Pakistan, India and 1971

November 4, 2009

The 1971 war between Pakistan and India crops up so often in comments on this blog that I’d been thinking of creating a South Asian equivalent of Godwin’s law - that any discussion that goes on for long enough will eventually get back to what happened then. At the very least, it seemed like a good idea to set up a post into which all comments about 1971 could be channelled.

Khurram Hussain, a Pakistani writing in India’s Outlook magazine, has started the discussion by arguing that the way to understand Pakistan is not through the lens of partition in 1947, but through the war in 1971 which led to the division of the country and the creation of Bangladesh, then East Pakistan. Here are some excerpts, but do please read the full article:

“The Partition has a mesmerising quality that blinds the mind, a kind of notional heft that far outweighs its real significance to modern South Asian politics. The concerns of the state of Pakistan, the anxieties of its society, and the analytic frames of its intellectual and media elites have as their primary reference not 1947 but the traumatic vivisection of the country in 1971. Indians have naturally focused on their own vivisection, their own dismemberment; but for Pakistan, they have focused on the wrong date. This mix-up has important consequences,” he writes.

“First, Indians tend not to remember 1971 as a Pakistani civil war, but rather as India’s ‘good’ war. It is remembered as an intervention by India to prevent the genocide of Bengalis by Pakistanis. The fact that the Bengalis themselves were also Pakistanis has been effaced from the collective memory of Indian elites. This makes 1971 merely another Kargil, or Kashmir, Afghanistan or Mumbai—an instance of Pakistan meddling in other people’s affairs, and of the Pakistani military’s adventurism in the region.”

“Pakistani intellectual elites share with their Indian counterparts the normative horror of what the West Pakistani military did in the East. How can anyone in their right mind not deem such behaviour beyond the pale? But horror does not preclude abiding distaste for the Indian state’s wilful opportunism in breaking Pakistan apart. It is for this reason that while the intellectual classes in Pakistan, especially the English language press and prominent university scholars, have almost always condemned their state’s involvement in terrorist activity inside India proper, they have remained largely quiet concerning Kashmir. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Kashmir does not seem so different to them than East Pakistan.”

Whether you agree or not with his analysis, what he has done is try to explain why the historical narrative about the last four decades is very different in both countries.  As is evident from the many comments on earlier posts, there is a huge gap in perceptions about 1971 and its very different impact on India and Pakistan. So how do you narrow that gap?

(Photos: General Jagjit Singh Aurora looks at a photo of the signing of the surrender in a museum in Dhaka; war memorial in Drass to Indian soldiers who died in the Kargil war)

Comments

Gandhi and Nehru became staunch supporters of secularism and democracy due to their time in UK
Singh

Not so fast mate.
Ever heard of Siddhartha Gautama (AKA Buddha) who was born a hindu in Nepal? Spreading his new religion during 6- 500BC, he died in his late 80s in India without any hindu persecution. Later, Jains (500-400BC) sikhs (14-1500AD), and other faiths not only originated but flourished there. Parsees (Zoroastrians) and Baha’i sought asylum during the times muslims were genociding the Iranians. Do not forget the christians who had landed in Kerala even before they ever went to Europe or Africa and lived there happily. Your comment, though I agree is good natured, shows your shallow knowledge of history of religious tolerance in the subcontinent. It is a different matter that some intolerance and violence erupts periodically, especially in recent times. Well I should say that’s a regional symptom of a global disease, I predict a disaster that is waiting to unfold in Europe in this century. sorry to distract………a brief history……

 

Zahid Hussain you write:

“I am an Indian muslim and while I say that there are problems for me and my fellow muslims in India, my children are far better off and have far better opportunities in India as opposed to if my Grandparents had moved to Pakistan in 1971. This is why Pakistan has failed.”

Everything depends upon whether the ship is sinking or cruising. India itself was on the brink many times. When Indira Gandhi ruled, India really began to shake and tear. The Indira Gandhi dynasty until the times of Rajeev Gandhi pushed India towards and unstable and dangerous state. Khalistan, Tamil Eelam, Kashmir, North East, Socialism, corruption etc had begun to erode public confidence in the nation staying together as one unit. It all seems like a dream today. Only when India freed itself from the clutches of the Indira Gandhi family clan did things turn around. 1991 was a very decisive year in India’s destiny. India has been strengthened by two factors – Nehru’s devotion towards building the necessary foundations and infrastructure in the 1950s. Without Nehru, India might have gone the way of Pakistan. The second one is the economic liberalization in 1991. Honestly speaking India was ready for market economy in 1970. Nehru had brought India to a high degree of self reliance on many fronts. His focus on nation building began to bear fruit. Had India embraced market economy at that time, it might have reached the height China has reached. Unfortunately India had to go through the dark period under Indira Gandhi who believed in keeping power at any cost, even if it meant destroying the country’s democratic foundations.

