Photo Courtesy Scroll.in
If Bangladeshi ultranationalists think they can bring me on my knees by mass reporting my Facebook post against ultranationalism and sending me to a virtual detention for 72 hours on the false charge of spreading hate speech, they’re wrong. I am NOT going to say sorry. I will just explain a few things, not to them, but to considerate people who got puzzled.
Let me clarify my position by unhesitatingly saying that I am against ALL ultranationalisms, yes, INCLUDING the Indian and Pakistani ones.
But as a citizen of Bangladesh, my primary concern is with my country people; let my Indian and Pakistani friends deal with their ultra-nationalist bigots’ vitriolic hatred.
There is nothing wrong with patriotic nationalism. As a Bangalee, I love my country, my people, my language, my culture, and that is okay. Indians and Pakistanis can do the same with their respective countries, just like other nations, everyone else.
But when you start expressing collectivist hatred against any nation; be it Bangladeshis, Indians, or Pakistanis; you turn yourself into a racism brute. Yes, ultranationalism is a form of racism. It does not judge an individual by her actions; it judges an individual by her group identity.
Pakistanis who massacred Bangalee people and raped Bangalee women in 1971 were war criminals who deserve hatred. Not because they were Pakistanis, but because they were criminals; in fact, they were themselves ultranationalists. In their Pakistani ultranationalism, there was no place for us Bangalees, in their eyes we were animals.
We can criticize the State of Pakistan. Actually, we should, because she deserves it. But we cannot hate Pakistanis in general.
Now read this:
“Ahmad Salim, who was associated with Punjab Students Union and National Awami Party, had to suffer in jail for writing poems protesting genocide in Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971. In March 2012, the Bangladesh government gave him the “Friends of Liberation War Honour” for his contribution. […] This year, Jahanara Imam Memorial Award was given to Ahmad Salim and Dhaka-based Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies.”
Full news: Pakistani poet for 1971 genocide trial
Should I hate this old Pakistani poet? Should I see a monster in him, or be skeptic about his intentions, even if he comes with a rose in his hand? Should I distrust the apology he made at Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee’s programme on the occasion of Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam’s 23rd death anniversary in 2017?
Some of my friends claim that; they hate Pakistan for their humanitarian concerns, not for any ultranationalist belief. Understandable enough, given the human rights record of Pakistan that is anything but satisfactory. But Pakistanis can say the same thing about Bangladesh; after all, it is a matter of fact that Pakistan treats her ethno-linguistic minorities (Baloch, Pakhtuns, Muhajirs etc.) just like Bangladesh treats her ethno-linguistic minorities (Santals, Garos, Paharis, Urdu-speakers etc.).
India is no different, as the People of Kashmir and Seven Sisters know from their daily experience. But we should be able to differentiate between the State of India and the People of India. We cannot hate Indians in general for crimes like border killings or diverting the natural flow of our common rivers by building dams, we can only criticize the State of India for that.
Pakistanis, just like Indians or Bangladeshis (and others), are neither angels nor demons. They are human beings just like us. There is absolutely no need to collectively love them or collectively hate them, every Pakistani should be judged individually for his actions and loved or hated accordingly.
The same goes for Indians and Bangladeshis (and everyone else on this earth).
Thank you for reading this long post, sane criticism of my perspective is welcome, derogatory remarks like ‘Pakistani bastard‘ is not.
P.S.: Mr. Ahmad Salim is not alone in his splendid defiance against Pakistani ultranationalism. There are other Pakistanis: human rights activists, journalists, poets, academics and others; who are deeply ashamed of what the State of Pakistan did to us in 1971. Salim edited a book titled ‘We Owe an Apology to Bangladesh’ containing the articles of such beautiful minded people, which was published by Mofidul Haque of Dhaka’s Shahitya Prakash in February 2012.