Stories about 1971 war

An open letter to Indians

Dear Indians, As someone whose recent family history is very much a consequence of partition, I am no stranger to the divisiveness of Pak-India politics. Despite a shared history and culture, we stand today as two nuclear armed nations that have fought three wars against each other. Hatred for the other is fostered in both countries – neither India nor Pakistan is innocent as far as propagating hyper-nationalist aggression is concerned, but this time around, it feels slightly different. This time around, your government, sections of your media, and sections of your civil society (in concert with the government) are behaving in an exceptionally immature and dangerous manner. They ...

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A dispute over water, a lifetime of war?

When the Indus Water Treaty was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ayub Khan in September 1960, President Eisenhower described it as the, “One bright spot…in a very depressing world picture.” Only eight months after independence, in 1948, India had first begun diverting water from the Pakistani canal system emanating out of the Indus water system. After about a decade of conflict over water (which also saw the two countries reject a proposal for unified basin development that would have brought Pakistan and India together in many ways), it fell to the newly installed military regime in Pakistan and Jawaharlal Nehru in India ...

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India must remember that Balochistan is not Bangladesh

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day Speech on August 15, 2016 raised the issue of Pakistan’s human rights violations in Balochistan. This has brought a new excitement in New Delhi, particularly among the right wing commentators as if India has finally found a solution to the Kashmir issue. Since the death of a charismatic militant Burhan Wani in the hands of the security agencies on July 8, 2016, Kashmir is witnessing unprecedented violent protest. Modi and his advisors hope that Kashmir unrest will come to an end if India starts spreading the fire in Balochistan. If Modi and his advisors really believe that the Balochistan threat will dissuade Pakistani ...

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We will never forget nor ever forgive you, Mr Bhutto

It’s been 37 years since that morning when we awoke to find that you were no more among us. We were shocked beyond belief, although there were many who rejoiced that you had gotten what (in their opinion) you richly deserved. Like you, we never believed that they would hang you. Like you, we were convinced that Libya and UAE would prevail upon Ziaul Haq to send you into exile. But you had burnt your boats. There was only one grave and Zia knew that if he spared you, that grave would be his home for all eternity. There have been times when we have ...

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For some, West Pakistan may be home but East Pakistan will never be forgotten

When people would ask me my ethnicity, I used to proudly declare that I am Bengali. This was before I understood the concepts of nationalism, citizenship and belonging. I learnt in my adolescent years that I am, in fact, not Bengali. I am not even from Bangladesh. I have Gujrati origins, and my great grandfather and his family lived in East Pakistan for 24 years after partition. My father only spent seven or eight years in East Pakistan before moving to West Pakistan during the war. Both, my great grandfather and my grandfather, whom I knew closely, spent an important ...

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Salahuddin Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mujahid hangings: A case of ‘judicial murder’?

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior opposition leader and former minister in Khaleda Zia’s government, and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid of the Jamaat-e-Islami party were sent to the gallows last Sunday. The state of Bangladesh held them accountable for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence. The state’s actions have received widespread criticism from opposition parties and international human rights groups – not for their alleged war crimes, but in the way the entire trial was conducted. The defendants were not given a fair opportunity to produce their witnesses for their defence. The International Crimes Tribunal had awarded capital punishment to Chowdhury and Mujahid in October 2013. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh, ...

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Jinnah’s letter to Pakistan: Who do I hold accountable?

My precious, Where do I begin? Where do I end? 68 years ago, you two breathed your first – I remember it like it was yesterday. It wasn’t ideal. They thought you two wouldn’t be able to make it, but you did. I was such a proud father – the effort, the commitment, the resolve, it all had finally paid off. After the euphoria died down, it was time to snap back to reality. The challenges ahead were steep, but both of you had my unwavering support. My health was giving up on me and I knew I did not have a lot ...

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Is India going to hold a carnival to celebrate war against Pakistan? Really, Modi?

You may analogise Pakistan-India relations with a roller coaster ride, only if the roller coaster you are referring to is a broken train, on an eroded and unusually bumpy track. These nuclear-armed countries with a volatile history of conflicts have a knack for keeping the world at its toes. Ever since the nuclear face-off began in 1998, it seems not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ the world will sit as an audience to the first nuclear war. Many defence analysts from around the world consider nuclear armament of both sides to be a conflict avoiding factor, but India may ...

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180 million hearts broken… again

Jallianwala. Dhaka. Quetta. North Waziristan. Peshawar. Places change but stories remain the same. That doesn’t make the heartbreak any more bearable. The unanswerable ‘why’ still looms over our heads. Why this? Why now? Why us? Today’s massacre in Peshawar reverberates throughout the country. I cannot even fathom what the parents of the children are going through but I write to tell them they are not alone, it is the least I can do. It is the least I can do to at least try to reach a level of catharsis which will make me feel capable of ever feeling again, which will make me ...

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Should Pakistan apologise to Bangladesh?

Pakistanis celebrate December as the month in which the founder of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was born. December also brings back memories of the dark and stormy, the sad and painful memories of 1971 – the year in which the Eastern wing of the country, now Bangladesh, got severed from the Western, now the one and only, lost and lonely Pakistan. Going by the history books and talking to those who were conscious and aware of the circumstances at that time, one can gather that the decade of the 60s was agonising and turbulent for the people of Pakistan; characterised by an incessant ...

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