The narcissism of victimhood

Published: January 8, 2012
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The writer is Director at the South Asian Media School in Lahore 
khaled.ahmed@tribune.com.pk

The writer is Director at the South Asian Media School in Lahore [email protected]

A nation busy building the narrative of its birth will exaggerate the aspects of its suffering. Pakistan’s ‘painful birth’ syndrome is enveloped in its story of Partition — when men were slaughtered and women raped. The idea is not only to emphasise the effort it took to create Pakistan but to designate the ‘enemy’ who caused the suffering. Ultimately, the state will need an external enemy to achieve internal unity through projections of threat.

Bangladesh, too, had to have a national narrative of a ‘painful birth’ and Pakistan was clearly the agent of this pain. What comes to the fore in Bangladeshi nationalism is the sense of victimhood and the introversion it brings about. Indian scholar, Sarmila Bose has written about it in her book Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War (OUP 2011). She discovers that the Bangladeshi narrative focused on the Punjabi as the tormentor, not the Pakistani nation as a whole.

She notes from the accounts of 1971 that the Pakistan Army that killed the East Pakistanis contained Pathans and the Baloch, too, but it was the Punjabi who killed (p.167). In fact, it is said that the Pathans and the Baloch spared the victims. Bose challenges this: there were virtually no Baloch in the Pakistan Army; and some of the top officers who oversaw the killing — like Niazi and Yahya — were actually Pathans.

Bose writes: “West Pakistani sources typically frame the conflict in political terms — as a struggle between maintaining the unity of Pakistan and the secession of East Pakistan to form independent Bangladesh — while Bangladeshi nationalists typically frame it in ethnic terms, as (freedom-loving, democratic) Bengalis versus (colonial, oppressive) Punjabis” (p.170).

She demolishes the national consensus behind ‘liberation’ as expressed in the 1970 elections: “the voter turnout in East Pakistan is given as only 56 per cent, lower than in the provinces of Punjab; (66 per cent) and Sindh; (58 per cent) in West Pakistan. It would appear that 44 per cent of the East Pakistani electorate was too disinterested in the issues of the election to vote, or else had some disincentive to go out to vote” (p.171).

The world accepted the figure of 90,000 Pakistani troops taken as PoW by India. Bose discovers that Pakistan had only 45,000 troops, paramilitary and police in East Pakistan. The PoWs could not have been more than half of the total.

The other item in the national narrative is the “three million” killed by the Pakistan Army. “According to the Bangladeshi authorities, the Pakistan Army was responsible for killing three million Bengalis and raping 200,000 East Pakistani women” (p.177). She thinks the war dead were no more than 26,000 and extracts the figure from the situation reports of the Pakistan Army. Indian officers gave her the figures of no more than “300,000 to 500,000” (p.178).

She adds some ironies too: “Many Hindus were left unharmed by the Pakistan Army during 1971. As the witness accounts show, many Hindu refugees were leaving their villages and fleeing to India not because of any action of the army but because they could no longer bear the persecution by their Bengali Muslim neighbours” (p.182).

She ends by writing: “When the Pakistan Army came for Sheikh Mujib on the night of 25-26 March 1971, he was apprehensive; the soldiers arrested and imprisoned him, accusing him of treason. When soldiers of the Bangladesh Army came for Sheikh Mujib on 15 August 1975, he went to meet them as they were his own people; they killed him and all his extended family present, including his wife, two daughters-in-law and three sons, the youngest a child of ten” (p.183).

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Jan 8, 2012 - 12:51AM

    Just for the record:

    Sarmila Bose is a Bengali from India, a Hindu, and a Marxist.

    She is a highly rated Oxford academic

    plus she is the grand daughter of the great ‘Netajee’ Subhas Chandra Bose of Congress and Indian National Army fame!

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  • Salahuddin
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:16AM

    Thank you Ms. Bose for digging out the facts. Khalid sb, an excellent article as always.

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  • Babloo
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:53AM

    When Sharmila takes the figures given by the army of Yahya Khan and Tikka khan who committed the genocide and lists them in her book, her book looses all legitimacy. I was witness to millions of impoverished East Pakistanis fleeing to W Bengal in India as the Pak army let loose a reign of terror and murder of its own citizens.

