 9:35AM

    East & West Pakistan: United by Religion and Divided by Language & Culture
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Religion cannot be the basis if nationhood. Being Bengali scored over being muslim.
    Thats why Baluchistan will become reality…just give it time and opportunity.

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  • M Ali Khan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 9:41AM

    @mahakaalchakra:
    Just in case you have not woken up from the 1960s, Pakistan actually now has a larger population than Bangladesh now. East Pakistan ceased to inherit the name ‘Pakistan’ since it seceded and called itself Bangladesh, while West Pakistan retained the name Pakistan because it did.

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  • Observer
    Feb 16, 2013 - 9:50AM

    The good professor says:

    “A long war would have left Pakistan bankrupt. More importantly, all occupying forces — including the Indian Army in Kashmir and the Americans in Afghanistan — typically exact disproportionate retribution when attacked. The atrocities of occupiers heighten local resentment and add hugely to the insurgency.”

    But he also talks about Pakistani’s being brain-washed with distorted history and propaganda. Little that he realizes that his statement above shows he himself has been a victim of brainwashing and distorted history. First, Indian army is not occupying Kashmir. Kashmir Mahraja acceded to India and then the Indian army had to move in to drive out the invading Pakistanis. Kashmir (and also Pakistan) has been part of the ancient Bharath for over five thousand years. Muslim history in Kashmir, most of whom claim Turkish or Persian roots, is only about 200 years old. Couldn’t it be then said that it is the Muslims who are the occupiers?

    Also, the professor doesn’t seem to understand Indian Kashmir’s demography. Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists and other sects form ~40% of the population. Of the 60% Muslims, Sunnis form about ~35%, the rest being Shia and other non-Sunni denominations, who are perfectly happy being Indians. So, when we talk about Kashmir issue, we are really talking about a fraction of the Valley Sunnis. Of the Sunnis, only about 10% (about 400,000) are hard-core Islamists who are separatists.

    How come the professor doesn’t also mention Pakistan’s occupation of its side of Kashmir/Gilgit/Baltistan/Northern Areas? Or, what about Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan?

    Clearly, the good professor himself has been brainwashed by establishment’s propaganda and he doesn’t even know it!

    On the good professor’s claim of American “occupation” of Afghanistan, again, he is ignorant of facts. The Americans invaded Afghanistan (with UN approval) because it housed the terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 killing over 3000 Americans. Soon after clearing the terrorists, the Americans gave the reigns back to elected Afghan leaders who requested US forces to remain in Afghanistan to stabilize the country and get rid of the terrorists. Now, Americans are all set to depart.

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  • Manju
    Feb 16, 2013 - 10:15AM

    Way to go Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy… Blunt, scientific & clean observation of facts…. Bravo… Hope still exists in Pakistan…

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  • Sohaib Qamar
    Feb 16, 2013 - 10:17AM

    Exactly like that, our people, politicians, junta from the day of independence treating them Bengalis as inferiors. What our junta did to them in 1970 is inhumane & indescribable & we are not taught that way the reality happened ever, pity.
    But rightly in the last paragraph as you said, we must move on with taking into account the realities of ours for the good of remaining Pakistan & to be good with others.
    Bangladesh is right in demanding an apology from Pakistan — one which we have so far refused to give. Things not work like that, creating mess here in Balochistan too, nothing so far we have learnt from our past.

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  • Shiv
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:13AM

    @M Ali Khan: Is that so? Then the time has come to cut down the numbers again. Well, so Balochistan has to go then sooner than later then. Then FATA and Sindh till Pakistan is just Punjab. The problem is that you reproduce so fast it’s difficult to keep pace.

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  • Maria
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:33AM

    While I agree with the argument that Pakistan owes the Bangladeshi people an apology, the author needs to concede that a lost of the discord and insurrection was orchestrated from India. It doesn’t matter that Pakistani mismanagement was taken advantage of by Indians because the point remains that Pakistanis of present or the West Pakistanis of then didn’t respect the Bengali people like they should of. I find your comment on West Pakistanis amusing,”.. we thought that good Muslims and Pakistanis were tall, fair and spoke chaste Urdu” This all the more ironic since now the ones who are chaste Urdu speaking are labelled short and dark since they came originally from India and compared to the native Pakistani races the chaste Urdu speakers look more like Bengalis. If that isn’t karma, I don’t know what is.

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  • Imran Ahmed (@IAgnikul)
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:48AM

    @gp65: Argument of fallacious similarity is the logical error committed by Mr Cheema, the two events are not related but have a superficial similarity AND by asking a misleading question in answer to a straightforward argument he gets out of having to give a meaningful reason for his stance.

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  • shahida kazi
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:37PM

    Re,the comment about textbooks,please read my book,Pakistan Studies in Focus,published by FEP Pakistan Ltd.A whole chapter is devoted to the issue and gives full details of the East Pakistanis grievances.

    r

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  • Ayush
    Feb 16, 2013 - 12:48PM

    gp65
    What about Jallianwala Bagh?

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  • Khudiram
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:00PM

    @Diggvijay Singh:

    I’m a Bangladeshi and most of us are ever ever grateful to Indira Gandhi and the entire Nehru-Gandhi family. We want to like India but you do make it hard sometimes. For example, when PM Singh visited Bangladesh last time, we were expecting that he will agree to sign the Teesta river treaty but he didn’t because of Mamata Banerjee’s disapproval. Whenever we want other countries to invest in our infrastructure India backs out. Like the Padma river bridge. India should be helping us make the bridge because it will benefit them too when they are using the transit Bangladesh is offering them. But they are not doing it, we’re getting China’s help instead. And dealing with China is never favorable for us. But despite everything, I really hope things get better between India and Bangladesh. We might be a Muslim majority country, but we are not extreme like Pakistan. Only Jamaati Islam is that extreme and we’re doing everything we can to eradicate them from our holy motherland

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  • Khudiram
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:04PM

    @Nalwa:
    Chittagong, the port city of Bangladesh was at the forefront of anti-British movement. So we Bangladeshis have every right to complain against them. People from both Bengal and Punjab sacrificed most to fight the British. JOY BANGLA!!!

