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World

In 1971, Pakistan suffered its worst military defeat to India. The war led to the creation of an independent Bangladesh — what had been East Pakistan, separated from the western wing by a thousand miles of Indian territory, and home to half the country’s population. In what remained of Pakistan, the humiliation prompted furious questions about the cruelties inflicted on the local Bengali-speaking population, the intelligence failures and the abuses of power that had plunged the young country to its lowest point.

To answer these questions, a high-powered commission was established. It was led by the Chief Justice of the time, Hamoodur Rahman, a distinguished Bengali jurist. He and his colleagues produced a searing report that recommended, among other things, trials for “those who indulged in these atrocities” and visited “acts of wanton cruelty” on the local population. But the report was suppressed. It only emerged in portions decades later…

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