Sunday, June 16, 2024

Bilawal Again: So son, let’s talk about your grandfather

A couple of days ago, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto made some uncharitable remarks about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The remarks were rebutted suitably by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman officially.

As things were cooling down a bit after a round of bitter acrimonious exchanges between India and Pakistan, Bilawal again stoked up a fresh controversy by defending his remarks. It had seemed earlier that the acrimony will die down but it does not look like we have heard the last words of the saga yet.

In an interview to Bloomsberg on Tuesday, Bilawal said: “I was referring to a historical reality. The remarks I used were not my own. I did not invent the term `Butcher of Gujarat’ for Mr Modi. The Musims in India following the Gujarat riots used that term for Mr Modi.’’

For good effect, he added: “I believe I was referring to a historical fact, and they believe that repeating history is a personal insult.’’

Well, Bilawal has made it clear that repeating history, even though false and distorted, is not a personal insult. For this reason alone, Bilawal needs to be schooled a bit in Pakistan’s history. 

Bilawal is the son of Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who thus was his grandfather. 

Bilawal needs to be told a thing or two about how megalomaniac ZA Bhutto was. It was Bhutto who had created and led the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the party Bilawal leads today. He presides over a party which was responsible for rapes and murders of lakhs of Bengalis in what was East Pakistan once upon a time, and now Bangladesh.

Let’s keep things short and sharp here. 

Let’s rewind to the 1970 general elections in Pakistan under held in December that year. These elections to the National Assembly of Pakistan were the first ever free and fair elections in Pakistan. Yes, though Pakistan was born in August 1947, believe it or not, no free elections were held till December 1970.

Incidentally, these elections were held in East Pakistan (Bangladesh now) as also West Pakistan (Pakistan nowadays).  For a 300-member National Assembly, there were 168 seats in East Pakistan and 132 in West Pakistan. 

Two parties which fought these elections keenly were Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and PPP of ZA Bhutto. The result of these elections was that Awami League won 160 seats, a clear majority and Bhutto’s PPP could win only 82 seats.

This was a clear victory for Awami League, a party which held a sway over most of East Pakistan. But Bhutto was not ready to accept Mujib as Prime Minister of whole of Pakistan. He conspired with West Pakistan based top leaders and stalled the summoning of session of National Assembly. In this, the main culprit was General Yahya Khan, the military dictator who had replaced General Ayub Khan.

Instead of respecting the mandate of the people, and handing over power to Mujib, Bhutto saw to it that Mujib was arrested. In March 1971, at the behest of Bhutto, Operation Searchlight began in East Pakistan leading to rapes and murders of thousands of Bengalis in East Pakistan.

Bilawal’s grandfather was the butcher who subverted the mandate Mujib had won. There was a bloodbath in what was East Pakistan and it continued for several months. So much so that India was inundated by 10 million (one crore) Bengalis, both Hindus and Muslims.

Does Bilawal know this history of bloodbath PPP was responsible for in East Pakistan? This bloodbath was responsible for East Pakistan breaking away and becoming Bangladesh, a nation that is way ahead of Pakistan today. 

Bilawal can start reading history of Pakistan, history of his grandfather and then look towards Gujarat and India.

(Sant began as a teacher but after six years, joined the Indian Express, Chandigarh in 1990, the year when terrorism was taking its first step in J & K and soon there would be exodus of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. He subsequently worked for The Statesman, The Times of India and Star News among others. He is based in Jammu since May 2000. He edits, a newspaper from Jammu presently.)

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