Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Debunking Bangladeshi Nationalists' 1971 Myths

Aided and abetted by the Indian and western media, the Bangladeshi Nationalists led by the Awami League have concocted and promoted elaborate myths about the events surrounding Pakistan's defeat in December 1971.

Pakistan's Lt Gen Niazi Surrenders to Indian Army Dec, 1971
Sheikh Mujib's daughter and current Bangladesh Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina alleges "colonial exploitation" of Bengalis by Pakistan and "Bengali genocide" by the Pakistan Army. They claim economic disparities between East and West Pakistan as the main cause of their "war of independence" in which "Pakistan Army killed 3 million Bangladeshis".

Let's examine the Bangladeshi claims on the basis of real facts and data known today as follows:

1. The per capita income in West Pakistan was 60% higher than in East Pakistan in 1971. But they never tell you that the per capita income in East Pakistan was higher than in West Bengal and India. They also don't tell you that the ratio of per capita incomes between Bangladesh and Pakistan has changed little in the last four decades since "independence'.

Per Capita Incomes Source: World Bank

2.  Bangladeshi nationalists claims that "three million people were killed, nearly quarter million women were raped". These claims have failed the scrutiny of the only serious scholarly researcher Sarmila Bose ever done into the subject.  Bose's investigation of the 1971 Bangladeshi narrative began when she saw a picture of the Jessore massacre of April 2, 1971. It showed "bodies lie strewn on the ground. All are adult men, in civilian clothes....The caption of the photo is just as grim as its content: "April 2, 1971: Genocide by the Pakistan Occupation Force at Jessore."  Upon closer examination, Bose found that "some of the Jessore bodies were dressed in shalwar kameez ' an indication that they were either West Pakistanis or ‘Biharis’, the non-Bengali East Pakistanis who had migrated from northern India". In Bose's book "Dead Reckoning" she has done case-by-case body count estimates that lead her in the end to estimate that between 50,000 and 100,000 people were killed on all sides, including Bengalis, Biharis, West Pakistanis and others, in 1971 war.

3. Dr. M. Abdul Mu’min Chowdhury, a Bengali nationalist who actively participated in the separatist cause, in his publication "Behind the Myth of 3 Million", challenges the falsehood. Citing an extensive range of sources to show that what the Pakistani army was carrying out in East Pakistan was a limited counter-insurgency, not genocide, the scholar discloses that after the creation of Bangladesh, the new de facto government offered to pay Taka 2,000 to every family that suffered loss of life but only 3,000 families claimed such compensation. Had there been three million Bengalis dead, a lot more of such families would have come forward. The actual fighting force of Pakistan was 40,000 not 93,000. They were given the responsibility to maintain law and order and protect civilians from the India-backed insurgents of Mukti Bahini. India's Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw praised the professionalism and gallantry of Pakistani soldiers facing the Indian Army's 50:1 advantage in the 1971 war.

Recent books and speeches by Indian officials, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ex top RAW officials, confirm what Pakistanis have known all along: India orchestrated the East Pakistan insurgency and then invaded East Pakistan to break up Pakistan in December 1971.

Here's a video of Indian Army Chief Field Marshal Manekshaw talking about Pakistan Army in 1971 War:

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on Pakistan Army's gallantry in 1971 War from cherie22579 on Vimeo.

What Happened in East Pakistan (Yuri Bezmenov Former KGB Psychological Warfare Expert). Yuri Bezmenov ex KGB Psychological Warfare Expert Explains What Happened in East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) in This Video

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes in Pakistan

Shaikh Hasina's Witch Hunt

Bangladesh and Pakistan Compared

Economic Disparity Between East and West Pakistan

Is this a 1971 Moment in Pakistan's History? 

India's Hostility Toward Pakistan


Tambi Dude said...

"Recent books and speeches by Indian officials, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ex top RAW officials, confirm what Pakistanis have know all along: India orchestrated the East Pakistan insurgency and then invaded East Pakistan to break up Pakistan in December 1971. "

And Pakistanis do not conveniently recollect is that 10 million East Pakistanis took refuge in India while escaping the atrocities of the brave Pak army. That alone legitimizes the reason to invade and break Pakistan. In Indira Gandhi's word "Pak is engaging in economic war by dumping their 10 million citizens to India".

It's 44 yrs. Get over it. Your brave martial race lost half of the nation in less than two weeks.

IG's biggest mistake was not to hand over 90,000 soldiers of Pak army to BD for war crimes.

Riaz Haq said...

RK: "And Pakistanis do not conveniently recollect is that 10 million East Pakistanis took refuge in India while escaping the atrocities of the brave Pak army."

The refugee exodus was part of India's orchestration in East Pakistan for an excuse to invade. Read RK Yadav's Mission R&AW.

RAW said...

haq sahab ko hamudur rahman commission report nahi mil payi hogi pakistani sources inhe pasand nahi .

let me give give few domestic sources .

Riaz Haq said...

RAW: "haq sahab ko hamudur rahman commission report nahi mil payi hogi pakistani sources inhe pasand nahi . let me give give few domestic sources ."

Judge Hamoodur Rehman did not do painstaking onsite research and eyewitness interviews of each alleged atrocity as Sarmila Bose did. He sat in his chamber to write his report based on hearsay.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of an Aljazera English piece "Myth-busting the Bangladesh war of 1971" by Sarmila Bose:

"My aim was to record as much as possible of what seemed to be a much-commented-on but poorly documented conflict - and to humanise it, so that the war could be depicted in terms of the people who were caught up in it, and not just faceless statistics. I hoped that the detailed documentation of what happened at the human level on the ground would help to shed some light on the conflict as a whole.

