The year 1947 saw the first split of the sub-continent with the creation of India and Pakistan. Then 1971 saw a further breakup of the region with the dismemberment of west and east Pakistan with the creation of Bangladesh.
50 years on, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, each have distinct memories of what happened, each maintaining that their version is correct and amplifying it enough to strengthen their narrative.
In his recently released documentary, 'Separation of East Pakistan - The Untold Story,' Javed Jabbar (Senator [R]) Executive Producer and writer of the documentary, makes an objective and fact based quest to unveil the truth of what transpired the separation of East Pakistan. The documentary unfurls the events fact by fact, with evidence and corroborated information, analysed by international and national learned scholars, expert analysts, historians and public servants who had served at the time to reveal the true story of 1971.
International and national experts, while sharing their candid views in the documentary, reveal that contrary to the much-promoted narrative, India’s involvement in East Pakistan was not a response to a humanitarian crisis, it had started decades before.
India saw an advantageous realpolitik to exploit and further fuel Pakistan’s internal fissures and also attracted the attention of the Cold War’s key players, namely USSR who supported India’s interests in the UN Security Council and provided it with tanks and helicopters.
When the ‘liberation movement’ started, India provided training and arms to a guerrilla militant rebel group, Mukti Bahini as well.
The documentary unveils that Indira Gandhi openly confessed that, "We have taken the revenge of a thousand years", and "we have drowned the two-nation theory in the Bay of Bengal." Even Rahul Gandhi, claimed “I belong to [a] family which has… never gone back on its words… [When] my family decides to do anything, it does it—be it the freedom struggle, the division of Pakistan, or taking India to the 21st century.”
The documentary also discloses how Sheikh Mujibur Rehman had always been linked with India.
At the start of his struggle Mujibur Rehman had demanded India’s ‘no-holds-bared’ support through Taffazul Hussain. Nehru had responded at an authoritative level, that India would extend support to Mujibur Rehman’s revolutionary cause, but the ‘liberation atruggle’ should be driven by the ideals of Bengali nationalism, anchored on secularism; it should be a pluralist democratic movement, and non-violence should be the avowed creed.
Based on this directive, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman developed the six-point agenda which became the political mandate for the Awami League.
Sheikh Mujibur Rehman himself was not asking for independence and only spoke of a confederation. It is interesting to note that when Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, was released as a result of the political maneuvering and outright aggression by India, and was flown from London to Bangladesh in an Indian jet, he was unaware that Bangladesh had become an independent nation and thought his demands for a confederation had been fulfilled.
What is hardly acknowledged by India and Bangladesh in an effort to taint West Pakistan, is that what claimed to be a non-violent non-cooperation movement was actually a massacre of non-Bengalis, which India conveniently labelled as atrocities. India unleashed an unceasing disinformation campaign that blamed Pakistan and its armed forces for this debacle.
The false exaggerations and misquoted number of deaths, rapes and fleeing Bengalis, who were mostly Hindu to India, was justified as an excuse for India’s direct involvement in the war.
The documentary by Javed Jabbar demystifies the intentional spread of false information amplified for political gains by the then leaders.
The documentary provides a fair, objective and fact-based perspective to what happened in 1971. Post-independence, Pakistan struggled to meet the needs of the people, especially those living in East Pakistan who had been deprived of growth and development since the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
The issue of the Urdu language and allocation of resources was used as an excuse to promote a narrative against West Pakistan. When there is a marriage of two nations, equitable compromises must be made, but there was squabble and break down of communications, which was further ignited by India, causing a divorce of two people who had come together with a shared vision for their future.
As admitted in the documentary, West Pakistan made some uninformed decisions.
It was claimed in the documentary that ZA Bhutto also used the situation for his anti-army politics and left no opportunity to embarrass his own army, including his infamous speech at the UN Security Council where he, despite being ordered otherwise, closed all doors to ceasefire, leaving his army vulnerable without any foreign support.
Today, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India have their own closely held stories, with 1971 taking on unique meanings across the subcontinent. The separation of Pakistan involved many factors which should all be taken into account to present a balanced and true picture.
Now that the documentary reveals the truth, there is hope that the nations will leave the past behind and work towards strengthened relationships for a stronger subcontinent.
There is no doubt that a strong united subcontinent will be a power to reckon with, and there are many who do not want to see that.
To stream the documentary or to find out more about it, head over to www.1971untoldstory.com.
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