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  • Z.Khan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:11PM

    Not all the contents agreed. One must admit absence of absolute justice and fair dealings were amongst the main causes of 1971 debacle. Discrimination on the basis of colour, religion and race also contributed. Assurance of equal rights to all the citizens curb the flourishing of hatred amongst masses. Its absence paved the way for Indians to exploit the Bengalis. One should also admit Bengalis are more bold and courageous to express their anger on atrocities committed either on the name of religion or any other menace. Here in Pakistan bigger mascare have taken place on many points but nation preferred to remain silent spectator. So is the difference between these two nations.

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  • Feb 16, 2013 - 1:16PM

    Pakistan should not apologise, because this is sending Bangladesh to the arms of India.

    Every country needs an adversary, its better if its Pakistan for Bangladesh, not India. We don’t need support for Militants on that side of the border too.

    Advantage India.Recommend

  • Tashfique alam
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:20PM

    @afzaalkhan:
    As u hav no idea what is really happening in dhaka, and what the new generation of Bangladesh wants, stop saying crap

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  • Tas
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:26PM

    @Patriot: False ‘patriotism’ is the last refuge of a scoundrel’. Shame on you.An honourable man or nation is the one which accepts its mistakes.

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  • Watan-e-Hindustan(Indian)
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:41PM

    Pakistan has to apologize to Bangladesh.

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  • Kakar
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:42PM

    as usual, another excellent piece from Dr. Hoodbhoy. I have had an opportunity to visit Bangladesh a couple of times. On my first visit, I was a bit afraid about people reaction and acceptance but it was surprising to see the widespread acceptance, respect and care, which shows that Bangladeshis will forgive Pakistan and they have no problem with individual Pakistanis. I believe that more people to people contact is a must along with the formal apology from Pakistan.

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  • Ockey
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:55PM

    @Junaid: Bound by international law to provide compensation if Pakistan formally apologizes? Where do you get this?

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  • Wasi Ahmed
    Feb 16, 2013 - 1:56PM

    @pakistani:
    because we can. We can throw away our false pride and shake hands show the politicians that we are better than them.

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  • Diggvijay Singh
    Feb 16, 2013 - 2:22PM

    @Khudiram:

    Your points about India are justified. Not signing the Teesta river water deal was a big embarrassment for Congress government after it was all hyped up in the media. The West Bengal Chief Minister is not in alliance with the Center anymore; so the deal should be struck in near future. The other big thing in limbo is the Look East policy. India needs Bangladesh’s help and economic cooperation for linking up with South East Asian countries. India is very slow in moving because of complicated coalition politics. Still, like you, I too hope the future is bright for India-Bangladesh relations. Bangladesh is a steadily progressing country both in economic and social terms. Your government organized a gala opening ceremony for the last World Cup and now BPL T20 league is also quite a hit.

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  • Dinar Wali
    Feb 16, 2013 - 2:28PM

    You hit the nail on the head professor !! Brilliant and well-written Article. I really wish sanity among the echelons of power in our military and bureaucratic establishment.

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  • Komal S
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:02PM

    @Yasin:
    Bengalis are nice people but they are not stupid. Isn’t your logic a stretch.

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  • Komal S
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:07PM

    @pakistani:
    Doesn’t it sound like Pre-1947. Certain revered leaders used the difference between Muslims and Hindus to split the country. The same logic came back to haunt you in 1971.

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  • K B Kale
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:17PM

    Respected Professorsahib,
    Your article reflects kindness, sensitivity and fairness, the virtues that are part of your basic nature as reflected in all of your articles. I have also felt the rage within you that reflected in your article denouncing the largesse granted to the perpetrators of crimes that occurred during the Lal Masjid siege. This extraordinary article of yours is in the same genre that holds a mirror to the face of your readers!
    I read most of your articles and salute you for their content. Jug jug jiyo, professor sahib! Warm regards, K B Kale, Jakarta

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  • robu
    Feb 16, 2013 - 3:18PM

    Dr Hoodbhoy. have you ever used your columns to apologize to us as a Pakistani? Hamid Mir has.

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  • Introspection
    Feb 16, 2013 - 4:07PM

    “A much-commented-on, but poorly documented conflict – with faceless statistics…and Bengali Nationalism!” Yes Injustices were committed, but, SARMILA BOSE, is a must-read for all Pakistanis to get a FAIR and OBJECTIVE picture of what really happened…! THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO THE SAME COIN-ALWAYS!!!

    [Sarmila Bose is a Senior Research Fellow in the Politics of South Asia at the University of Oxford. She was a journalist in India for many years. She earned her degrees at Bryn Mawr College (History) and Harvard University (MPA and PhD in Political Economy and Government.)]

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  • Maruf
    Feb 16, 2013 - 4:27PM

    Two wrong does not make a right. You may have a valid point, but you cannot use that as an excuse to shy away from a concrete fact. If you believe that Pakistan did not do wrong in the 1971 war, then by all means think out loud. Please do not point fingers and make petty excuses. @Hasan Cheema:

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  • Murthy
    Feb 16, 2013 - 5:23PM

    As a college student at the time of the “Bangladshi Liberation War”, I still remember the atrocities committed on Bengalis in the then East Pakistan. I must thank the writer for writing sense and presenting facts. You can not blame the the present youth of Bangladesh to refuse to tolerate forces that were inimical to the birth of their nation. I must thank the writer for being so honest in the expression of his views.
    The following two statements made by the writer stand out:
    1. “Even as they agonise about ‘losing’ the East, many Pakistanis still believe that 1971 was a military defeat rather than a political one” [route cause of anti-India sentiments].
    2. “If we have the honesty and courage to take this step [apologize for the war crimes], as a bonus, the problem of Balochistan might become a tad easier to understand — and perhaps, solve.”
    The first statement sums up history and the second suggests how to avoid a repetition.