The principal tool of my study was memories. I read all available memoirs and reminiscences, in both English and Bengali. But I also embarked on extensive fieldwork, finding and talking to people who were present at many particular incidents, whether as participants, victims or eye-witnesses. Crucially, I wanted to hear the stories from multiple sources, including people on different sides of the war, so as to get as balanced and well-rounded a reconstruction as possible.

As soon as I started to do systematic research on the 1971 war, I found that there was a problem with the story which I had grown up believing: from the evidence that emanated from the memories of all sides at the ground level, significant parts of the "dominant narrative" seem not to have been true. Many "facts" had been exaggerated, fabricated, distorted or concealed. Many people in responsible positions had repeated unsupported assertions without a thought; some people seemed to know that the nationalist mythologies were false and yet had done nothing to inform the public. I had thought I would be chronicling the details of the story of 1971 with which I had been brought up, but I found instead that there was a different story to be told.

Product of research

My book Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War, the product of several years of fieldwork based research, has just been published (Hurst and Co. and Columbia University Press). It focuses on the bitter fratricidal war within the province of East Pakistan over a period of a little more than a year, rather than the open "hot" war between India and Pakistan towards the end. It brings together, for the first time, the memories of dozens of people from each side of the conflict who were present in East Pakistan during the war. It lets the available evidence tell the stories. It has been described as a work that "will set anew the terms of debate" about this war.

Even before anyone has had the chance to read it, Dead Reckoning has been attracting comment, some of it of a nature that according to an observer would make the very reception of my book a subject of "taboo studies". "Myth-busting" works that undermine nationalist mythology, especially those that have gone unchallenged for several decades, are clearly not to be undertaken by the faint-hearted. The book has received gratifying praise from scholars and journalists who read the advance copies, but the word "courageous" cropped up with ominous frequency in many of the reviews. Some scholars praised my work in private; others told me to prepare for the flak that was bound to follow. One "myth-busting" scholar was glad my book was out at last, as I would now sweep up at the unpopularity stakes and she would get some respite after enduring several years of abuse.

Scholars and investigative journalists have an important role in "busting" politically partisan narratives. And yet, far too often we all fall for the seductive appeal of a simplistic "good versus evil" story, or fail to challenge victors' histories."

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Your graph is very illustrative and illuminating. Pakiland's per capita income was 60% higher than India in 1971. By 2012, India is higher by 20% or so. Given that of these 40 years, the Paki Fauj ruled Pakiland for almost 20 years or half of this period, do you hold the fauj responsible for some of this relative decline.


Riaz Haq said...

Majumdar: "Given that of these 40 years, the Paki Fauj ruled Pakiland for almost 20 years or half of this period, do you hold the fauj responsible for some of this relative decline."

The gains made during military governments were more than wiped out during civilian rule. Just look at the slope of the graph and you'll see the lost decade of 1990s under Bhutto-Sharif and the period since 2008 under Zardari-Sharif.

Horus said...

Let's just move on. Pakistan is never going to lose any sleep over anything that happens in Bangladesh, ever.

Riaz Haq said...

Horus: "Let's just move on. Pakistan is never going to lose any sleep over anything that happens in Bangladesh, ever."

Silence in response to blatant lies just perpetuates the falsehood. It needs to be countered with the truth.

Muslim said...

20. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rogers and the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
Washington, April 6, 1971, 9:35 a.m.

R: I wanted to talk about that goddam message from our people in Dacca.2 Did you see it?

K: No.

R: It's miserable. They bitched about our policy and have given it lots of distribution so it will probably leak. It's inexcusable.

K: And it will probably get to Ted Kennedy.


R: If you can keep it from him I will appreciate it. In the first place I think we have made a good choice.

K: The Chinese haven't said anything.

R: They talk about condemning atrocities. There are pictures of the East Pakistanis murdering people.

K: Yes. There was one of an East Pakistani holding a head. Do you remember when they said there were 1000 bodies and they had the graves and then we couldn't find 20?

R: To me it is outrageous they would send this.

K: Unless it hits the wires I will hold it. I will not forward it.

R: We should get our answers out at the same time the stories come out.

K: I will not pass it on.4

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to South Asia.]

1Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 367, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
2See Document 19.
3Reference is to the speech Nixon delivered to the nation on April 7 on the situation in Southeast Asia. For text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 522–527.
4In his memoirs Kissinger writes that the dissent cable from Dacca pointed up a dilemma for the administration. “The United States could not condone a brutal military repression,” and there was “no doubt about the strong-arm tactics of the Pakistani military.” He explains the administration's decision not to react publicly to the military repression in East Pakistan as necessary to protect “our sole channel to China.” As a result of the cable, President Nixon ordered Consul General Archer Blood transferred from Dacca. Kissinger conceded that “there was some merit to the charge of moral insensitivity.” (White House Years, p. 854)

The excerpts above, that reference physical evidence and attempts to validate exaggerated claims by the East Pakistani terrorists & rebels, support the points made in Riaz Haq's post. The declassified parts of the Hamood-ur-Rehman commission investigation and report and the newly formed Bangladesh government's own attempts to register and aid families who were victims of violence also validate the more recent investigations and research by individual's such as Bose, who failed to find credible evidence supporting the exaggerated claims of 'millions killed and hundreds of thousands raped'.

