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Old December 10, 2008, 10:28 AM
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Default A Bangladeshi's Visit to Pakistan

A Bangladeshi respecting Pakistanis, that’s something you won’t find very often from someone from Bangladesh. But the Bangladeshi visitor, Fariha, went to Pakistan and met the regular people, and her perception of Pakistan changed from the traditional anti-Paki views, which was imprinted to us in Bangladesh, to an open minded view. Read the article below thoroughly and you’ll realize us Bengalis are not that different from our fellow Pakistanis.
Fariha wrote:
“ Apko kia pata, ke humara dil apke liye kitna rota hai. Jab aap logo ko koi taklif hota hai to humain lagta hain k taklif humain ho raha hai. Bohot pyar karte hai hum aap se. alag ho gaye to kya hua. Bhai to bhai hota hai. Bangladeshi to humare bhai hai.”
Rafe, 60-something, Bus-driver, Lahore
I’ve met people from different parts of the world and traveled to a few places myself. But never, not once, in any of my interactions or travels, have I ever come across a race of people who have made me feel so proud of my nationality: Bangladeshi. But then, I visited Pakistan. I was born in an independent Bangladesh. I’ve never had to struggle to get my voice heard, I was allowed to vote (till quite recently) and I’m allowed to speak my mind. Until my trip to Pakistan, I had never realized how precious all these things are. I had always regarded Pakistan, a distant country, as a bitter chapter in our history. But only after meeting the people did I realize how close we could be and how much my heritage means to them. Never before have I received so much respect for just being Bangladeshi.
Till quite recently, I had never visited Pakistan. Neither had my parents. Since the only Pakistanis I’d met belonged to the educated bourgeoisie class, I had assumed that it was only this select lot who were aware of the atrocities committed in 1971. I had always believed that most Pakistanis believed that Bangladeshis were Kafirs who had let India take them over and regarded us with disdain. Don’t ask me why I thought all of this or what explanation I have for my notions. My notions had stemmed from the prevalent attitude of our pro-liberation buddhijibis, who have, through their own glorifications of our War of Liberation, somehow equated patriotism as anti-Pakistani feeling and instilled that in some of us. In fact, I still know people who think that to be a true patriot you would have to hate Pakistan, with all its institutions and people. Our elders in Bangladesh, somehow always let us think that Pakistanis don’t care about Bangladesh. I’m not blaming them for my ill-conceived ideas. I was partly to blame for judging a whole race simply on the basis of the half-truths I had heard. I am not proud of what I thought. But my recent trip to Pakistan has made me feel proud of who I am and I am proud of my newly acquired views. Though I think that I now face the threat of being termed a ‘paki-lover’ or ‘Rajakar’, I am writing this because I think that our generation needs to know the other side of the story.
To be perfectly honest, upon our arrival at Islamabad, since the very first people we had met were bureaucrats, I didn’t buy into the whole “Pakistani-Bangladeshi bhai bhai” ideology they seemed to desperately convey to us. To me it seemed too forceful, too elaborate and too far removed from what we in Bangladesh have been led to believe about Pakistani attitude towards Bangladesh. If every shop-keeper, hotel-boy, porter, flight-attendant, bus-driver and almost everyone else I had met hadn’t echoed the same sentiments, I probably never would’ve believed that Pakistani people actually believe that we are still their brothers and they love us. It’s love that is rooted in our shared history, in our present day struggles to make our mark in this world, our efforts to rise above poverty and frustration at watching our neighbors grow at exponential rates as we combat the demons of corruption and bad governance.
“There are so many things we need to learn from Bangladesh. In fact, I personally think that your Caretaker Government system is very effective and we’re trying to emulate that”, an Additional Secretary told the ten-member media delegation from Bangladesh. Nothing was said, but their admiration for our achievements, including in establishing democracy and keeping it for 15 years, was apparent. In Karachi, an official of the Press Information Department under their Ministry of Information regaled the success of our homegrown micro-credit formula and it’s award-winning success. As far as the bureaucracy of Pakistan was concerned, everywhere we went we were greeted by praise and accolade. Even with 106 licensed private TV channels and 60 on-air channels, the Government of Pakistan marveled at how the journalists in Bangladesh are better trained and more sensitized. In a country where GEO News was closed down for violating State of Emergency rules, the Bangladeshi media received accolade from the Pakistani media for the courage demonstrated and the torture survived. In a media world now free of ‘press advise’ from intelligence agencies or foreign ministries, they marveled at the openness of our media. Peshawar Press Club gave the media delegates a reception and Express News threw a dinner. I am told that this is commonplace for all delegates from Bangladesh visiting Pakistan. But it most certainly wasn’t commonplace for me. No one had ever told me that this is how much respect these people have for us. All I have learnt from the learned, well-versed editors of our progressive newspapers is that Pakistan, the monsters who had killed our people in 1971 is now a failed nation. They forgot to mention the people of Pakistan, the warmth and hospitality they extend to all visiting Bangladeshis and the love and respect they still have for us. They never taught us how to help them or how to become friends with Pakistanis. Ulta, this was frowned upon. We weren’t told about how much they crave our friendship.