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  • afzaalkhan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 5:25PM

    @Tashfique alam

    Whatever happening in dhaka is your bussiness not mine, right? Deal it urself don’t come to pakistani website and ask us to do this or that. You are welcome to take the author and indians with you.

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  • Shameema
    Feb 16, 2013 - 5:42PM

    @ Polpot: force can never hold a country…give it time Kashmir will be Independent too!

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  • Ishti
    Feb 16, 2013 - 5:50PM

    @afzaalkhan:
    Once again, blind ego. Look around you and grow some sense. As a citizen of the world, it IS your deal to support/oppose anything happening in the world. It’s your choice if you want to be sorry or be arrogant and call Bangladeshis stupid or stuff like that, because in terms of security and world repute, Bangladesh is in a WAY better place than Pakistan in every way. The ego of pakistani people has led to infamy of the Talibans and of course, has kept pakistan in bad relations with USA.

    Think with a cool mind, and look at the atrocities of 1971. You may not be moved by mass murders and bombings and genocide, but a lot of people were, and are, like Doctor here. Sane minded people already understand who needs an apology and who doesn’t. India and Pakistan’s stories were finished after ’47. India merely wanted to lend a hand in a just war for true freedom. People like you make me cringe. Blindness.

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  • Polpot
    Feb 16, 2013 - 6:38PM

    Dont believe your 5th Std Text Book!
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    “The class-five Social Studies text (English), taught to 12-year olds, begins with citing the differences between Hindus and Muslims (e.g. Hindus burn the wife after her husband dies but Muslims don’t)”"

    To all my Pakistani friends: discover reality about Hindus…..dont blindly trust the mullahs.

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  • Polpot
    Feb 16, 2013 - 6:44PM

    I was being driven from the Jeddah Airport to City Hotel on my frequent visits and chatting with the chaueffer
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Suddenly he asked me where I was from and I said Mumbai. I asked him the same and he uttered “azaad kashmir”
    Suddenly the conversation dropped like a kite on a breezeless day.

    Then he picked up: Sir, when I cam to Saudi I thought Indians were like devil incarnates…but now after getting to know them I practically live with them.They are my best friends!.

    If only we could demolish the “lessons”learnt in text books:)

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  • Ali
    Feb 16, 2013 - 6:55PM

    @Hasan Cheema: Go ahead. If you dare, ask. We receive massive development aid from Britain, and I think Cameron already apologized for colonial exploitation. We’re good.

    While we’re at it, an official apology from the Govt of Pakistan would be much appreciated.

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  • Razi
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:02PM

    When a president who is the army chief as well,says sorry … does that count as an apology.

    A newspaper cutting from 2002. Musharraf did apologize

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/bangladesh/1403185/Musharraf-apology-to-Bangladesh.html

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  • Sami
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:03PM

    This kind of Writings are actually rare from Pakistan. Hats off and thank you Sir..

    If someone says the new generation don’t need to say ”Sorry” because they wasn’t even born that time, then who will Do it? We didn’t stage a international war criminal trial for the oppressors. Isn’t is satisfactory enough to be thankful even after killing 30,00,000 people and 2,00,000 rapes? Unless this is done, we won’t ever be able to take Pakistanis as Muslim ”Brothers”.

    Indians Helped Bangladesh to gain a clear victory from the Pakistani army, and we are thankful for this. Please Don’t pull cricket inside it. If Bangladeshies has slight hatred for Indians that’s because of recent indian massakars in Borders,pacts of water suppy sarrounding bangladesh and lack of proper diplomatic relation.

    Shahbag Square is the new movement of Awaken Bangladeshi youth against war criminals from our own land. Alas! if these Razakars knew, Pakistanis won’t ever look back to them after leaving our land; they won’t ever turn into betrayers of thier motherland and kill innocent people co-operating Pakistani Army!!

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:10PM

    “Bangladesh is right in demanding an apology from Pakistan”. I beg to disagree. The Mukti Bahini massacred thousands of West Pakistanis during the civil war which followed Mujeeb’s arrest in March 1971. Some of my close relatives were among those who were slaughtered by the rebels. It was only natural for the Pakistan army to crack down hard on the killers (most of whom were Indians who had infiltrated across the porous border). The Bangladeshis were brainwashed by the Indians into believing that their resources were being plundered by West Pakistan. Even now, 42 years after their “liberation”, their country is desperately poor and being exploited by the Indians.

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  • Raisuddin
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:24PM

    The worst thing in the world is when people who know nothing about Bengalis or have a very superficial knowledge about them try to speak authoritatively. This is not physics. It is something else. First, is the good doctor aware what Bangladesh schools teach their pupils about 1971? Is he aware of what brutalities Bengalis unleashed on non-Bengalis first during the power vacuum between 26 March and around 20 April 1971 and after 16 December 1971? If he does not, he should not utter the word apology again. Yes, West Pakistanis derided the Bengalis for the colour of their skin and their physique and generally thought low of them. But what kind thoughts did the Bengalis entertain about the West Pakistanis and the Urdu-speaking Biharis? Put up, Sirs, or shut up.

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  • james
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:30PM

    Sati, that is, widow burning by the Hindus is a historical truth, no?