Riaz Haq said...

Farooq Abdullah: #India Does Not Have the Power to "Retrieve #Pakistan-Occupied #Kashmir" (Azad Kashmir) … via @ndtv

SRINAGAR: Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday defended his assertion that "Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is part of Pakistan and will remain with it", saying neither New Delhi has the power to retrieve that side of the divided line, nor would Islamabad be able to take this part of Kashmir.

"After doing politics all these years, I do not see that we have the power to retrieve that (PoK) or they (Pakistan) can retrieve this (J-K)," Mr Abdullah, who is also the president of opposition National Conference (NC), told reporters in Srinagar.

He said by that formula Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir" will become Pakistan's region with the similar autonomy that we have and by that then the borders will become easy and everybody from here can have access to that place and everybody from that Kashmir can have access to this place".

"So, we can trade, our boys can marry girls from there and their boys can marry girls from here. It will be, you know, like a joint a joint family. That will settle many of problems of India and Pakistan.

"Once this is acceptable, then we will not need all the troops here and they will not need to put all the troops there. And we will have a happy situation," he said.

Mr Abdullah said the only "trouble" with that solution is that the "shops of those who want the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to remain as such will close down."

"They are surviving because of the division and their shops will close once there is a solution," he said, referring to those who criticised his remarks.

Reacting to the criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the former Union Minister said it was a suggestion put forth by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who belonged to the BJP.

"Vajpayee went to Pakistan via bus and he spoke to (Pakistan Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif. He suggested him to keep that (PoK) and we will keep this (J-K).

"He was BJP PM, was he not? When he gave this suggestion then, why are they (BJP) enraged now? If they have any other solution and they think they can occupy that (PoK) by military might, why are they not doing that then?" Mr Abdullah asked.

Mr Abdullah said his party would support any other solution which could help in creating good relations between India and Pakistan.

"I believe if there is any other solution which can create good relations among Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and India and Pakistan, National Conference has no problem in accepting that. I have said this earlier several years ago and I will continue saying this," he said.

The National Conference president said dialogue is the only option to address all issues.

"Dialogue is the only solution. There is no other solution. We have had so many wars, did that solve our problems? Is there any other way by which you think there will be a solution. I do not see it," he said.

He said Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan have realised that there is no alternative to dialogue.

"Now after my remarks, what happened by the God's grace. India and Pakistan premiers met in Paris with love.

It is because there is no other solution (than dialogue)," he said.

He said it is the people of Kashmir on both sides who are dying because of the situation. "One explosion here and tourism disappears. What industries we have here. Shopkeepers, houseboats, hotels are sitting idle, there is no business.

"They have the fear of terrorism. When will this end? When will we sleep at ease?" he said.

Mr Abdullah said he was a free citizen and would not apologise to anyone over his remarks.

"I am not going to apologise to anybody, I am a free citizen of this country and as a free citizen I put my view.

Rita said...

"Farooq Abdullah: #India Does Not Have the Power to "Retrieve #Pakistan-Occupied #Kashmir" (Azad Kashmir) … via @ndtv". - RIAZ

Please tell me how this is relevant to the topic?

Teja said...

(The gains made during military governments were more than wiped out during civilian rule. Just look at the slope of the graph and you'll see the lost decade of 1990s under Bhutto-Sharif and the period since 2008 under Zardari-Sharif.)

It is a sad commentary that a country desired by it's founding father Jinnah to be a symbol of democracy in the developing world has today become a showcase of democratic failures!

Riaz Haq said...

Teja: "It is a sad commentary that a country desired by it's founding father Jinnah to be a symbol of democracy in the developing world has today become a showcase of democratic failures! "

Asian Tigers became Asian Tigers under dictators before they became democratic. There is not a single example of a developing country that became a developed country under democratic rule since WW II. Development gap between China, a one-party state, and India, a multi-party democracy, is huge and growing. Developed countries in Europe and North America took centuries to develop under democratic systems. Asian Tigers did it much faster under dictators. China is doing so now. Asia's experience has shown that democratic processes act as speed breakers to slow pace of development and stymie efforts to reduce poverty, ignorance and disease to deliver higher living standards. Let's examine these statements and see how they apply to Pakistan.

As China's share of the world's extreme poor (living below $1.25 per day per person level) has dramatically declined, India's share has significantly increased. India now contributes 33% (up from 22 % in 1981). While the extreme poor in Sub-Saharan Africa represented only 11 percent of the world’s total in 1981, they now account for 34% of the world’s extreme poor, and China comes next contributing 13 percent (down from 43 percent in 1981), according to the World Bank report titled State of the Poor.

The share of poverty in South Asia region excluding India has slightly increased from 7% in 1981 to 9% now, according to the report. India now has the world's largest share of the world's poor, hungry, illiterate and sick who still lack access to very basic sanitation.

Riaz Haq said...

Rita: "Please tell me how this is relevant to the topic?"

It's very relevant, It says India can no longer repeat what it did in 1971 by invading Pakistan.

Shah said...

Riaz Sahib You Should Read The Book 'RAW and Bangladesh' Written By An Ex Mukti Bahini Activist Zain ul Abedin.He Writes
'It is now evident', writes Mr Abedin, 'that India helped the creation of Bangladesh with the aim that it would be a step forward towards the reunification of India'. Soon after the creation of Bangladesh, India let loose all forces at her command to cripple the newly born country. Their aim was to precipitate its collapse and eventual merger with India to realize part of the Brahmanic dream about 'Akhand Bharat'. The most significant player of this heinous game is India's notorious intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing commonly known as RAW. Established in 1968 and still 'eating into the vitals of Bangladesh'.

