Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
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.”
A narrow majority of Pakistanis support the army’s offensive in South Waziristan, but many still believe Pakistan is fighting “America’s war”, according to a Gilani Research Foundation poll conducted by Gallup Pakistan.
In the poll, conducted in the last week of October, 51 percent supported the offensive, 13 percent opposed it and 36 percent were unsure. A majority held the United States and Pakistan’s own government –rather than the Taliban – responsible for the situation which required the offensive in the first place.
One of the things U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran into last week during her trip to Pakistan was anger over attacks by unmanned “drone” aircraft inside Pakistan and along the border with Afghanistan.
One questioner during an interaction with members of the public said the missile strikes by Predator aircraft amounted to “executions without trial” for those killed. Another asked Clinton to define terrorism and whether she considered the drone attacks to be an act of terrorim like the car bomb that ripped through Peshawar that same week killing more than 100 people.