It is a matter of public record that the founder of Pakistan had stated that Indo-Pakistan relationship will resemble that of the USA and Canada. Even before the Partition, Jinnah in a 1946 press conference stated, “the two states (Pakistan and India)… will be friends and will go to each other’s rescue in case of danger and will be able to say ‘hands off’ to other nations. We shall then have a Munroe doctrine more solid than America…” This vision along with other pronouncements by Jinnah is buried in the debris of Pakistan’s national security paranoia. The spectre of India and its ‘hegemonic designs’ to use an oft-quoted phrase remain central to Pakistan’s security paradigm.
The unwavering view on India is what explains the context for the discussion paper entitled, The Sun in the Sky: The Relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan Insurgents -authored by Matt Waldman from the prestigious platform of the London School of Economics. Pakistan’s real power-centre, its security and intelligence apparatus are a self-sustaining reality. Other than the financing, of which plenty comes from the Western Capitals, there is a solid national opinion behind the xenophobic worldview carefully cultivated by a decades’ long well coordinated state policy. The centre of this argument is the ‘Indian threat’ and any conception of Pakistan’s security is linked to the evil designs of the powerful ‘enemy’ across the border. Continue reading
Is Pakistan winning this year’s Twenty20 a symptom of the receding influence of the Tableeghi Jammat in the team, asks Nadeem F. Paracha.
In 1996 when the underdog Sri Lankan cricket team created one upset after another to finally win that year’s prestigious Cricket World Cup, the then decade long Civil War on the island between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Tamil Tigers took a subtle but definitive turn.  Continue reading
Brigadier (retd.) F.B. Ali, who fought in the ’71 war, gives his account of the events that resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan and left behind a legacy of shame.
The Supplementary Report of the 1971 War Inquiry Commission (headed by Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman) has recently been published in the magazine India Today. There is little doubt that this is a genuine document. It is unfortunate that, even though 30 years have passed, the Commission’s report has not been made public in Pakistan, and we are forced to depend on foreign sources to learn of its contents in dribs and drabs.
Why this report has been buried so deep in secrecy is a simple question to answer: it is a scathing critique of the conduct of many leading politicians and senior military officers, and recommends that many of them be tried for their actions and failures which led to the shameful defeat and dismemberment of the country. Since neither Z.A. Bhutto, who set up the Commission, nor any succeeding government was prepared to execute these recommendations, they were unwilling to make them public and then face the inevitable questions and public anger. In Bhutto’s case, his complicity in the breakup of the country (which must have been clear in the Main Report of the Commission) was added reason to keep the report secret.
The devastating account in this Supplementary Report of the despicable actions of a large number of senior officers in East Pakistan in 1971 could create the false impression that these strictures apply to all officers in that theatre, even though the Commission has itself cautioned against this. Even among the senior officers there were outstanding exceptions. Major General Shaukat Riza, one of the finest officers to serve in the Pakistan army, vehemently disagreed with both the military strategy adopted as well as the policy of excessive use of force against the civilian population. He was promptly removed from East Pakistan, as was Major General Khadim Hussain Raja later, for similar reasons. Many officers, such as Lt. Colonel (later Brigadier) Mansoorul Haq Malik, refused to participate in the violence against civilians and other unethical military conduct, even though there were very strong feelings of revenge among the troops because of atrocities committed by the Mukti Bahini. Continue reading
by Raza Rumi
This week marks the 37th anniversary of the tragic events of 1971 that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. This time the sixteenth day of that deadly December invited little attention in the mainstream media as the new Pakistan struggles to manage the multiple crises of statehood, governance and cohesion.
Whether we like it or not, history and its bitter truths have to be confronted. When the united Punjab was being ruled by the Unionists and the Congress and the NWFP had a chief minister from the congress-Khudai Khidmatgar alliance, and almost all the custodians of South Asian puritanical Islam were opposed to Pakistan, the peasantry and the intelligentsia of East Bengal were spearheading a movement for Pakistan. There were indeed economic reasons, but there was an unchallengeable mass support for and belief in Pakistan. What happened after 1947 is well known; and within two decades or so, those who wanted Pakistan in the first place were subjected to state excesses and brutal treatment by the groups and elites that had actually little commitment to Pakistan or its idea. Nothing could be more ironical. Continue reading
Fariha writing on her trip to Pakistan with such heartfelt emotion and sincerity. I must thank my friend AJ for pointing out this excellent piece.
“ Apko kia pata, ke humara dil apke liye kitna rota hai. Jab aap logo ko koi taklif hota hai to humain lagta hain k taklif humain ho raha hai. Bohot pyar karte hai hum aap se. alag ho gaye to kya hua. Bhai to bhai hota hai. Bangladeshi to humare bhai hai.”
Rafe, 60-something, Bus-driver, Lahore
I’ve met people from different parts of the world and traveled to a few places myself. But never, not once, in any of my interactions or travels, have I ever come across a race of people who have made me feel so proud of my nationality: Bangladeshi. But then, I visited Pakistan. I was born in an independent Bangladesh. I’ve never had to struggle to get my voice heard, I was allowed to vote (till quite recently) and I’m allowed to speak my mind. Until my trip to Pakistan, I had never realized how precious all these things are. I had always regarded Pakistan, a distant country, as a bitter chapter in our history. But only after meeting the people did I realize how close we could be and how much my heritage means to them. Never before have I received so much respect for just being Bangladeshi.
Till quite recently, I had never visited Pakistan. Neither had my parents. Since the only Pakistanis I’d met belonged to the educated bourgeoisie class, I had assumed that it was only this select lot who were aware of the atrocities committed in 1971. I had always believed that most Pakistanis believed that Bangladeshis were Kafirs who had let India take them over and regarded us with disdain. Don’t ask me why I thought all of this or what explanation I have for my notions. My notions had stemmed from the prevalent attitude of our pro-liberation buddhijibis, who have, through their own glorifications of our War of Liberation, somehow equated patriotism as anti-Pakistani feeling and instilled that in some of us. In fact, I still know people who think that to be a true patriot you would have to hate Pakistan, with all its institutions and people. Our elders in Bangladesh, somehow always let us think that Pakistanis don’t care about Bangladesh. I’m not blaming them for my ill-conceived ideas. I was partly to blame for judging a whole race simply on the basis of the half-truths I had heard. I am not proud of what I thought. But my recent trip to Pakistan has made me feel proud of who I am and I am proud of my newly acquired views. Though I think that I now face the threat of being termed a ‘paki-lover’ or ‘Rajakar’, I am writing this because I think that our generation needs to know the other side of the story. Continue reading
Picture and text by Raza Rumi
I took this photo at a Bihari camp in Dhaka. Thousands of ‘Pakistanis’ are stranded in Bangaldesh since 1971 and both the states refuse to acknowlegde their existence. Hence, a few generations have been born in the refugee ghettos who live in sub-human conditions.
I was extremely happy to read this report in the NEWS today that is a little ray of hope:
BD court gives stranded Pakistanis citizenship right
DHAKA: Bangladesh’s High Court ruled on Sunday that some 200,000 Urdu-speaking refugees have the right to be Bangladeshi citizens, a lawyer and a news report said. Continue reading