He Also Mentions That After Fall Of Dhaka The Indian Army Looted And Plundered Bangladesh to The Tune of $1 Billion(Very Big Sum in 1971).Shaikh Mujib Under The Guise Of Independence Made Bangladesh A Colony Of India.

Another Thing Was The Formation of Rakhi Bahini Under An Indian Army Officer.These People Wearing Pak Army Uniforms Would Attack Towns Kill and Rape En Masse Making It Look Like The Pakistan Army Did It

Riaz Haq said...

Shah: " Riaz Sahib You Should Read The Book 'RAW and Bangladesh' Written By An Ex Mukti Bahini Activist Zain ul Abedin."

Thanks for your recommendation.

I just found the following link on it:

Zainul Abedin says Indian RAW has continued to be active in Bangladesh, creating and backing Shanti Bahini in Chittagong hills to destabilize its neighbor.

Tambi Dude said...

"Asian Tigers became Asian Tigers under dictators before they became democratic. There is not a single example of a developing country that became a developed country under democratic rule since WW II."

OK so what stopped Pak from being one during the 50% of the time it was ruled by Army. Your assumption that if Pak is ruled by a dictator it will become next Taiwan is a joke even by your already low standards. The quality of human resource in Pak is atrocious. I think India's standard is not good either, but when I compare with Pak, I realize I am lucky to be born in India.

When USA was Pak's friend during 1947-91, which educational institute did it help in setting up like it helped India in setting up IIT or IISc. You want to blame US for that or benevolent dictators like Ayub Khan/Yaha Khan/Zia who had other priorities. Pak used USA to get only arms. Pak was never interested in setting up infrastructure to develop. Taiwan did. Korea did. Japan did. that's why they succeeded.

Which country after WW2 became a developed nation with a 3rd rate education, coupled with fatalistic attraction to a medieval religion. You got it. The answer is zero and Pak can not make the answer. If Quran is your only source of guidance, then nothing can be done. Son of Lee Kuan Yew visited Pak in 1990s. At the time of leaving, journalist asked him whether he has anything to say to Pakistanis. He told "I have nothing to say, as majority of Pakistanis are more concerned about life after death". Does that sum up why even after 68 yrs, Pak exports only under-wears and towels.

India's democracy is a joke, but when we see Pakistan, we always feel better.

Riaz Haq said...

TD: " The quality of human resource in Pak is atrocious. I think India's standard is not good either, but when I compare with Pak, I realize I am lucky to be born in India."

Here's something for you to ponder:

1. Recent World Bank report on student learning in South Asia shows Indian kids perform very poorly on math and reading tests. Buried inside the bad news is a glimmer of what could be considered hope for Pakistan's grade 5 and 8 students outperforming their counterparts in India. While 72% of Pakistan's 8th graders can do simple division, the comparable figure for Indian 8th graders is just 57%. Among 5th graders, 63% of Pakistanis and 73% of Indians CAN NOT divide a 3 digit number by a single digit number, according to the World Bank report titled "Student Learning in South Asia: Challenges, Opportunities, and Policy Priorities". The performance edge of Pakistani kids over their Indian counterparts is particularly noticeable in rural areas. The report also shows that Pakistani children do better than Indian children in reading ability.

2. Indian kids rank at the bottom on international standardized tests like PISA and TIMSS.

3. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has said India will never be a great power with its uneducated and unhealthy population.

In a recent visit to the LSE, Sen laid out his thoughts in black and white. In an interview to Sonali Campion and Taryana Odayar, he explains why the Narendra Modi government's economic philiosophy is completely wrong — and bound to fail.

"India is the only country in the world which is trying to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force. It’s never been done before, and never will be done in the future either."

"India is trying to be different from America, Europe, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Singapore, China — all of them. This is not good way of thinking of economics."

Sen then warns of the inherent contradictions of this approach:

"The whole idea that you could somehow separate out the process of economic growth from the quality of the labour force is a mistake against which Adam Smith warned in 1776. "

Sen is harshest when asked about the comparison between India and China

"By 2009 they could bring in a scheme of universal healthcare and by 2012 they are well in the 90s in terms of percentage coverage of health insurance. China are able to do that if ten people at the top are persuaded.

In India, ten people is not sufficient. You have to carry the population. Against the blast of propaganda that happened in the general elections last year — fed on one side by the activism of the Hindutva Parivar, and the other side by the gigantic money of the business community — it is slow to correct ongoing deficiencies."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Haq, while your arguments are facts and are 200% correct. The 3 million deaths is a myth perpetuated by the bengal nationalists and indian army.

However, to dismiss the hamud ur Rehman commission report out rightly and to give an impression that no excesses were committed is deplorable.

The separation of East pakistan was a long term process that had its roots way before 1971. There were issues of justice and equality.

India's role must be exposed, but right to introspection must not be denied. Ones humble opinion.

Riaz Haq said...

#Bangladesh BNP leader Khaleda Zia questions the 3 million war dead claimed by Hasina. #Pakistan #India …

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia has picked up a new controversy doubting the number of casualties in the country’s Liberation War against Pakistan.

“There is a debate about how many hundreds of thousands were martyred in the Liberation War. Different books and documents give different accounts,” she said.

