Dhaka debacle

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Myth and reality

Hasina Wajid, who has been ruling Bangladesh since 2008, regrettably has unleashed a relentless campaign to malign the Pakistan Army for committing atrocities during the 1971 war, accusing it of killing three million Bengalis and raping thousands of women, besides demanding an apology from Pakistan for the alleged crimes. Not only that, she also opened an inquiry into war crimes in 2010 and the tribunal set up for the purpose has carried out several high profile convictions, including a senior member of Jamaat-e-Islami Motiur Rahman Nizami who was hanged in the recent past. Her government had to face violent protests against these convictions. The opposition parties accuse Hasina of using the war tribunal for witch-hunt of her political rivals.

While the possibility of some excesses in a war-like situation cannot be ruled out, the figures quoted seem to be of mythical proportions. Another myth bandied around and also subscribed to by some intellectual and political circles in Pakistan is that it was not Mujib who orchestrated secession of Bangladesh from Pakistan but it were the politicians belonging to West Pakistan and the Pakistan Army which created Bangladesh; a conclusion that is based only on the events that followed after the 1970 elections.

Both myths need corroboration by independent sources. The independent sources, however, do not agree with the figures about the Bengalis killed during the military action and the number of rapes alleged to have been committed. Dr Sarmila Bose, a Bengali intellectual, in her book “Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War”, argued that the number of Bengalis killed in 1971 was not three million, but around 50,000 while Bengalis were equally involved in the bloodshed of non-Bengalis.

In regards to the much trumpeted Jaysore massacre she maintained that it was engineered and conducted by Mukti Bahni wearing army uniforms and the charges of rapes are based on propaganda as no rape incident occurred at the hands of Pakistan Army personnel. The contentions of Dr Bose are endorsed by none other than General Manek shaw who in a book written by him claimed that he recruited 80,000 Hindus to create the Mukti Bahni. These recruits, dressed up in Pakistan Army uniform, raped and pillaged Bengalis. They also dressed up as civilians and carried out acts of sabotage against the civil and military personnel of government of Pakistan.

Mujib was harbouring the idea of an independent Bangladesh for more than two decades before the 1971 war which he publicly expressed when the Indian forces occupied East Pakistan by saying that his dream of 24 years for an independent Bangladesh had been fulfilled. He was a traitor by all definitions of the word. Agartala conspiracy case instituted by Ayub Khan had to be withdrawn under intense pressure from the agitation led by Mualan Abdul Hamid Bhashani in East Pakistan and supported by the politicians from the West Wing. The Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh Assembly Shawkat Ali, who was one of the accused of the Agartala conspiracy, on a point of order in the assembly in 2010 confessed that charges read out to them were true stating that they formed a Shangram Parishad under Sheikh Mujib for secession of East Pakistan.

These facts leave no doubt in drawing the inference that India, a staunch enemy of Pakistan, used Mujib to dismember Pakistan by providing training facilities to the Mukti Bahni, conducting murders and rapes to malign Pakistan Army and prepare ground for eventual assault. Tripura was actually the launching pad for offensive against the Pakistan Army for the Mukti Bahni and the Indian Army. When Hasina Wajid visited Tripura from 11-12 January in 2009, a Bangladeshi journalist Haroon Habib in an article published by The Hindu on 11th of January said that by visiting the state she was revisiting history as Tripura was the unofficial headquarter of the war of liberation.

The foregoing facts adequately explode the myths surrounding the Dhaka Debacle. It is regrettable to note, however, that despite these irrefutable ground realities a lobby in Pakistan, including some media stalwarts, have also been endorsing the demand by Bangladesh for an apology by Pakistan and trying to prove Mujib as a patriot based on the autobiography of Mujibur Rahman which is a deliberate and conscious effort to malign Pakistan and the Pakistan Army. The reality, as revealed by Manek Shaw, is that most of the killings and rapes were carried out by the Hindus recruited by him and the elements hostile to Pakistan. Mukti Bahni was on a killing spree during the turmoil and murdered thousands of pro-Pakistan elements including Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns and even Balochis.

Pakistan has always looked forward to bury the past and have cordial and cooperative relationship with Bangladesh. Former President General Musharraf during his visit to Bangladesh expressed regrets over the tragic incidents and urged the need for moving forward and not allow the history to bedevil the relations between the two countries. In the backdrop of the realities unraveled by the independent sources and the circumstances surrounding Dhaka Debacle, there is no justification for Bangladesh to demand an apology from Pakistan.

Hasina Wajid, like her father, has strong links with the Indian leadership. In fact RAW assisted her in coming to power by engineering a judicial coup paving the way for her party to win the 2008 elections. The question is why after more than four decades a sudden need has been felt to propagate this issue. This belated undertaking ostensibly is a sequel to a well thought out international conspiracy to malign Pakistan and its army. The nexus between RAW, CIA and agencies of some Western countries in this regard is no more a secret. The CIA has persistently been running a smear campaign against ISI and Pakistan Army notwithstanding the cooperation extended and sacrifices that Pakistan and its army have made in the war on terror. Hollywood also released a movie on the Osama incident on 16 December, 2012, castigating the role of ISI and Pakistan Army.

These developments are not mere coincidences. In view of the strong evidences refuting the claims of atrocities by Bangladesh, it needs to revisit its policy of anti-Pakistan propaganda and respond to positive overtures by Pakistan to make a new beginning in the relations between the two countries, free of the bitterness of the past. And those Pakistani intellectuals and commentators who have been supportive of the stance taken by Hasina Wajid in regards to an apology by Pakistan, also need to open their eyes to these irrefutable realities. Pakistan is passing through a very difficult phase of its history and all segments of the society including intellectuals, media men, politicians and the government must show an impregnable solidarity to thwart the nefarious designs of the detractors of Pakistan.