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  • M.S.Choudhury
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:36PM

    Many Pakistanis believe that atom bombs and military actions are solutions of all problems.Discussions,compromise and mutual respect can be a tools for solutions of tough problems are absent in their thoughts.But, first of all it is important to recognize the problem. We in Bangladesh,feel that for Pakistan the events of 1971 is now an academic issue.It is for them to take lessons from that events and face the ongoing and future problems.
    I believe majorities of Pakistanis are nice and logical people, but a small minority are in a state of denial and at the same time disrespectful to others.Unfortunately this small minority set the agenda.
    .

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  • Adil Zaman
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:43PM

    @Dr: in case of having Nuclear technology, the deterrence of Nuclear weapons would be sufficient to refrain India from interfering in East pakistan. Having Nuclear weapons does not mean that some body will difinitly use it. Even In case of using, it would be used inside indian territory and not in East Pakistan if somebody would be having a little knowledge of defence policy and defence strategy. And still it is due to this nuclear weapons deterrence that india is not threatening Pakistan since 1980,s.

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  • Ali
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:49PM

    @Shakir Lakhani: Given the geographical distance between Mashriq and Magrib, it is possible to economically determine the acquisition and allocation of resources (unlike the Tamils in SL or the Balochis in Pakistan). After doing such, economists publishing in peer reviewed journals have reported that there was massive siphoning of resources from the East to the West.

    I’m not spreading grade-five-propaganda. As an economist, I’m discussing facts.

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  • Shafi Nasir
    Feb 16, 2013 - 8:34PM

    I totally agree with M Ali Khan that if Bangladeshi People were on the right way then why they chose the name “Bangladesh” instead of “Pakistan” which was chosen by the elders of Pakistan.
    The second reason why I don’t like Bangladesh is that if they were right to struggle for their independence then why they had not started the struggle before The Indian “RAW” started backing them. Why they took help from the borne Enemies of Pakistan.
    And just see their present condition. They are fully controlled by the Indians even having their own waters.

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  • Aaqib Hossain
    Feb 16, 2013 - 8:37PM

    Dear God the head-in-the-sand idiocy of many of the Pakistani posters on this article. You people haven’t learned much.

    However, finally a half decent article on the war from a Pakistani writer.

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  • Babloo
    Feb 16, 2013 - 8:57PM

    Is Pakistan worse of today than in 1971 ? Now it even has the solution to all of Pakistan’s problems , the ‘atom bumb’. Judge for yourself.

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  • shariq
    Feb 16, 2013 - 9:45PM

    Can you, Mr PH, deliver lectures like that in India? I don’t think so. You are a non-muslim; a science professor, how exactly can you talk about religion Islam in that way?

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  • Ayub Khan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 10:02PM

    I am really happy to see someone of my generation realising the denial tendency of Pakistan towards the 71 genocide. This denial is what led to, at the time of handing over war criminals to Pakistan, Bhutto not going ahead with the promised war crime trials per the Simla pact, instead giving them impunity. The sooner Pakistan can get out of the denial of history, the quicker it would be able to stabilise its statehood. Thanks for speaking out, I hope there are more open minded and reasonable discussions on these issues.

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  • Komal S
    Feb 16, 2013 - 10:07PM

    @Shakir Lakhani says “Even now, 42 years after their “liberation”, their country is desperately poor and being exploited by the Indians.”

    Not sure which world you are living in, Bangladesh has probably done better than both India and Pakistan in Human Development index. Bangladesh had tackled poverty better than both these countries. The fact that you think Bangladeshis can be easily exploited by Indians shows what you think of them.

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  • Komal S
    Feb 16, 2013 - 10:14PM

    @Adil Zaman:

    May be you guys need to pay attention to what is going on. India did not start any of the wars with Pakistan. All the aggression in 1947, 1965 were Pakistan initiated, please read the material from your own experts. Let we talk about 1971 the better. We know how Kargil started. last two time India massed it’s troops along the border was during Kargil and Parliament attack. Both are aggressions from pakistan or elements from Pakistan.

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:02PM

    @ Komal S: India was preparing to attack Pakistan in 1987 when the Americans showed Rajiv Gandhi satellite photos of atom bombs being fitted on F-16′s in Pakistan. That was when Indians realized that Pakistan was already a nuclear power (undeclared) and they could not invade Pakistan. All this is on record.

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:06PM

    @ Komal S: even 42 years after independence, the installed electric power is 4,000 MW (that of Pakistan is 20,000 MW, Karachi alone is 2,500 MW). You call this progress? Your currency is stronger than Pakistan only because you enjoy preferential tariffs from U.S. (since Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, we don’t get this favour from the U.S.)

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  • Shakir Lakhani
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:09PM

    @ Shariq: Parvez Hoodbhoy is a Muslim, a much better Muslim than most Pakistani Muslims.

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  • Abir Mannan
    Feb 16, 2013 - 11:32PM

    Dear Professor,
    I am a Bangladeshi.
    I am so happy to see your article that it put tears in my eye.
    Yes all the Bangladeshi who supported 1971 war wants an apology from Pakistan. Because of that somehow we do have a generalized hatred against Pakistan.
    My Father, 3 uncles and my grandmother were freedom fighters in 1971. But they always tought me to love, not hate. I do not hate Pakistan in general but i do hate those people who still does not believe that there was a genocide and they say there nothing wrong happened against Former East Pakistan
    It feels great that people like you is still their to talk about what really happened and try to make other understand and stand beside what is right.
    i do live in NY but currently i am in Dhaka and enjoying every single moment here at Shahbag

    Thanks to you Professor.

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  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:31AM

    Beautiful article as always.good thing to ponder on past misgivings. Rab rakha

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  • Prerna
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:41AM

    @Hasan Cheema: and not managed the partition properly which led to killing of thousand of muslims and Sikhs.