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  • BRUISED INDIAN
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:20AM

    @Beeberg Bugti: What does a persons caste, creed or political affiliation (well sort off) got to do with what she expressed?

    @Ahmed Saheb: Sharmila Bose is intellectually bankrupt who has hogged the lime light by writing on a subject very close to the heart of Bengali’s on both sides of the fence, who incidentally make up for a large percentage of academicians in Oxford and other renowned universities and if I may add are an emotionally challenged people. This is an opinion of mine and need not neccessarily be prescribed to.

    Quite an appropriate title by the way, Sir.

    @Beeburg Bugti: Sorry mate… It just crossed my mind that Sharmila Bose’s political affiliation towards Marxism and Communism is quite deep as she fails to mention anything on planned Chinese adventurism during the Indo Pak War.

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  • Basit
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:36AM

    Thank you for revealing the facts about 1971 war. Anti-Pakistan will devastated to hear the truth does not follow their narrative.

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  • venky
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:52AM

    It looks to me the article ended abruptly, would there a part II?

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  • Tariq
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:32AM

    She thinks the war dead were no more than 26,000 and extracts the figure from the situation reports of the Pakistan Army. Indian officers gave her the figures of no more than “300,000 to 500,000” (p.178).
    This clearly indicates a bias in Ms Bose’s analysis where presented with two sets of figures she chooses to go with the one presented by the Pakistan Army. An agenda of whitewash perhaps?

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  • Mansur Ali Khan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 5:56AM

    Sharmila Bose is a snake oil saleswoman. Her tales are all lies, couched in academic research and facts-gathering. It is like Eichman telling Jews were never sent to gas chambers. I wish she was present when Pak Army started killing Bengalis on that March 25 night. I was there. I knew what happened. I am surprised Bose’s book got so much currency in Pakistan while nobody in Bangladesh gives a damn about her More surprising is Khaled Ahmed buying her story lock, stock and barrel. This puts a serious blot on Ahmed’s scholarship.

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  • Chris Blackburn
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:01AM

    The problem with Sarmila Bose is that she tries to decrypt and discredit the collective (social) memory of the Bengali people and picks on them. But, she cannot discredit the collective memory of international aid agencies, western (and South Asian) journalists, politicians, diplomats and the others that dealt with the war crimes and also dealt with the aftermath.

    Dominant narratives can sometimes be due to an abundance of FACTS. It has become fashionable for post-colonialist academics and revisionists to pull history into meaningless arguments about clashes of ideology or tribalism. It has taken 40 years for the war crimes tribunals in Bangladesh. Did the victors create a dominant history and get victor’s justice? No, they did not. Justice has been delayed. Bose could have wrote about that.

    The atrocities committed during 1971 were in danger of being destroyed in the social memory of Bangladesh by forces which were party to the crimes against humanity.

    Narcissism? I’d prefer self-righteous and becoming increasingly assertive on the world stage. Why shouldn’t the people of Bangladesh define themselves as being victims of brutality and genocide. If it helps to stop people in South Asia from making the same historic mistakes then surely acknowledging pain and suffering should be a positive outcome which can help to lead to a better future for all. Pakistan’s military and leaders should be full of guilt and remorse for the crimes committed in 1971. Is it not narcissistic for them to believe they don’t have a case to answer? Above the law, above justice, above reproach. 1971 led South Asia on the path to intolerance, communalism and extremism. 1971 can haunt or it can help Pakistan, and South Asia, to finally begin to exorcise their collective demons.

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  • Jan 8, 2012 - 7:49AM

    U.S. State Dept official, 1972: Bangladesh war resulted in one million dead and four million refugees: link

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  • jahangir khan
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:57AM

    i would like to know about the views of writer, it seems that the text is a semi review of bose’s work. we are usually been told about the cruelties by Pakistan army on Bengali’s, and we get confused that why our army took such extreme steps which obviously were commanded by the high command. what we did in East Pakistan I am afraid that we are doing the same in Balochistan today and are not learning from our previous mistake. History repeats it self when we do not learn from history. The problem with us is that we do not admit or accept our historical mistakes and when we do not consider them as mistakes we will actually repeat them as legitimate and the right thing to do. We have become apathetic to the consequences that the war of 1971 brought and have the similar kind of approach today. thanks to the author who for writing such a good commentive article on bose’s book.

