Stories about East Pakistan

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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Prejudice towards languages and ethnicities other than Punjabi has to end

Textbooks play an important role in building the world view of students. In a country like Pakistan where the reading culture is non-existent, these books serve as primary sources of information for a huge chunk of society. Khursheed Kamal Aziz also known as K K Aziz began his book ‘The Murder of History in Pakistan’ with the following words, “In every country, the textbook is the primary implement of education at the school and pre-university stages of instruction. In Pakistan, it is the only instrument of imparting education on all levels, because the teacher and the lecturer don’t teach or ...

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You know your state is failing if the poor pay taxes and the rich don’t

Skimming through the newspaper a few days ago, I read a front page news piece which shocked me. The piece stated that the elites are not paying taxes and that our tax system favours the rich. The shock was not at the findings of the Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) rather it was at the fact that it took the TRC a year and a half, and millions of rupees in research, to report something everyone knew from the beginning. When we already live in a system which promotes elitism and rewards it, why are we so surprised at the economic endorsements of this ...

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Believing in one’s own propaganda: Newspapers of Dhaka and the war of 1971

During a recent visit to Dhaka, I had the opportunity to do research in the National Archives of Bangladesh and the Library of Dhaka University. Although the creation of Bangladesh was not the focus of my research, I was anxious to learn more about the tragic events resulting in the death of countless civilians and the dismemberment of Pakistan. For this purpose, I picked up the files of two English newspapers, Morning News and Pakistan Observer, published from Dhaka and examined their contents for the months of November and December. I looked at the headlines, feature articles and advertisements printed in these newspapers between November ...

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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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Our blood runs thick, our blood runs green

September 6th is celebrated as Defence Day in Pakistan. It was on this day that India launched an attack on Pakistan back in 1965. Only a couple of months after launching Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir, Indian forces crossed the border in retaliation, pushing back Pakistani Rangers and advancing towards Lahore from two sides. They had driven up to Batapur from the Wagha check post during the night of September 5th and 6th before they were pushed back. While this was happening, the Indian army chief was boasting about sipping on coffee at the Lahore Gymkhana club. Despite it being a surprise attack, it was held back and fought ...

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Why blame Zia for every ill in Pakistan?

On the eve of Ziaul Haq’s 27th death anniversary, his name still generates an animated response from Pakistanis. Browse around social media or the English press, and one gets the impression that there is no leader more disliked than him. He was brutal. He was un-democratic. He was authoritative. He destroyed Pakistan’s moderate socio-political fabric and turned the country into the fragile fundamentalist haven it is today. Or did he? Zia was an apolitical figure, or so Zulfikar Ali Bhutto thought, when he was appointed Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) in 1976.  He ended up taking control of the country in the political chaos that ensued following ...

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1971 confession: After Bangladesh, is Balochistan’s disintegration next on India’s list?

I heard what my ears would never want to hear again – Narendra Modi’s acceptance of India’s lethal plan in the disintegration of East Pakistan in 1971, and its threat to destabilise Pakistan through terrorism. Clearly the statement was aimed at fanning hatred against Pakistan in Bangladesh. This also proved that the specific aim of creating RAW in 1968 was to subvert the people of former East Pakistan and prepare grounds for the creation of Bangladesh for the training of over one million Mukti Bahini. The controversy grew even more after his minister of state, Rajyavardhan Rathore, made a controversial statement on June 10th stating that India will enter ...

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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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What have we received from the people of Pakistan except neglect and torment?

What concerns me most is a word. It is a simple word that is not heard on the lips of people in most parts of the world, but for me it is a word that desperately needs to be heard more often. Whenever I do hear this word, or say it myself, it stirs emotions that I cannot explain. I cannot do justice to the memories they evoke. That word is Balochistan. I have grown up around politics and in politics. For a daughter of a Baloch tribal leader and activist, politics and life are irreversibly intertwined. The need to understand the ethnic and national tensions ...

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