Opinion Column on 1971 War Ignores Historical Facts

Dec 16th, 2009 | By | Category: The Nation

The opinion page of The Nation today is a perfect demonstration of the poisoned and fact-averse environment created by conspiracy theorists. In writing about the 1971 war, Tariq Majeed makes the most incredible claim that the entire affair was part of a secret Jewish conspiracy.

Much has been written about the history of the 1971 war and its aftermath. Sober assessments of this tragedy have been made by military and political historians who can find very credible and reasonable actions that ultimately led to the regrettable separation of East Pakistan. In none of these chronicles and academic studies does there exist some claim that the 1971 war was a project of some international Jewish conspiracy.

But the fact that this idea has come from thin air is not the only problem with this conspiracy theory. Majeed writes that the conspiracy was “executed jointly by USA, Israel, Britain, India and former Soviet Union.” According to Majeed, USA and Soviet Union – in the middle of the Cold War when both nations had nuclear ICBMs pointed at each other – these two arch enemies were actually working together to break up Pakistan?

Majeed’s conspiracy theory also fails to take account of the fact that the US mostly ignored the crisis, though it did lend some minor support to Pakistan when US President Richard Nixon sent the American Navy to the Bay of Bengal to oppose Indian support of Mujib’s separatists. Nixon even called India a “Soviet stooge, supported by Soviet arms.” How could US and Soviet Union be working together if they were working against each other? Majeed’s theory makes no sense.

This theory also ignores the fact that the American diplomat in Dhaka, Archer Blood, who supported Mujib’s efforts to break from Pakistan, was rebuffed by Washington for his support of the separatists. The “Blood Telegram” proves that there was no American support for Mujib or the breakup of Pakistan. Has Majeed never studied the history of the 1971 war? How could he get so many of the facts wrong?

Tariq Majeed’s column in today’s The Nation is a prime example of what is wrong with conspiracy theory journalism. Once you start down a road of conjecture based on pure fantasy, all facts must be thrown away and forgotten. Only then can the conspiracy theorist weave together the most ridiculous contradictions to fit his fantasy. In the end, you must accept the most outrageous things, even when all the facts point elsewhere.

The 1971 war is a somber moment in Pakistan’s history, and the men who fought and died in that war deserve more respect than to be simply the pawns in a conspiracy theory. We owe them better.

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