Old images from a long-ago war by Syed Badrul Ahsan

February 22, 2013

The Daily Star -March 28 2012

……Beginning in April 1971, the Bengali resistance to the Pakistan occupation army Mukti Bahini would be swelled by increasing numbers of Bengali deserters from the Pakistan armed forces as well as the police and East Pakistan Rifles. But the bulk of Mukti Bahini strength throughout the weeks and months to liberation would come from Bengali youths in the villages and district towns of the occupied country.

……There were many others who, while trying to cross over to India from West Pakistan, were detected by Pakistan’s border forces and placed under arrest. ….…….The War of Liberation turned out to be an inclusive affair that united Bengalis across the spectrum and beyond the confines of the occupied country. …..Bengali diplomats in Pakistani embassies abroad began to defect to the independence cause within days of the crackdown and the declaration of independence…….

With Sheikh Mujib & Zhou En Lai

K.M.Kaiser (Right) with Sheikh Mujib and Zhou En Lai

In China, Khwaja Mohammad Kaiser, who belonged to the Nawab family of old Dhaka, faced a particular dilemma. He was Pakistan’s trusted envoy in Beijing and highly regarded by the Chinese authorities. Clearly inclined to identify with the Bengali cause, he was unable to find the means to do it, given particularly the vocal support China was giving Pakistan over the Bangladesh crisis. It was for Premier Zhou En-lai to advise him to carry on as best he could, a job he fulfilled till the end. In later years, Kaiser was to go back to Beijing, this time to serve as Bangladesh’s ambassador in a country where he had for a long time upheld the interests of Pakistan.

Khwaja WasiuddinWithin West Pakistan, a very large number of Bengali military as well as civilian officers were stranded as a result of the war. In the case of the military personnel, the authorities exercised particular measures to prevent them from escaping or acting in a way that could recreate the sense of crisis caused by the Matiur Rahman affair. The most senior officer in the army was again a man with roots in East Pakistan. Khwaja Wasiuddin, a son of Ayub Khan’s minister for information Khwaja Shahabuddin, served as a lieutenant general in the Pakistan army. Respected by his Pakistani colleagues, nevertheless during the entire duration of the war, he remained deprived of any specific responsibility. He was repatriated to Bangladesh after the war and honourably retired from the army. The government sent him off to Kuwait as the new country’s ambassador.

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One Response to “Old images from a long-ago war by Syed Badrul Ahsan”

  1. Syed Badrul Ahsan’s article “Old images from a long-ago war” only reflect one sided views while totally ignoring epistemology of the Bengali Vs. Pakistani conflict as it relates to the basic tenets of democracy and Idea of human freedom.

    One need to be a great visionary to comprehend the true meaning of “idea of human freedom” that remained one of most revolutionary idea the world have ever known. Pakistani leadership at that time simply did not have had such forward thinking vision, that any nations right to practice or speak their own language in every phase of life is a part of human freedom. Each and every Pakistani leader, including Sarwardi tried to suppress such freedom of a nation call Bengali by introducing Arabic alphabets to write Bengali along with many other tricks, knowing full well that, such practice is nothing but recipe for disaster. That is why, one must never forget, cultural identity and language is part of a nation. However, one exemption must be made herein is to the success of Pakistani leadership to convert traditional Punjabi language. which is of Sanskrit/Gurmukhi origin to so-called Shahmukhi Punjabi. These days, basic Punjabi language of Pakistan remained the same, although, many new Urdu/Persian/Arabic word added and now written in Urdu script. In reality original Punjabi is more close to Bengali than it is to Urdu. Considering acceptance of Pakistani Punjabi nation, it can be describe as success story for Pakistani Islamic nationality visionary, but it was a total disaster in than East Pakistan now Bangladesh.

    Than the Pakistani Islamic/pro Arabic culture leadership had another problem and it was all political in nature, ever since creation of Pakistan in 1947 on the basis of so-called new Islamic nationalism on the basis of Islamic cultural identity for one unit carved out of five different nations and cultures minus 20% of the minority population was simply bizarre. In reality, political war started when five provinces faced with giving up their thousand year old culture and languages for accepting Islamic/Arabic based culture and tradition and so-called progressive element with secularism and regional nationalism.

    What Pakisani leaders failed to understand was, as Pakistani Muslim, accepting Islam does not means we must accept Arabic culture. This was the root cause of the problem. While Bengali rejection was open and first, we are already witnessing identical situation developing in Baluchistan, Frontier and Sind. No doubt, at last Punjabis of Pakistan would feel the same very soon.

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