    Very sly.The deliberate omission of Hindus from among those killed in the partition carnage,and the oblique suggestion that they were the perpetrators ,or worse that their deaths amount to nothing plumbs a new low.Is there no level to which the likes of you won’t fall?

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  • Shamim Huq
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:50AM

    @Diggvijay Singh:
    Just because a few Bangladeshis cheer a certain Cricket team is no reflection of majority of Bangladeshis. I live in USA and I go out my way to be friends with my Indian colleagues and friends with large numbers of Indians. And you may ask how many Pakistani’s are our friends – none. We do not mix with Pakistanis, since you are from India I took the trouble of responding.
    Indian businesses and many Sikhs are doing a lot of businesses in Dhaka and that is the truth. Even many business from Karachi have moved to Bangladesh.
    Moreover, since the birth of Bangladesh we have never had a problem with our Hindu neighbors and truth be told religion is not even an issue. Thousands of young Bangali Muslim youths came to the rescue of our Hindu neighbors and fought side by side in the Liberation war. To me India and Indira Gandhi will always have a soft spot in our hearts.

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  • Saira
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:20AM

    It would be instructive for Bangladesh youth to read the following books:
    1. Dead Reckoning by Sarmila Bose (banned in Bangladesh)
    2. Of Martyrs and Marigolds by Aquila Ismail
    3. Sips from a broken Teacup by Raihana Hasan

    These will give them another perpspective on the war.

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  • Razi
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:23AM

    @Polpot

    I do not buy the stuff about Indians or Hindus that is taught in our textbooks but if you really have the courage to address people here as “my Pakistani friends”, you should first reconsider your approach towards Pakistan and Muslims. You and many of your compatriots here, let’s not be afraid of naming them, such as gp65, G Din, Blackjack, John B, mahakalchakra, observer, Another North Indian, and some others have a single point agenda with which they come to this website. I invite you to go through the comments made by these people and by yourself as well in the last 3 to 4 months, and it will become quite clear what I am talking about. Friends don’t use the kind of language and the utterly negative, insulting and prejudiced remarks that these people do, all in the name of patriotism. It has become so patently obvious, as observer has yet again demonstrated in his comment above, that to criticise India, even if done by the Pakistani (Hoodbhoy) that Indians here revere expectedly for his Pakistan-bashing, is an anathema to them. So while the Indians coming here can continue to praise Kamran Shafi, Hoodbhoy and Ayesha Siddiqua (sometimes selectively) for writing what they want to read, their attitude will hardly win anyone over. Honestly, had I not been to India and had not made Indian friends during my studies in the US, my view of the Indians would have been very negative, but not because of the textbooks but because of these Indian commentators who are engaged in a game of one-upmanship and propaganda. .

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  • Geet
    Feb 17, 2013 - 4:49AM

    Pakistan nation is actually a gift of UP, Delhi and Bengali Muslim intellectuals and land lords. Punjab, Sindh, Baloch and NWFP areas had only limited or minuscule involvement in the Pakistan movement. Pakistan is a country with a non-existent heart. The heart of the country lies in UP/Delhi region of India. The present problem of the country can be traced to this. The founding father of Pakistan made a wrong decision to not make Dacca the capital of Pakistan as Bengalis were numerically superior and the second mistake they did was to force feed an Indian UP language called Urdu down the throat of every citizens. Anyway Bangladesh is thriving and doing better than the current artificial Pakistan. They should finish the business of getting rid of all pro-Pakistan terrorists.

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  • Free will
    Feb 17, 2013 - 5:38AM

    Well, haters are going to hate. There is no point in wasting time on them. Nonetheless, if Pakistan does not learn it’s lesson from 1971, the same thing is going to happen to Balochistan. An apology is not merely an apology, it’s the first step towards reconciliation process. It is about building trust between the people of these two countries. It’s not about how many Hindus or Muslims were killed in 1971. It’s not about how many Punjabis or Bengalis died. It is about the direction the state of Pakistan takes to reduce the trust deficit.
    The state of Pakistan can not regain the trust of Baloch people by enticing them with the promise of new roads and bridges, fancy ports and pipelines. Before Pakistan can build infrastructures in Balochistan, they need to build a trust-worthy relationship with the Baloch people. I strongly believe the way Pakistan responds to the current situation in Bangladesh will foreshadow its approach towards Balochistan. If Pakistan recognizes that it has done some rather horrible things in the past and starts respecting the free will of its people, it can stay integrated as a country. Otherwise, the same paternalistic policies of the (military juntas + religious fundamentalists) which neglected the plight of Bengali people, would fail to listen to the needs of Baloch people and people from rest of Pakistan. The same policies which enabled the murder of Benazir Bhutto, would put Imran Khan’s life at risk. Joy Bangla, Jai Hind, Pakistan Zindabad!

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  • Observer
    Feb 17, 2013 - 7:31AM

    @Razi:

    “When a president who is the army chief as well,says sorry … does that count as an apology. A newspaper cutting from 2002. Musharraf did apologize”

    No it doesn’t mean two hoots unless and until Pakistan hands over to Bandladesh the military men and generals who committed the mass rapes, ethnic cleansing and massacred three million Bengalis to face genocide trials.

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  • Observer
    Feb 17, 2013 - 7:44AM

    @Introspection:

    “Yes Injustices were committed, but, SARMILA BOSE, is a must-read for all Pakistanis to get a FAIR and OBJECTIVE picture of what really happened…! THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO THE SAME COIN-ALWAYS!!!?

