Bangladesh’s foreign flags ban: So much for democracy

Published: March 27, 2014
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Bangladesh's decision has exposed the hostility and animosity still prevalent in the hearts of a considerable number of its people. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

With the commencement of March 2014, the stage was all set for the race to win the trophy, for a sport that is religiously followed in this part of the world. Yes, it was time for the T20 World Cup to start, which is currently taking place in Bangladesh.

Despite all apprehensions and uncertainties, up till the eve of March 25, 2014, the championship boat was sailing in the right direction. However, the on-going event has been plunged into an unnecessary controversy.

An unpleasant situation arose after the issuance of a statement by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), whereby a ban was imposed on the locals carrying flags of other teams in the stadium.

The statement read,

“We’ve received instruction in this regard, as such we’ve ordered security officials and guards to make sure Bangladesh fans cannot carry or fly flags of foreign nations in the stadiums.”

This news struck me with grave anxiety and agonised me emotionally. The reason behind my pain was that, since childhood, I have heard and have been touched by the stories of the fall of Dhaka; the alleged unethical and discriminatory treatment by the military generals and the ruling elite of West Pakistan with our Bengali brothers. The unverified but horrific accounts of the 1971 War and the treacherous attitudes of the Bengalis made me curious about who, in fact, was responsible for this historic disaster?

Was it our own conduct?

Was it some Indian conspiracy?

Or was it the Bengalis themselves?

However, like most patriotic Pakistanis, I have always felt deep regret for the imputation of our major limb.

Here, I must clarify that although I have condemned the actions of post-independent Bangladeshi governments for not giving an equal status of citizenship to people who supported Pakistan at the time of war, I have never kept any grudge against our former fellow countrymen for exercising their right of having a separate identity.

They have punished the people, who actively participated in campaigns of undivided Pakistan, for war crimes and the fact that Bangladeshis, in general, have reservations against Pakistan is commonly known.

Despite the fact that this ruling was generalised and applicable to all the countries contesting for the trophy, yet, all analysis and ground realities suggest that this decision was intended to prevent the Bangladeshi public from cheering on Pakistan’s performance in the matches – their support was prominently visible on television screens everywhere.

Irrespective of the reactions from different countries over this repulsive order, this decision has exposed the hostility and animosity still prevalent in the hearts of, if not many, a considerable number of Bangladeshis.

The Pakistani nation is often condemned for having antiquated practices and beliefs, although what we have witnessed in the last couple of months shows otherwise. The extremely hostile act of the so-called ‘champions of democracy’, India, with the Kashmiri students who were persecuted merely on the basis of cheering for the Pakistani team during the Asia Cup 2014, shows where the primitive ideas really lie.

The recent uncivilised and undemocratic act which prohibits the right to freedom of expression by another democratic state, Bangladesh, shows the amount of hostility the country has.

This act clearly reflects the double standards of modern nations. On one hand, they claim to be the champions of fundamental rights and democratic values, and try to take on countries like Pakistan for not meeting the standards of the modern day world; while on the other hand, they exhibit such pettiness.

At the end, instead of any formal conclusion, I only wish to put forward a question,

Do I belong to such a nation which is detestable to such an extent?

I guess not.

My nation has never exhibited such hostility, despite its history of strained relations with other countries, like India. This speaks volumes about Pakistan’s tolerance and ideology.

Sara Aslam Basar

Sara Aslam Basar

The writer is a lawyer by profession.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.