A lot of factors could have taken India either way. We are fortunate in the sense that we made the right choice in 1991, where India surely was in the brink of complete chaos and collapse. We had no money in the coffers at that time.

Pakistan should see the history of India and make the right choice. Its obsession with military power and gaining favors by intimidation and violence has led the country to its current state. It is still not too late. They are at the brink now. But they can come out of it, if they can make the right choice. Nations form on various grounds – religion, ethnicity, language etc. But forming them alone is not enough. What the national leaders do is very important. In the case of Pakistan, they lacked someone like Nehru to guide them through initially. Their geographic importance of being close to the cold war battle ground was another disadvantage to them. The CIA encouraged its military generals to take over power and work towards their interest in the cold war geo-politics.

Pakistanis should understand that they have been pawns in a global game. And they never became aware of it due to their focus being kept pointed towards India. Now is the time to undo all that and start from ground zero. And they should trust Indian people and reach out to them. People to people level interaction will help Pakistan survive and become stable as a nation. Trust will automatically develop. Patience is required. There will always be differences between neighboring nations. But they do not need to erupt into wars. We have gained nothing through wars. They have only made things worse between the people. People should use forums of this kind to build bridges and not walls.

 

“I am an Indian muslim and while I say that there are problems for me and my fellow muslims in India, my children are far better off and have far better opportunities in India as opposed to if my Grandparents had moved to Pakistan in 1971. This is why Pakistan has failed.
- Posted by Zahid Hussain”

–>Mr. Hussain, your words of affirmation are comforting. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, HIndus and Sikhs and other are ALL a part of India, unfortunately, it is not true the other way around with Pakistan.

Please impart some wisdom on Pakistan Muslims. I have worked with both Indian and Pakistan muslims. Let me unequivocally tell you with 1000% certainty, that there IS a world of difference between them.

Indian muslims talk and act like any other Indian, friendly, outgoing, they smile, they are courteous and participate and integrate well with westerners, the opposite is true with Pakistanis, that I have worked with, most of them.

Mr. Anjum, in particular is suffering from “Islamo-Pako-Neurosis”, somewhat like a Religious-Military drone that keeps saying the same thing, regardless of new information, but purposely ignores it.

It is unfortunate that even after suffering so much in Pakistan, some people willfully mentally regress much further, rather than step back, learn, become softer and wiser. It all comes down to choices to the individual, and the mental psyche of Pakistani’s is proped up with propaganda and hatred supplied against India, to scapegoat and blame every problem that Pakistan has.

Religious superiority, bigotry and racism have no place in the world, but have a home in Pakistan.

The muslim in India and Pakistan are centuries apart in almost everyway.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

Anjums & Umairs,

Since you have written your hearts out in your grand royal visions of Pakistan’s glorious future where Indian clowns will come begging for the friendship, kindly also answer this question for me:

Once your visions materialize, will I be able to send my kids to a movie theatre or restaurants without worrying that some Pakistani terrorists would not cause havoc while fighting for the independance of some Mohalla Hajratganj in some b-class Indian city (Kashmir you would have already liberated, going by your vision)?

I think I know the answer. Even if we Indians (Hindus & others) someday leave earth and completely settle on moon or some other planet (leaving pakistani flag flying on radio Delhi to satiate the folly of some other poster), we’d still be teaching our kids to be watchful against Jihadis coming with their titanium swords trying to make all kaafirs believe that there is no god but God. And why not, thats how Islamic invaders came to Indian region (your favorite Ghulam Kashmir too) in the first place so that few centuries later Umairs and Anjums would claim on Reuters blogs that that land belongs to them and thump their chests for single-handedly taking on clowns who, by the way, were the original inhabitants of the land.

You talk of good old islamic rule in India and seem to take a great pride in being the descendents of those Ghauris, Gajnavis, and Mughals who comitted unspeakable acts of loot and violence before settling in greater India. Its only natural for present Muslims of these regions to believe that they represent the great Islamic blood who defeated veggie-eating kaafirs and thus are always superior to the original inhabitants of this region.

Now another question if you would answer please:

Do you really believe that Babar (or previous Islamic invaders) would have brought their wives and children while going on a barbaric loot mission to the country which was called Bird of Gold? There is a very high probability that you flag-bearers, who are going to lead Islam and re-establish its royal glory in the world, are carrying blood of some Hindu/Indian clown’s great-great grandmother who was in all likelihood raped by great militant warriors of your great Islam, her existing family murdered or forcefully converted into Islam. It may sound like a molten lead in your ears, but most of muslims of these regions have ancestors who were war-babies.

If you would listen to your conscience carefully – before 15th century, all muslims in the Indian region were most likely Hindus (in fact, its an umbrella word for Eternal Religion/Sanatana Dharma that refers to general faith practices of inhabitants of those days Sindhu region) who were a relatively peacful community and were divided into very small regions and kingdoms. So no matter how loud you cry Islamic Unmah, great responsibility of whatever; THE FACT IS THAT you have Hindu DNA (since those people were the original inhabitants of regions for 1000s of years) and you belong to that line of Hindus that accepted someone else’s way of worshipping God to save their wives and children and themselves. Ask any Hindu and he would approve their act as it really did not matter for them or their God.