The officially recognised figure of deaths, confirmed by independent research, is three million. Last November, the Pakistani government had denied its Army’s war-time atrocities in Bangladesh while slamming Bangladesh’s war crimes trials. The BNP chief’s remarks came on Monday when she was addressing members of the Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Muktijudda Dal, a front organisation of the party.

Ms. Zia also demanded a ‘transparent’ war crimes trial of ‘international standards’.

Riaz Haq said...

What Happened in East Pakistan (Yuri Bezmenov Former KGB Psychological Warfare Expert)

Yuri Bezmenov ex KGB Psychological Warfare Expert Explains What Happened in East Pakistan (Now Bangladesh) in This Video

Riaz Haq said...

Hamoodur Rahman Commission report challenged the claims by Bangladesh authorities that 3 million Bengalis had been killed by Pakistan army and 200,000 women were raped. The commission, put the casualty figure as low as 26,000 civilian casualties.

Its primary conclusion was very critical of the role of Pakistan's military interference and misconduct of politicians as well as intelligence failure of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) permitted the infiltration of Indian agents all along the borders of East Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

Journalist David Bergman questions #Bangladeshi Nationalists' narrative in #Bangladesh’s "Genocide" Debate #Pakistan

Excepts from NY Times Op Ed by David Bergman based n Bangladesh:

Where does the truth about the numbers lie? The three million figure was popularized by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the Awami League in 1971, the country’s first president and the father of the current prime minister. Mujib, as he is popularly known, is a revered figure, particularly within the Awami League. But his biographer, Sayyid A. Karim, who was also Sheikh Rahman’s first foreign secretary, viewed the number as “a gross exaggeration.”

In his book “Sheikh Mujib: Triumph and Tragedy,” Mr. Karim reported that the prime minister’s office told him the figure was taken from Pravda, the Soviet newspaper. According to the American writer Lawrence Lifschultz, a survey by the Mujib government that was projecting a death toll of 250,000 was “abruptly shut down.”

A 1976 study in the journal Population Studies estimated that the number of deaths caused by the war was about 500,000, many as a result of disease and malnutrition. A 2008 article in The British Medical Journal concluded that the number of violent deaths during the war was about 269,000 (allowing a possible range of 125,000 to 505,000).

Many Bangladeshis sincerely believe in the three million figure, which symbolizes the huge sacrifices of the war. M. A. Hasan, convener of the War Crimes Fact Finding Committee, said, “The figure of liberation war martyrs is one such issue which no one should question.”

For others, however, questions are necessary on this and other aspects of the 1971 war, including the widespread killings of members of the Bihari ethnic group, who supported the Pakistanis during the conflict, by Bengali nationalists. We should question this because nationalist narratives about the past often serve contemporary political interests, and we should beware of an orthodoxy being used to silence dissent.

Since the Awami League came to power again in 2009, it has tried to use the emotions surrounding the 1971 war to justify a move toward authoritarian one-party rule. In its version of history, only the Awami League is the party of liberation, and therefore of government, and opposition parties are branded as “pro-Pakistan,” and therefore dangerous and disloyal.

Freedom of speech in Bangladesh is already under threat both as a result of religious extremists’ murdering secular bloggers, and the government’s pressure on the independent news media (including a campaign of harassment against one newspaper editor).

The proposed genocide law might work to the political advantage of the Awami League in the short term. But in the long term, curtailing free expression for sectarian political purposes is dangerous for democracy.

Riaz Haq said...

The Guardian view on the #Bangladesh history debate: distorted by politics, deepening divide | Editorial #Pakistan

Mature countries should be ready to interrogate their own history, and accept there are diverse interpretations of how they came to be. This is particularly the case where one nation has broken away from another. Time passes, a cooler understanding of events prevails, and the propaganda and exaggeration taken for fact in the heat of conflict can be discarded. History cannot be changed but it can be reassessed.

That is why it is dispiriting that Bangladesh, which won its independence from Pakistan 45 years ago, is considering a draft law called the liberation war denial crimes bill. Were this to be passed, it would be an offence to offer “inaccurate” versions of what happened in the war. It seems the intention would be, in particular, to prevent any questioning of the official toll of 3 million killed by the Pakistani army and its local allies during the conflict. Many think that figure is much too high. Although there is agreement that the Pakistani army liquidated key groups and committed numerous war crimes, much work remains to be done. So it would seem muddle headed, to say the least, to bring in a law that might prevent such work.

But the truth is that the real argument is not academic but political. Two broad tendencies emerged out of the 1971 war. One saw it as a completely justified rebellion against oppression, the other as a tragic and regrettable separation. One emphasised ethnic, Bengali identity, one Islamic identity. This faultline goes back a long way in East Bengal history, and has usually been manageable when politicians leave it alone, but this is precisely what they have not done.

On the one hand, the ruling Awami League, the party that led the drive for independence, wants to assume total ownership of the war, in this way denying legitimacy to other political forces and in particular to the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist and Jamaat-e-Islami parties, painting them as pro-Pakistan. (That was certainly true of the Jamaat-e-Islami.) On the other hand, those parties cheered when Islam was declared the state religion, a decision that a court has just upheld.