I had always believed that the atrocities committed in1971 by the Pakistani Military Hanadar Bahini, the genocide and the rapes would be a taboo topic for us in Pakistan. Taboo not just on the account us being invited by the Pakistan Government, but also because I had believed the Pakistani version of the events of 1971 to be different from ours. Therefore, you can imagine my shock when everyone I met mentioned our Liberation War (mind you, not the “Fall of Dhaka”) as ‘mistakes made by us in 1971, that shouldn’t have happened and we wish they hadn’t happened’. Rafe chacha, the man who drove our bus said to me, ‘beta, Bhutto ne jo kia, bohot galat kia. Mujhe to ootni talim bhi nahi hai, par itna to mujhe bhi pata hai’. Roughly translated, he meant that despite his lack of formal education, even he was aware of the atrocities committed by Bhutto (not just Yahya Khan, the executioner, but also the dictator) in 1971. Later on, he even explained to me how now that all of Pakistan is racially divided; they understand how Bangladesh must have felt. Rafe chacha even said to me how the people of Pakistan feel that political leadership in Bangladesh is much stronger than in Pakistan. ‘Benazir Bhutto jo thi, wo bhi zamindar ki beti thi. Oon ko kia pata k 3 din se mere ghar mei atta nahi hai. Aap k muluk mei to kitne acche admi hai, leaders hai. Humai aaj take k bhi sahi admi nahi mila. Aap ka jo dr.yunus hai, un ho ne garib o k barei mei socha, kuch kia. Humare yaha ek bhi aisa admi nahi mila’, he remorses. He said he echoed the sentiments of the rural working class who are always struggling to survive the repeated onslaughts of the political turmoil in the country. The ups and downs of power-play-who wins the elections or who looses, really never affects the common man. He knows that politics is not for him. He knows regardless of who wins the election, if there ever is one, at the end, he looses. Successive regimes have only helped to widen the rich and poor divide and people like Rafe chacha seek a program like micro-credit to improve their financial conditions. There are millions like Rafe chacha who would benefit from the models developed by our NGOs and civil society organizations that help the grassroots people. Even a PID official admitted that Sheikh Hasina is his favorite South Asian leader because she stands for the common man. The sectarian violence, the non-homogenous population and the increasing rich and poor divide has helped people like Rafe chacha and the likes of him realize and empathize with our plights pre-71. We, as Bangladeshis, as an independent, sovereign nation, with our certain successful social organization models are now in the capacity to help them and save them from the fate we had suffered.
“Baji aap Bangladesh se hai? Arre kia baat hai. Phir to aap hamare mehman hai. Aap ko kia pilau? Paani yia Cola? Aap meri puri dukan le jao koi masla nahi. Mehman hai aap humare’. I got tired of hearing these lines. I heard the same lines in Islamabad, in Murree, in Karachi and even in Peshawar. A pukhtun shopkeeper abandoned his shop in the evening, in a jomjomat bazaar just to show a few lost Bangladeshi journalists the way to another bazaar. In fact, the Pathans made these guys have dinner with them, saying that Bangladeshis were not just guests but brothers.I have never received so much love and respect anywhere else in the world, for simply being Bangladeshi. Everywhere I went, everyone I met, somehow managed to show this chit of a Bangladeshi girl, with her uncovered head and bare arms, an amazing display of camaraderie and respect. I really don’t know what I have in common with the man from Waziristan who dragged my luggage across the streets of Saddar in Peshawar or the teachers of Peshawar University who were going berserk trying to find an old picture of my grandfather which could’ve been anywhere in Pakistan. They didn’t have to do any of that. They are not answerable to any government, theirs or mine. They didn’t know me. They belong to a different nation, a different culture and an altogether different world. But somehow, they were able to relate to me before I could relate to them. They called me a sister even before I would consider them friends. They made the first move, they extended their hand of friendship and their love and hospitality. They gave me love because they believed that their leaders had wronged us in ’71, but we have survived and grown stronger, and more successful than them. We have greater literacy rates and more female participation in all sections of the socio-economic system. From Islamabad to Peshawar and in Karachi, all they gave us was love and respect and all they wanted from us was knowledge. They humbly expressed remorse for 1971 for the actions of the Pakistani military. In every action of theirs, I saw a call for help and solidarity. I felt that this nation, once so known to our forefathers, now completely alien to us, needs us to cooperate with them, help them up, just like one brother (even an estranged one) would help another. They made me feel strong and powerful. They made me feel proud of our achievements—all the things that we take for granted at home. This wasn’t the kind of pride you feel when you defeat another team in cricket or when you realize someone else is worse off than you. This was the first time in my life a foreign country and people, by their own good actions, had made me feel so proud of my Bangladeshi heritage.
In war-ravaged NWFP, where the local government is still struggling to accommodate the refugees, ensure minimum security and attain a minimum standard of living for its entire populace, we were perhaps best received. The governor of NWFP, Mr. Owais Ghani only reinstated Pakistan’s new attitude towards Bangladesh, ‘Let us not be prisoners of our past. Let us learn from our past and now look forward’.
In my humble opinion and still limited purview of the world, I feel that Bangladesh and our hard-earned independence have been vindicated. We have proven to Pakistan, home to our military oppressors and bloodthirsty dictator of 1971, that we have survived and we’ve only gotten better. Now, it’s time to show them just strong we are by sharing some of our strengths with them and helping them out in their struggles.
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. If we now close our doors to Pakistan, we will be shutting out a friend. The people of Pakistan have nothing but respect for Bangladesh. They want to learn. They want to know. But what will be our call? Will we play into the hands of those who have used the sentiments of 1971 to progress their own vested interests or should we promote our inherently peaceful and progressive way of life to a nation that looks up at us with hope and an offer of friendship. Again, at the risk of being labeled, I dare suggest that perhaps, it’s time to call truce and move on. We will never forget 1971, but then taking pride in our history should not be analogous to hating the people of another country, who were also victims of their circumstances and military oppressors.

