Let Them Die of Starvation
Discussing the problem in his plush air-conditioned office in Karachi recently the chairman of the Agricultural Development Bank, Mr. Qarni, said bluntly: “The famine is the result of their acts of sabotage. So let them die. Perhaps then the Bengalis will come to their senses.”
THE MILITARY Government’s East Bengal policy is so apparently contradictory and self-defeating that it would seem to justify the assumption that the » who rule Pakistan cannot make up their minds. Having committed the initial error of resorting to force, the Government, on this view, is stubbornly and stupidly muddling through.
There is, superficially, logic in this reasoning.
On the one hand, it is true that there is no let up in the reign of terror. The policy of subjugation is certainly being pursued with vigour in East Bengal. This is making thousands of new enemies for the Government every day and making only more definitive the separation of the two wings of Pakistan.
On the other hand, no government could be unaware that this policy must fail (There are just not enough West Pakistanis to hold down the much greater numbers in East Bengal indefinitely.)
For hard administrative and economic reasons, and because of the crucial consideration of external development assistance, especially from America, it will be necessary to achieve a political settlement as quickly as possible. President Yahya Khan’s Press conference on May 25 suggests that he acknowledges the force of these factors: And he said he would announce his plan for representative government in the middle of June.
All this would seem to indicate that Pakistan’s military Government is moving paradoxically, in opposite directions, to compound the gravest crisis in the country’s 24-years history.
This is widely held view. It sounds logical, But is it true?
My own view is that it is not. It has been my unhappy privilege to have had the opportunity to observe at first hand both what Pakistan’s leaders say in the West, and what they are doing in the East.
I think that in reality there is no contradiction in the Government’s East Bengal policy. East Bengal is being colonised. This is not an arbitrary opinion of mine. The facts speak for themselves.
The first consideration of the army has been and still is the obliteration of every trace of separatism in East Bengal. This proposition is upheld by the continuing slaughter and by everything else that the Government has done in both East and West Pakistan since March 25. The decision was coldly taken by the military leaders, and they are going through with it-all too coldly.