However, what is really unfortunate, is, that in the safety of following their Rulers’ religion, those converted Muslims embraced the lie so completely that they passed false knowledge to their kids and their kids did the same and so on…and now such Muslim would never believe that their ancestors were once Hindu and had no problem with the religion before somebody killed their family members only to force them to change religion. Or you still believe that these invaders brought Maulvis and Mullahs who will give religions sermons in the villages and people embrace Islam after seeing the shortcomings of their pagan religions.

The result is ill-educated people like you whose elders were so brainwashed by their elders that they never provided a healthy truth-promoting environment to the beautiful minds of you Umairs and Anjums. Those of you who are born after 1971, only see the history as taught to you by your politically-motivated surroundings. But the problem is not that you ill-conceive the history of past 50 years, its the ill-conceived history of 500 years that has made one brother thirsty for the blood of another.

Pakistan as a nation and Pakistanis (or every human being for that matter) have tremendous potential to progress and prosper, but unless you develop respect for others and nurture genuine belief in equanimity of human beings, your progress and glory will always be short-lived.

Once my American friend poked me asking my stand on Pakistan and I told him that I sincerely wish peace, prosperity to the people and great democracy to the country. Not only because they are my neighbors but because they are my blood-relatives too, they just don’t seem to realize that yet.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive
 

“Our nation was created for Islam. Allah has bestowed a great responsibility on our shoulders to lead the Muslim world from its dark ages”

With all due respect, I think that the Muslim ‘ummah’ is one of the biggest myths in Pakistan & elsewhere. The reality is that the Muslim world has always been deeply divided along ideological, racial, socio-economic & geo-political lines. The profound hatred & animosity between Shias & Sunnis is known to all. Amongst Sunnis itself, the divisions are quite intense. The Arabs are considered the real, pure-blood muslims while the muslims in asia & europe are considered second & third rated and the non-arab African muslims are relegated to the very bottom. All this talk about the muslim ummah sounds hollow when in reality, a Pakistani muslim man living in Saudi Arabia or the Emirates can’t even dream about marrying an Arab girl. He could be decapitated for just thinking something like that.
So instead of trying to lead the muslim world, Pakistanis should concentrate on just cleaning up the mess in their own country & getting back on the right track. They should learn from past mistakes & never breed any form of terrorism against anyone, again. I like the fact the Umair has started to lay less emphasis on Pakistan’s nukes & more on the overall socio-economic progress of Pakistan. That’s the way to go!

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

An excerpt from an Asia Times article relating to the events of 1971:

“The relationship between the two Pakistans (East & West) became progressively more neo-colonial, with the protest against the West’s domination growing shriller by the day in the East. The tension reached a flashpoint when in 1970, the Awami League led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman swept the national elections, winning 167 of the 169 seats allotted for East Pakistan, giving it a majority in the 313-seat National Assembly and the right to form government at the center. Neither West Pakistani political leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto nor General Yahya Khan would accept this Bengali ascendancy in national politics, and the convention of the newly elected National Assembly was postponed indefinitely. The Awami League, now convinced that there could never be any political cohabitation between the East and the West, called for “full regional autonomy” and Mujibar Rahman announced that he was taking over the East’s administration.

The military now decided enough was enough. At a meeting of the military top brass, Yahya declared: “Kill 3 million of them and the rest will eat out of our hands.” Accordingly, on the night of March 25, 1971, the Pakistan army launched “Operation Searchlight” to “crush” Bengali resistance in which Bengali members of military services were disarmed and killed, students and the intelligentsia systematically liquidated and able-bodied Bengali males just picked up and gunned down. Death squads roamed the streets of Dacca, killing some 7,000 people in a single night. “Within a week, half the population of Dacca had fled. All over East Pakistan, people were taking flight, and it was estimated that in April, some 30 million people were wandering helplessly across East Pakistan to escape the grasp of the military,” writes Robert Payne in Massacre. Mujibur Rahman was arrested and the Awami League – which should have been ruling Pakistan – banned.

Then began the rapes. In Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, Susan Brownmiller likens it to the Japanese rapes in Nanjing and German rapes in Russia during World War II. “… 200,000, 300,000 or possibly 400,000 women (three sets of statistics have been variously quoted) were raped.” Reporter Aubrey Menen describes an incident targeting a just-married couple: “Two [Pakistani soldiers] went into the room that had been built for the bridal couple. The others stayed behind with the family, one of them covering them with his gun. They heard a barked order, and the bridegroom’s voice protesting. Then there was silence until the bride screamed. Then there was silence again, except for some muffled cries that soon subsided. In a few minutes one of the soldiers came out, his uniform in disarray. He grinned to his companions. Another soldier took his place in the room. And so on, until all the six had raped the belle of the village. Then they left. The father found his daughter lying on the string cot unconscious and bleeding. Her husband was crouched on the floor, kneeling over his vomit.” (Quoted in Brownmiller’s Against Our Will.)”

