University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
The War of Liberation in Bangladesh
The war of liberation is in the heart of every Bangladeshi citizens; it is also the greatest contributor to the patriotism for the country. While pride and glorious feelings are associated with the war for Bangladeshi people, the war itself was far from glorious, and only those who lived through it can truly understand how horrifying the war was. Before the revolutionary war, Pakistan was separated into East and West Pakistan. (Former West Pakistan is known today as Pakistan and former East Pakistan is today known as Bangladesh. They may be used interchangeably in the following paragraphs.) From the beginning of Pakistan, there was tension between the east and the west, and over the years, political discrimination, oppression, and unfair trade got much worse. These tensions eventually lead to East Pakistan to declare independence, leading to the revolutionary war. During the revolutionary war, India pitches in to help Bangladesh. Events leading up to and during the war are very complex, and this leads to documents that emphasize only some of these events and depending on how the piece of work describes the war, it drastically affects how the readers see the war.
Right after Bangladesh became independent US TIME magazine released an article talking about the revolutionary war. The article plays an omniscient role, looking at the war neutrally. The article is geared towards a “foreigner”, someone who is not necessarily associated directly with the war. It details the larger battles, gives statistics, and it gives a prospective look on the new born country, Bangladesh. People who merely want to learn about a certain war generally want to know about the major battles or events some interesting statics, some backgrounds, and perhaps some prospective, and that is exactly what this TIME article provides. For example, the article speaks of an event that plays an important factor in Pakistan losing the war and the independence of the east (Bangladesh). “The breakaway of Pakistan’s eastern wing became a virtual certainty when the Islamabad government launched air strikes against at least eight Indian airfields two weeks ago. Responding in force, the Indian air force managed to wipe out the Pakistani air force in the East within two days, giving India control of the skies.” The article talks about statistics, including the death of 300 children from an orphanage due to bombing, and it predicts the future relation of Bangladesh with its neighbors and the economy of the new country.
The TIME article is talking about a foreign war and is targeted to people foreign to the war. The war was mainly between Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, and the readers of the TIME magazine were people from the western civilization. Unlike WWII, people living in the western countries did not have much, if any, association with the war. Naturally, the article will talk about the aspects of the war that will keep the article interesting for the readers. This makes sense that the article highlights only the major battles and events of the War. Statistics play a significant role in keeping the article interesting for the readers. Furthermore, because the readers do not have much emotional connection to the war, the article takes a reasonably neutral position when describing the war. However, when there is an emotional connection to the war, the war is viewed in a completely different prospective.
Looking at any Bangladeshi account of the revolutionary war, the prospective of the war is so drastically different than that of the TIME magazine’s article, one might feel that they are two separate wars. Historical accounts from Bangladesh of the revolutionary war are all very similar. One such account is an article found in independent-bangladesh.com. This article ignores the major battles between India and Pakistan and the numerous statistics found in the TIME articles. Instead, it explores the details on how the leading causes that lead to the revolutionary war, what actually happened in Bangladesh during the war and how the Bangladeshi soldiers, also referred to as the freedom fighters, fought in the war. The article goes to great lengths in describing the oppressions that the East Pakistan had to face from the West Pakistan, which becomes one of the most significant causes for the revolutionary war. For example, the article mentions how the states of the Wes Pakistan took advantage of the natural resources of the East Pakistan without proper payment to the eastern states. It goes on further by talking about how the West Pakistan worked to prevent eastern states to have much political power in the federal government. The article finally discusses the gruesome massacre of hundreds of college students who stood up for their rights to speak their mother tongue, Bangla. The article continues on to describe the unpleasant events of the war, including the killing of innocent children and raping of women by the West Pakistani troops. It talks about the freedom fighters themselves, their strategy and how the Bangladeshi civilians helped contributed to the war. The article also goes in great length to describe the heroic moves of the Bangladesh’s president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who stood, until the end, for Justice in the country. Clearly, the article is not neutral, and it has a clear objective to let the reader to emotionally connect with Bangladesh and its struggle in the war.
The Bangladeshi account of the revolutionary war is written in a way that aims to create, in the reader, sympathy for Bangladesh and the freedom fighters. While the article in TIME magazine was relatively neutral, this article has near full focus on Bangladesh. The article is ultimately trying to provide a number of strong reasoning to show that Bangladesh’s decision to declare independence is the right decision and the to illustrate Pakistani troop as “the bad guy”, the oppressor. A significant portion of any country’s pride comes from its origins, and Bangladesh is no different. The struggle to win the war to bring freedom in Bangladesh is a memorable aspect of the country’s history. Therefore, the article tries to express this pride by showing exactly what kind of oppression from which the Bangladeshi people fought to be free.
Emotional connection to the country and the war plays a significant role in the difference in the two articles discussed here. As a result, while both are about the same revolutionary war, they each tell a different story, none of which contradicts each other. One of these article’s author has no connection to the war, and its readers are merely those who would like to be informed about the current events. Therefore, the article does just that: it informs the reader of the main occurrences, taking a relative neutral position, focusing lightly on Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. The other article, however, comes from the country that fought for freedom in the revolutionary war, and therefore, the author of the article most likely has great emotional ties to the country and the war. The article, focusing heavily on Bangladesh, intends to create a similar connection between the reader and the country that the author himself has. No one of these articles is superior to the other. They both give different prospective and go in varying depth of the events in the revolutionary war. Together, they provide a bigger picture of the war, however. In fact, Articles, films, narratives exists for virtually any historical event, each give its own prospective, depending on their connection to the event, they place in the world, their targeted reader, etc. But taken together, they are able to depict the event much more accurately.