Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Nawaz Sharif and the truth

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Pakistani leaders, it seems, tend to give lies or half-truths when it comes to Bangladesh. We can take a look at Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's comment on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to the effect that Bangabandhu was "made a rebel" because of the misdeeds of the Punjabis.

The Pakistani leader was quoted as saying that "Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not a rebel, but was made into one" due to the fact that "the Bengalis had a central role in the effort to create Pakistan, but we did not treat them well and separated them from us."

Saying that Bangabandhu was not a rebel is untrue as he loved his country and people. He could not accept the way the Bengalis were treated from employment to minimum benefits of a citizen of an independent country. He hated military rule and wanted a democratic government elected by the people. He had set his dream of making Bengalis free of Pakistani hegemony.

Bangabandhu's plans for a country free of Punjabi hegemony is clear from his famous Six-Point programme, aimed at bringing an end to Pakistani rule in the then East Pakistan. Just recalling two of them make it clear that a people-loving leader fondly honoured as Bangabandhu before the 25 March 1971 crackdown had planned an eventually independent Bangladesh.

My martyred father repeatedly talked of such a country under Bangabandhu. He became surer, after secretly meeting Bangabandhu in 1968, that there would be such a country as the Bengali leader had talked about making Bengali officers and soldiers in the Pakistani armed forces ready to fight if attacked by the Pakistani forces unless the demands he had made were accepted.

The most important two points were a separate currency and armed forces for East Pakistan.      I mention Punjabis as after Bangladesh, they have started to pay the price in Pathan area of Baluchistan, where a military operation has been silencing a revolt for freedom in the mountainous region. Gilgit has been the scene of violence and ruthlessness of the Punjabis, according to Pakhtun friends in London.

A bewildered Sharif has finally come out with a fact that his country had refused to acknowledge for the past 47 years. It is indeed heartening, but the question remains as to whether he will now also agree that there was genocide in Bangladesh in 1971.

The other one is --- then who is responsible for the genocide, which could have been avoided if they had heeded not only to the people's verdict for making Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the Prime Minister of Pakistan and had not resorted to looking down on Bengalis as an inferior race - the non-fighters - compared to the Punjabis?

 The myth broke when in 1965, it was the Bengali military personnel who saved Lahore from Indian forces with daring suicide missions, blowing up approaching tanks and more troops compared to that of the Pakistanis.  Mr. Nawaz Sharif should, before he is compelled to do so, admit facts for another political reason, which is the genocide and rape in Bangladesh. He should now come out with a strong public apology as atonement for such a heinous act.

The writer is Roving Editor,  The Asian Age

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