Separation of East Pakistan – The Untold Story
Erum Binte Shahid
As Bangladesh observed its 50 years of independence on the 16th December, 2021, a new documentary was released on the same day looking to refute some widely held narratives around the war of 1971. The documentary “Separation of East Pakistan – The untold Story” is produced by Erum Binte Shahid in collaboration with Javed Jabbar, who was the former information minister of Pakistan.
The documentary explores the role of four main protagonists that led to the break-up of Pakistan in 1971. Gen Yahya Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indira Gandhi – each of them played a crucial role in shaping the event which ultimately led to the separation of East Pakistan.
The most interesting part of the documentary is the sequential and chronological presentation of the history from British colonial rule to the treatment of Bengali people to the surrender of Pakistan on the 16th December, 1971. The use of original video footage and statements of protagonists indeed adds much flavour for the viewers. The Docu-presentation style and sounds are great and keep the viewer attached to the screen.
The documentary comprises informative but candid observations regarding widely circulated narratives which vary in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. The documentary interviewed a number of scholars and researchers, former ministers, ambassadors, policymakers, journalists and eye-witnesses (including Bengali freedom fighters and former military officers) from the US, UK, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
The 1971 war is perhaps one of the most debated and misinterpreted events in the subcontinent, where nations like Bangladesh, Pakistan and India still debate the subject from their own perspectives. This documentary tries to balance the truth with facts but still lacks the broader international situation of the period and the role it played in shaping events. The documentary failed to present the role of the USA, UK and USSR who played key roles in the region and were involved in the 1971 war. The documentary also does not explore the killing of Bengali intellectuals as well as the quick surrender of West Pakistani forces.
Despite this, the documentary can be a source of information for those looking to understand Bangladesh’s 1971 war of liberation.
The full documentary can be accessed below