In recent years, war crimes trials have deepened the divide between the two. Meanwhile, extremists have murdered secular bloggers and members of the Hindu and Christian minorities, although such violence is still on a small scale compared with Pakistan. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that neither of the main parties has been vigorous in its opposition to such acts. In this situation, Bangladesh needs to conduct its politics in a far less polarised way, and in the process to take an honest look at its history rather than to try to squeeze it into a political framework of whatever kind.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s growing federal fault lines as huge income disparities grow bigger among #Indian states

In the year 1960, the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of Maharashtra, then India’s richest state, was twice that of Bihar, the poorest. By the year 2014, the gulf between the richest state (now Kerala) and Bihar, still the poorest, had doubled. In a recent briefing paper, Vivek Dehejia and Praveen Chakravarty, two senior fellows at the think tank IDFC Institute—the former also a Mint columnist—have thrown into sharp relief India’s inter-state income disparity.

The per capita incomes of the 12 largest states of India, the paper shows, have been diverging instead of converging, as would be predicted by the neoclassical models of economic growth. India’s experience is at odds with those of states/provinces in the US and China, and the member states of the European Union. The incomes of constituent units in the US, China and EU have either converged or at least have not diverged.

In India too, the level of divergence, the authors find, remained static between 1960 and 1990 and only began to increase after the economic liberalization of 1991. The two, however, do not blame the liberalization and justifiably so, as more evidence would be required to make a tenable claim.

India’s inter-state disparity is not just confined to income levels. The states diverge on several other economic, social and demographic indicators. But one particular indicator needs to be mentioned. That is total fertility rate (TFR)—or the average number of children a woman bears during her entire reproductive period. Interestingly, the three poorest states in the Dehejia-Chakravarty analysis are also the three with the highest TFR in India, and in the same order.

Riaz Haq said...

US State Dept Archive 1969-1972:

"Nixon: But these Indians are cowards. Right?

Kissinger: Right. But with Russian backing. You see, the Russians have sent notes to Iran, Turkey, to a lot of countries threatening them. The Russians have played a miserable game."


"Nixon: And what do we do? Here they are raping and murdering, and they talk about West Pakistan, these Indians are pretty vicious in there, aren’t they?
Kissinger: Absolutely.

Nixon: Aren’t they killing a lot of these people?

Kissinger: Well, we don’t know the facts yet. But I’m sure [unclear] that they’re not as stupid as the West Pakistanis—they don’t let the press in. The idiot Paks have the press all over their place.

Nixon: Well, the Indians did, oh yes. They brought them in, had pictures of spare tanks and all the rest. Brilliant. Brilliant public relations.

Kissinger: Yeah, but they don’t let them in where the civilians are.

Nixon: Oh, I know. But they let them in to take the good shots. The poor, damn Paks don’t let them in at all.

Kissinger: Or into the wrong places.

Nixon: Yeah.

Kissinger: The Paks just don’t have the subtlety of the Indians.

Nixon: Well, they don’t lie. The Indians lie. Incidentally, did Irwin carry out my order to call in the Indian Ambassador?

Kissinger: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Amjad M. said...

43 years ago, on 16th. Dec. 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh. For 24 years, from 1947 to 1971, East Pakistan (aka Muslim Bengal) was allegedly colonized by Indo-caucasian tribal warriors, who happen to have the same faith as their subjects. Most of those 24 years, Bengalis complained of economic exploitation by West Pakistan. Among historians, this economic exploitation, and subsequent Bengali discontent, is normally considered as "THE" cause of separation of Muslim Bengal. Ideals of Bengali nationalism are also considered as a driving force behind creation of Bangladesh.

After 43 years, let us see, how much Bangladesh has achieved over these issues:

1. Bangladesh is still among poorest countries of the world. If East Pakistan was being exploited, then in 43 years of "independence", Bangladesh should have done much better. Yes, few pockets of prosperity have been created but condition of larger Bengali populace is very, very poor. Much poorer than all neighboring countries. Rural Bengalis emigrate to India, to live in abject poverty, and are ready to change their religion for food at cheaper price through Government-issued "ration card".

2. Bengali pride is, also, at the lowest. South of the border, Bengali-speaking Rohingya villages are regularly torched. In the north, from Sylhet border to Dinajpur border, traditional routes of Bengali interaction have been barricaded with fences and across the northern border also, centuries old villages of Bengalis, are being burned.

3. And above all, their own Bengali brethren, in West Bengal, are still part of India. If Bengalis are a nation, then why Bengali Rohingya, Tripura, Barak Valley, and Rangpur Dinajpur, Assamese Bengali, and whole of West Bengal, should not join former "East Pakistan" to form a "Greater Bangladesh".

4. It should also be very depressing for Bangladeshi Muslims to see that their own Bengali brothers from Calcutta are supporting a semi-literate, Hindu fundamentalist, Gujrati "chaiwala" who wants to divide Bengali people by putting barb-wired fences.

5. Now in order to divert attention from these dis-appointing times, Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina Wazed has started a killing spree, on the basis of extremely flimsy evidence of war crimes. Her Father, Sheikh Mujib also used this trick, in his early days by alleging thousands of rapes by Pakistani soldiers. However, a team of British doctors could find only few dozens of such woman, on which they performed abortions. Even those cases could equally have been the rape victims of Mukti Bahini, probably after Pak army's surrender.

So, it can be easily said that today Bangladesh is an ideologically bankrupt country which has lost its raison d'etre.

A possible solution to this dismal situation may be creation of a "Greater Bangladesh" which includes West Bengal and all other adjoining Bengali speaking areas, including Andaman Islands. This new country may have borders with India in the West, and then Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and with Chinese province of Arunachal Pardesh in north, and Burma in south.

