Contrasting Bangladeshi liberals with Pakistani “liberals” – by Sidq Maqaal


Hundreds of thousands of young protestors are occupying Shahbag junction in Dhaka. They are protesting against radical Islamists. It is indeed very heartening to see masses in a Muslim majority country rallying to the call of secularism, which means protection of religious and ethnic minorities from persecution and divests the society of control of theocratic brutes. This marks the advent of 21st century in Bangladesh.

These young people have revolted over the war crimes trials of members of Jamaat-e-Islami and the State of Pakistan which responded with a campaign of mass murder and mass rape in subjugating their own people. Through the insidiously named Operation Searchlight, Pakistani State (Pakistan army and its Islamofascist proxies in particular) perpetrated genocide against the Bengali population on a massive scale, deliberately massacring academics and students who were at the forefront of the uprising, and raping around 200,000 women, and displacing millions of others, with the aim of eradicating all opposition to Pakistani dictatorship.

The principal causes of the war were ethnicity, language and a refusal to honour the outcome of democratic elections. Since the creation of Pakistan, many in West Pakistan sought to eliminate the Bengali language and replace it with Urdu in an attempt to homogenize the populations and eradicate indigenous Bengali culture. In 1970, when a Bengali, Mujibur Rahman, won the very first democratic elections in Pakistan’s history, the army refused to hand over the reins of power. This resulted in mass uprisings in Bangladesh which demanded either an honouring of the election or independence from Pakistan. The Pakistani occupiers were helped at every stage by Islamist activists. Jamaat took its inspiration from Abul Ala Maududi who has as good a claim as anyone to be the founder of Political Islam. His followers formed death squads to slaughter the intellectuals, engineers, administrators and teacher.

Recently, the outcome of a belated trial of handful of Jamaat war criminals has set Bangladesh on fire. It is difficult to not to take notice and admire these young people for stating loudly and emphatically in a large Muslim country that religion-based politics poisons the society and must be shunned. The liberals of Bangladesh are unequivocally behind the protestors of Shahbag.

Now contrast this with Pakistan, where the “liberals” (critically known as pro-establishment fake liberals) prefer to sit on the fence without having to pick sides. I have since long stopped considering Pakistani so-called liberals (or fake liberals dominant in English press and profitable NGOs) as representing the values of left wing, liberalism or secularism. These fake liberals in Pakistan have largely morphed into neoliberals i.e. right wing ideologists and apologists for specific religious extremists. A good example of their hypocrisy is the repeated failure to acknowledge Shia genocide in Pakistan and instead falsely obfuscating it as Sunni vs Shia sectarian violence or Hazara specific ethnic violence. Why?

I have often asked why certain (fake) liberals defend people (e.g., Ludhianvi, Ashrafi etc) with apostatizing, marginalizing, and victimizing viewpoints. I think it is because these fake liberals are mere appeasers, who have compromised with unconscionable men. Birds of a feather flock together.



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  1. Asma bint Marwan