Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 7 December 1971
Page: 4161

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Leader of the Opposition) - I seek leave to make a statement on the same subject.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Isleave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr WHITLAM - The actions of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan have created more refugees in 6 months than the escalation of the war in Vietnam caused in 6 years, and possibly as many deaths. Six months of total warfare on the subcontinent could cause as many deaths as World War II caused in 6 years, that is some 30 million. It has taken massive culpability on the part of the world community to allow so massive a human tragedy to become possible. None of us is without blame; our sins vary from the niggardliness of the smaller but wealthy nations including Australia to the tardiness of the great powers. It is too late, however, for recrimination and too soon to apportion blame between the principal parties, Pakistan and India. The immediate objective is, of course, to stop the fighting. But beyond the indescribable sufferings facing millions of people in the subcontinent, it is essential that the great powers, particularly the Soviet Union, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, do not become further and directly involved.

The catastrophe on the subcontinent heralds fundamental changes in the uneasy power arrangements and accommodations which have maintained some semblance of peace in some of the world's potential flashpoints. We have become used to taking for granted that if the United States and the Soviet Union were determined to prevent or confine a war, their will would prevail. We now have no such guarantee. Equally significant about the new period and relationships is the fact that the first time China has acted in the Security Council she has aligned herself with the United States and Japan in opposition to the Soviet Union. Nor is it without significance that the 2 old imperial powers, Britain and Prance, abstained on this occasion.

We are entering a period of unparalleled complexity in international relations. Even so it is possible to discern one fundamental factor which provides a key to this struggle and to our region. It is that nationalism is still the most powerful force in the region. In the final analysis nationalism will transcend religion as is happening in East

Pakistan. It transcends ideology, as sooner or later will happen in Vietnam. Communism's only real success in the third world has occurred when it has been successfully grafted onto nationalism, and the West's greatest failures have occurred in allowing Communism to assume a monopoly of nationalism.

It will be impossible for the United States of America, the United Nations or, for that matter, Australia to ignore East Pakistan's national aspirations indefinitely. Pakistan ignored them and tried genocide to silence them. Yahya Khan should not wish to bc remembered beside Genghis. This war is the result. I am not proposing that at this time Australia should recognise Bangla Desh, because Pakistan would choose total extinction before total separation. There is, however, no evading the fact that, whether by war or international settlement, a new state - an independent nation - will be created in East Bengal. The task for the community of nations is to try to see that it comes into being through an internationally guaranteed settlement rather than by prolonged war.

Suggest corrections