The events of the War of Independence (Bangladesh Liberation War) in Bangladesh in 1971 remain all too vivid for untold numbers of people from this nation. This is based on one of the worse crimes of the twentieth century and this says something given the Armenian/Assyrian/Greek Genocide of 1915; the Holocaust against the Jews and Gypsies (Slavs also died in vast numbers); Cambodia and the policies of the Khmer Rouge; and the man-made famine of Ukraine. Indeed, the barbaric events of 1971 not only shames the collective memories of elites in Pakistan who deny this reality – just like Turkey does about their genocide; but it also shames the world because so little is known about one of the most darkest periods of world history whereby the intelligentsia, Hindus, and others, were systematically butchered.
Another major distinguishing factor is that just like Pol Pot in Cambodia, it is abundantly clear that internal Islamist forces supported the massacre of their own people. In Cambodia the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot ushered in a chaotic policy based on “year zero.” This policy fused various ideological forces together and adapted them to society in Cambodia in order to “cleanse” all negative forces. However, the Khmer Rouge introduced “a new barbaric evil” based on devouring the masses under false pretexts. Therefore, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia began butchering the intelligentsia and all and sundry by installing a rule of fear where killing became the norm.
In Bangladesh (East Pakistan prior to liberation) the enemies from within fused militant Islamist ideology alongside plying the tyranny and intrigues of Pakistan. Hindus only had to look at the demise of their population in West Pakistan (modern-day Pakistan) to know that sinister forces awaited them. Despite this, the scale of barbarity ushered in by the armed forces of Pakistan and internal militant Islamists in Bangladesh were not foreseen on such a scale. However, within days of the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, it soon became apparent that all progressive forces in Bangladesh faced an internal militant Islamist virus that did the bidding of Pakistan. This fifth column was intent on killing Muslims and Hindus alike based on an “Islamist year zero mentality.”
Sadly, for the people of Bangladesh and Pakistan, the same Pakistan is still playing a very dangerous game despite the clear internal warning signs. This applies to unleashing the Taliban and other militant Sunni Islamist forces several decades ago, which were made and created in Pakistan based on the intrigues of this nation alongside Gulf and Western powers (America and United Kingdom only changed their policy towards the Taliban after September 11 when al-Qaeda in Afghanistan became a serious issue). Therefore, today the Taliban and other Sunni Islamist organizations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with links to the ISI in Pakistan, are involved in killing female schoolchildren, daily acts of terrorism, killing the Shia, persecuting the Ahmadiyya community, plundering the Hindu community, persecuting Christians, forcing women into the shadows – and other sinister realities.
Moving on to modern-day Bangladesh then progressive forces within Shahbag and others are speaking out and demanding a nation for all the citizens of Bangladesh irrespective of faith (no faith), social background and so forth. These progressive forces want people to be held accountable for past barbaric deeds and for the current continuous cancer to be cut in order to free Bangladesh from a dangerous internal menace. This notably applies to Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and other offshoots which follow the same anti-Bangladesh and anti-unity line because in their world it is about dictatorship, crushing the indigenous culture, sowing divisions – and other sinister deeds. It is also important that nations like the United Kingdom (UK) stop the many militant Islamist ratlines from stirring up tensions, indoctrinating the Bangladeshi youth in the UK, and from spreading false propaganda in order to hide their shameful past because by doing this their new mask can’t be hidden. Therefore, it is important that movements like Shahbag rise up because this movement is based on being inclusive and representing the richness of Bangladesh whereby the individual comes before any labels.
Over four decades ago the Al Badr militia and Al-Shams, and other Islamist militant organizations, were fighting on the wrong side of history and against their own people. In other words, they were proxies of modern-day Pakistan who based their loathings on their militant Islamist viewpoint which focused on supremacy, ruling by fear, hating liberal Islam, despising religious minorities like Hindus, crushing the intelligentsia – and a host of other brutal realities. Just like the Taliban at the height of their power in Afghanistan all opposing thought patterns were attacked by “year zero Islamist” ideology. Of course, Pakistan cared little about Al Badr and Al-Shams in Bangladesh during the Bangladesh Liberation War – just like Pakistan cares little about the Taliban in modern-day Afghanistan. In other words, these militant Islamist groups are mere killing machines and forces of destruction in order to fulfil Pakistan’s geopolitical ambitions.
True to the colours of Pakistan then this nation is still in denial about its past brutal role in one of the most brutal crimes of the twentieth century. Tahmima Anam reports in the New York Times by stating that Pakistan “…still insists on denying the past: the mass killing of civilians (perhaps as many as three million), the targeting of Hindus, the systematic rape of thousands. On Dec. 16, Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted a resolution expressing concern over the recent execution of Abdul Quader Mollah, a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s leading Islamic party, who was convicted by a Bangladeshi court of committing murder and rape while collaborating with the Pakistani Army during the 1971 war. Calling Mr. Mollah a Pakistani sympathizer — and the independence of Bangladesh “the fall of Dhaka” — a multiparty majority of the assembly complained that Mr. Mollah was sentenced because of his “loyalty to Pakistan” and asked the Bangladeshi government to drop all other cases against the Jamaat leadership.”
The recent hanging of the war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah (Butcher of Mirpur) is a start of eradicating an old cancer that butchered and slaughtered innocents. Yet, Bangladesh, and other nations, needs to eradicate the prevailing cancer which continues to kill and sow the seeds of hatred.
In the Eurasia Review the writer Indranil Banerjie comments: “Today, an estimated 125 secret terrorist units, 231 NGOs, trusts and societies as well as a number of major corporate entities support the Jamaat in Bangladesh. The organisation receives substantial donation from abroad and from domestic sources. The Jamaat controls banks, IT companies, hospitals, newspapers, coaching centres, transport companies and other key enterprises. As a result, despite a small popular base and the presence of strong secular elements in the Bangladesh polity, the Jamaat is able to exert disproportionate influence in the country’s politics and sustain a large mass of street fighters.”
This reality means that unless the economic ratlines aren’t cut then militant Islamists will continue to indoctrinate the youth, poison Bangladesh, act like a fifth column against the rich diversity of the heritage of this nation, sow divisions – and other brutal realities. At the same time, Gulf petrodollars, the nation of Pakistan and international Islamist organizations will propagate mass propaganda against Bangladesh while trying to usurp the nation. Therefore, it is essential that all progressive forces in Bangladesh focus on the modern-day cancer, which seeks to turn the clock. After all, Jamaat, just like the mentality of the Taliban, seeks to deny not only the past but also seeks to crush the future by subduing all alternative thought patterns within Islam, subdue the Hindus and all other religious minorities, crush secularism, deny the heritage of past culture and so forth.
The Butcher of Mirpur is no more but Jamaat’s continuing policy and the role of Pakistan are still daggers at the heart of Bangladesh.