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  • Zillur Rahman
    Jan 8, 2012 - 8:38AM

    (1) Naeem Mohaimen has published a review of Sarmila Bose’s book, “Flying Blind: Waiting for a Real Reckoning on 1971” A link to the review can be found at:
    http://www.thedailystar.net/forum/2011/October/flying.htm
    Since publication of Naeem Mohaimen’s review, Bose and Mohaiemen have exchanged rebuttals:
    (a) “‘Dead Reckoning’: A Response” by Sarmila Bose which can be accessed at:
    http://beta.epw.in/newsItem/comment/190839/
    (b) “Another Reckoning” by Naeem Mohaimen which can be accessed at:
    http://beta.epw.in/newsItem/comment/190840/
    (2) Another recent review of the Sarmila Bose is “Thoughts on Dead Reckoning” by Arnold Zetlin who was the first foreign journalist to send a first-hand witness report on the brutal killing of unarmed people in Dhaka in 1971 (New York Times on March 29, 1971). He was then Pakistan bureau chief of Associated Press. His article can be accessed at:
    http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=214413

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  • Arjun
    Jan 8, 2012 - 9:05AM

    Many Hindus were left unharmed by the Pakistan Army during 1971.

    Umm…and that’s proof that the Pakistani army, despite what the bangladeshis say, didn’t kill a whole bunch of people?

    By that standard, the fact that there are Palestinians alive disproves the massacre of Shabra and Shatilla.

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  • Ak
    Jan 8, 2012 - 9:13AM

    @Beeberg Bugti: amazing some one has to give the religious affiliation of a scholar in Pakistan to make a point. I would have thought that a scholar is a scholar irrespective of his or her religious background.

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  • adi
    Jan 8, 2012 - 9:48AM

    @venky…well read the book…its a wonderful effort coming “ironically” from an Indian. the lies spread by Bengladeshis and indians are blindly accepted by many pakistan purely due to “bughz-e-army”Recommend

  • Pure
    Jan 8, 2012 - 10:05AM

    Not sure what your point is – usually your articles are some of the best.
    Ms. Bose is not the final authority on numbers and facts. Her Marxist credentials cast doubt on her analysis. Marxists usually see the world in terms of class terms with exploitative leaders in non Marxist societies. Everything seems to fit their tinted framework.

    Bangladesh:
    But whatever the numbers killed, the blood on the hands of our Army and general populace cannot be washed away. They were our citizens. We chose to discriminate. We decided to deny them electoral victory. Bhutto/ Yahya and we the people of west made sure we change rules. We sent the Army to teach our Bengali brothers and their “Hindu” sensibilities a lesson. Your article cannot deny how we targeted them with a vengeance. What is wrong with their perception of being victims? In addition, whether their were 93000 or 45000 POWs, you cannot deny the fact that we lost the war. That we chose to cast ourselves as perpetual victims is also our decision. It is our manufactured narrative. Perhaps being in denial is better than taking responsibility.

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  • Indian
    Jan 8, 2012 - 10:44AM

    1) “extracts the figure from the situation reports of the Pakistan Army” – Does that tell you something? Figures given by the Pakistani army who was seen as the oppressor.

    2) A number of scholars and first-hand witnesses have shown inaccuracies in her work, claimed her methodology as flawed, suggested she misrepresented referenced sources, and gave excessive weight to Pakistan army testimonies. – The next line in wikepedia that forgot to read!!

    3) Her paternal grandfather ‘Sarat Chandra Bose’ was a barrister and a nationalist leader of distinction. – If you know to read ‘Sarat’ is not ‘Subhas’. Both are entirely different people. Stop distorting facts…

    Are Zaheer Khan and Imran Khan the same people because they share the ‘Khan’??

