Legacy of violence

Bangladesh had to pay a heavy price for the mistakes which were being made since the newly born country began its functioning in 1972. Bangladesh was liberated through a war of liberation. Millions of people sacrificed their lives. Hundreds of thousands of our mothers and sisters laid down their lives for the independence of Bangladesh.

It was not a peaceful transition to democracy. It was a war. The Pakistani occupation army attacked our people at night with tanks, cannons and fighter planes. Our valiant freedom fighters and the Indian allied forces jointly fought a tremendous battle against the Pakistani occupation army who had committed genocide in Bangladesh during the war of liberation. 

It was a question of life and death, and it was a question of our very existence as a nation. It was not just an election contest between Awami League and Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League. It was a war waged in a bid to give birth to a new nation.

I saw the unity and spirit among the people at the Race Course field on the historic 7 March, 1971 from where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a clarion call to fight the Pakistani occupation army till the last drop of blood and resist them with whatever weapons they have. I saw the fire in their face. 

These people were unconquerable, and they won victory by defeating the Pakistan occupation army. Had the new Army, BDR, police and security forces been formed comprising them, do you think they would have been sitting idle when the pro-Pakistani forces attacked the house of Bangabandhu? Obviously not. 

We can see it from a different perspective. If the new army was formed comprising those spirited youths who just had returned from the liberation war with victory, the defeated pro-Pakistani forces would not have dared hatch conspiracy to kill Bangabandhu.

Bangladeshi freedom fighters were trained, equipped and funded by India. Indian Army members laid down their lives in the war field for our independence. Moreover, Indian people for many years paid from their hard-earned income for our independence. Every month a portion of money would be cut from their salary.

Pakistan Army raped our mothers in front of their sons, sisters and brothers. They killed people indiscriminately. There should have been trial against that Pakistani army in the international court.

It was really mysterious and full of irony that the Pakistan-trained Army took over the responsibility of our country’s defence and security. Pakistani bureaucrats became the administrators of the independent Bangladesh. It was repeatedly written in newspapers that how the Mujib government was run by the bureaucracy of East Pakistan.

Bangabandhu would love Bangladesh and its people very much. He wanted to build Bangladesh as a developed nation. In many of his speeches, he expressed his desire to build Bangladesh as a Switzerland-like country. He knew that without coordinated and united efforts, he would not be able to develop the country as per his desire. 

Bangabandhu wanted to involve all the people in the nation-building work, and that is why he gave general amnesty. But the most tragic aspect was that the devils (those who took part in killing innocent people and raping women with Pakistani occupation army) never turned into humans. 

They did not give value to the greatness of the father of the nation. And general Zia did not have a minimum thankfulness to Bangabandhu who gave him everything.

Mr. Abdus Salam, Editor of Bangladesh Observer, wrote an article in his newspaper questioning how the legislators, elected in 1970 election for the Pakistan Assembly, could be the lawmakers of independent Bangladesh, which by then emerged as an independent country. 

They had no legitimate right to run the government of Bangladesh. And that is why a new election was held in Bangladesh in 1973 to fulfil the constitutional obligations of the country. 

If so is the case, then why the Pakistani bureaucrats would run the administration of an independent Bangladesh? Why the people who fought for the country, the freedom fighters, would not run the administration? And why the new Army and the law enforcement agencies would not be built comprising the members from the pro-liberation forces.

The Indian Army, who fought the Pakistani occupation forces with our freedom fighters and sacrificed their lives for our independence, could have trained, furnished and equipped a new army for Bangladesh the way they armed and prepared our freedom fighters. After building the new army, Indian could have left Bangladesh. 

And that new army could help build Bangladesh's paramilitary and police forces. In presence of that new Army, few killers would not have dared kill country’s father of the nation and our hard-earned independence would not have gone in vain.

The question was also raised by Cuban President Fidel Castro. He wanted to know from Bangabandhu that who are running the administration. Bangabandhu replied that the old bureaucracy who served Pakistan. Bangabandhu said, “From where will I get experienced people. Our freedom fighters are not that experienced.” Fidel Castro replied you might have engaged the freedom fighters. They would have learnt it in course of time. The Pakistani bureaucrats should not help run your administration, he opined.

The backlash of two-nation theory of Mr. Jinnah, jeopardised the long practice of peaceful co-existence of the people of the sub-continent and is still prowling and taking lives of the innocent people. But we should not take that into consideration when we talk about the role of Pakistan to destroy harmony in the sub-continent. A vast portion of Muslim population in Bangladesh still cannot accept the Indian as a friend, and it is only because of the impact of the Two-Nation theory. The world is now on its peak of advancement. Industrialisation is now an age-old matter. People are selling high-techs. On the other hand, some people are pursuing the extremist version of Islam and creating a catastrophic problem like the adverse impact of climate change. The world has changed but they will not change. Similarly the Pakistani bureaucrats did not change. 

Mahbub Alam Chashi was instrumental in staging the August 15th tragedy. And so many other members of former Pakistani bureaucrats also played a catalyst role in defeating the administration of Bangabandhu.

Being a freedom fighter, General Zia did n0t change himself. It is universally truth that when an army officer gets publicity in the war and becomes a public figure cannot get back to the army discipline. He must retire from army with some promotions and benefits, like General Sam Manekshaw and Jagjit Singh Aurora. 

Indira Gandi sent them to retirement. But Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib promoted Ziaur Rahman as a Major General from the rank of simply a Major in one year. Moreover, Zia was awarded the post of Deputy Chief of Army. The international power brokers and foreign agencies established link with Zia because of the post and position in Army and he exploited them fully. 

It is learnt that Zia used to visit the house of Awami League leader Abdur Razzaq and Tofail Ahmed to ensure his smooth promotion.  

After making him read the message of the Proclamation of Independence on behalf of Bangabandhu on the radio, he should have been sent to retirement giving Awami League nomination for any of the parliament seat from Bagura district.

The Army in the cantonment was hostile to the government of Bangabandhu as they were trained in Pakistan and they learnt to consider the Indian army their enemy. 

The one thing we have to take into consideration that Pakistan wanted to destroy us as a nation and on the contrary India came to our rescue. 

The relation between Bangladesh and India was written with the blood of the soldiers of our two nations. If we had no confusion that we fought Pakistan as our enemy and India fought Pakistani forces side by side with us, then the new Army would have no confusion about the independence of the country and there would have been a stronger relation between Bangladesh and Indian armies as they had experience of jointly taking part in nine months of war of liberation against Pakistan. 

Thus Indian Army and our new Army would have been a tested friend and there would have been a best chance to open up a new window of cooperation between the two nations. Everybody knows that cooperation can produce economic and cultural development and only with cooperation, the two country could be immensely be benefited.

Enmity means non-cooperation and leads to war. War produces nothing but takes lives and blood. It is quite understandable that as a nation Bangladesh could have been more benefited through establishing mutual cooperation with the vast economy of India.

Sharif Shahab Uddin is Editor-in-Chief, Bangladesh Post.