In-credible Pakistan

The state’s credibility problem endures. Following the unprecedented attack on APS Peshawar, death penalty was reinstated after seven years moratorium. The death penalty returned with popular support based on the argument that it was needed to fight terrorism. Somehow, we believed, terrorists who were willing to die for their delusional cause would give up if they faced the death penalty. However illogical our reasoning, though, the death penalty has not been used as a tool against terrorists. Actually, only 7 per cent of executions are related to terrorism charges! This shows that ‘terrorism’ was only an excuse, not the real reason, which seems to happen with alarming regularity in Pakistan.

The state’s credibility problem has been on display in many ways lately. Not only from the death penalty report, but the release of Quetta Commission report also which catalogued the state’s duplicity including what Dawn described as ‘the state’s complicity with militant groups for parochial agendas that allowed the creation of an infrastructure of jihad’. Is it any surprise that rather than make any effort to correct these issues, the state has instead rejected its own report!

The unwillingness to face facts and be honest with ourselves has a long history. Over 30 years ago we were already telling ourselves sweet little lies.

17 December 1971 Dawn front pageThis failed mindset not only damages our credibility in the eyes of the world, it has destroyed the state’s credibility with our own people. When Quetta Commission report was released, who really believed it would change anything? Same with Abbottabad Commission before that and Hamoodur Rahman Commission before that.


Why hasn’t Pakistan prosecuted 1971 war criminals?

Bangladesh ObserverThe execution of certain persons in Bangladesh for alleged war crimes during 1971 may be healing old wounds in that country, but it has once again opened them in Pakistan. The Foreign Office was even so bold as to issue a statement against the executions of Mr. Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Mr Ali Ahsan Mujahid, both of whom were tried and convicted of atrocities against innocent civilians during 1971. This week, the Foreign Office has gone a step further and denied any responsibility for what took place against the Bengalis during that fateful and tragic time. But let us set aside the war crimes tribunals in Bangladesh and ask another question: What happened to the war crimes tribunals that we promised?

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Honesty Needed From GHQ For Once

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar was on the subject of several jokes on social media yesterday after giving the statement that ‘no terrorist network is capable of operating in Pakistan’. It was an unfortunately stupid thing to say, especially so soon after the death of Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada in a terrorist attack only a few days earlier. However, Chaudhry Nisar is not completely to blame for this verbal errancy. The same confusion has been projected from GHQ since the past year.

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Children of War: Facing the Truth of 1971

Children of War

“Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.”

–Desmond Tutu

It has been over three decades since the tragedy of 1971. Enough time for those involved to look back and consider with the benefit of hindsight, what went wrong. In a new article in Foreign Affairs, Harold H. Saunders a senior member of the US National Security Staff during the time, looks back on the events that led up to the 1971 war and asks whether mistakes made by the US added to the tragic events that followed.

The events of that war are also the subject of two recent films, and the treatment of each should be taken into consideration. First is the movie Gunday, which is an Indian attempt to white wash the entire affair and presents Bangladeshis speaking Hindi, declaring themselves as Indian, and in one infamous scene rejecting the Independence of Pakistan in 1948. What was supposed to be an action-packed blockbuster ended up as a massive failure because no one was interested in seeing such a distorted version of history.

Another new movie has received a much different reaction. ‘Children of War’ is another Indian-made film, but this time the history was not manipulated or distorted. Actually, it was told in all gory details, even those that many Bangladeshi would hope to never see.

Despite the grim portrayal of atrocities, Children of War film was not greeted with anger, but premiered in Bangladesh to an esteemed audience that included Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor and a number of other lawmakers and political personalities.

Interestingly, the film does not attempt to make the Indians or any other group as heroes either. In fact it is reported that in some cinemas, anti-American slogans were raised against its willingness to stand with Gen Ayub. Rather it is a painful reminder of the horrors of the 1971 war.

The film has been praised by Member of European Parliament Ryszard Czarnecki who ‘strongly recommended to the European Parliament and other European institutions – committed to the principles of secularism, democracy and tolerance – to promote this movie in order to witness the realist depiction of events of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh’. 

Sadly, the film has been banned where it is most needed.  Central Board of Film Censors in Islamabad termed the film as ‘one-sided’. But what excuse can be given to justify such atrocities? The real danger, though, is that without facing the brutal truth and remembering what happened, we may doom ourselves to repeat it. 

Opening old wounds – Ours and Theirs

A staggering 27,117 people stand united, holding green and red boards above their heads, to put up the world’s biggest ever human flag at the National Parade Ground on Victory day yesterday

Bangladeshis set world records during 16th December celebration.

The approach of 16th December fills me with unease every year. It’s one of those times when I try to avoid Facebook, Twitter, and the media in general. The level of insanity that is inevitably present makes me depressed, and let’s be honest – we don’t need extra reasons to be depressed these days. In recent years, there have been attempts to deal with the loss of East Pakistan by trying to re-write history so that the blame falls on America and Jews as well as the usual Indian bogey. This year, with the sentence of Abdul Quader Molla coinciding, I knew it was going to be particularly awful. And I was right.

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