    Sarmila Bose is a very questionable reference and has been thoroughly discredited for cooking up false history. She was on Pakistan’s payroll ever since she canvassed the US administration for supplying F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

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  • Sajida
    Feb 17, 2013 - 8:00AM

    This may come as news to the author but civil wars are nasty. Consider what happened in Sri Lanka recently. School textbooks will convey whatever narrative is preferred. This is not just a Pakistani case. It is true in other countries as well.
    The ware crimes trial is really part of internal issue in Bangladesh. Unfortunately for the Bengalis, they have gotten stuck in a festering rut of the two Begums while country’s needs are being ignored.
    http://www.economist.com/node/21555914?zid=306&ah=1b164dbd43b0cb27ba0d4c3b12a5e227
    Bangladesh’s toxic politics
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/26/bangladesh-politics-strikes-violence
    Bangladeshis deserve more from politics than strikes and violence

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  • Bangalee
    Feb 17, 2013 - 8:04AM

    If I go by your knowledge of history as being taught in the textbooks, I realize you do not even know that there happened a war in which the Bangalees fought with whatever they had. Yes they lost too much, but they did defeat the Pakistani army and its collaborators. If you do not know you did something wrong how can you apologize? First learn what you will apologize for?

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  • ramanan
    Feb 17, 2013 - 8:43AM

    Sir,

    We want you as professor at IIT Mumbai.

    Please pack your bags and leave.

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  • K B Kale
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:27AM

    @Shamim Huq:
    Jai Ho! Your attitude is correct and hence laudable!

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  • K B Kale
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:33AM

    @Saeed
    Saeed-bhai, what you have written represents the typical 65+-year-old Pakistani mentality “Superiority Complex”! This complex is deep-rooted in Pakistani psyche though they don’t have superiority in any field worth the name. Pakistan lost Bangladesh because of this very complex (or call it a latent racism) that makes Punjabis & Sindhis feel that they are “ruling class” & Bengalis are their slaves.
    This attitude is also seen in the way Pakistani Governments have been treating Baloch people! So when finally Balochistan will secede (as it surely will-It is just a matter of time), instead of looking in the mirror to locate ‘whodunit’, most of you would blame India the same way you are blaming India today for creation of Bangladesh. And don’t forget that, unlike in case of Bangladesh, India has no border with Balochistan!
    So wake up, my friend!

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  • K B Kale
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:35AM

    @Watan-e-Hindustan(Indian):
    Kis kis ki maafee mangega bechara Pakistan? Sabke saath zagda aur zanzat hai Pakistan ka! May be the only exception is China, but not for long! Terrorist training to China’s Muslim rebels in its South-West will finish whatever semblance (and show) of warmth exists today!

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  • gp65
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:57AM

    @james:
    Yes Sati was a cultural practice. It was however not mandated by religion. Hence to imply that this separates people of the 2 religion was unnecessary. There are many real differences between the 2 faiths so there is no need to resort to lies and subterfuge.

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  • gp65
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:03AM

    @shariq:
    Well a non-Hindu Ph.D. Did and does give a lot of lectures in India. He was the head of India’s nuclear program in1998 – with no on doubting his loyalty or sincerity simply because he was Muslim. He went to become the President of India.

    What you posed as a rhetorical question simply displays your own lack of knowledge about India.

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  • Sazzad
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:05AM

    This article is well written and detailed, I’m Bangladeshi. I really appreciated the good feedbacks from my fellow muslim pakistani brothers, what they realize and think should be done now. But in my opinion its high time for us(Bangladesh) and well as for the Pakistan to move on. The time is high for both of us, we should be more concern developing our own country and its border side. We should be getting into competition with our fellow neighbors countries like India. Malaysia, Thailand in the terms of Economic, job and development. What happened 41 years back has happened. Time will heal and hopefully make better relationship with this both country once again. We do have a lot Pakistani people living in Dhaka, we do like Bangladesh, love and live here. Hopefully, one day everything will be better, future having this generation children, educated and more better technology, things are very transparent then it could be ever.

    We do want the death sentence for the war criminal in regardless of anything. Those criminals were involve for mass murder and rapes many hundred people without nay doubt. Even though they helped the Pakistani Armies or whatnot during 1971, the grudges isn’t against Pakistani people. Its against our own people we declined to help us in 1971 instead killing he’s own people. Known as genocide.
    FROM A DEAR BANGLADESHI CITIZEN!

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  • Hassan Aminul
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:15AM

    An unbiased peice of writing. God bless you and Pakistan.

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  • Mohammad Sarker
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:25AM

    195 Pakistani war criminals were handed over to Pakistan so they could be prosecuted by the Pakistani authorities in exchange of 400,000 Bengali who were trapped in Pakistan. The trail never took place.
    http://www.thedailystar.net/forum/2010/may/curious.htm

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  • mahmud
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:25AM

    We dont care what you think about shahbag but i salute the professor because he spokes some truth.making an apology will ease our relationship

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  • Anand Kumar
    Feb 17, 2013 - 11:29AM

    @Shameema: “The people who are sittimg in judgement of ‘collaborators” are collaborators themselves who
    betrayed their country, Pakistan to the enemy.

    By your logic Pakistan was founded by Indian traitors

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  • Esparanza
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:05PM

    @Diggvijay Singh:
    Yes it is true you will see a lot of anti-Indian sentiments and pro-Pakistan cricket fans in our country. The former has to do with politics. The youth today acknowledges India’s massive contribution to our liberation and it is covered largely in our medias too. However it is the current political scenario that would affect them more.Even though Indira Gandhi and the then Indian Government has been largely supportive of Bangladesh, the current government has given us quite a few reasons to garner such sentiments. As for Pakistan, politically the people here has no soft corner whatsoever for the country.

