Arts Council Karachi hosts launch of Junaid Ahmad’s book on 1971 ethnic cleansing

The Arts Council Karachi organized the launch of Junaid Ahmad’s book, “1971 Ethnic Cleansing of Biharis in East Pakistan,” in Auditorium 1. The event was presided over by Mahmood Shaam, with Secretary of the Arts Council Professor Ejaz Farooqui, Ibn-ul-Hasan Rizvi, Professor Birjees Haroon, Hasan Imam Siddiqui, and Junaid Ahmad sharing their thoughts.

In his presidential address, Mahmood Shaam lauded Dr. Junaid Ahmad’s research prowess, highlighting his ability to overturn established narratives. He emphasized that Ahmad is relentless in bringing truths to light. Shaam remarked that while many books are published, few possess the significance of works like Ahmad’s, which are valuable assets for a new generation.

He reflected on the history of migration during the partition of India, contrasting the experiences of wealthy landowners who migrated by plane with the poor who endured bloodshed on buses and trains. He argued that Biharis, as subcontinental Muslims, should not have been prevented from coming to Pakistan. Shaam criticized the inconsistency in Pakistan’s immigration policies, pointing out that millions of Afghan refugees are welcomed while some Pakistanis face legal challenges upon their arrival.

He expressed that he had read the entire 460-page book and found its detailed account of India’s role in the 1971 conflict acknowledged by many Indian leaders and Bangladeshi authorities.

Professor Ejaz Farooqui expressed his pleasure that the book commemorates individuals whose history is largely unknown to current students. He stressed the importance of transmitting this historical knowledge to the younger generation, noting that the story of Biharis is an integral part of Pakistan’s history that should not be hidden.

Farooqui argued that Biharis have a rightful place in Pakistan, a country for all, and praised their hard work and resilience, noting that he has never seen a Bihari begging, as they have earned their place through diligence.

Hasan Imam Siddiqui described Junaid Ahmad’s book as a significant research work that examines both Bihari languages and literature. He noted the limited space allocated to Biharis in Bangladesh and the detrimental impact on their language and culture. Siddiqui highlighted the inclusion of census data in Ahmad’s book and commended his portrayal of Biharis as hardworking, kind-hearted, and loving people.

Ibn-ul-Hasan Rizvi discussed the book’s structure, noting its seven chapters. He revealed the book’s unprecedented disclosure of the ethnic cleansing of Biharis and non-Bengalis by Mukti Bahini terrorists and Indian soldiers from March 1971 to February 1972. Rizvi emphasized that the book exposes atrocities committed by Indian-trained and funded militants and later by occupying Indian forces.

Professor Birjees Haroon praised Junaid Ahmad for his courage in addressing a sensitive topic that many historians avoid. Haroon noted that the book sheds light on Bihari education and literature, presenting not just a book but a comprehensive history of the Biharis.

In his remarks, Junaid Ahmad explained that his motivation for writing the book was an upcoming seminar between India and Bangladesh, which he feared would present a one-sided narrative against Pakistan. He felt it necessary to provide a counter-narrative and intended to prepare a substantial response.

Ahmad expressed his hope that the book would reach Pakistan’s Supreme Court and prompt the government to repatriate Pakistanis still in Bangladesh. The event was moderated by Tahir Ahmed.

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