Bangladesh’s charismatic women leader Tarana Halim has urged the UN to recognise the 1971 genocide in then Pakistan ‘without any further delay.’
Halim, once the country’s top film-theatre actress and also a leading corporate lawyer, has served as PM Sheikh Hasina’s telecom and information minister.
As the lead speaker on the Tangail liberation day, Halim said the UN should not delay recognition of the 1971 East Pakistan genocide because “there is now a huge body of detailed research and credible data” on the mass massacres and rapes.
On Dec 14, 1971 Indian paratroopers teamed up with Bengali freedom fighters to liberate Tangail in Northeast Bangladesh that opened the road to Dhaka and forced the Pakistan army to surrender. Halim hails from Tangail. They were followed by regular Indian military thrust from the northeast.
“The liberation of Tangail brought about the end of the harrowing genocide which is perhaps the worst in the post-colonial world. Three million Bengalis perished in the genocide,” Halim told the Tangail rally attended by thousands including of old aging freedom fighters.
Later speaking to this writer, Tarana Halim said if genocides in Rwanda and Balkans have been recognised, there was no reason why the 1971 East Pakistan cannot be.
“Both in numbers killed and the sheer brutalities, the East Pakistan genocide is second to none and clearly the worst since Hitler’s mass murders,” Tarana said, thanking the Indian army for bringing a quick end to the war and the sufferings of millions.
“We will be ever grateful to India, its government and its army, its administration and its people for what they did for us in 1971,” Halim told the Tangail liberation day program this week.
“Even when the war was lost for them, the Pakistanis selectively picked up our brightest intellectuals and killed them in the last two-three days of the war. They wanted to denude us of our brightest talents. What could be more heinous than this,” Halim told the Tangail rally.
Later, she told this writer she fails to understand why the Western countries which are so chest-thumping about human rights don’t push the case of UN recognition of 1971 genocide.
“Is it because they still see Pakistan army as an ally in war against terror,” she asked, adding, “Pakistan army and ISI have played both sides in Afghanistan.”