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  • rux
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:26PM

    Dear everyone,
    My mother was 10 years old when the war started. As a daughter of a police, she saw how the armies dumped bodies of the civilians near her house. A girl, around her age was killed too, she was mom’s friend. Why she was killed? Because she was hindu. My mom’s uncle’s whole family was killed at the middle of the night, except her 15 years old cousin. He was hiding under the bed. So, why were they killed??And why did the army took my mom’s 20 years old female cousin? They were muslims, they used to pray 5 times a day. That cousin of my mom, my uncle still sees nightmares of that night. I have heard so many times from him how they were killed,how he saved himself and how his sister was taken. He never found her.

    About two of the 5 families of Bangladesh has lost their dear ones in 1971. The night of 25th march is not a lie. We still find mass graves of the freedom fighters and innocent people who were killed by the army in 71. My mom’s family had to run from one city to another,one village to other to save themselves. When they returned, through those villages they once took shelter, they found many people missing. They were killed by the army or taken away. 14th December 1971 is not a lie either. Many of the intellectual people were taken away by the army. My teacher was taken away by the army, he was brutally tortured. He was released because they thought they got the wrong guy, he is not the artist they were looking for. For more than 20 years, he couldn’t hold a pen in his right hand. His speech sounds funny to us. It was all because of the torture. He have seen how they killed his colleagues. Still now when he talks about his experience, he shivers and cannot stop crying.
    Tell me now guys, what was their fault, that they had to die like this? What was the girl’s fault that they were taken from the house, raped and killed brutally?
    I know much of the Pakistanis don’t know the actual history, they didn’t live here. They didn’t see the brutality in their own naked eyes. So, it is hard for them to understand our sentiments. Some Pakistanis are taking about mukti-bahinis brutality. Tell me if you know they killed the whole family of a pakistani. Tell me if you know the Biharis living in our countries were killed and raped brutally during the war. You will have nothing to tell. We still live with these biharies as neighbors. We share foods, we play with their children. We never heard form them that they lost a family member by mukti-bahini.
    So, I will tell you to know the real history.

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  • Roshan
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:32PM

    Excellent article, Sir.
    We’re a deluded nation with hyped patriotic fever, negating both: logic & history.Recommend

  • Komal S
    Feb 17, 2013 - 12:48PM

    @Shakir Lakhani:

    I am from India and not from Bangladesh. Bangladesh is doing significantly better on population control, infant mortality, life expectancy and also there are more women than men unlike Pakistan. In all these Bangladesh also does better than India. Now yes, they are not as industrialised, not much power infrastructure, per capita income is less than India and pakistan but how come they are doing better than Pakistan or India in dealing with their poor. Also it does better compared to Pakistan on minority rights and also better in dealing with extremist elements.

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  • K B Kale
    Feb 17, 2013 - 1:41PM

    Looking at the speed with which responses are pouring in, I think this article will beat 800+ responses Prof got for his article exposing the an invention that claimed to make a car run on water as fuel!
    Jai Ho!

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  • K B Kale
    Feb 17, 2013 - 2:24PM

    @Razi:
    Dear Mr/Ms Razi,
    I find gp65′s comments most balanced and studious. I am surprised to see you include that name in your “black-List“!

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  • Faisal
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:00PM

    Did govt. of Bangladesh ever accept genocide done by guerrilla forces of Mukti Bahni, Socialists and Communists? Ever they brought terrorists of Mukti Bahni in court? Yes we should talk about our mistakes but we should also find the actual source of all this conflict which is materialistic Marxist and Communist philosophy of conflict adopted by Mukti Bahni, PPP of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Awami league of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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  • Muhammad Faisal
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:00PM

    Did govt. of Bangladesh ever accept genocide done by guerrilla forces of Mukti Bahni, Socialists and Communists? Ever they brought terrorists of Mukti Bahni in court? Yes we should talk about our mistakes but we should also find the actual source of all this conflict which is materialistic Marxist and Communist philosophy of conflict adopted by Mukti Bahni, PPP of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Awami league of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

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  • Paijan
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:49PM

    @RAW is WAR:
    And this has nothing to do with India.. so stop poking your nose in it….

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  • rony
    Feb 17, 2013 - 3:49PM

    “Patriot: Persecution of pro Pakistan elements in Bangladesh only reaffirms my belief that traitors fully deserved what our army did to them in 1971.”

    @Patriot: By pro-Pakistani if you mean a person who he was charged with beheading a poet, raping an 11-year-old girl and murdering 344 people, then I am not sure you understand what patriotism means.

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  • Saira
    Feb 17, 2013 - 4:26PM

    @ Rux: I am sorry for your loss but I too have suffered loss of family members at the hands of
    Mukti Bahinis both in 1971 and 1972 after Sheik Mijibur Rahman came back in 1972. The pogroms carried out in Mirpur and Mohammedpur were worse than the Nazis. If Biharis are living peacefully as you say…it is because they have been forced out of their homes, their properties siezed, bank accounts froxen and made to live like second – class citizens. Go to Camp Geneva if you don’t believe me. In contrast not a single hair on the head of one single bengali was touched in Pakistan. There are more Bengalis in Pakistan today than there were in 1971.

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  • CK
    Feb 17, 2013 - 6:43PM

    What happened was wrong and Pakistan should go out of its way to mend its ties with Bangladesh. The Pakistan Army was greatly assisted by Bengalis themselves and these trials are about the “traitors”. Some questions to ask:

    Why is this court only indicting opposition figures?
    Why is the International Community and by that I don’t mean anyone from Pakistan saying that procedures of International Law were not followed in the proceedings?
    What happened to that leaked tape between one of the judges and a high up government official pressuring them to give a quick verdict?

    It is sad to see that the present government of Bangladesh is using the events of 1971 for electoral politics.

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  • shah
    Feb 17, 2013 - 8:16PM

    I must thank the writer for an excellent article on such an issue. I strongly feel a soul searching and knowing the truth will make everyone of us enlightened.

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  • Badruddin Omar
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:11PM

    @afzaalkhan:
    This is called defense mechanism in psychology. Keep rationalizing things like that.

