The liberation war of Bangladesh can be traced back to 1948 when Muhammad Ali Jinnah declared in Dhaka that Urdu would be the official language for the whole of Pakistan (that is, West Pakistan and East Pakistan) resulting in strong resentment in then East Pakistan. The then East Pakistan resented since Bangla was the mother-tongue of majority of the people of the East Pakistan. Vehement protests were launched in various parts of then East Pakistan. Several students and intellectuals of then East Pakistan lost their lives on February 21, 1952 for taking part in the ‘language movement’ and resenting the decision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah to impose Urdu on Bengali-speaking people. With ‘language movement’ gaining momentum, religion took a back-seat in then East Pakistan. This clearly shows religion was never an important factor in then East Pakistan unlike in West Pakistan (Pakistan) which always tries to see everything through the prism of religion and divides people on religious lines. The ‘Two nation theory’ of Muhammad Ali Jinnah is a case in point.
February 21 has subsequently been declared as International Mother Language day by UNESCO. So undoubtedly, language paved the way for liberation of Bangladesh. East Pakistanis deeply identified themselves as Bengalis and ‘Bengaliness’ embodied their culture. East Pakistanis were ahead of West Pakistanis both culturally and educationally. Dhaka University (then Dacca University) used to be a prominent seat of learning in the whole of South Asia during that time-period.
The above events are important in the sense that a certain diplomatic mission in Dhaka is scheduled to celebrate ‘Pakistan Day’ on March 23 in utter disregard to the sentiments of 160 million Bangladeshi. They are trying to project a narrative that their day (March 23) is important since Muslims of that time in 1940 resolved to gain independence from dominion of Hindu majority. They, however, failed to note that playing a religious card is not going to pay them any dividends as Bangladesh’s foundation is laid on the four principles of secularism, nationalism, socialism and democracy. This act of this particular mission is aimed at fomenting communal disharmony in Bangladesh, and creating a divide with its neighbour whose unwavering support and gratitude during the War of Liberation can not be paid back. Short of saying sorry for their genocide intent, they are giving more importance to March 23 to suit their own agenda, that also during Mujib Borsho.
Bangladesh was born out of a struggle which is perhaps unique in the history of this sub-continent. A deeper look into this struggle will expose Pakistan of its hypocrisy and its evil designs. The first attempt to divide Bengal on religious lines was made by the Britishers in 1905 through the creation of Western Bengal and Eastern Bengal. While Hindus were in majority in Western Bengal, Muslims formed the bulk of the population in Eastern Bengal. But the division on religious line could not be sustained and had to be annulled in 1911 in the face of a strong resistance. Muhammad Ali Jinnah clamoured for division of the- then undivided India once again on religious line when Britishers were about to hand over power to an Independent India. This theory of Jinnah is widely known as the ‘’Two-nation theory’’ in the history of this sub-continent. This time, Jinnah was successful. Two independent nations namely India and Pakistan were born on August 15, 1947 following a partition of the whole of India with India being a Hindu-majority country, and Pakistan a Muslim-majority country. Pakistan had two parts namely West Pakistan and East Pakistan. West Pakistan was geographically separated from East Pakistan by about two thousands of kilometres of Indian territory. The separation was not restricted to the huge distance between the two parts only, but to language, and culture as well. In fact, the last two were the most powerful factors that ushered in liberation of the-then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) from the clutches of Pakistan.
According to a Report (Report of the Advisory Panels for the Fourth Five Year Plan 1970-75, Vol.I) published by the Planning Commission of Pakistan, the total outlay for Eastern Pakistan had always been behind that of the Western Pakistan. In 1950/51-1954/55, 46 percent of the total spending was made on the Eastern part, with the rest channelled towards the western part. The figure further declined to 32 percent for the eastern part in 1955/56-1959/60. An average of just 34 percent was spent on Eastern Pakistan during 1950/51-1969/70 despite the area (then Eastern Pakistan) being more populous in comparison to Western Pakistan . Between 1948 and 1960, East Pakistan’s export earnings had been 70 percent while it received a meagre 25 percent of import earning. In 1948, East Pakistan had 11 textile mills while West had 9. In 1971, the number of textile mills in the West had grown to 150 while that in the East the figure had only gone up to 26. A transfer of 2.6 billion dollars (in 1971 exchange rates) worth resources was also done over time from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. The above statistics clearly point out that Pakistan (then West Pakistan) resorted to economic drain and exploitation of East Pakistan, a factor which paved the way for liberation of the-then East Pakistan. This is another example which exposes Pakistan of its hypocrisy of Islamic brotherhood.
The ‘Pakistan Day’ that is observed on March 23 every year is yet another example of its hypocrisy to hoodwink Muslim people since ‘Operation Searchlight’ was launched by then Western Pakistan on its Eastern part, which was also a Muslim-majority state, on the intervening night of March 25-26, 1971. West Pakistani soldiers came out of the cantonment at 11.30 pm, and resorted to genocide of unarmed Bengalis in the Farmgate area, launched simultaneous attacks on Pilkhana and Razarbagh police lines, arrested Sk Mujibur Rahman at 1.15 am from his residence. Independence of Bangladesh was, however, declared by Sk Mujibur Rahman a few minutes before his arrest. At dead of night, they launched operation at the teachers’ residential quarters of Dhaka university and killed a huge number of students and teachers.
So, summing up, one can easily see that factors like language, culture, economic exploitation, and dominance of then Western Pakistan over the Eastern Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were responsible behind the liberation movement of Bangladesh, and not religion. The ‘Mujib Borsho’ which is being observed from March 17, 2020-2021 will certainly defeat the evil designs of Pakistan in flaring up communal passion in this otherwise peaceful country, and the entire sub-continent as a whole.
Celebrating Pakistan Day on March 23 is clearly a mischievous move by this diplomatic mission. They have forgotten the wounds inflicted by the savage Pak army in the night of March 25-26 on innocent civilians, when a genocide was committed with brutal force in collaboration with razakars, al-Badr and al-Shams. Paying scanty regards to the sentiments of 160 million Bangladeshis, who are busy celebrating the solemn and auspicious occasion of “Mujib Borsho”, this quarter is bent upon carrying forward the agenda of their government. Such actions are deplorable and at best aimed to suit their hidden agenda.