Lessons That Were Never Learnt From The 1971 Tragedy

Lessons That Were Never Learnt From The 1971 Tragedy
December 16 – the most ruinous day in Pakistan’s history – comes every year to haunt us. But as world’s most ‘resilient’ people, we have forgotten the massacre of 140 little children at the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as well as the dismemberment of Pakistan at the ‘Fall of Dhaka’. The APS attack took place eight years ago, and the ‘Fall of Dhaka’ 52 years ago today.
These cataclysmic carnages must still be haunting their direct and indirect victims.

How can a mother forget her daughter who she had sent to school for education and she reached home dead soaked in blood? The murderer was not Hitler, Ariel Sharon, Pharaoh, Genghis Khan or Hulagu Khan. They were not the children of the Bengalis who could have been made an example of themselves for demanding their rights from the West Pakistan’s oppressive ruler. The murderers are those who still claim to be the truest Muslims and the sole followers of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

Pakistan Army, along with the jihadis of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), attacked hundreds of thousands of Bengalis. Independent observers have alleged the death toll to be at 300,000 to 500,000; thousands of Bengali . Our clerics, who now support TTP, justified the atrocities as maal-e-ghaneemat (spoils of war). Millions of Bengalis took refuge in India, and millions more were internally displaced. Ethnic violence between Bengalis and Urdu-speaking Biharis left more than a hundred thousand dead, according to some estimates. The academic consensus treats these atrocities as 'genocide'.

Before erasing 16 December 1971 permanently from our memory, let us review the lessons we did learn:

  1. The Fall of Dhaka was a political failure. The Army was innocent, though it was ruling the country under martial law from 1958-1973. The Pakistani nation learnt it recently from General Bajwa days before he was too tired and finally retired on Nov 30.

  2. Bengalis, like the people of Balochistan and the Pashtoons, were traitors. So good riddance!

  3. Forgiveness is the greatest virtue. For years we chanted Bangladesh Namanzoor (Bangladesh – Not accepted!). Then we recognized it, claiming ourselves as the founder of another Muslim country on earth. Instead of demanding an apology, the Bengalis should thank us for this miracle! So, we will carry on our mission and one day, Balochs, Sindhis and Pashtoon will be indebted to us for giving the Muslim Ummah three new Muslim countries.

  4. We learnt through our former DG ISI Asad Durrani that APS was a very nominal loss or ‘collateral damage’ under the Jihad doctrine. Despite this, we issued the parents edicts of martyrdom. The Army sent around 1,000 injured students and parents for Umrah. Is that not enough repentance or compensation? Moreover, the TTP is our own ‘child’ and elders always forgive kids’ mistakes.

Since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan on Aug 30, 2021, TTP has emerged as victor. Molvi's now hail it in their sermons. TTP is an ideology. Drones, daisy cutter bombs, even nuclear bombs can’t eliminate it. One of them said in a Friday sermon that APS victims, as well as TTP, both were martyrs when considered in the light of the Battle of Jamal (656CE). Clerics are in no mood to trust the government’s recent discovery that TTP is an Indian agent!
TTP is an ideology. Drones, daisy cutter bombs, even nuclear bombs can’t eliminate it.

Afghanistan can now boast that it defeated not two, but three super powers. The world labelled it as a ‘terrorist’, attacked it with all the force it had, fought it for two decades without respite, and 'ran away like cowards'. The war on terror achieved nothing except solidifying Afghanistan's reputation as the graveyard of empires.

The US and its allies have abandoned Afghanistan. They were not its neighbors, like us in Pakistan. We joined the US and NATO alliance but we were the weakest country in that alliance. Afghanistan and TTP, two sides of the same coin, are therefore right in not trusting us. They are exacting revenge on us: border skirmishes, suicide attacks, beheading of innocent citizens, public punishment for sins like adultery, all have once again returned as the old ‘fashion’ is being stealthily re-imposed by extremist militants. Can Pakistan fight TTP in such circumstances, when its coffers are empty, when it is hellbent on using its remaining resources against its own citizens, Baloch and Pashtoons?

In this situation, the best strategy is to play the 'RAW-India' card!

Mohammad Shehzad is based in Islamabad. He has been writing for national and foreign publications since 1992. He is the author of The State of Islamic Radicalism in Pakistan (Routledge Taylor & Francis) and Love and Fear: Poems Beyond Time (www.amazon.com/dp/B08ZNK6SHB) He learns tabla and classical vocal music. He is a passionate cook and shares his recipes at Youtube.com/@mohammadshehzad. Email: Yamankalyan@gmail.com