The Bangladesh Diaries – II

So I wrote a short piece about my visit to the Liberation War Museum for Express Tribune:

As a Pakistani schooled in a sanitised version of history, the museum makes one cringe with revulsion. Skulls and bones recovered from a killing field in Mirpur, Dhaka, stare at you from a glass cupboard. A black and white image shows vultures picking at the bodies of those left for dead. In another image, a snake is stretched out on the back of a dead body — an unknown victim of the cyclone that battered East Pakistan in 1970, and led to increased feelings of alienation amongst East Pakistanis with the slow aid response from West Pakistan. Lewd sketches of women are among the graffiti found in a Pakistan Army camp.

My tour guide turns to me, “You tell me, how can we forgive or forget this?”

You can read the entire article here. But I also recommend that you read the comment section. And after you’re done banging your head against the wall at the state of some Pakistanis’ perception of history and the extent of denial, please take a look at some of these photographs:


And bones.

The cyclone.

You can see the rest of the pictures from the museum here.

In retrospect, I’m not surprised that some people do think that the fall of Dhaka was due to an “Indian” or “international” conspiracy – after all, this is what they’re learning in their textbooks. But one would think – and this is very important – that if one has access to the internet and can spend their time leaving comments on say, Express Tribune’s website, surely they’d have time to, I don’t know, Google Bangladesh? Maybe read a bit of alternative history as opposed to the one they’ve been subjected to? Or is that asking too much?

  1. Agar garmi na hoti tau zaroor google kartey, but what to do the soaring mercury has “kharab-ed” the Google search engine.

  2. Fraz said:

    But there is always a high probability to exaggerate any historical incident. certianly, Army did a huge cleansing but it was as it is going on in Balochistan. National security.

  3. why should we be surprised huma?

    did we not keep hamoodur rehman report under wraps for the longest time and then grudgingly released it after it was leaked?

    we truly belong to denialistan!

  4. @Huma: Nude sketches do not prove sexual abuse. If teens were drawing nudes in their school toilets, you would translate it as they raped their fellows? The separation of the two wings was a result of political unrest, linguistic anarchy and chaos created as a result of power politics within the East Pakistan. Bengali Language Movement of 1952, Poor Response of the West Pak on 1970 Cyclone in EP, A. K. Fazlul Huq of Krishak-Sramik Party and later Sheikh Mujeeb ur Rehman; all contibuted to separation of the two wings of Pakistan. Who is to be blamed? Perhaps all of them.

  5. @huma We need to rise as a nation. We need to learn from the past and make a resolution that we wont repeat what our forefathers did. We have to adopt virtues of Nationalism, Hard work, Honesty, Loyalty, Transparency and Justice, and i am afraid we are not adopting them.

  6. @All.
    As far as denial of the facts is concerned, we should not deny, rather we should recognize our weaknesses and try to mend them. But at the same time, we should not beat the drum of our “findings”. Nowhere in the world, such things are disclosed. Can you name a single country whose media does not protect her interests? We the ,Pakistanis, have become obsessed with “naked truth”. We keep on chanting the slogans of ” free media”. Tell me why does the Indian and Western Medias keep on mentioning Pakistan China Relations in quotes? Why not these medias point their fingers on Israel and India as sponsors of terrorism? Wake up folks. Do not kill your image as a nation in friendly fire.

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