Fall of Dhaka

December 16, 1971 should serve as a grim reminder to each and every Pakistani of how wrong policies pursued by our military led to the disintegration of Pakistan. Forty years ago, we lost half of our country because General Yahya Khan and his military junta tried to overturn the mandate of the electorate through military means. It may be an extreme example of the arrogance and stupidity of the military junta but at the same time it is a lesson that needs to be learnt if we are to survive as a federation. There was no investigation leading to the events of the brutality committed in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by Pakistan’s armed forces. The Pakistani nation still remains unaware of exactly what happened, who was responsible for this disaster; instead they are fed lies through state propaganda. Even the findings of the Hamoodur Rehman Commission report were not made public and were indeed suppressed by the Pakistani state back then. When India invaded in support of the Mukti Bahini and the Bengali populace in the then East Pakistan, not a single voice was raised in the entire world for the violation of Pakistani territory. The reason was simple: the atrocities committed by an army against its own people and the influx of Bengali refugees into Indian territory justified the liberation war.

It seems that no lessons have been learnt from the dismemberment of Pakistan 40 years ago. The military establishment continues to ‘solve’ problems and suppress rights through military force. With no resistance from the civilian government, the military is not willing to retreat from its perch. The Baloch are fighting for their just rights. Instead of addressing their genuine grievances, they are subjected to one of the most brutal military operations in our history. What is happening in Balochistan today is no different from what happened back in 1971. The military operation must stop immediately and a political solution should be sought.

Pakistan should also offer an official apology to Bangladesh and its people for we have wronged them in the past. There have been some informal apologies but successive governments have failed to offer an official apology. It would go a long way in ending the bitter hostility between the two nations.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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