You are on page 1of 3

Decoding Pakistan National Assembly Resolution

--Ziauddin Choudhury

Our indignation at the so-called resolution of the Pakistan National Assembly decrying the trial and punishment of a war criminal in Bangladesh is well understood. Equally well understood is Pakistan establishment support of this resolution. After all that country, at least the class that rules the country never came to terms with the division of their country even after more than four decades. We can also understand the outcry from Pakistan because the war criminal executed belonged to the political party that opposed Bangladesh war of liberation. What is not understood is why now? The trial of war criminals has been in progress for last three years, and people in the trial dock included many belonging to the same loyalist party. Some of those in the dock have been already sentenced by the court to life imprisonment or death. What prevented the Pakistan National Assembly or the political parties that supported the last resolution from crying foul earlier? Does this timing of the resolution have something to do with the mayhem and anarchy launched in Bangladesh by some elements in the name of political protest? Actually the proponents and supporters of the Pakistan Assembly resolution denouncing a purely internal legal process of Bangladesh are successors to military- feudal politician axis that was responsible for the breakup of Pakistan. This axis that had launched the war on the then East Pakistan and had killed millions of innocent civilians with support from their loyalists succeeded in perpetuating the myth that liberation of Bangladesh was a result of foreign conspiracy and a war foisted upon it by its perennial enemy India. This axis had eyes for the soil of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) not for its people. This axis saw to it that the rest of Pakistan and its people remain shielded from its designs on Bangladesh. When the Pakistan Army loosed it marauding troops to subjugate the people in East Pakistan and trample their demands for political rights and autonomy, the Pakistan establishment defended the actions in the name of saving national integrity and putting down insurrection by a political party. They defended their vile actions in the name of saving religion and sovereignty of a country purportedly founded on religion. They were able to create the fog of religion in rest of Pakistan and its citizens who were mostly kept in the dark about the Machiavellian politics of the military-feudal axis, and the reign of terror unleashed on then East Pakistan. A government controlled media continually fed the Pakistanis with the myth of foreign intervention and characterized our liberation fighters as infiltrators from India. The axis boosted cheers of war mongering among its citizens with slogans of Jihad and saving East Pakistan from these miscreants. A sad part of this duplicitous war by Pakistan Army and the feudal overlords who ruled Pakistan politics was that the hypocrisy of Jihad caught in its web a section of people in the then East Pakistan. While some among this section served as mercenary forces, others were drawn to it for ideological reasons based on the false belief that Pakistan represented Islam and its true followers. They supported Pakistan and the Armys actions because they believed a breakup of Pakistan would be tantamount to

the destruction of the country founded on religion. They would be the civilian extension of Pakistans military machine, which considered anyone opposing Pakistan as opposing Islam. They would be willing partners of the Pakistan Army in quelling down the rebellion. The Pakistan Junta did not stop by simply brainwashing its people and its loyalists in the East Wing with its false propaganda of Islam in danger, and by characterizing the war in East Pakistan as fighting with foreign infiltrators. It sent out its emissaries abroad, in particular other Muslim countries with the message that its fight in East Pakistan was nothing but putting down an internal rebellion. Later it would escalate the term to putting down a secessionist attempt (accepted initially by some western countries including the US) to draw sympathies from Islamic nations. The Islamic nations, some of whom (like Turkey) had similar experience in the past, empathized with this line of propaganda, and never expressed support for our liberation effort. In fact many would carry this displeasure even after Bangladesh would become a reality and give birth to the second largest Muslim country in the world that time. Recent comments from some Muslim countries and their leaders on our war crimes trials largely arise from the affinity of some of the accused to a larger Islamic base. Like Pakistan they also perhaps believe that these people were tried not because of crimes against their own people but because of their ideological support for a bigger Islamic country. One would like to believe that a propaganda that failed to save a country more than forty years ago would meet its natural death, and Pakistan would forge ahead putting the lie behind it. The Pakistan National Assembly resolution unfortunately negates that belief. There may be many explanations for Pakistan Establishments reaction the way it has shown it, but there are two worth mentioning. First, the political scene that emerged in Pakistan since Bhuttos demise. The country has been ruled by two military dictators under pseudo democracy for nearly half that period. The first of the two dictators, General Ziaul Huq corralled support of the religious establishment to buttress his rule in a pseudo-democracy and allowed growth of seminaries that would later spawn militant groups seeking creation of a religious state. The second is the mainly feudal base of the current party in power in Pakistan which draws a large amount of support from the religious parties in Pakistan. It is small wonder that a government run by such elements would raise voice in support of a person who it considers to be one of their own. Our main concern should not be over what Pakistan National Assembly members have said over a Pakistani loyalists trial. Our concern should be the timing of this protest and its underlying threat. Unfortunately the radical forces that General Ziaul Huq helped grow in Pakistan transplanted themselves far beyond their bases into the part that Pakistan lost in 1971. With the help of some ideologically driven elements in Bangladesh these forces also found roots in Bangladesh the evidence of which we would see in the last decade. The current political crisis in Bangladesh is offering an opportune moment for the radical forces in Pakistan and their allies in the establishment to resuscitate themselves and make inroads into Bangladesh politics. The outcries heard from the Pakistan National Assembly are only an echo of the forces that would like to see a radical transformation of Bangladesh from a secular democracy to a

country that they wanted to be founded on their ideology. This is not simply a resolution denouncing the capital punishment of a fellow party man, this is a sign to all the loyalists of a lost cause to regroup and fight. I wonder if our leaders of both parties can read this sign. Ziauddin Choudhury is a US based political analyst and commentator.