Source: Drishtipat
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  #2  
Old December 10, 2008, 11:28 AM
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Nice reading. Thanks for sharing.
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  #3  
Old December 10, 2008, 11:47 AM
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nice read,

only pak leaders & army was responsible for 71, and any pak ppl in general knows that and apologizes.
too bad our 'brothers' are in deep sh** now, and we can only pray for those general innocent ppl who had no hands over their fate...
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Old December 10, 2008, 12:32 PM
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A very nice and moving article indeed.
Thanks Bangladesh_Sy for sharing the link.

I feel the article was written in the heat of the moment, when the writer had fresh memories of good hospitality and generosity of everyday pakis. Moreover, it was written on the back of a personal, moving emotional experience that she was probably not ready. Her pre-concived notion and somewhat life-long belief about pakistan and its people in general was not favourable, and i guess it would include a lot of us.

She probably went there mentally ready to have some heated but civilised discussion and fact-telling.
Instead she got a warm reception, which i think you would find anywhere in this sub continent.

As for myself, im all ready to move on and let the water run the bridge, ONLY WHEN the paki govt formally and unconditionally apologise to Bangladesh and Her people. ONLY then.

Till that happens, i will continue to have a ill feelings towards the country called pakistan, and unfortunately, its people belong to it.

As for our own part, we are yet to bring those rajakars to justice. If we are electing nizami as a member of parliament, there is very little we can expect others to do.

Let us do our own part first, then i'd expect something coming out of them.