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Zahid,

As a member of the Parsi community, almost reduced to a tribe status in numbers now, I both second and applaud your sentiments. This country also gave us refuge centuries ago. I think both India and those who adopted it have mutually benefited from its multi-ethnicity.

As someone mentioned earlier, of course we have problems rearing their ugly heads from time to time. Yet we resolve them, to a major extent, gather ourselves up and move forward, therein lies the real strength of this country.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive
 

“So no matter how loud you cry Islamic Unmah, great responsibility of whatever; THE FACT IS THAT you have Hindu DNA (since those people were the original inhabitants of regions for 1000s of years) and you belong to that line of Hindus that accepted someone else’s way of worshipping God to save their wives and children and themselves” – Posted by Seth

This is another fact, which has been conveniently missing from Pakistani history books, forever. Pakistanis have had an identity crisis since the birth of their country & in an effort to be anything but Indian, Pakistanis have been falsely taught that they are the descendants of arabs, persians, turks, moguls etc. but in reality more than 80% of Pakistanis (except the Balochs & Pashtuns) have Indian roots & their ancestors were most probably Hindu at some point or the other.
Most Pakistanis don’t know (& don’t wanna know) that the man they call Qaid-e-Azam & ‘Father of Pakistan’, Mohammad Ali Jinnah had Hindu blood. His grandfather, Poonja Gokuldas Meghji, was a Hindu Rajput from Paneli village in Gondal state in Kathiawar. His ancestors converted to Islam sometime in the early 1800s.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

recent history relevant to discussion on 1971. West Paks brutalities on East Pak hindus

http://www.zeenews.com/news575513.html
Nov 9, Dhaka: The Bangladesh cabinet on Monday approved a proposed law to return Hindu property which were confiscated during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, when the country was eastern wing of Pakistan, ending a major violation of the rights of minorities in the country…………………………… …………………………………
During the Pakistan period, the law was called as Enemy Property Act. The then Pakistani regime enacted the law to confiscate the property of the Hindu families who fled the country when the India-Pakistan war broke out in 1965 while the post independent Bangladesh government renamed it as the Vested Property Act 1974.

 

@Mortal,

Thanks for those excerpts on 1971. Unfortunately, you will never see Mohammed Anjum or Umair crying for the poor unarmed civilians that their army raped, genocided and systematically eliminated en masse. In stead they weep for their Pak Army who was defeated by India and they weep for the political fallout of the genocide, but they tie no human value to those they brutally ravaged. Such animals must face the music before the world takes Pakistan out of the dog house.

“Allah has bestowed a great responsibility on our shoulders to lead the Muslim world from its dark ages.
- Posted by Mohammad Anjum”

–>I do now know, but I don’t think Allah would have condoned those rapes and killing of unarmed innocents. Shame on Pakistan. Shame of blood, rape and lies.

Time for Pakistan to face its demons, head on and come to terms with its past and admit fault and take responsiblity. We won’t forget, neither forgive, as long as Pakistani’s and their army are unrepentant.

This is what the world expects India to make peace with? Rapists and criminals who ravage unarmed civilian populations and proliferate terrorism?

The line is drawn here.

We will accept repentance from any Pakistani here. Do the right thing and let it be known what Pakistan did in 1971 was wrong.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

GW:
Yes, the Pakistani army did commit terrible atrocities in 1971 against innocent Bengali people. No doubt about that. There are still some people alive who should answer for those crimes.

But, that was 38 years ago…

In your piece, you are condemning all Pakistanis living today by saying, “This is what the world expects India to make peace with? Rapists and criminals who ravage unarmed civilian populations and proliferate terrorism?”

How prejudiced and unfair! Innocent Pakistani civilians are dying right now, as we speak, due to the terrorism of some crazed individuals, and you are calling all of them these names. Come’on, GW, get off it!

Get on with cooperation with the good people of Pakistan (and there are many) and stop your pretenses about thinking of reasons why you cannot make peace with them.

And while we’re on the subject, yes, the rest of the world would very much like to see India and Pakistan put the past behind them and create some peace between them.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive
 

“As a member of the Parsi community, almost reduced to a tribe status in numbers now, I both second and applaud your sentiments. This country also gave us refuge centuries ago. I think both India and those who adopted it have mutually benefited from its multi-ethnicity”
- Posted by Dara

The great Parsi community is a perfect testament to India’s pluralism & multi-ethnic diversity. Although small in numbers, the community has produced some of India’s greatest industrialists (Tata, Godrej & Wadia) & some of the greatest Indians in Pherozshah Mehta, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dr. Homi Bhabha & Sam Manekshaw.
As someone who was born in & partially grew up in Bombay, I have always appreciated & admired the Parsi community, their way of living & their outlook towards life, in general.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Alethia:

@stop your pretenses about thinking of reasons why you cannot make peace with them.”
-Oh! you think people like GW are looking for reasons to hate Pakistanis? Brilliant. You think he is “@prejudiced and unfair!” you can call it “angry”.

