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.”
from Left field:
That myth was exploded on Tuesday after gunmen wounded six Sri Lankan players after firing heavy weapons as their team bus wound its way towards the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore to start the third day's play in the second test.
Sheikh Hasina, the leader of an avowedly secular party, is set to return to power in Bangladesh, the
other end of South Asia’s arc of instability stretching from Afghanistan through Pakistan to India.
And because the teeming region, home to a fifth of the world’s population, is so closely intertwined
Hasina’s election and the change that she has promised to bring to her country will almost certainly have a bearing across South Asia, but especially for India and Pakistan.
In the absence of any claims, and a denial of involvement by the main local separatist group, the Indian media is are starting to point the finger at a Bangladeshi militant Islamist group for Thursday’s multiple bombings that left 65 left dead and more than 300 wounded in Assam state.
If it is indeed the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (HuJi) Bangladesh that orchestrated one of the most deadly attacks in the far flung northeast state, then it could end up hardening the mood in India against not just Bangladesh, but also once again against Pakistan.
Pakistan has just moved to daylight saving time, the first country in South Asia to try this to stave off a crippling energy shortage. But will it work ? Or will it make life a bit more difficult for people travelling across South Asia where most countries have their own national clocks, sometimes minutes apart, largely as a mark of national sovereignty more than anything else?
Opinion in the media and on the blogs is divided over Pakistan’s decision to move clocks by one hour until August, with some pointing out that this had been tried
out in the past and it didn’t really work.