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  • Feroz
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:00AM

    There are many such Indian intellectuals like Sharmila who are hard core Marxists, they form the bulk of the research and teaching outfits. Marxists will always equalize everything into a class struggle with a veneer of religious neutrality. For them the Hindus, Muslims and Christians are never the trouble makers, the Capitalists are always villains. Take the rantings of Sharmila and other Marxist intellectuals with a pinch of salt. Also do remember that Sharmila comes from the state of West Bengal which had the longest serving democratically elected Marxist Government the World has seen. Sharmila and her opinion could only be relevant in a debate between Communism and Capitalism, never on issues with a religious colour.

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  • FAZ
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:12PM

    She forgot to mention that the when the Bangladeshi army came for Mujib they killed his dog too!! I wonder why they did that??

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  • Kamil Bangash
    Jan 8, 2012 - 12:38PM

    Is this a review of Ms. Bose’s book or an opinion piece? This is not very obvious from the article, even though Khaled Ahmed is usually clear in his writeups.

    As for Ms. Bose’s findings as presented by Khaled Ahmed (I haven’t had the opportunity to read her), there were definitely Pushtoons in the Pakistan Army at the time (if Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s word is to be believed, it was about 8 percent Pushtoons at the time – later on this figure rose to 14 percent after 1971). There were also Bengalis (also according to Asghar Khan, their percentage number was 12). Should the presence of Bengalis in the Pakistan Army also be interpreted as Bengali participation in crimes against their own kitch and kin? It is the predominant makeup of any institution that actually decides its nature, and not how many minorities are represented in it. I will not even go towards the issue of which part of Pathanistan Gen. A.K. Niazi belonged to, and who was the Butcher of Bengal (or alternately, Butcher of Dhakka as the honourable Tariq Ali names him)?

    Does the figure of 26,000 war dead make the crime less severe, according to Ms. Bose, or are we somehow now talking about paying compensation for the dead and have to arrive at a ‘reasonable figure’? We must remember that at that time, the population of East Pakistan was much smaller and even this figure must have made a big impact on the psyche of the people of what now is Bangladesh. And what percentage of people may be interpreted as a consensus figure for the purposes of independence or anything else? According to all surveys, a figure of about 35 to 40 thousand dead in a much bigger population of Pakistan has induced a consensus on anti-Americanism to the figure of about 70-80 percent of the population. Do all those people surveyed vote in general elections?

    As to the Bangladeshi Army murdering Sheikh Mujib and his whole family, while the Pakistani Army only imprisoning him in accordance to the law, is the comparison designed to induce the feeling that the Bengalis were not justified in demanding independence? Of course, our army is much more civilized as it only kills its opponents and incarcerates the rest of the family. Would the examples of Mr. Bhutto and Akbar Khan Bugti suffice here, or do we need further proof?

    There is a Pushto saying that prohibits the use of someone else’s shoulder to fire your own weapon. We would like to be enlightened on Khaled Ahmed’s own take on Bangladesh independence and the events surrounding it.

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  • Samir
    Jan 8, 2012 - 1:16PM

    @ Beeburg Bugti – the moment you associate anyone claiming to be an intellectual with “Marxism” you basically expose them as a joke. Marxism is a failed political theory. Marx was a very intelligent man but Marxists have generally been a useless lot as experienced by how far West Bengal is compared to the rest of India. Furthermore, Bose’s book carries little weight outside of (a) Pakistan and (b) The Marxists.

    It makes us Pakistanis feel good that Bose says “only” X number were killed. The truth is in The Blood Telegram (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archer_Blood). Go learn some history. We made awful mistakes in Bangladesh and we realized that merging two countries with vastly different outlooks based on religion did not work.

    Let’s admit it. The “Two Nation” Theory is a joke. The fact that hundreds of millions of Muslims live and succeed in India despite the tragedy of what happened in Gujrat shows that we can coexist when religion is not the main strand of our lives.

    Most of us want to create a better world for our children, put a roof over our heads, feed our families, and educate our children. We want access to healthcare and countries free from corruption. That’s what Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan need.

    A lot of bad things happened in 1971. We should come to terms with the truth and move on.

