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Comment, JUL/AUG 2014
Harold H. Saunders

In 1971, the Pakistani government orchestrated a brutal military crackdown against the Bengali population in East Pakistan -- while the United States stuck by its ally Pakistan. Gary Bass's new book spotlights the “significant complicity” of U.S. President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, in this “forgotten genocide.”

Sumit Ganguly

For the past several weeks, thousands have rallied around a single issue: bringing to justice the collaborators who, in early 1971, helped the Pakistani military put down the Bengali nationalist movement. The timing might seem strange, since the demands for justice are coming well over four decades after the tragic events. But they are part of a struggle over Bangladesh’s identity that has raged for decades.

Essay, Apr 1973
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

There is no parallel in contemporary history to the cataclysm which engulfed Pakistan in 1971. A tragic civil war, which rent asunder the people of the two parts of Pakistan, was seized by India as an opportunity for armed intervention. The country was dismembered, its economy shattered and the nation's self-confidence totally undermined. Ninety-three thousand prisoners of war were taken, including 15,000 civilian men, women and children. Considerable territory on the western front was overrun and occupied by India.

Essay, Jul 1972
Phillips Talbot

Whatever its other consequences, last winter's brief war in South Asia broke the mold that since 1947 had cast India-Pakistan relations into a continuing confrontation punctuated by three military conflicts. Now, for better or worse, the subcontinent with its 700,000,000 people has been transformed into a ménage à trois, linking together three national members in new relationships.

Essay, Oct 1971
Sydney H. Schanberg

History geopolitical forces, power balances and election results all helped shape the crisis in East Pakistan; but only in terms of "the pathology of the subcontinent," as one diplomat described it, can this bloody upheaval be adequately explained. From the night of March 25, when the Pakistani army launched its surprise offensive in East Pakistan in an attempt to crush the Bengali autonomy movement, normal standards of logic and reason stopped applying. The mindless brutality of the West Pakistani troops demonstrates the military régime's irrational determination to hold on to East Pakistan at whatever cost and by whatever tactics are necessary. In turn, this brutality has fired and fed an increasingly effective and popularly supported guerrilla counteroffensive that keeps East Pakistan in chaos. Every army reprisal against the civilian population produces new Bengali freedom-fighters. The Bengalis-now sullen, bitter, hating-seem ready for a long fight for full independence. Talk of anything less, such as the old goal of East Pakistani autonomy within Pakistan, is considered heresy.

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