The formation of Bangladesh in 1971 coincided with the death of three million people and rape of two hundred thousand women (according to official and contested figures) by the West Pakistani army and local East Pakistani collaborators. Yet 1971 rarely exists in any public form in Pakistan and there is no “will to architecture” in relation to it. This essay explores the phenomenon of “apparent amnesia” of the past that is 1971 in Pakistan. What implications does consigning 1971 to oblivion have for Pakistan's history? This essay seeks to examine the politics of knowing what not to narrate in relation to the disavowed pasts of 1971 in Pakistan. It draws on long-term ethnographic research on the public memories and nationalist narratives of sexual violence during the Bangladesh war of 1971, along with discussions with various Pakistani scholars and students and engagement with historical sources, government documents, textbooks, blog posts, press articles, and other secondary materials. This gives us an insight into what implications 1971 has for the understandings of apology and forgiveness in relation to the shadowy pasts of Pakistan.
Mookherjee, N. (2019). 1971: Pakistan's Past and Knowing What Not to Narrate. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 39(1), 212-222. https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-7493909