‘It was devastated by Pakistan military but emerged as a model of socio economic development’
Bangladesh is ahead of Pakistan in development index, said the Minister of Information and Broadcasting of Bangladesh Hasan Mahmud. Speaking at the launch of a book titled, A Bangladesh War Commentary, by the late U.L. Baruah, Mr. Mahmud said his country was devastated by the Pakistan military but after liberation in 1971, it has emerged as a model of socio economic development for countries in Asia and Africa.
“Today where Bangladesh stands and where Pakistan stands. In economic index, in social index and in human index — in all index – we have crossed Pakistan. Our foreign currency reserve is more than double of Pakistan. Our life expectancy is 73 years and in Pakistan it is 67 years,” said Mr. Mahmud at the Indian Council of World Affairs, comparing the developmental gains that Bangladesh has achieved in the last five decades.
Personal experience of raids
Mr. Mahmud is visiting India as part of the bilateral celebration to mark the centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founder of Bangladesh who led the struggle for independence from Pakistan. The Minister recollected his personal experience of surviving the raids by the Pakistan military against the Mukti Joddhas or the guerilla fighters in Chittagong.
“The memories of 1971 are the most vibrant memories of my life that can never be shadowed,” said Mr. Mahmud recollecting the months of the war that were chronicled by U. L. Baruah, who served at that time as the Director, External Services of All India Radio.
Baruah chronicled with examples and arguments the falling apart of the two-nation theory of Jinnah and recorded the atrocities inflicted by the Pakistan military’s personnel against the men, women and children of East Pakistan that after December 16, 1971, became Bangladesh. His reports countered Pakistan’s narrative as being the guardian of Islam in the subcontinent and showed that behind that argument West Pakistan had in fact established an exploitative relationship with East Pakistan which reflected colonial engagement.
Expression of gratitude
The crisply written dispatches by the author proved the power of radio in a warlike situation in which India had to win the battle of minds as Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had to convince several world leaders of the need for stopping Pakistan military campaign against civilians in East Pakistan. Baruah’s comments on All India Radio helped in generating greater awareness of the situation in Dhaka. The dispatches were translated into multiple languages and aired by AIR that served a strategic purpose.
Mr. Mahmud chose the occasion to express gratitude of the government of Bangladesh for the role played by Indira Gandhi in liberating Bangladesh. “I want to register, at this occasion, at this place — Indian Council of World Affairs — my thanks and gratitude to those who fought for Bangladesh and its liberation. The people of India gave refuge to ten million people from Bangladesh. We shall remain grateful as long as Bangladesh remains,” said Mr. Mahmud.
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