But it would happen. It has to. Humanity has always prevailed.
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Old December 10, 2008, 12:45 PM
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ওদেরকে বিশসাস করতে পারবনা।ওদের সাথে কিছুদিন চলা ফেরা করলে বুজা যায় ওরা কি ভাবে মিস্টি কথা বলে আমাদের সহজ সরল মানুস কে বুলায়।আপনারা যে যা ভাবেন কিন্তু আমি ওদের বিসশাস করি না।

আমার বাংলা বানানে কোন ভুল থাকিলে ক্কমা করিবেন।
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Old December 10, 2008, 12:48 PM
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Well said Mohammad bhai.
Dont worry, your Bangla writing is good, albeit couple of spelling mistakes.
You'll get better with time. Thanks for trying though.
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Old December 10, 2008, 02:17 PM
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Bus drivier thika ektu attention pawatei eto faal partache? eita kemon maiya?

Amago bangladeshe rickshawalaur vindeshi maiya niya faal paare - kintu oi lungi chira shoitan beta ra to amago represent kore na....

ajkal baccha polapain ra ektu beshi chillai - jokhon pachai unwanted thappor khaibo tokhon buzbo koto dhaane koto chaail
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Old December 10, 2008, 04:16 PM
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Rabz's response (post # 4) is a way better than her writing. Thanks Rabz.
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Old December 10, 2008, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rabz
Till that happens, i will continue to have a ill feelings towards the country called pakistan....
thik e bolsen rabz bhai, ashole pakistan word tar shathe eto beshi negatives mishe gese, kono positive kisu feel korte bohut koshto korte hoy....
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Old December 10, 2008, 04:37 PM
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Past is past and it is really important to look forward and establish a Muslim fraternity at the time when Islam is often misunderstood and tainted with unfair links to terrorism or hateful ideologies. We should develop an Islamic unity, breaking all cultural and social barriers that would challenge our ability to become united.
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Old December 10, 2008, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandpiper
Past is past and it is really important to look forward and establish a Muslim fraternity at the time when Islam is often misunderstood and tainted with unfair links to terrorism or hateful ideologies. We should develop an Islamic unity, breaking all cultural and social barriers that would challenge our ability to become united.
thanks but no thanks!!!

We are better off being as furthue away from pakistan as possible....
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Old December 11, 2008, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HereWeGo
thanks but no thanks!!!

We are better off being as furthue away from pakistan as possible....
the past is indeed the past. regardless of what the modern literate and illiterate voice of pakistan recounted to the traveller, we need to move on to a new direction. that direction is not closer cooperation to form an islamic republic, but more to appreciate our differences and start to understand them a little better. the cultural and geographical differences between pakistan and bangladesh is simply too wide. the synthetic attempts made to crush these differences led to the language movements and eventually, the war of independence. we, the present day bangladeshis at home and abroad are the cultural descendents of the remarkable 19th century bengali renaissance. our cultural icons are tagore, nazrul and jasimuddin, not iqbal, jinnah and maududi. we have inherited a great tradition of language and arts that predates pakistan and is far richer in its complexity than the cultural heritage of any other parts of the entire indian subcontinent. our literary tradition is peerless. we are the artists of the indian subcontinents. let us make as much effort to keep away from the mullahs and preserve our rich heritage!
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Old December 11, 2008, 01:31 AM
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Given that I went to schools with Pakistanis, lived with them in college, and have close friends from among them, I feel I know them better than what the author does.

IMHO, the author is going overboard based on a few "feel-good" experiences.

Most Pakistanis dislike us; around 25% dont.

The ones that dont dislike us are generally practical minded and not overflowing with love for us.
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Old December 11, 2008, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
anyone who causes divisions among muslims is a kafir. whether they be from east or the west.
thats because no genocide EVER took place. that was an internal affair and "bangladeshis" seeked the help of the kuffar against an outnumbered brigade. they named their country "bangladesh", Asbiyah anybody? their VERY reason for the revolt was "Asbiyah" and the pride in their language.. was their language in a danger? as so many bangladeshis claim to be? has their language become an international language after they decided to break away based on racial lines?



you guys celebrate a further division of muslims as "independence day", you are as much muslim to me as george bush is.
The words in bold above are from an "Islamic minded" Pakistani who considers us "Kafirs"

Suffices to say around 15% of Pakistanis share his views

Last edited by ammark; December 11, 2008 at 01:55 AM.. Reason: mod.misc: quote to differentiate
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Old December 11, 2008, 01:47 AM
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Below are comments from the extreme strata of Pakistanis. As one can see, they (who constitute anything from 15 - 30 % of Pakistanis) will always hate us, so no point in trying to convince ourselves of a brotherhood that reality disproves at every opportunity.