It is unfair for you saying “But, that was 38 years ago…” That is insult to 1-3 miilion dead suffering from crimes.

I have seen such guys like GW express anger, sympathy, love and compassion for Pakistanis, the normal human emotions, at different times. There are some here on Reuters Who just have one constant expressions of hate for India to a pathological state of silently supporting terrorists (there was OBL supporting Pakistani here who wants US/NATO forces on the stretchers and another one who ranted “Long live LeT and death to India” slogan), and the only terrorists they condemn are those which are anti-Pak. The difference is their views are constant and will not change although they know that crimes such as 1-3million deaths in 1971 including that of a baby girl had a bayoment through her body are those for which an expression of regret is in order here by those emotional Pakistanis whom you try to console for the deafeat.

I have not seen pakistan but has visited enough through our grandparents/relatives stories when they were in now called Pakistan before 47. Gw and I are those cases.

I tell you what is “prejuidice and unfair”. Acknowledging Umair’s effort at the blog, both of us exchanged some good posts over me telling him that my grandparents are from a place in Pakistan Punjab and him telling me that he visited that place. This little example of nice people to people contact broke off over me condemning all terrorism anywhere-be that India or Pakistan and him supporting terrorism in India either subtly or silently–but very clearly. Since then Indians including myself ask him his stand on LeT/Hafiz saeed etc and he is silent. Just a case study for your ears. Umair can correct me. Pakistanis are good people but when it comes down to clear “no ifs and buts” condemnation of terrorism, many of them fall short– for often ridiculous reasons such as citing Palestine or Kashmir or 1971 or Oil.

Alethia, there is a problem. Too bad you do not see that.

@1971: Separately and sticking to the blog, Bangladesh independence and the inability of pakistan as whole to deal with it is hurting Kashmiris since Kashmir is nothing but an Indian butt to be spanked by Pakistanis and resolving Kashmir means quitting this sadism.

I hope and appreciate if the moderator lets this one go.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Ms. Alethia:

-How prejudiced and unfair! Innocent Pakistani civilians are dying right now, as we speak, due to the terrorism of some crazed individuals, and you are calling all of them these names.

I do appreciate your care and concern for innocent people dying at the hands of terrorists in Pakistan. However, I see it rather one sided for reasons I cannot discern. I have never seen you condemn the deaths of innocents in India at the hands of Pakistan sponsored terrorists. You might have, but it was never displayed this openly in this forum. Your writings here seem to show a more tilted sympathy for Pakistanis only, while you preach peace etc. Please realize that India has been a bigger victim of terrorism and many a lives have been lost due to terrorism. Feelings of compassion have to come from the heart and if they appear one sided, then such feelings would invoke the opposite effect. I have not seen you condemn anything that is beyond Pakistan.
Anyway, your message is good. But it appears skewed. Please do not be selective in your sympathies. If you find many Indians venting their feelings here, it is because they feel for their countrymen who have been victimized as well. And there is no question that Pakistan has been ahead on this. Yes we must all live for a peaceful world. But asking only Indians to wave the flag of peace sounds a little unfair.

 

Alethia,

You are right that it’s unfair to paint Pakistani who weren’t living in 1971 with the same brush. However, what should be done when Pakistan has made no amends and you have Pakistanis like Anjum here who seem to think the bigger tragedy was the split of their country not the Bengali genocide? Pakistan should make some effort to atone for its sins as a nation. After all, when the massacres happened, those who were killed were Pakistani citizens. They were not Bangladeshis then. Were this to happen today in Balochistan, would you suggest 20-30 years down the road that people forget about it and put it in the past? Just like Germans today (few of whom were alive during the ’30s and ’40s) make a conscious national effort to remember the Holocaust, perhaps Pakistanis should consider a national program of remeberance for the Bengali genocide.

The other challenge I see, is that Pakistanis have not learned from 1971. Then, West Pakistanis refused to yield power. Today, Punjabis refuse to share political power in all but the most superficial ways with any other ethnic group. Can you imagine a Pashtun or Balochi President or Prime Minister? Then, East Pakistanis were sending all their wealth West, while they remained economically restrained. Today, Balochis suffer without food, heat or electricity while Punjabis enjoy the benefits of cheap Sui gas. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. If Pakistanis, don’t learn the correct lessons of 1971 (that it was their own policies, not India, which broke their nation in two), history is bound to repeat itself.

