Photo: Zahid Hussein/Reuters. At the funeral of Benazir Bhutto, supporters thronged the route to the white marble mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Baksh. More Photos >
via SHOBAK [e-list]; posted by Naeem Mohaiemen, Fri Dec 28 08:47:29 CET 2007:
Since 1971, Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) has framed much of its political reality in opposition to the idea of Pakistan. Some things I have heard over the years: "We will never allow Bangladesh to become Pakistan", "Why did we bother leaving Pakistan if we are going down the Islamic path as well?", "Thank god we're not with Pakistan", etc.
The scars of the 1971 genocide run deep. Periodically wounds flare up, such as when Islamist groups with ties to death squads in 1971 claim it was "civil war" not "genocide".
My khalato bon (cousin) has direct memories of 1971 and even refuses to eat dried fruit or nuts if she discovers it was imported from Pakistan. She once said to me "Pakistan, ota ekta desh holo naki?" (Pakistan, is that even a country?). This reminds me of the (urban legend?) of post-WWII Jewish consumers who refused to buy the Volkswagen. There is of course little comfort from our nationalist defenses. Yes we are not Pakistan, but it would not take much to tip
the scale. It is only geography (non-adjacency to Afghanistan, no stake in Kashmir) that rescued us from Indo-Pak nuclear brinkmanship and American-Soviet pawn moves. Tariq Ali once wrote that Pakistan was the "used condom" from the Afghan war that America had fished out of the toilet after 9/11.
With yesterday's assassination of Benazir, again the Pakistan shadow over Bangladesh. Palpable jitters on the Dhaka streets. How long before Bangladesh gets engulfed by similar syndromes?
Meanwhile, two blog entries..