Even if the new country of "Greater Bangladesh" is NOT created, but only free movement of goods and people is allowed between all Bengali speaking areas, then also, a very prosperous market economy can be established in the region, at large.

Riaz Haq said...

Following repeated assurances from the Centre that there was "no danger of Hindi being imposed on anyone", the agitation was called off by the students on February 22.
And inevitably, in the general elections that followed two years later in 1967, the DMK riding the crest of the anti-Hindi wave captured power in Tamil Nadu and ruled for nine long years - the longest tenure of a non-Congress ministry in any state. One of the first acts of the new DMK government after assuming power was to abolish the three-language formula.
By a resolution, the Tamil Nadu assembly ordered that only Tamil and English be taught in schools and colleges. The DMK also awarded cash "pensions" to those who had been in the forefront of the anti-Hindi agitation. (The pensions were stopped recently following a Supreme Court order).
Much on the same lines, the AIADMK, headed by M.G. Ramachandran, which has now mounted the saddle, has made it clear that it would adhere to the two-language formula and would not permit teaching of Hindi in government-aided schools and colleges.
On the question of language, the AIADMK and its political foe the DMK have a similar policy - opposition to Hindi at every level. It is doubtful if any party with a contrary policy will be able to survive in Tamil Nadu.

Riaz Haq said...

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

This is a quick blog to correct a historical fallacy. A false impression persists – thanks to people like Amar Jaleel and the like who in the right royal Urdu press fashion have a hard time sticking to the facts- that Jinnah- who according to Jaleel was drugged or cornered into making the speech in question- somehow told Bengalis to outlaw Bengali language when he declared Urdu to be the state language of Pakistan. This is historically inaccurate. This blog is not to discuss whether Jinnah’s declaration was politically suave or na├»ve but to set the record straight about what it was that Jinnah said which laid foundations for the Urdu-Bengali discord in Pakistan and led to Pakistan ultimately declaring both Urdu and Bengali the “national languages” of Pakistan. Ironically Jinnah did not even use the term “national language”, drawing the very valid distinction between a state language or lingua franca and a national language.

The two speeches that are at the center of controversy were made on 21st and 24th of March, 1948 at a public meeting and then at Dacca University convention. In both speeches Jinnah took a consistent stand:

The people of Bengal were free to choose Bengali as the official language of the Bengal province. This he said very clearly and unambiguously on both occasions and the premier of Bengal – Khawaja Nazimuddin also reaffirmed this.
Urdu alone would be the state language and the lingua franca of the Pakistan state.
Bengali – like other provincial languages- could be the official language of the East Bengal province but not the Pakistan state and the Pakistan center (Jinnah’s words).
(See Pages 150 and 158 of “Jinnah Speeches And Statements 1947-1948” Millennium edition Oxford University Press- he said “Realizing, however, that the statement that your Prime Minister made on the language controversy, left no room for agitation, in so far as it conceded the right of the people of this province to choose Bengali as their official language if they so wished, they changed their tactics. They started demanding that Bengali should be the state language of the Pakistan centre, and since they could not overlook the obvious claims of Urdu as the official language of a Muslim state, they proceeded to demand that both Bengali and Urdu should be the state languages of Pakistan. Make no mistake about it. There can only be one state language if the component parts of this state are to march forward in unison, and in my opinion, that can only be Urdu”)

It may be remembered that in this – wrong or right- Jinnah’s policy was identical to India’s policy of constitutionally elevating Hindi and English. Jinnah did not go even that far and described in the proper constitutional manner Urdu as the state language not a national one. Urdu was to be – in the real sense of the word- a lingua franca for the diverse people of Pakistan.

The problem with Amar Jaleel – who recently appeared on Vussatullah’s show on Dawn News Urdu Service- is that in his zeal for an otherwise good cause, he liberally twists the facts. For example in the show in question he declared amongst other things – as obiter dicta – that Gandhi had fasted in his last days to have wheat exported to Pakistan. Frankly I don’t know where he got this from. In reality however Pakistan connection in Gandhi’s fast was purported to be vis a vis Indian government’s refusal to give Pakistan its share of the treasury. However what was hilarious was his claim that Jinnah was cornered by people to make this statement.

Riaz Haq said...

93,000 #Pakistani soldiers did not surrender in 1971 because….? #Bangladesh #Pakistan #India … via @GVS_News

Undisputed fact is that Pakistan had only one corps comprising three divisions in East Pakistan during 1971. In fact when operation search light began on 25th March, 1971, the total number of Pakistani troops on ground were around 27,000. More troops were sent from west Pakistan but they had to arrive through a long circuitous route since India had blocked air route over India taking advantage of the famous “Ganga Hijacking Case” (believed to be a false flag planned by RAW for this purpose)

The three divisions, of Pakistan army, by end November 1971, comprised a total force of 45,000, on books, including combatant and non-combatant troops. Out of these, there were 34,000 combatant troops and the remaining 11,000 were non-combatants, supporting men and CAF personnel. But between six to seven thousand Pakistani soldiers died in the war also.

It was also helpful in putting meat to the story of three million killed, hundreds and thousands of rapes and genocide. An army of less than 40,000, spread over a large theatre of conflict under attack from guerrillas supported by Indian army was hardly in a situation of doing what it was accused of.

This one corp was pitched against three corps of Indian Army from the West and North West and another two corps from the North East and East, a total of five Indian Corps plus 175,000 Indian backed and trained Mukti Bahini and many thousands of Awami League miscreants. When the total number of Pakistan army troops ranged between 34,000 to 45,000 how could 93,000 soldiers surrender?

