The violence of history: 1971 and the silencing of women

A longer essay on 1971 and how it is remembered is forthcoming. Meanwhile, my review of Yasmin Saikia’s fantastic book, “Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh: Remembering 1971,” was published in Dawn Books and Authors.

If the 1971 war is remembered at all in Pakistani political culture, it is remembered as a war between India and Pakistan, and as an episode in the continuing saga of antagonism between the two nation-states. Bangladeshis are simply forgotten except as betrayers of Pakistan, collaborators with India against Pakistan, or at best as brainwashed victims of India’s plot. The tropes – such as ‘Bengali betrayal’ and ‘Indian designs’ – deployed to explain away the secession of East Pakistan serve as devices and convenient frameworks to stunt any meaningful reflection on (West) Pakistan’s own conduct during and before the war. Silence ensues, and endures.

Click here to read the rest.

Update: The longer version of my essay on the War of 1971 is posted on Chapati Mystery in six parts:

 I: A Personal Journey

II: The Making of a Tragedy

III: A Few Good Pakistani Men


V: Women and the War of 1971

VI: Conclusion: Unexceptional Violence

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