Forty-nine years ago the people in this land decided to break free from the subjugation of their unlawful rulers from across 1,200 miles. Conceited beyond all proportions to consider themselves masters of the former, the rulers in West Pakistan of that time invented excuses one after another and resorted to countless intrigues in order to exploit and deprive the people in the eastern wing of their rightful share in material resources and political power. In essence it was a total denial and flagrant violation of human rights and dignity of the Bangalee people. Even the power-hungry military rulers in Rawalpindi and their civilian cohorts refused to recognise the popular mandate the Awami League received under the ablest leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. There was no option but to fight back the brutal Pakistani army let loose to commit one of the human history's worst genocides.
On the decisive day of March 7, 1971, the option had to be made and the supreme leader of the Bangalees made the choice clear against overwhelming odds. Unarmed, the nation had hardly any time for preparation before the Pakistani army was ordered to unleash its genocidal mission. But the choice was made ---either live as a free people with the heads held high and without fear or perish as a people or be condemned to history's dungeon. The stake could not be higher and the people responded admirably. They knew that people from all strata would be required to make enormous sacrifices. So dedicated to the proposition that the making of a new nation conceived in liberty and equality demands high price, its valiant sons and daughters prepared for the ultimate sacrifice. They were defending their motherland, their existence, language, culture, human rights and dignity ---all that are a hallmark of a 1,000-year-old civilised population.
The barbarous marauding Pakistani army might have been far better equipped with the latest lethal weapons but they were morally degraded as against a people imbued with the spirit of patriotism at its best and finest. That finally decided the result of the nine-month long war. Today the victory won in the war against Pakistan has amply been vindicated. In all human development indices (HDI), Bangladesh records better scores than Pakistan. It is not just on the war front that the country has triumphed, its economic gains make countries like Pakistan envious. As a nation the Bangalees have proved their worth much better than the Pakistanis.
However, the victory won against a formidable foe cannot be the only goal nor will such a triumph be meaningful if the nation cannot become one in its war against poverty, inequality, social backwardness and the myriad disturbing symptoms and ills such as physical and sexual violence against women and the obsession to make money, means notwithstanding. Scientific and liberal outlook as against obscurantism and religious dogma, rational distribution of wealth as against accumulation by a few, opportunities and provisions open to all as against to privileged coteries alone can bring the final victory for the nation. The fight now is within to liberate the nation's soul from avarice and selfishness. A new socio-economic order beckons the country and it must respond to it for consolidation of its victory and liberty.