In commemoration of the Bangladeshi genocide that began (sort of) on March 25, 1971.
The birth of a nation is often (always?) violent. In many cases, the groups fighting for their freedom succeed, and in many other cases, they don’t. In the case of Bangladesh, they succeed, fortunately, but at the expense of so much violence, so much loss, so much destruction. And a genocide that it looks like only Bangladesh itself remembers while the rest of the world denies it (like Pakistan, even though Pakistan committed it) or doesn’t remember it (everyone else).
The genocide in Bangladesh wasn’t the first (or last) that Pakistan is guilty of. The first form of any violence that Pakistan committed inside its new borders was against Pashtuns in Babarra, Charsadda, on August 12, 1948. Like the genocide against Bangladesh, Pakistan denies all the other violence it has committed and continues to commit against people, both inside and outside its borders. Like Shias, Ahmadis, Balochis, Pukhtun, … and the list goes on.
What had happened was, Hindustan split into two nations: Pakistan and India. Pakistan included West Pakistan (current-day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (current-day Bangladesh). East and West Pakistanis were separated by India, and stuff just logistically made no sense, you see. But it also made no sense for other reasons, like the cultural differences between Bengalis and Pakistanis, and Bengalis wanted their own state. It wasn’t fair for a lot of other reasons, too, including, for example, the fact that East Pakistan was creating some 59% of Pakistan’s exports but was receiving only “25 percent of the country’s industrial investments and 30 percent of its imports” (as cited here). Then, of course, Urdu became the national language when less than 10% of East Pakistan could barely speak Urdu. And apparently, the elites of West Pakistan thought they was the best of God’s creation and thought the East Pakistanis inferior in all ways (then again, elites tend to do this everywhere, so). It looks like the last straw for Bengalis was the Bhola Cyclone of November 1970, which killed between 300,000 and 500,000 people in East Pakistan, and Pakistan hardly attempted to help the people – despite having the resources to do so. This was the deadliest cyclone in history.
Read about other reasons for Bangladesh’s demand for independence here.
“Within a week, half the population of Dacca had fled, and at least 30,000 people had been killed. Chittagong, too, had lost half its population. All over East Pakistan people were taking flight, and it was estimated that in April some thirty million people [!] were wandering helplessly across East Pakistan to escape the grasp of the military.” (Cited here.)
“…… we were told to kill the hindus and Kafirs (non-believer in God). One day in June, we cordoned a village and were ordered to kill the Kafirs in that area. We found all the village women reciting from the Holy Quran, and the men holding special congregational prayers seeking God’s mercy. But they were unlucky. Our commanding officer ordered us not to waste any time.” – Confessions of a Pakistani Soldier
“The recklessness of Nixon and Kissinger only got worse. They dispatched ships from the Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal, and even encouraged China to move troops to the Indian border, possibly for an attack — a maneuver that could have provoked the Soviet Union. Fortunately, the leaders of the two Communist countries proved more sober than those in the White House. The war ended quickly, when India crushed the Pakistani Army and East Pakistan declared independence.”
So, basically, the war and genocide came to an end in early December when West Pakistan and India went to war, India “crushed” Pakistan, and on December 16, 1971, Bangladesh won its independence. (And, na, this doesn’t mean India was Bangladesh’s savior. ‘S not like India’s any more innocent than Pakistan, really. For starters, all the atrocities it committed during the Partition. But more on that when I grow up.)