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  • Sanjay Bhattacharya
    Jan 8, 2012 - 2:47PM

    Mr Ahmed, You have missed the central point of Ms Bose’s ‘analysis’ altogether. A hard- core Marxist, she is a proud cardholder of the Marxist ‘academic’ brigade whose sole purpose in life seems to be to twist facts to suit their party’s viewpoint. During World War 2, bang in the middle of India/ Pakistan’s freedom movement(s) Marxists wholeheartedly supported the British, since they were allies of Big Brother in Moscow. As a result, their approved party history about the birth of India and Pakistan is so puerile that it is good for many belly laughs: get hold of one and read it if you can. During the Bangladesh war Marxists were sidelined in India. There has been a concerted effort on their part to downplay the importance of the war since then, and this is just the latest salvo in that uphill ‘struggle’. I’m sure that given time, Marxists will start saying that Pakistani officers exagerated the numbers of the killed and raped for some reason or the other.

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  • Zillur Rahman
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:13PM

    If one bothers to go to the library and research the newspapers during 1971, he’ll realize that the 1971 genocide was not only well reported but newspaper accounts tracked the death toll quite well over the 9 months. Here is the toll of the genocide as reported by some newspapers around the world during that infamous period:
    The Baltimore Sun (14/5/71) : 0.5 million
    The Momento, Caracas (13/6/71) : 0.5 – 1.0
    Washington Daily News (30/6/71) : 0.2
    World Bank Report (June, 71) : 0.2 (up to June 11, 1971)
    Die Zeit, Bonn (9/7/71) : 0.5
    New York Times (14/7/71) : 0.20 – 0.25
    Wall Street Journal (23/7/71) : 0.2 – 1.0
    The Christian Sci. Mon. (31/7/71) : 0.25 – 1.00
    Newsweek (2/8/71) : 0.25
    Time (2/9/71) : 0.2 – 1.0
    Newsweek (27/3/72) : 1.5
    National Geographic (Sept. 1972) : 3.0
    A lot of research has gone into the 1971 killings since the National Geographic estimate of 3 million in September of 1972. While the exact number might never be known, most researchers place the estimate between 1.5 to 3 million.
    An authoratative reference would be Professor Rudolf Rummel’s seminal book on democide:
    “Death By Government” by R.J. Rummel
    Professor Rudolf Rummel has researched extensively on democide, in general, and the 1971 killings in particular. In Professor Rummel’s words, “After a well organized military buildup in East Pakistan the military launched its campaign. No more than 267 days later they had succeeded in killing perhaps 1,500,000 people, created 10,000,000 refugees who had fled to India..”
    If one is unable to land his hands on Professor Rummel’s landmark book, he might look at the following URL:
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP8.HTM
    It is a chapter from a Rummel book, “Statistics Of Democide”. The chapter is titled, “Statistics Of Pakistan’s Democide Estimates, Calculations, And Sources”

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  • Zapang
    Jan 8, 2012 - 3:17PM

    ZAB’s famous speech,
    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/ZulfiqarAliBhutto’sfarewellspeechtotheUnitedNationsSecurityCouncil

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  • Mani
    Jan 8, 2012 - 4:10PM

    @Zillur Rahman:
    Thak you for the links, they were a good informative read

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  • observer
    Jan 8, 2012 - 6:50PM

    @Khaled Ahmad

    Looks like now you are painting the Pakistan Army as victims of 1971. Had that not been so you would have recalled the fate of ZAB when discussing that of Mujib, at the hands of their respective armies.

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  • Cynical
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:01PM

    Is this Sharmila Bose is the sister of Sugato Bose (of Harvard university) who is the husband of noted historian Ayesha Jalal?

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  • Cynical
    Jan 8, 2012 - 7:07PM

    I knew it all along,but now it is confirmed.

    Pakistan and it’s army were the real victims and Bangladeshis were the perpetrators.

    Thanks to Sharmila Bose I will sleep better tonight.

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  • USMANm
    Jan 8, 2012 - 8:41PM

    If the Germans could not kill more than 6 million with all their engineering, industrial complex, sick sense of purpose, do you think our incompetent forces can kill and rape millions in 9 months?

    We were at fault and it is a shame on our history but the numbers are incorrect.

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  • Bambbayyaa
    Jan 8, 2012 - 8:47PM

    U can fool some people some time …. need i say any further ????
    A very very cheap trick…. Good try !!!

