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Gambling with ViolenceState Outsourcing of War in Pakistan and India$
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Yelena Biberman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190929961

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190929961.001.0001

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Saving the House of Islam

Saving the House of Islam

Pakistan’s “Volunteers” in the War of 1971

(p.37) 3 Saving the House of Islam
Gambling with Violence

Yelena Biberman

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the alliances between the Pakistani state and nonstate actors during the 1971 counterinsurgency campaign in the country’s eastern wing. The Pakistani army enlisted the help of nonstate allies to tilt the local balance of power in its favor, but only when it was able to satisfy their varied interests. Thousands of Razakars (civilian “volunteers”) joined the counterinsurgency because of the patronage and protection the state was able to offer once it regained some footing in the region. The activists, notably the members of the Jamaat-e-Islami’s youth wing comprising the al-Badr Brigade, became allies only after the Pakistani army built robust links with Islamist organizations and made a credible commitment to the Islamist agenda. In September 1971, even though Pakistan was clearly losing the war to the insurgents (and India), the activists created a death squad targeting high-profile supporters and sympathizers of the secessionist movement.

Keywords:   Razakar, al-Badr, Jamaat-e-Islami, Mukti Bahini, Awami League, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, East Pakistan, Operation Searchlight, Bangladesh Liberation War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

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