The failure of Pakistanis to learn the lessons of 1971, arise from attitudes such as yours that say, “Why should I care? I wasn’t there.” That attitude is setting Pakistan on a course where more unhappy minorities will seek to follow the example of the Bengalis and head for the exit. If not for anyone’s sake but your own, your generation of Pakistanis need to look at 1971 honestly and accept its lessons without reservation.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

“Get on with cooperation with the good people of Pakistan (and there are many) and stop your pretenses about thinking of reasons why you cannot make peace with them. the rest of the world would very much like to see India and Pakistan put the past behind them and create some peace between them” – Posted by Alethia

Although, I appreciate your well-intentioned thoughts of promoting peace between India & Pakistan, I must say that your comments are generally, heavily biased towards Pakistan. Some of the problems that Indians like GW, myself & others have with Pakistanis are: their inability to introspect, accept their mistakes & show remorse, treat all humans on equal footing & condemn all forms of terrorism.

You talk about forgetting the past & moving forward but if one moves forward without acknowledging past mistakes & repenting for them then you’re bound to repeat those mistakes & probably make even bigger blunders & this is exactly what has happened with the Pakistani establishment.
For instance, whenever this topic of 1971 is discussed, Pakistanis come out & talk about ‘avenging the defeat of 1971′ & ‘raising their flag in India’ etc but when the discussion moves towards the genocide & the atrocities committed by their army, there’s absolute pin-drop silence from Pakistanis. How many Pakistanis have you seen on this blog come out & acknowledge or show remorse for the heinous & inhuman acts of their army in 1971? How many Pakistanis have you seen come out & unequivocally condemn all kinds of terrorism (not just the one directed against them)?

Unless Pakistanis are ready to look in the mirror, acknowledge their mistakes & genuinely repent for them, this cycle of making bigger mistakes & blunders won’t stop and peace will remain nothing but a pipe-dream.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

@Alethia,

At the end of the day….Apologies and admission of mistake heal wounds. Pakistan does not want to heal wounds that it has caused on others.

I urge you to pursuade any Pak bloggers here to fess and apologize on behalf of their fathers and grandfathers in the Army who perpetrated this gruesome systematic murder.

That is when the wounds will heal. When one wound heals, another will heal. The biggest benefactor to admission of genocide is Pakistani itself, people will feel that a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders.

If Pakistan were truly sorry, there should be a Holocaust Museum setup in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, complete with pictures, gruesome details and photos so that people will never forget history and repeat it.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

Rajeev and Shastri:

Yes, I certainly do have sympathy for all the victims of 26/11 in Mumbai and have expressed those sentiments previously. I condemn all terrorism or atrocities committed by any country anywhere. And I do not minimize the atrocities done 38 years ago in Bangladesh by the Pakistani army.

But, there was, 38 years ago, a trauma on Pakistanis too. Nobody involved in that conflict went without a deep hurt. I can imagine myself, as an average citizen, loosing 1/2 of my own country (USA) and feeling humiliated, terrible and depressed. I have felt the pain of Pakistanis, felt the pain of Bangladeshis, and felt the pain of Indians (especially over 26/11). Am I hurting your feelings by sympathizing also with common Pakistani citizens’ pain? I do not mean to do any hurt.

Rajeev and Shastri, your posts have been pretty objective and I have appreciated them. It was the post of another commenter to which I was responding. And it is well noticed how you guys (or gals?) have meshed well with, e.g., Umair and others.

We are not machines. We are human. Yes,I have sometimes taken the side from the Pakistani perspective.
That’s the way the world is, someone is on your side sometimes and someone else is not…

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive
 

Alethia

yes Indians, hindus included, feel very sad indeed at the brutal killings going on in our neighbours soil. Thats unconditional.

 

To all the esteemed bloggers, whether Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, American, Scot, or otherwise:

Yes, for healing to take place between people, you must rake up the mud and be truthful. You must face reality.

The events of 1971 were so traumatic to all sides of the conflict, but most difficult for the people of Bangladesh.

I look forward to the day, first and foremost, when the people of Bangladesh and the people of Pakistan will sit together, tell the truth about what happened, say the correct apologies, settle any claims, proceed with any justice they find necessary and then – forgive.

India was a party to the conflict. Therefore, it has a duty and a right to interract on these bases with the other two parties.

May all the lovely people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh be forever blessed with peace, prosperity and happiness.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive
 

@Alethia.

you said:

“But, there was, 38 years ago, a trauma on Pakistanis too. Nobody involved in that conflict went without a deep hurt. I can imagine myself, as an average citizen, loosing 1/2 of my own country (USA) and feeling humiliated, terrible and depressed. I have felt the pain of Pakistanis, felt the pain of Bangladeshis, and felt the pain of Indians (especially over 26/11). Am I hurting your feelings by sympathizing also with common Pakistani citizens’ pain? I do not mean to do any hurt.”

–>Well, excuse me, I forgot to realize hurt feelings…not to mention the genocide, which hurts a lot more.

Humiliation…they brought it upon themselves.

