They are not finished with you yet, Bengal

by Enayetullah Khan

Anticipations of a settlement notwithstanding, the uneasy truce between Bengal and the military establishment of General Yahya Khan may finally turn out to be a deceptive stratagem of repressive violence. Faced as they are with a people’s war, or at least the beginning of one, when they cannot isolate the fish from the sea, and when counter-insurgency techniques have failed to work, they might as well go for indiscriminate violence or genocide which literally means the total extermination of an intransigent people.
Their options are very limited. Either they withdraw completely from the soil of Bengal leaving the Bengalees to shape their own destiny, work out a solution which will not imperil the status quo as they view it or resort to the third course of brutal assault with their superior fire-power and organisation on an unarmed mass of rebellious populace.
The logistics of the Pakistan army point unmistakably to the third course unless, of course, they are compelled to withdraw from Bengal owing to the mounting pressures in their home ground, that is, West Pakistan.
The possibility of a settlement seems remote because even the acceptance of Sheikh Mujib’s demands does not break the impasse. The fulfilment of the conditions does not yet ensure the participation of the majority party in the national Assembly. Any other formula designed to resolve the crisis may not be entertained at all by the constitutional leadership and the not-so-constitutional people of Bengal.
In fact, the alternative to a political settlement on Mujib’s terms does not fit into the behavioural pattern of the present establishment. When they could have accepted the same prior to this crisis (that is, withdrawal of the martial law and transfer of power to the people’s representatives), why should they create conditions wherein they would be paying a higher price than their bidding?
The only logical explanation is that they are taking a long breath before plunging into an orgy of mass killing by trying to instil a false sense of security and achievement among the fighting populace now being led into the unknown by an inadequate and vacillating leadership.
History bears testimony to the fact that the warlords, as colonialists, as feudal landlords, as big bourgeoisie, are either part of the ruling class or the servants of rulers, who just do not give up economic and political power out of benevolent feelings for humanity. To expect that the same kind of establishment which could not even afford to wait for the 120th day of the NA (National Assembly) deliberations will now give Bengal everything on a platter in the face of universal hostility on this soil, is as illusory as the faith in electoral socialism.
Thus, the current euphoria over the stunning success of a non-violent civil disobedience movement in the absence of even the minimum of predicable governmental reaction may ultimately become counter-productive in the struggle for total emancipation.
After all, it is not hurting the army excepting that it may hurt its pride. But pride is only a dispensable sentiment to an army which does not even hesitate to shoot unarmed people from the rear.
It is now obvious that the struggle against repressive violence of an organised and determined army has got to be met by insurgent violence. As of today, it may not have the revolutionary leadership required to carry it to its logical goal. But then it is a patient and protracted struggle. And since the victory of the alien colonisers cannot be assured short of extermination of their enemies, that is, the united masses of Bengal, it is time to brace ourselves against such a danger which may be coming any day.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who has displayed an acute sense of history, must realise this danger and come out of the insidious trap laid by some of his educated (?) advisers whose bona fides are yet to be proved. He must choose between glory and power, and it is now or never.
March 14, 1971, reprinted from A Testament of Time by Enayetullah Khan

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