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Patriots need to stand up and be counted

THE adoption of a resolution on Monday by the National Assembly of Pakistan voicing concern over the execution on Friday of Abdul Quader Molla, an assistant secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami who had earlier been convicted of war crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal and subsequently sentenced to death by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, is deplorable for more reasons than one. First, the resolution, tabled by the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and supported by the government of Pakistan but opposed by the Pakistan People’s Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, amounts to a blatant interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh, which secured liberation from Pakistan’s military junta through a sustained people’s movement which culminated in the ninth months of military struggle in 1971. Moreover, it betrays the affinity that a sizeable section of the Pakistani political class has with Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami on the ideological plain. Besides, this particular section of Pakistan’s political class seems to still brook the hope that someday Bangladesh will be part of Pakistan again, a hope, they fail to realise, will never materialise — ever.
Equally deplorable is the delayed official reaction from the government of prime minister Sheikh Hasina to the resolution adopted by Pakistan’s national assembly. It was not until Tuesday evening, more than 24 hours after the resolution had been adopted—and, that too, in the wake of public criticism—that the foreign ministry summoned the Pakistani high commissioner over the issue. Meanwhile, the politically conscious sections of society and the media strongly reacted to the resolution adopted by Pakistan’s national assembly — and rightly so. It needs to be noted though that many of these people seem to have tailored their patriotic impulses to their partisan allegiance and thus often look the other way when similar unwanted and unwarranted interference from other countries, especially India. Their crafted silence in the wake of the visiting Indian foreign secretary’s not-so-concealed lobbying for the Hasina administration during her recent visit to Bangladesh, especially in terms of her effort to make HM Ershad change his mind about not participating in the decidedly non-inclusive and questionable general elections, is a case in point.
Sadly, it seems that a substantive majority of the so-called intelligentsia increasingly views patriotism through their pro-India and pro-Pakistan lenses, just as they analyse domestic politics from their pro-Awami League and pro-Bangladesh Nationalist Party perspectives. It is imperative thus that the discourse on national politics and patriotism should be dissociated from such debilitating dichotomy. For that to happen, ultimately, the spirit of the liberation war needs to be revisited and really revived. The victory more than four decades back was for the people’s liberation — cultural, social, political, economic and, most importantly, intellectual. It is the absence of intellectual liberation that seems to have bound a sizeable section of the so-called intelligentsia to the AL-BNP dichotomy on politics and India-Pakistan discourse on patriotism. The struggle for the intellectual liberation, suffice to say, must be initiated by those individuals and institutions that identify themselves as pro-Bangladesh patriots, and not pro-India or pro-Pakistan.

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