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  • rux
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:40PM

    @ Saira. I have been to Geneva camp, In fact where I live now is just few minutes away from it. I feel ashamed of it. But then there are other slum areas full of bengalies who live like them. And the biharies don’t only live in that place. In dinajpur, my home district. My neighborhood is 70% occupied by biharies. They are not living like these people. Compared to people from geneva camp, they are twice as number in Dinajpur and Sayedpur. Most of them have their own property and a good amount of bank balance. And about Geneva camp, don’t you think it was Pakistan govt’s responsibility to take them to their homeland? I do agree, now after 42 years Bangladesh Govt’ should take their responsibility. They have become Bangladeshis now. They should have the same right like us.
    But now, I am curious to know how many people were killed by Mukti-Bahini? If they are alive, I fully believe they should be punished or apologize. But don’t you think Pakistanis should come forward first, apologize then ask the mukti-bahini to apologize for their sin?

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:49PM

    @Shakir Lakhani:

    Indians realized that Pakistan was
    already a nuclear power

    Pak didn’t have a proper nuke delivery system even during the Kargil war!

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  • Rashid
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:47PM

    @Diggvijay Singh:
    Sir ji, if you think we forgot what help India did to us, you are wrong. We are greatful to India. At least the young generation are. Though we strongly protest killing in the border.
    Please don’t measure ‘ friend’ by a cricket team support.
    And yes ofcourse, the young Pakistani generations don’t have to apologize to us for something that they didn’t committed. But if they do, they are bigger human beings than their ancestors.

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  • Mian
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:49PM

    @Badruddin Omar
    Go back to Bangladeshi website and stop intruding here.

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  • Imtiaz Ahmed
    Feb 17, 2013 - 10:56PM

    The Bengalis ask the Pakistan to apologies what they had done in East Pakistan. My simple question is that what about the Pakistani who were at that time in East Pakistan particularly Biharies. The Mukti Bahni had done the mass killing/raping/looting and what ever the crimes they had did in the area of Dhaka Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Santhahar, Mymensingh, Narayangonj etc.

    Where, we go who will compensate to us still the Biharies are in Bangladesh in refuge camps,
    may ask that is they were in camp in 1971 who santached their properties/business etc.
    The histry is witness what happend in East Pakistan.

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  • Mohmin
    Feb 18, 2013 - 12:10AM

    Jamaat-e-Islami were the only only organisation in Bangladeshis who see the truth about 1971. They warned about nefarious activities of Indian agents but no one listened.

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  • Saira
    Feb 18, 2013 - 12:18AM

    @ RuX: yes it was the responsibility of the Pakistani Government and they did transfer and resettle around 200, 000. Then it stopped as this was causing ethnic tension in Sindh where most of the refugees from East Pakistan were settling. When Zia ul Haq came to power the repatriation process started again but by that time there were Aghan refugees to resettle and they naturally took precedence.
    I would like to point out too that there was no retaliation against Bengalis in West Pakistan during 1971 or after the creation of BD. No properties seized or populations forcibly moved out of their homes as was done to the Biharis. The people you see in Camp Geneva were not as poor as they are now…most Biharis that migrated from India in 1947 came with skills and some capital.
    Perhaps it is time for both Pakistan and Bangladesh to sit down for ‘truth and reconciliation’ and come to some sort of figure and acceptance of just how many died. A joint apology should be made to the relatives of the victims.
    I wish too that the youth of Bangladesh would research facts from other sources too. Please read ‘ The East Pakistan Tragedy’ by Professor L. Rushbrook Williams. Also ‘Dead Reckoning’ by Sarmila Bose. This will give you another perspective and the context for the Army crackdown.Just don’t accept what is written in your history books as the gospel truth.
    Also read ‘ Of Martyrs and Marigolds’ by Aquila Ismail and ‘Sips from a Broken Tea cup’ by
    Raihana Hasan for survivor accounts.
    Once again, I am truly sorry for your loss. I wish it hadn’t been this way.

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  • Hasan
    Feb 18, 2013 - 12:19AM

    @usmanyy:
    Don’t spread out the sick facts and figures none of which you can establish. As it seemingly clear, that your facts are rather ‘fabricated’ and ‘washed away’.

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  • Sameer ishtiaq
    Feb 18, 2013 - 12:37AM

    @Observer,

    Of course Sarmilla Bose is a very questionable reference. Anybody who questioned official Bangladesh narrative is on payroll of Pakistan establishment

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  • Mohammed M Shaikh
    Feb 18, 2013 - 1:27AM

    For a person who was 10 in 1971 and in Dhaka from 1970 to 1973 and Urdu speaking Pakistani, it is with shame that I have to say that I personally saw brutality and retribution on all sides. Civil was is dehumanizing in all aspects. But then there were men of honor like Gen Yakub Ali Khan and countless Jawans and officers of the Army.

    In a time where East Pakistan was 54% of Pakistan population, the quota for Federal Jobs to East Pakistan was a mere 13%. Punjab was over 50%. So you know why there was resentment. I am astounded that it took so long for a long suffering people to rise up.

    And the figure of 90,000 POWs is correct, in that the Indian Army allowed Urdu speaking civilians to join the Pak army as POWs to protect them against the wrath of the Bengali’s in places like Mohammedpur and Mirpur which are suburbs of Dhaka. All my neighbors were in POW camp. As was the family of Group Captain MM Alam who were my neighbors in Mohammedpur.

    A very sad time, but something that is an evil in all of us. Only God can absolve us of our sins.Recommend

  • MSS
    Feb 18, 2013 - 1:47AM

    The author believes wrongly that Pakistanis cared about Shahbagh Square before 1971. If they did, Pakistan would still be united.

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