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The Dismemberment of Pakistan

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"The Dismemberment of Pakistan"


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For historical reasons related to the geopolitics of the Cold War, the United States has traditionally aligned itself with Pakistan in Pakistan’s conflict with India. Consequently, you often see American pundits gloss the India-Pakistan conflict in terms similar to these used by Doug Bandow:

Gen. Petraeus is obviously right, from America’s standpoint. But try explaining that to Pakistan, which has fought and lost three wars with India. Indeed, Pakistan was dismembered in one of those conflicts, leading to the creation of Bangladesh.

Now none of that is wrong as such. But it leaves out a great deal of context. Pakistan and Bangladesh used to be one country (“West Pakistan” and “East Pakistan”) but with the initial set-up of the government structured so that West Pakistan dominated the institutions of state. Then in 1970, an East Pakistani political leader, Sheikh Mujubur Rahman, won the election. Instead of inviting him to form a new government, however, Pakistan’s president and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had Rahman arrested. This led to rebellion in East Pakistan which led, in turn, to a campaign of massacre that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

India did, indeed, take advantage of the situation by aiding the Bengalis and splitting Pakistan in two. But the image of a happy Pakistan bouncing along until “dismembered” by rapacious India is pretty misleading.

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