(Re)Constructing the Bengali: Propaganda and Resistance in Immediate Post-1971 Pakistani Fiction

Main Article Content

Madhurima Sen


During the war of 1971 and for a considerable amount of time afterward, manipulation of media reports and military propaganda in Pakistan contributed to cultural stereotypes of Bengalis as ‘others’. This paper analyses two immediate Pakistani fictional responses to the war published in 1973: “Bingo” by Tariq Rahman and “Hearth and Home” by Parveen Sarwar. It considers the relationship between literature as a medium and the rigid structure of religious nationalist loyalties and state propaganda, probing the dynamics between imaginative fiction and the top-down approach of statist historiography. It draws attention to the heterogeneity of literary strategies employed by authors and their divergent engagements with formulaic images of the Bengali ‘other’, which in turn shape the construction of national identity in the narratives. Along with focusing on the role of literature in ‘shattering the silence’, it aims to foreground the role played by fiction in maintaining stereotypical, archetypal, and antagonistic inter-ethnic relations.

Keywords: War, Othering, Religion, Nationalism, Propaganda, Resistance


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Special Issue on Religion, Secularism and Nationalism: Literature of South Asia


“60 foreign friends honoured”. The Daily Star, 2 Oct 2013, https://www.thedailystar.net/news/60-foreign-friends-honoured

Abbas, Zaffar. “The missing pages of history: 70 years of Pakistan and Dawn”, Dawn, 19 August 2017, https://www.dawn.com/news/1352579/the-missing-pages-of-history-70-years-of-pakistan-and-dawn.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Javed, Younus. Kaanch Ka Pul, Universal Books, 1987.

Khan, Sorayya. Noor. Penguin, 2003.

Memon, Mohammad Umar. “Pakistani Urdu Creative Writing on National Disintegration: The Case of Bangladesh”. The Journal of Asian Studies 43 (1), 1983: 105-127. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2054619.

Mookherjee, Nayanika. Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971. Duke University Press, 2015.

Osman, Shaukat. Blue Venom and Forbidden Incense: Two Novellas, translated by Arunava Sinha and Saugata Ghosh. Seagull Books: 2017.

Rahman, Tariq. “Bingo”. Sangat Review, https://www.sangatreview.org/blog/2015/11/29/bingo-a-short-story-by-tariq-rahman-about-pakistani-military-in-1971/

Sarwar, Parveen. “Hearth and Home”. Fear and Desire: An Anthology of Urdu Stories, edited by Muhammad Umar Memon, Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 165-191.

Shamsie, Kamila. Kartography. Bloomsbury, 2003.

“Text of Yahya’s Address to the Nation”. New York Times, December 17, 1971, p. 17. nytimes.com/1971/12/17/archives/text-of-yahyas-address-to-the-nation.html