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  • Asif ayub
    Jan 8, 2012 - 8:52PM

    Calling General Niazi and Yahya as Pathans is similar to calling all Punjabi’s as Hindus as the large majority are descended from them. Although I suppose using this argument would foster our excuse for the debacle in East Pakistan being the result of Hindu conspiracies. This hatred of their lineage may also be a psychological factor in the Punjabi effort to show that they are the defenders of Islam.

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  • Jan 8, 2012 - 10:05PM

    we r not ready to listen truth as usual. it is always difficult to separate propaganda from facts especially in victory and defeat. i visited Bangladesh in 2009. a Hindu Bengali gifted me a research book written by two Muslim Bengalis. authors gave details of 5 million Hindu bengalis who had to left Bangladesh in between 1971-2006.the main instrument used against Bengali Hindus by their fellow Bengali Muslims was enemy property laws. i interviewed many people there. two of them, i published in awami jamhori forum http://www.ajfpk.org/show-art.php?artid=&bname=AJF-43&type=Art%2011&image_id=1 too. kamal lohani, an ex officer in radio dhakka told me that we bengalis did not accept diversity in languages after 1971 and used Bengali as pakistanis used urdu. still after 38 years we did not allow chakma and other ethnic groups to have their culture and languages which is pathetic. a Hindu lady, daughter of an Bengali Hindu MLA told me that she served in a camp in India for 6 months during 1971 yet i did not know about rapping of Bengali women. no one can advocate what happened in 1971 yet we should tries to separate facts from propaganda and khalid sahib is bold among us who is ready to do it.

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  • LooseSalwar
    Jan 8, 2012 - 10:39PM

    There is absolutely no need to read this marxist pseudo-history when contemporary accounts of the war are so exhaustive. Mr. Khalid Ahmed falls into the trap of seeing the 1971 events through the prism of ancient history, while first hand witnesses of the atrocities are still alive. News reports of the time can be considered the authoritative source, and as pointed out elsewhereRecommend

  • Straight_Talk
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:07PM

    This is all pretty useless. The villain cannot get the makeover of the victim so easily. The bottomline is Bangladesh is a reality now. Pakistan has to live on with the fact that the Bengalis muslims who actually were instrumental in the formation of Pakistan from undivided India rejected Two-nation Theory and broke away. Pakstani army resorted to something similar to honour killing on the Bengalis to save the situation and failed completely.

    The book by Sharmila Bose may persue a point of view that may or may not be the truth. It will never be possible to unearth all the truths now. To me 1971 war results proved beyond doubt that partition of India was a big mistake for which India and Pakistan will keep on paying heavy price for decades to come.

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  • USMANm
    Jan 8, 2012 - 11:22PM

    @straightindiantalk

    TNT would’ve been proven wrong if Bangladesh had not kicked out the Indians after 1971. It continues as an Islamic country of South Asia. Sorry.

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  • Ahmed H Khan
    Jan 9, 2012 - 4:10AM

    Khaled, good job. It is good to bring out the unbiased analysis of Ms. Bose’s writings.

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  • observer
    Jan 9, 2012 - 9:03AM

    @USMANm

    It continues as an Islamic country of South Asia. Sorry.

    While you were looking westwards the country in the east, i.e. Bangladesh declared itself to be a secular polity and has made invocation of religion a crime.

    Not sorry at all.

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  • Jan 9, 2012 - 9:24AM

    @USMANm:
    Superb! Next level of hatredness and misinforming yourself and also others! Kindly go through 1971 war stuff in you-tube with reporters from the western world and you will find India stayed only long enough to ‘Secure the Pakistani troops (90,000) so that they won’t be killed by the Bengali faction of the erstwhile East Pakistan’.. Ironically!

    Indian army gracefully evacuated Bangladesh, it was not kicked out! Keep yourself informed and not misinformed.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jan 9, 2012 - 11:00AM

    @Beeberg Bugti:

    Sarmila Bose is a Bengali from India,
    a Hindu, and a Marxist.

    She is a highly rated Oxford academic

    Indeed she represents the long line of eminent Marxist historians like Nurul Hasan, Irfan Habib, R S Sharma, Bipin Chandra and Romila Thapar.
    Arun Shourie had the privilege and honor of documenting their eminent lives.

