Sunday, June 23, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

We are the victors, not them

Update : 15 Dec 2015, 07:00 PM

Much has been made about comments by the Pakistani parliamentarians regarding the War Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh.  Their reluctance to acknowledge the crimes committed in 1971 and the Pakistani state’s refusal to offer an apology for its atrocities speak volumes about the culture of denial and misinformation that still prevails in that country.

Many Pakistanis today are unaware of the extent to which their state went in suppressing a legitimate, democratic franchise and are often completely in the dark about the economic, political, and cultural subjugation of East Pakistan, where a majority of Pakistan’s population lived at the time.

They are sold on the narrative that it was all an Indian ploy to dismember Pakistan and that there was nothing rotten in the Land of the Pure.  Most Pakistanis don’t know that their state, by not facing up to its crimes, risks repeating them in Balochistan, where similar conditions apply and a similar, heavy-handed approach is the standard response. Most Pakistanis don’t know these things, but that’s their problem, not ours. That’s the beauty of being independent.

Pakistan owes us an apology, sure. Pakistan owes us a lot more than an apology in fact; they owe us reparations and half of the state funds and assets at 1971. But we probably won’t get them and we don’t need them either. We’ve forgone what is our right and they have forgotten their manners, and it really doesn’t matter anymore. We have moved on since, and very far too, in spite of their best efforts to try and cripple us or deny us our chance to prosper. We are the victors, and their comments are the sour grapes of the vanquished -- which should be nothing more than an amusement for us.

It doesn’t become an independent, self-respecting nation to get up in arms about the ignorant comments of a defeated force, especially one that has no bearing on our lives or our futures anymore. We have shaken them off our backs and are laying to rest the ghosts of our past, so that we can look forward to building the kind of country that Pakistan isn’t.

That we have the opportunity to do so should be satisfying enough, and no apology is needed to sweeten that deal. If anything, the small-minded political stunts of some of their leaders only amplify the fact that we have been the bigger people in this matter, forgoing justice that was promised to us through the trying of 195 officers, and maintaining cordial diplomatic relations with them, even when they attempt to irritate us.

It’s time we look at 1971 with triumphant eyes, without the burden of indignation and sorrow. This new generation has the freedom to live without the sting of injury and should be encouraged to do so, because nothing short of that would make our hard-fought victory a reality. The victims of 1971 suffered some of the worst brutality that war can bring, but they are being avenged and their sacrifices are best honoured through the creation of a just and responsible state where people can enjoy the benefits of a stable, fair, and functional democracy, along with their freedoms of thought and expression -- the sort of place our martyrs died dreaming of. 

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