From time to time various officers and commentators have attempted clarifying the myth but the power of first narrative is such that still the figure of 93,000 POW’s sticks in popular imagination.

All the aforementioned references point toward one fact that the number of total army personnel who surrendered were far less than 93,000. Whereas my research shows that they were only around 34,000 but in any case they could not have been more than 40,000. The number of 93,000 soldiers that is talked about has been conflated with civilians. West Pakistani civilians who were present in large numbers in former East-Pakistan were taken over into custody by Indian army to protect them from revengeful Bengali crowds and Mukit Bahni.

The figure of 93,000 also included children, women, civil administration officials and staff, non-combatant troops such as nurses, doctors, cooks, barbers, shoemakers, carpenters and others. The higher number talked about was a deliberate attempt to defame and demoralize Pakistani army, to demonstrate to the world extent of Indian victory. It was also helpful in putting meat to the story of three million killed, hundreds and thousands of rapes and genocide. An army of less than 40,000, spread over a large theatre of conflict under attack from guerrillas supported by Indian army was hardly in a situation of doing what it was accused of.

The total figure, a mix of soldiers and civilians was deliberately floated by Indians, and later by Bangladeshis to support their case for victimization. In Pakistan, a clever Bhutto used this for various reasons of his own politics. No one ever wanted to clarify. In reality, the actual number of Pakistani troops who surrendered on 16th December 1971 was only around 34,000.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC's Mark Tully who covered the events of 1971 says he saw no evidence of genocide in East Pakistan

Riaz Haq said...

The need for Anti-India Coalition!

By N. P. Upadhyaya, Kathmandu:

Mohammad Zainal Abedin, an American researcher, author and former Mukti Bahini guerrilla leader at a think tank seminar held in Islamabad recently wherein the Bangladeshi researcher admitted that “trusting India was a grave mistake by the Bengali Muslims as the act, adds Zainal Abedin, converted East Pakistan into Bangladesh, which later became an Indian proxy state”.

The visionary Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the early 1070s had very rightly predicted that the emergence of Bangladesh in South Asia would be the second “Pakistan” for the Indian regime.

Prime Minister Bhutto was speaking correct.

Recalled late J. N. Dixit, former Indian foreign Secretary in his famous voluminous book “My South Block Years” that when the Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto landed in Dhaka on an official visit, he as the Indian Ambassador posted then in Dhaka too went to greet PM Bhutto at the International Airport as per a normal diplomatic practice.

On his way back to office of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka from the Airport, writes J. N. Dixit, his car was hit by several worn and tattered shoes thrown by Bangladeshi nationals who had lined up in the Dhaka streets to greet the Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto.

Dixit says that somehow or the other he saved his life. The hatred against India had right begun after the emergence of Bangladesh? This has some meaning.

So this is what has been penned by the diplomat of a country which made all the needed efforts for the bifurcation of Pakistan which gave birth to a new nation in South Asia-Bangladesh.

Dixit’s puzzle is logical in that the Indian diplomat must have in his mind that the common Bangladeshi nationals should have lauded the kind assistance/sponsorship of India for their country’s birth, however, that was not forthcoming which is what the veteran Indian diplomat experienced himself.

Riaz Haq said...

Textbook 'incorrectly' describes Agartala Case: Shawkat | The Daily Star

Deputy Speaker Shawkat Ali yesterday said the background of the historic Agartala Case was "incorrectly" described in the school textbooks.
He urged the education ministry to take steps for its correction.
"Two textbooks for class 9 and 10 carried a nearly identical description of the case from which it appears that the Agartala case was merely a political event related to Bangabandhu's historic six-point movement," he told BSS on the sidelines of a discussion on the historic event.
Shawkat added: "But as a matter of fact, several military officers and civil servants were involved in the case as we wanted to liberate the country from Pakistan through an armed
revolution under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman" which was not directly linked to the six-point.
He added that as part of the plan called as "the Agartala Plot" navy steward Mujibur Rahman and educationist Mohammad Ali Reza went to Agartala to seek the Indian support for Bangladesh's independence.
"Agartala case was not related to the six-point movement . .. had it been so the accused like ours -- the military and civil government officials -- would not have the scope to get involved, though we had wholehearted support for it," said Shawkat who was a captain of Pakistan army at that time and was arrested to face the trial.
Earlier, speaking at the discussion organised by Oitihashik Agartala Mamla Mulyayan Parishad, the deputy speaker urged the textbook board authorities to evaluate equally bullet-wounded flight sergeant Fazlul Haque along with martyred flight sergeant Zahirul Haque.
The Pakistani troops shot them simultaneously as they awaited trial in military custody in Dhaka cantonment.
The Agartala Case, popularly called Agartala Conspiracy Case, which had set a new course in the history of the country's independence struggle, was filed in early 1968 implicating Bangabandhu and 34 other Bengali civil servants and army, navy
and air force officers and politicians for hatching a "plot".
The case was officially called State vs. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and others while the then Ayub Khan regime of Pakistan resolved to frame charge against 35 people with Bangabandhu being the prime accused.
The case ultimately resulted in the fall of General Ayub Khan in 1969 and subsequently led the nation towards the 1971 Liberation War.
"The Agartala incident was not untrue . . . we wanted to liberate the country from Pakistan," Shawkat told a function three months back as he urged all concerned to disseminate the fact to the countrymen to spread the spirit of the War of Liberation.