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  • Raja
    Jan 9, 2012 - 5:40PM

    I remember reading in a Pakistani newspapers a few years ago that the 3 million deaths could be a case of difference in terminologies used in the west and the subcontinent. The article hinted that Mujib or some other leader in Bangladesh wanted to say 3 lakhs but ended up saying 3 million. Still 3L is 300,000 too many

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  • Cynical
    Jan 10, 2012 - 3:32AM

    @Yuri Kondratyuk

    By putting Sharmila Bose in the same bracket with likes of Nurul Hasan, Irfan Habib, R S Sharma, Bipin Chandra and Romila Thapar; you have actually bestowed (unwittngly of course) an honour upon her which she doesn’t deserve in my opinion. I think your saffron coloured vision failed you to differenciate between someone who seeks fame out of controversy (like Sharmila Bose) and those who seek truth (historical) through painstaking research and tireless deliberations (like Bipin Chandra,Nurul Hasan,Romila Thapar,Irfan Habib etc.)
    I have my own reservations about Sharmila Bose’s methodology of research,selection of interviewees,ignoring (almost) Pakistan Army’s extra-special targeting of Bangladeshi Hindus and downplaying the role of Bihari Muslims (largely) who were working as collborators of the army against an overwhelming majority of the populace.
    As for Mr. Arun Shourie, he is to a Historian, what a quack is to a Doctor.Recommend

  • Jan 10, 2012 - 9:23AM

    @Cynical:
    Historians are quacks?! Do you mean a doctor comes out of not knowing the literature on Medicine and it is the quack who reads literature?!

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jan 10, 2012 - 10:52AM

    @Cynical:
    Once again, I do not mind ad hominem as long as you could disprove the documented proofs provided by Mr. Arun Shourie. You can always dispute the logic and intellectual honesty. But, documented truth cant be wished away.

    P.S.: I never voted for a “saffron” party ever.

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  • Cynical
    Jan 10, 2012 - 1:06PM

    @Yuri Kondratyuk

    Please, if you can provide me with some link or name a book, where I can have a look at Arun Shourie’s material you reffered here.

    Thank you sincerely for the P.S. part.

    @Indian
    I don’t think you got the message right.Hence the incohorent chatter!

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  • Indian
    Jan 10, 2012 - 2:29PM

    @Cynical:
    You are free to feel offended. Your comments are on record for others to read and judge…

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  • K. Hussan Zia
    Jan 11, 2012 - 1:28AM

    If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it people will eventually come to believe it.” The figures bandied about in the media for a long time were three million Bengalis killed and ten million forced to take refuge in India. We don’t know the basis for these estimates but most of us seem to have accepted these since they were repeated endlessly. Such is the power of propaganda.

    There was no way to verify the figures independently. All foreign media men had been expelled from East Pakistan. All of their reporting was done from India, based on figures that originated in India —- hardly an unbiased or reliable source. Since these have become embedded as ‘the truth’, so many are unwilling to accept that these could be wrong. It is a phenomenon very familiar to the psychiatrists, known as cognitive dissonance.

    This is apparent in many of the comments on Khalid Ahmed’s piece. Miss Bose’s findings can only be repudiated, not by questioning her background and motives but by presenting alternatives with authentic and credible basis. The fact remains that the only agency that had the means and the opportunity to keep a record of casualty figures, for instance, was the Pakistan Army. Almost certainly it was not accurate but not by an astronomical amount. More importantly, these are the only recorded figures we have.

    If the Indian Army puts the figure at between 300,000 and 500,000 it is at best a wild guess with no scientific basis. It is also ten times less than what had been claimed by India earlier. It may not mean much but I was present in East Pakistan, both in Dacca and Chittagong, when most of the civilian casualties occurred and knew the situation first hand. It is my considered view that what Miss Bose has stated is closer to the truth than anything else that I have read so far.

    The West Pakistani troops were out-numbered by three or four-to-one by the rebellious Bengalis in the army and East Pakistan Rifles. They were far more worried about their own safety and survival. Killing innocent civilians in the circumstances would have been utterly counter-productive and needless waste of resources. It was a luxury they could never afford and never engaged in as a matter of policy. It only happened in isolated instances and mostly as collateral damage.

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