What I witnessed in Bangladesh

Published: March 30, 2011

Pakistani cricket fans cheers as they watch the Cricket World Cup 2011. PHOTO: AFP

I would like to use this platform to address some of the comments received on my opinion editorial about my experience in Dhaka at the cricket World Cup quarter-final that Pakistan played against West Indies.

Firstly, I would like to admit that what I saw of Bangladesh was only a microcosm of the country – I spent less than three days and only went around Dhaka. If someone told me they went to Pakistan and only saw a bit of Islamabad, I would say, “Well you haven’t really seen the country now, have you? There is so much more the country has to offer in terms of beauty and so much less in terms of poverty”. And I am sure the same can be said about Bangladesh.

Similarly, regarding the match, my opinion centres around what I saw and what people around me were saying. They were all supporting Pakistan – people in the stand I was sitting in, as well as those in the stand adjacent to where I was, and those in the stampede outside the stadium, with boys running down the road with a huge Pakistani flag – I was certainly led to believe that they supported us because of some affinity, some ties, some connection they felt because we had once been one country.

A mother and daughter, I met at a dinner, gave me the same reasoning – both had been Pakistani supporters, and we were now number two on their list of favourites.

Perhaps the older generation of Bangladesh, those who were alive in 1971, have a more negative sentiment for Pakistan, just the way those alive during the 1947 partition, and who now live in Pakistan, will always harbour enmity towards India. On the other hand, the newer generation just wants everyone to get along.

On the flight back to Pakistan, knowing I was going back to a country that was in turmoil and in chaos, I could not help but feel a strange sort of satisfaction that at least a small part of what used to be part of us had found some kind of peace and stability, certainly more than we have been able to.


Saleha Riaz

An LSE graduate working as a sub-editor on the editorial pages of The Express Tribune

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

  • Raqib Ali

    I come across many Bangladeshis in London and they admit that though our past has been bad, currently there is no animosity between Bangladesh & Pakistan.

    My friend has travelled and lived in Bangladesh for more than a month. He says that they are happy to be independent but they are no longer having grudges. We don’t have outstanding issues, we don’t even share a border… My Bangladeshi friend summed it up very nicely when he said (it was during Iraq war/Abu Ghraib): ‘Pakistani army killed many people in our country, but which army doesn’t during a war?’ Recommend

  • hmmm

    did you also notice that you were the prettiest girl in the country?Recommend

  • Grace

    @hmmm: Come on man; There are some pretty Bengaldeshi girls too. Yes Pakistanis may not think that Bengladeshis are very pretty but beauty is very subjective. Look at how Shoaib Akhtar went to South Indian city of Hyderabad to marry Sania Mirza and most Pakistani people think South Indians are also unattractive.Recommend

  • Salim Akbar

    Nice Article and an Appropriate Message !!! However, they were never a small part of Pakistan. They were the majority and the bengali population exceeded all the West Pakistani Ethnic Groups combined in numbers.Recommend

  • Farhan

    @Raqib Ali
    ‘Pakistani army killed many people in our country, but which army doesn’t during a war?’

    So is this your way of justifying oppression?Please ask that Bangladeshi how he would feel if his father was killed and his mother and sister were raped by the Army.Happy…why not? After all thats what happens in a war right?I am pretty sure Pakistanis have accepted that they will be mercilessly killed and maimed by Al-Qaeda, Taliban and even America as their fate. After all which army doesn’t kill the innocent civilians.Accept it as fate,die the death of a loser.Its astounding that the level of ignorance most Pakistanis have about 1971 even after 40 years.And the fact that Pakistan has not apologized officially justifies the claim.The reason many Bangladeshis support Pakistan team is because they have deep anguish against India. The arrogance of the Indians followed by the talent of the Pakistani players was the reason for the support.its not nostalgia.You are lucky you did not live through the atrocity committed by the Pak army in 1971.Our ancestors did.Take a deep look back at your history.who won the election,who had the majority,who had the most exports and who was ruled by whom?Recommend