Denying the Denial: Reappraisal of ‘Genocide’ in East Pakistan
Keywords:Genocide, Bangladesh Liberation war, East Pakistan, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, genocide
The conflict in erstwhile East Pakistan, especially during 1970-1, was one of the bloodiest and most contested in the post-WWII era. While Bangladesh has always called it genocide, Pakistan has always denied both the intent and the scale of killings. This paper argues that the struggle of East Pakistanis to form their own country was reduced to a civic-political demand and not an ethnic-based claim to distinct nationalism. Revisiting Bangladesh‟s claims of genocide based on primary and archival material, this paper posits that the violence unleashed in former East Pakistan amounted to the systematic wiping out of the ethnic distinctiveness of its people through ideological, economic, political and military means. This paper contends that the recognition of the massacre in former East Pakistan during its Liberation Struggle as genocide is not only ethically demanded, but this recognition also demands a qualitative widening of the existing legal understanding of genocide.
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