Putting record straight

This refers to the letter ‘1971 in perspective’, which, among other things, said 70 per cent of Pakistan’s revenue was generated from jute, “but the share of East Pakistan was reduced to less than 30pc by the military rulers”.

The fact is that the jute cultivators were saved from the colonial era exploitation by Calcutta (now Kolkata). Besides, as academic Anwar H. Syed showed: “American advisers guided the ordering of priorities in Pakistan’s development plans (which some of these advisers later chose to condemn as having been exploitative of East Pakistan)” (China and Pakistan: Diplomacy of an Entente Cordiale, OUP, 1974, p.35). By 1968, cotton had overtaken jute as the largest foreign exchange earner. Why did the year 1971 spell the end of the jute industry in Bangladesh? It is a relevant question on all counts.

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As regards the contention that Yahya Khan had refused to hand over power to the majority party of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; here is what Yahya said in his deposition before the Hamoodur Rahman Commission: “I offered to appoint him the deputy chief martial law adminis- trator there and then. He laughed and rejected the idea as too ridiculous” (A. Basit, The Breaking of Pakistan, Liberty, 1997, p.32].

As for Operation Searchlight, there is overwhelming evidence that it was preceded by 25 days of atrocities against the non-Bengali population.

Above all, the Six-Point agenda of Mujibur Rahman, as per the Awami League manifesto, was not a recipe for the separation of the eastern wing, but of the disintegration of West Pakistan.



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