What we can do is be practical and even-handed ourselves and not jump into anti-Pakistan brigade in a way that makes us look stupid.

Lets judge every Pakistani for what he is, if they are good, then we should also be good to them.

If they hate us with a vengeance, we should ask Allah to guide them....



1) those who sided with India and split the country were traitors .... and deserved what they got .... the penalty for traitors is DEATH in all laws ....


2) Bengalis are basically traitors and traitors deserve death, not official apology


3) There will be no Bangaladaesh after 35 years as the Bay of Bengal will take over.

Banagaldeishes need to start considering to apologize to Pakistan so that after 35 years when they re apply for Pakistani citizenship, we can look at their applications by millions favorably.
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Old December 11, 2008, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banglatiger84
The words in bold above are from an "Islamic minded" Pakistani who considers us "Kafirs"

Suffices to say around 15% of Pakistanis share his views
like you, i had interacted with many pakistanis outside of pakistan. based on my limited experience, i would estimate the percentage you quote above to be at least 20% higher.

i would be quite interested in reading the full article in which the pakistani mullah mentions the word 'asabiya'. this is a term coined by the muslim historiographer and geographer ibn khaldun in the 14th century, however, the above use of it is certainly a misreading khaldun. this is why i would be interested in reading the entire diatribe!
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Old December 11, 2008, 02:46 AM
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I think there are two aspects with the relationship with Pakistanis:

1) At a national level, Bangladesh government should remain firm regarding the official apology from Pakistan regarding the events of 71. At the same time continue to enhance trading relationship as needed, no harm in doing that. Even China and Taiwan have huge bilateral trade even though China don't even recogize them and ready to invade any time..

2) At an individual level I don't think we should hold grudge against normal Pakistanis, 99% had nothing to do with the atrocities committed by their army. The same way majority of Bangladeshis have nothing to do with Shiekh Hasian or Khaleda Zia's hartals and violence... There are good and bad people among them just like Bangladeshis, Arabs or Europeans.
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Old December 11, 2008, 02:52 AM
Banglatiger84 Banglatiger84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Puck
like you, i had interacted with many pakistanis outside of pakistan. based on my limited experience, i would estimate the percentage you quote above to be at least 20% higher.

i would be quite interested in reading the full article in which the pakistani mullah mentions the word 'asabiya'. this is a term coined by the muslim historiographer and geographer ibn khaldun in the 14th century, however, the above use of it is certainly a misreading khaldun. this is why i would be interested in reading the entire diatribe!

Its not a Mullah who said it, its a college going Pakistanis living in, surprise, surprise, Canada.......who blames us for Asabia i.e. nationalism, when many Pakistanis justify all sorts of evil deeds due to nationalism.

As for classifying them, it would be something like:

15% : Bangladeshis are Kafirs, and good for nothing

30%: Bangladeshis are not good Muslims, and the crackdown was justified

40 % : Bangladeshis shouldnt have split, Mujib and ZAB were both to blame, but the genocide was wrong as well

15 % : ZAB was the instigator, and the genocide was unjustifiable, lets try to work for a better future with them.
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Old December 11, 2008, 02:55 AM
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About this article : I have seen this article months ago on DP, perhaps at the time of movement in USA, Canada, UK etc., to recognize '71 killings as genocide. Even someone in DP raised question on "why was this report popped up timely from the author"?! Do we see such report from main stream [or not] local media till now or every now and then? Unfortunately NO is the answer I must say, and thats a huge reality reflect I cant just ignore, nor can be put aside saying our local media is biased towards Pakistan people.