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

@Alethia,

BTW, I feel horrible for the innocents suffering from militants there. But will you realize for a moment that most Pak citizens are still dismissive about the militants and rather embrace crazy conspiracy stories to explain away every ill that they cannot contain or control?

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

@Alethia,

Your words are the right things to say. Although no Paks here are still dismissive about terrorism and the horrors of 1971 hopefully average people will there one day be willing to look at their true history and make amends with it. It does not still appear that any time soon that they are willing to even try.

The issue that I have with your stand is that you seem to be letting Pakistan off, with kid gloves and make glorious motherhood statements like “we should just all get along”…I agree in principle…BUT…time and again the Pakistani establishment has show dishonesty. They, the Paks started all 4 wars upon India, while India defended itself each time and repelled all of them.

Fundamentally, India and Pakistan after 60 years, despite the numerous similarities on many levels, there remain core fundamental differences in the psyche and mentality of both parties.

Pakistan mistreats its ethnicities like the Pashtuns, the Balochi’s, Hindus and Christians, I won’t go into the details and other fronts, but you blindly advocate forgiveness and moving on, without addressing core fundamental issues. The biggest one is that Pakistan, as a whole, does not value HUMAN life the way that the Indian psyche does.

What is your stand on Pakistani proxy terrorism against India, should we just give Pakistan a free ride and let them do as they please?

You talk co-operation…India and Pak were talking peace, but on the other hand, LeT was planning carnage on unarmed Civilians in Mumbai, with what many think is support of ISI. What are we to do with such a neighbour, invite them into our house and enjoy some Chai and Dosa together and have our house put on fire, after they enjoy the hospitality?

Posted by GW | Report as abusive
 

Alethia,

I’ve been reading the responses from Indians to your well-meaning comments, and I think I can explain the Indian indignation at what you may believe to be fairness on your part.

There is a parallel to this discussion in the Non-Aligned Movement that started in 1955 and lasted till the end of the Cold War. This was a group of countries that tried to stay neutral between the superpowers. The US (at least initially) was offended that there could be people who would see a moral equivalence between Communism and Democracy, because it was clear to them that their position was morally superior. But for the NAM members, it was a matter of survival and Realpolitik in the face of two hostile superpowers.

In much the same way, Indians cannot understand the even-handedness with which Westerners try to approach the India-Pakistan issue. To Indians, it’s very clear who has the moral high ground. Between a “responsible democracy” and a “state sponsor of terror”, there’s really no comparison.

My cynical take on this is that this neutrality is an outcome of Realpolitik and India can only sway opinion its way through Realpolitik. If the Indo-Pak impasse continues for another decade, the economic gap between the two countries will widen to the extent that third parties will see it in their interests to align with India. The neutrality of the West will end (is already ending, in fact) when India’s displeasure has real economic consequences for them. Until that time, people will not take sides.

True, Pakistan will continue to have its nukes, but unless it turns its economy around in the meantime, it may find itself in the same position as Libya, i.e., of having to abjure the use of nuclear weapons, allowing international inspections, etc., in exchange for economic relief. There is a limit to how long people will be prepared to eat grass.

My fervent hope is that some hothead in a position of power in Pakistan doesn’t decide that it’s better for the subcontinent to go out in a blaze of glory than for Pakistan to take the path of peaceful coexistence and accept the subordinate position to India that it may imply at that stage.

It would be good for Pakistanis to understand that with only 10% of India’s population, it is no shame to rank below India as an Asian power. They should rather compare themselves to a region within India such as South India or the Northeastern states. That would be a far fairer comparison and it would be quite achievable for Pakistan to match or exceed the economic performance of an Indian region.

Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive
 

Zahid,

If the string ‘CHAFAC’ means anything to you, we need to get back in touch :-). Use my old name (the one with initials, dots and surname) and suffix with gmail.com to get my email address.

Regards,
Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive
 

Dear Ganesh, GW, Rajeev,Shastri,Avatar, Mortal, Keith, others, and our esteemed author, Myra:

Looks like we have covered at least all the bases here in our common concern for the well being of all the people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The exchange is always enlightening for me.

I’ve been asked many times to reassure you that I am against terrorism, especially emanating from Pakistan. Of course I am against that kind of terrorism as I am against all terrorism.

I support innocent Pakistani people from being blamed for that as I support innocent Indian people for being blamed for any untoward incidents happening in their country.

Pakistan is part of the mosaic of the lovely and unique cultures that exist in the Indian Subcontinent. You and they should be together, not as one country, but in tandem with one another. That is my fervent hope.

I would like to remind ourselves that with due respect to the author of this article, and with grave remembrance of all who suffered and perished in the events of 1971, we should remember them, pray for them, and wish them peace of mind, reconciliation and justice, and above all, forgiveness.

Thinking it’s time to end my participation here until Myra’s next article…

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive
 

@Alethia
Again not sure why my last post is not being posted.

