10/07/05 - pakistan and bangladesh

In today's excerpt - the 1947 birth of a new nation, Pakistan, as a partitioned former part of India and the subsequent 1971 re-birth of East Pakistan as the new nation Bangladesh:

"... [Some] would warn like-minded men of Mahatma Gandhi's craftiness, and his ambition to annihilate the Muslims. These were of course common fears at the time, and they were reflected on the Hindu side as well. After World War II, as Great Britain rushed to withdraw from its burdensome colonial charge, and India's factions deadlocked over a power-sharing arrangement, a partition was decided that would carve a separate Muslim nation, called Pakistan, from Indian soil. The new nation would itself be split in two, between the Muslim-majority area of the west, primarily along the Indus river, and a smaller area far to the east, on the delta of the Ganges, in Bengal ...

"At the time of the Partition, in 1947, one of the greatest migrations in human history got under way, as over the course of a few months more than 10 million people—Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims—fled the hostilities of their old communities and sorted themselves out into the new nations. They moved by train or bus, and on foot ... the migrants were attacked by mobs. The history is obscure and propagandized, but it seems that entire trainloads were massacred on both sides, that rape was rampant, and that several hundred thousand people died. In Pakistan perhaps seven million Muslims arrived, however traumatized ...

"In the spring of 1971, after years of discriminatory treatment by Pakistan's dominant west, East Pakistan rose up in rebellion and began to agitate for independence as a new nation, called Bangladesh. The Pakistani military reacted brutally, and a terrible civil war broke out on the Bengali deltas and plains ... generating huge casualties among civilians and sending several million refugees streaming across the borders into India. ... Emboldened by its friendship with the Soviet Union, India seized the opportunity to dismember its foe ... The battles were short. Pakistan's once strutting army collapsed, and in December of 1971, at a humiliating ceremony in a stadium in Dacca, it unconditionally surrendered ... [and] an independent Bangladesh was formed."


William Langewiesche


The Wrath of Khan


The Atlantic


November 2005


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