Anyway, as many of BC members already said, we are not dumb enough to get carried away just for one 'Fariha' emotion or experience, nor I am saying to hate them in revenge or anything for that matter. But however, it is very important to let them know clearly "how we feel and what we want", no matter how they response till they [Pakistani people] get it right.
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Old December 11, 2008, 02:56 AM
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I like the random percentages everyone is coming up with based on limited personal interaction with few people of a country who are all probably from the same social strata..

I think 95% of Bangladeshis are atleast college graduates who live in Dhaka, since most of the people I know fall into these 2 categories
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Old December 11, 2008, 02:57 AM
Banglatiger84 Banglatiger84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imtiaz82
99% had nothing to do with the atrocities committed by their army. The same way majority of Bangladeshis have nothing to do with Shiekh Hasian or Khaleda Zia's hartals and violence... There are good and bad people among them just like Bangladeshis, Arabs or Europeans.

I dont hold grudges against them, but even though 99% had nothing to do with it,

At least 20% of them justify the genocide and call us traitors, kafirs etc.

Theres nothing we can do in that case....
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Old December 11, 2008, 03:02 AM
Banglatiger84 Banglatiger84 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imtiaz82
I like the random percentages everyone is coming up with based on limited personal interaction with few people of a country who are all probably from the same social strata..

I think 95% of Bangladeshis are atleast college graduates who live in Dhaka, since most of the people I know fall into these 2 categories
Well, I would say based on interacting with 200 + Pakistanis in my life, from a number of ethnicities and social strata (unfortunately no bonded Sindhi laborers though), my estimates are as close as you can get.

One caveat that we can introduce is that my estimates are based on people who are somewhat educated and have some idea of what happened in 1971.

That makes it all the more scary given that in many countries, the uneducated, ill-informed people are the more racist.
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Old December 11, 2008, 03:04 AM
imtiaz82 imtiaz82 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoorFan
About this article : I have seen this article months ago on DP, perhaps at the time of movement in USA, Canada, UK etc., to recognize '71 killings as genocide. Even someone in DP raised question on "why was this report popped up timely from the author"?! Do we see such report from main stream [or not] local media till now or every now and then? Unfortunately NO is the answer I must say, and thats a huge reality reflect I cant just ignore, nor can be put aside saying our local media is biased towards Pakistan people.

Anyway, as many of BC members already said, we are not dumb enough to get carried away just for one 'Fariha' emotion or experience, nor I am saying to hate them in revenge or anything for that matter. But however, it is very important to let them know clearly "how we feel and what we want", no matter how they response till they [Pakistani people] get it right.
Bro, I won't be too surprised on the report though.. my nana was a doctor in the Pakistan army(before 71) and based in Abbotabad near Islamabad. My mum went there for the first time in late 90s after independence... she got the same warmth and closeness from the people as mentioned by the author, even though none of the locals remembered or recogized her. Infact she was shocked herself as she was expecting people to hate Bangladeshis or atleast be indifferent.

I don't think general people from any nation is inherently evil or bad in nature. Infact even Indian general public is very hospitable to Pakistanis and vice versa.. lot of sikhs wrote about their excellent experience in Lahore during India's tour there.

But saying this, our government should still be very strong in it's demand for an offical apology. Korea got that from Japan, the European countries from Germany..

Last edited by imtiaz82; December 11, 2008 at 03:24 AM..
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  #24  
Old December 11, 2008, 03:07 AM
imtiaz82 imtiaz82 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banglatiger84
Well, I would say based on interacting with 200 + .
That makes it all the more scary given that in many countries, the uneducated, ill-informed people are the more racist.
My personal experience says educated mass are the most one sided/aggressive when it comes to issues of politics or religion. Example: if you go ask a rikshawala or a farmer about India or Pakistan, they would not be as anti Pakistan or India, as an educated person from Jamat or Awami League..

Last edited by imtiaz82; December 11, 2008 at 03:14 AM..
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  #25  
Old December 11, 2008, 03:09 AM
PlanetPak PlanetPak is offline
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Excellent read and a big thanks to Fariha for writing this!

The events of 1971 were nothing short of a horrific blunder. The scar is so deep that it will remain on our country's image till as long as possible and the only way we can partially redeem ourselves is by being friendly and caring to people who were once a part of us.
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