Alethia writes- “Of course I am against that kind of terrorism as I am against all terrorism”

She uses the same code language used by pak sponsors of terrorism to justify their actions!!. Are you implying India is indulging in some type of terrorism? why don’t you clarify?

Alethia writes- “I support innocent Pakistani people from being blamed for that”

“Innocent” paks have looked the other way, and smugly paying donations to terrorist organizations such as LeT!

@Ganesh
The problem with your suggestion of pakistan should play second fiddle to India is it wouldn’t work …because it undermines the very foundation of “Pakistan ideology”. A secular, more powerful India does not fit with that ideology.

Pakistan was supposed to be the stronger, glorious inheritor of muslim empires. The ideology of founding fathers of India was to move beyond old history, and build a new modern identity. We have been mostly successful.

 

I want to make some points:

1. If one has to pick the single most important issue of 1971. It will not be that Bangladesh and Pakistan reunite, it will not be that India apologize for 1971, it will not even be actually Pakistan apologize to Bangladesh (38 yrs late apology will help but is not a real aplology much like justice delayed is justice denied).

The most important issue will be that Pakistanis realize that the ill treatment of E. Pakistan by W Pakistan since independence was the problem which precipitated when the result of the first genuine elections in Pakistan were rejected and the transfer of political power to E. Pakistan was not allowed. Pakistan generals know it —the problem is the public drum beating and that allows them to not aplogize). Pak media apologized some time ago and public learn from that.

2. Many times I see 26/11 as a reference of terrorism in India. I want to EMPHASISIZE here that Terrorism in India has 25yrs old history. Many unfamiliar with the region asociate terrorism in India to 26/11 Mumbai attack–it just got international theater just because of the nature of it and the foreign nationals.

3. Indians have a lot at stake in Pakistan—the biggest one is India’s own stability. Needless to say, it works if the relation is reciprocal and Pakistan(is) need to realize this.

4. @Ganesh: Alethia has her own views and her voice and opinion is not a typical Western. So saying what she says through the the western prizm is misleading, unless I missed something.

5. @Alethia, I have no problem with you being pro-Pak. I am for discussing the points you make. Talking about hurt feelings of W.Pakistan is not helping them in the real world. “Hurt” is a hindrance to Kashmir resolution, another issue that you are worried about. “Bleeding by thousand cuts” is Pakistan’s way to get over the “hurt feelings” and terrorism in India is not about Kashmiris.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

71 was bound to happen sooner or later, partly due to incompetent politics and partly due to the ill-feeling of Bengalis towards people from the Western parts of the subcontinent; prior to the British, under 500 years for FOREIGN muslim rule under which east bengalis were always treated with disdain due to their being `dirty`and ùncivilized`; they saw Pakistan as a continuation of that even thouugh they voted in favour of that state

in general, bengali mindset is not suited to living in an Islamic Republic…I just wanted to say let bygones be bygones…we should focus on our current problems, the biggest of which is the Indian govt

discrimination against low castes, sikhs, muslims, occupation of MUSLIM Kashmir, disputes with all its neighbours including Nepal…to the Indians need I say more…

Posted by Quadir | Report as abusive
 

Quadir:

@71 was bound to happen sooner or later, partly due to incompetent politics and partly due to the ill-feeling of Bengalis towards people from the Western parts of the subcontinent; prior to the British, under 500 years for FOREIGN muslim rule under which east bengalis were always treated with disdain due to their being `dirty`and ùncivilized`; they saw Pakistan as a continuation of that even thouugh they voted in favour of that state
Posted by Quadir

—-I appreciate you recognizing the problem of 1971 and actually coming forward to say it on the blog.

@in general, bengali mindset is not suited to living in an Islamic Republic…I just wanted to say let bygones be bygones…we should focus on our current problems, the biggest of which is the Indian govt”
——That will not be the case if the concept of co-existence is understood and put into action. Muslims in the region because of their original faith and regional/language flavor are different–be that India or Pakistan. So saying “bengali mindset is not suited to living in an Islamic Republic” is not understanding the problem and throws into trash your original confession of discrimination by W. Pakistan. The real problem is that the Islamic Republic does not have room to all the Muslims, just some. We are not even talking about bigger problem of other religious minorities and Ahmediyas. Islamic Republic of Pakistan has not been able to justify the white color in the flag—your above statement is an evidence in that direction. This also kills 2 nation theory concept if only certain Muslims are suited for Muslim nation.
Also, you are wrong that India is Pak’s biggest problem. What I hear from Pakistan’s own media is that Pakistan itself is its own problem.

@discrimination against low castes, sikhs, muslims, occupation of MUSLIM Kashmir, disputes with all its neighbours including Nepal…to the Indians need I say more…
–I do not know why this has any relevance here to the core issue of 1971 India-Pak. We do not say that anyone is not suited for India. I will chose to discuss the details for good reasons.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

correction to my post to Quadir:
“I will chose NOT to discuss the details for good reasons.”

Moderator: I will appreciate you uploading my 2 posts on the blog.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

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