Wednesday, February 21

’71 campaign that never really worked

Shamim Ashraf: With the Pakistan army facing defeats at East Pakistan war fronts one after another in December 1971, there were attempts to use religion to cover up the mindless genocide, boost their morale and raise funds for them.

Terming the Pakistan troops mujahid or those who struggle for the sake of Islam, people were asked through newspaper adverts to stand by them and donate for the military occupation.

Different banks and some businesses were at the forefront of the campaign and its main aim was to exploit the religious sentiments of Muslims and encourage the Pakistan military to “exterminate the enemy” — those fighting the occupation forces for the independence of Bangladesh.

The Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest English daily, has reproduced 11 such advertisements that it ran on December 14-18, 1971.

 “JEHAD MEANS TOTAL COMMITMENT,” an advert of Habib Bank Limited reads, asking people to “donate generously” to National Defence Fund.

“When Muslims are in a state of Jehad, total mobilsation becomes the need of the hour,” it added.

To increase Pakistan troops’ confidence, United Bank Limited (UBL), another top bank, published a quote of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah: “Muslims can never be crushed during the last 1,000 years by any power. This is a dream and a hallucination. Shed them…Our religion, our culture and our Islamic ideals are our driving force…”


In another advert calling for donation to the defence fund, UBL said its entire network had been “mobilised to go out with earnest zeal” to collect contributions.

“This is a war in which all of us have a duty to perform. While our Ghazis defend the motherland, we have to contribute to their success.”


Seeking contribution for the war effort, Muslim Commercial Bank appealed to Pakistanis: “In the times of our Holy Prophet (peace be on him) when Jehad Fund had to be raised, Hazrat Abu Bakr offered whatever he owned and Hazrat Omar gave away half of his wealth.”

Standard Bank Limited published an ad using Jinnah’s famous quote on the eve of 1946 elections, “Give me silver bullets and I will give you Pakistan”.

“Silver bullets are again needed today to save the integrity & honour of our sacred homeland,” it read.

Darbar Soap Works quoted president Yahya as saying: “Advance and strike at the enemy with the rallying call of Allah-o-Akbar.”

Top rice exporter Rizvi Brothers published several adverts seeking donation. One reads: “Our valiant armed forces are defending the sacred soil of Pakistan in true tradition of the warriors of Islam”.

“LADIES! RUSH TO JOIN JEHAD,” read another advert asking people to donate woollen jerseys of 40” chest size to the so-called mujahids. The advertiser, Aftab Shafiq Qamar Shafiq & Brothers, offered a discounted price of Rs 4, 5, and 6 per lb of “Pure Mountainous Jersey Wool”.